Monday, July 7, 2008

Interpretations of Islam

Iftekhar A. Hai is a writer, lecturer, peace mediator and humanist. As a writer, Iftekhar eliminates negative stereotyping but differentiates between moderate and extremist interpretation of Islam. From the last two years his columns have been appearing in faith pages of San Mateo Times and many of his articles printed in many San Francisco bay area newspapers.

The 9/11 tragedy and the demonization of Muslims and Islam which created a crisis for American Muslims became the springboard for Iftekhar to explain Islam and its practices to Americans in churches, synagogues, schools, colleges and universities. Lately he has been one of the most sought after speaker on peace and reconciliation among religions. Iftekhar has represented Islam in Conflict Resolution Conferences and interfaith seminars in USA, Canada, UK, India, Pakistan, Africa, Afghanistan, Brazil and Korea. He has also visited the Vatican to promote peace between Islam & Christianity in March 2006.

Iftekhar was a founding director of United Muslims of America in 1982 and became its full time honorary Director of Interfaith Relations since 1990. In June 2004, he founded UMA Interfaith Alliance and became its president. Its mission is to promote cooperation and understanding among world religions through interfaith dialogue, creating racial and religious harmony and encouraging American Muslims to get involved locally, nationally and globally for the common good of all people.

From the last 25 years Iftekhar has worked with local, statewide, national and global organizations on religious, interfaith, peace reconciiation, and international diplomacy issues.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Peace From Within: How to Mobilize our Deepest Resources for a Happier Life and Better World

Michael Nagler is Professor emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1966, and where he founded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program in which he still teaches the upper-division nonviolence course as well as meditation and other courses. Prof. Nagler has spoken and written widely for campus, religious, public and special interest groups on the subject of peace and nonviolence for many years, especially since 9/11. He has consulted for the U.S. Institute of Peace and many other organizations and is President of the board of METTA: Center for Nonviolence Education and of Peace Workers, and on numerous other boards, and has recently co-founded Educators For Nonviolence. He has worked on nonviolent intervention since the 1970’s and served on the Interim Steering Committee of the Nonviolent Peaceforce.

In addition to his many articles on peace and spirituality, he is the author of America Without Violence (Island Press, 1982), The Upanishads (with Sri Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, 1987) and most recently The Search for a Nonviolent Future (Inner Ocean Publishing) which won the 2002 American Book Award and is being used in many courses as well as reading groups around the country (Italian translation appeared in 2005; pending in Korean and Arabic).

Michael Nagler is a student of Sri Eknath Easwaran, Founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, and has lived at the Center’s ashram in Marin County since 1970.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Movement as Meditation

"As science and health studies progress and we learn more and more about ourselves, each other and our bodies, we learn that all are connected. Our bodies, our minds, our spirits are connected deeply. Progression and movement of each effects the others. To learn our true nature we must explore all of our natures." -- Rok Proffit

Rok Proffit has been studying Martial Arts all of his life. From early childhood he has been interested in the ways of the Far East. Early excursions into the realm of mysticism and martial arts included Japanese Karate and Kempo. After firmly establishing a foundation necessary for self defense including wrestling, Mongolian wrestling, San Shou, boxing, Chinese Kung Fu including Lung Ying and the secret, deadly arts of Dim Mak and Bak Mei, Rok Proffit began exploring movement as meditation and focusing upon physical manifestations of the spirit.

Rok Proffit's teachers have included world famous street fighter and choreographer White Dragon Fighting Master Sifu Zhong Luo, master of 20 styles Grand Master "Mai Yu" Qiang Luo and internationally known writer and Taoist Master Mantak Chia.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Three Steps, One Bow

Reverend Heng Sure is an American Buddhist monk, considered one of the first Buddhist monks born and ordained in the United States. He is a senior disciple of the late Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, and is currently the director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. He is probably best known for a pligrimage he made for two years in 1977 from Los Angeles to Ukiah, CA by means of taking three steps and prostrating once. Entitled the Three Steps, One Bow pilgrimage, he did so in order for world peace to prevail.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, he attended the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s. During his time at the university, Heng Sure was active in theatre. At an early age, Heng Sure learned Chinese from studying the language in high school and by means of his sister, who worked at the U.S. Information Agency. After receiving his masters in Oriental languages, he met his teacher, Master Hsuan Hua, who would later ordain him in 1976 at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

Heng Sure currently gives lectures at Berkeley to the public and through webcasts. Heng Sure also gives lectures in many parts of the world, mostly on the Avatamsaka Sutra. He is also an accomplished musician and guitarist.