The Words of the Lajda Family
Prague, Czech Republic -- UPF-Czech Republic held a conference on inter-religious dialogue in Prague on February 3 as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Two weeks before the event, it seemed impossible to organize a conference on interfaith harmony. There was no idea how to do it, with whom, or why. Only a strong faith and determination helped the organizers to persevere, and finally the fruits came. The breakthrough came through a positive answer from a young Protestant minister from the Czechoslovak Hussite Church who welcomed the idea and promised to support the planned conference.
Immediately after this, the way started to open to contact other people, churches, spiritual groups, and representatives of the religions of the world. As if by a miracle, a conference on inter-religious dialogue took place on February 3 in Prague.
In the opening remarks, Dr. Juraj Lajda, Secretary General of UPF-Czech Republic, gave an introduction about World Interfaith Harmony Week, including various quotations from world religions. A video presentation introduced UPF activities.
Representatives of five religions spoke about the principles and essence of their respective religion and their relations towards other religions. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Baha'i Faith were represented.
Mrs. Klara Adamovß from the Lotus Center in Prague, representing Buddhism, gave a short overview of the main principles of Buddhism and expressed the idea that inter-religious harmony should be understood as harmony among people.
Rev. David Hron from the Czechoslovak Hussite Church spoke about his encounter with Jesus. He mentioned that disunity is a work of man and that culture often dominates people; sometimes churches pursue idols than God. For him, different religions are expressions of God's grace and challenge him to be aware of who he is. More dialogue and cooperation can help people come closer to each other.
Dr. Vladimφr Sanka, deputy director of the Islamic Communities Foundation in the Czech Republic, emphasized the necessity to overcome hatred towards others. Instead, people of faith should develop areas which are common to all. For that reason, he expressed appreciation for the UN's initiative in establishing World Interfaith Harmony Week.
The next speaker, Rev. TomaÜ Bonek from the Christian community in Prague, expressed his idea that inter-religious dialogue is necessary but the scope and depth of such dialogue depends on how strong one is in his or her own faith. If people understand religion as a means and not as a goal, then they can go beyond their own denomination, he said. He stated that religious people can also unite in prayer.
Mr. OndrßÜ Sukup, President of the Czech Religious Hindu Community, spoke about tolerance as the essence of the human being. There is only one truth, he said, and people give different names to it. First we have to establish peace within ourselves and then we can bring peace to the world. All religions are interconnected, and if people wanted it, peace could come to the world even tomorrow. In the end Mr. Sukup mentioned that their community's spiritual leader, Swami Madhavananda, has been an Ambassador for Peace since 2008.
Mr. Pavel Hrub² from the Baha'i community pointed out that the driving force in history is religion. The goal of all religions is to establish world peace. The whole humankind is one family, he said, and that is why there should be only one religion. The essence of each religion is the same. He mentioned the value of meeting together in order to read Holy Scriptures and meditate.
In the end Mr. Karel KrφÛ from the Czech Conference spoke about the virtues which people should cultivate throughout their life. Several times he paraphrased the great 17th-century Czech scholar and teacher Comenius, who emphasized that people should practice what they believe.
The conference was attended by more than 30 people in a bright and spiritually high atmosphere. One participant commented, "You could feel that God is present." Some of the participants expressed their desire to continue to meet and cooperate on various levels in order to convey the message of peace to society more effectively.