|United Religions Initiative Europe|
URI Europe Dialogue Letter
Issue No. 15 *** January 2011 - April 2011
purpose of the East European Educational Center Private Professional College
is to offer short term and long term qualifications. The college programme
has existed 10-12 years and has proved very successful. It has been
registered for 2 years now. The programme which focuses on cinema and sports
is very innovative. The College gives scholarships to disadvantaged students
and students coming through institutions. Our education lays emphasis on
reconciliation and conflict resolution. Currently it has a membership of one
hundred and eighty seven people from the traditions of Islam, Protestantism,
Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
promoting human rights, freedom of speech
MEMBERSHIP: 27 (twenty-seven)
TRADITIONS: Eastern Orthodox, Armeno-gregorian, humanists
TRADITIONS: Eastern Orthodox, Armeno-gregorian, humanists
OF ACTIVITIES: Professional Organization of Journalists from printed and
electronic medias educating journalists in interfaith dialogue and
members cover a lot of conferences, topics e.g. including human rights
support of m
MEMBERSHIP: 375 (three hundred and seventy five)
Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Muslim, Protestant Christianity
implementation in life of religious and moral values
Global human values
OF ACTIVITIES: The
Help the Needy Foundation is a social association. It was established almost
was the first official p
to promote ecumenical bi-lateral and multi-lateral dialogues
Eastern Orthodox, Roman- Catholic, Protestant, Atheist
OF ACTIVITIES: The
Apostel Hermas Center for Ecumenical Dialogue is a center for ecumenical and
interfaith dialogue. Its people are very open-minded and very interested in interfaith dialogue. It was
officially registered in the summer of 2008. They regularly collaborate with people of various faiths (next to people of v
2) Could you tell as a few sentences about your background?
I was born and brought up in a multi-cultural family of Christian and Jewish tradition in Sarajevo, a city where Jews, Christians and Moslems have lived in harmony for five centuries. I am married to a woman from the Muslim tradition and I was here with my family and friends during the siege. Even so, I did not lose hope for better days, mutual respect, and understanding to come.
To that end my main struggle has always been to cherish the best from the values of each group, and enjoy our diversity. This precious social tissue was jeopardized during the recent war, and I find it very important to engage reasonable people, teenagers and young adults in particular, in restoring these values. That is the only way to discourage evil and to try to prevail again, in future.
3) What inspired you to participate at URI?
The energy that I felt at our first gathering in Budapest, and the honest,
open, unbiased and embracing approach to all traditions, religions and
cultures in the world gave me hope that my country and my region had a
chance to restore the same values, as we used to have many centuries ago. I
also realized that our experience of multi-religious society and its
survival during the war could inspire other people to try to build the same.
The energy that I felt at our first gathering in Budapest, and the honest, open, unbiased and embracing approach to all traditions, religions and cultures in the world gave me hope that my country and my region had a chance to restore the same values, as we used to have many centuries ago. I also realized that our experience of multi-religious society and its survival during the war could inspire other people to try to build the same.
4)How do you evaluate the importance of interfaith activities and the impact it can have to improve mutual respect andunderstanding for one another?
So, this is giving me a chance to connect people from different cultures, with different experiences, and let them communicate and create some new ideas and projects. To that end many of our young people were able to participate in URI events, and also many of the young adults from different countries were able to join our interfaith initiatives, and become familiar with URI ideas. The end result of all this would be in changing attitudes, learning from each other, mutual respect, and enjoying diversity.
5) What is your motivation and inspiration?
During and after the war I was engaged in different conflict resolution workshops for religious communities in Bosnia, and the Balkans, and facilitated in the formation of an Inter-religious Council in the country. My motivation is to connect people who believe in the idea of co-existence and mutual respect and expose them to different challenges and experiences.
I have been traveling a lot, inside and outside BiH, meeting, working and enjoying contact with people of different ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds, sex and race. This is giving me inspiration to continue in networking with people with new and fresh ideas.
That is how I got in touch with people who had an idea of forming URI. I was asked by Karimah to form and bring a team of people of different religious backgrounds from Bosnia, to Budapest, to have the first joint meeting. Since then we have stayed in the same stream of building peace together, with different means.
If we could
divide URI people in to three categories: (1) "old dogs" who have
known URI for a long time, and who meet
many CC/s around them, (2) "regular CC practitioners" who have got
to know URI somehow and have CCs in their
home towns, and (3) "pioneers" who are now getting into the URI
family and know no CCs around them, then we come under number 3. We don’t
know any CC here, and we are always looking around to see if we will get to
know someone. I will describe what I feel about my past. I was born into a
truly religious family and I was brought up under such good circumstances
that I had the chance to be in contact with many people practicing different
religious during my childhood. M mother is Catholic and my father an
(esoteric) humanist with a strong commitment to selflessgiving. One day in
my last year of elementary school I found my father's hand transcript of the
Basic Buddha's Word book at the top of the house-. (It was also quite
interesting because at those times there was still communism in our
country.) I read the whole book and thought about it many times when I met
people of different religious practices. Life in a neighborhood of different
religious people seems to be my life’s destiny. My best friend from
university is Protestant, and our best friend in our volunteer-centre is
Bahai. But during my life I have also met those of different spiritual
orientation, I have also met many propagating xenophobic and frightening
people, who argue that all "false-believers" will go to hell.
Because I stepped into the Buddhist-perspective early on this seemed to me
to be even much more like a horrorparody. I have never understood such
xenophobia, but in daily life I have had to meet it frequently.
from Istanbul with the experience that organization focused on
inter-religious friendship can exist. It is so different from my previous
state where I was able to tell both friends and opponents that "I hope
I am not alone in feeling non-xenophobic friendship as a spiritual
call". (One says, ‘oh, Joseph, you are nice but my priest said
"be careful, you will go to hell if you meet those others"’.)
Now, it is very different. The second thing is support. I must say I got many important quotations, addresses and
contacts with URI engaged organizations, and this helps me regarding
details, and can also help me in progress.
2) Could you please give us a few sentences about your current activities and the plans and activities you plan in the future? Maybe you could also tell us about the first event you organized?
From the beginning when I started to think about the Czech action-plan, I saw "Czech specifics"; I will summarize it in terms of atomistic "own-yard" propaganda. (In Buddhism it could be called "my-me-mind".) It is not accidental that only in the Czech Republic there is no CC yet. So my vision is to work patiently in the long-term and on more domains in parallel. I am slowly contacting people around Brno who are interested in inter-faith and my goal is "to stay in touch with them until some strong inspiration, or chance comes". We had something like an "Istanbul exhibition party" in our home. We were around ten people and the goal was to talk about that personally from the heart. I think it was very good and it opened a chance to be in contact with people who were really interested enough. There were many very interesting people there. (Usually the most hopeful and helpful ones are those whose time is most filled). One of them is planning to organise a small talk in a summer ‘philosophical’ camp. We are both very much looking forward to this. For now we are actually about five, and the "chance" which I see in the nearest future is the great offer of Karimah, that she could come to the Czech Repbulic. I'd like to treat it here as a chance to "organize something together" - to make a program together for such a workshop with those five people in cooperation. We will see what will grow from that.
3) How do you evaluate the importance of interfaith activities and the impact it can have to improve mutual respect/understanding for one another?
as a possible principal resource for what is now so much happening in the
Western world: the " integration fault of minorities ". We must
all understand that non-integrated enclaves occur because of xenophobia. We
must understand that particular folklore traditions are different from
understanding and practising humanity. It is so important and clear. Any
tradition (spiritual or even materialistic) is a technique to access
wellness ("Peace"). Some do it in some aspects more effectively,
some less. Of course we should mainly respect techniques of the hosting
country. But what we must understand is that one tradition meeting a
different tradition in the field where both respecthumanity, then there is
no more need for fear. The principal of "tolerance" has been
distorted. (The propaganda of everywhere-rivalry has distorted the term tolerance
- to the meaning of "to ignore violence and imperialism". The
interfaith activities which I encountered in URI
are very pure. The principle of secure trust and appreciation in the
field of humanity is very well cared for there. This principle could be very
helpful in our intimate daily lives, but only setting-up CC-like long-term
projects can help to make it visible to people who are outside. I must add
that interfaith activities (as I saw at the Istanbul meeting) are not only
"spiritual" in nature. Those could also be such
"worldly" occupations (as cooking), or "entertaining"
(like movies and camps) – those can all make visible that spirituality is
not for imperialism but to encourage selfless kindness, an open heart,
humanistic appreciation. (No-one could believe any spiritual evangelist if
s/he does not reject a taste for dominance and xenophobia (or even
violence). Spiritualitiy must do something real to show their “real”
label quality" otherwise they will be legitimately criticized as
When I got
to the university I started to volunteer in the hospital (first for
children, now for old people). It filled my soul and heart so much, that now
I can call it my way – as a volunteer and humanist. During the same time I
met Pepa and he showed me the world of engaged Buddhism and meditation. So
this has had a big impact on my life, too.
conference in Istanbul:
It was very
inspiring for me to hear about so many types of activities which are
happening. I saw a lot of them as an inspiration for our Republic (I hope
one day we will succeed )
Our future plan:
very future plan is to create an inter-generation center - for sharing
experiences, humanity, spirituality, diversity.
A not so
far away plan is to have public talks, or to make "invitation
lunches" a few times a year - for example, people from some tradition
invite people from another tradition to their home for lunch. They can talk,
share and later we can share all the lunch-time stories through the website.
Our first event:
event was a meeting of interested people in our flat. We said everything
about our URI experience, we shared our history and spiritual way and we
made a quick brainstorming about potential future activities of our CC.
I feel it
so very important for peaceful living on our Earth. Because when people meet
and break the barriers it slowly moves towards the place where there is only
overall rigidity. As if later someone starts a speech against another faith,
the one who has living experience with that one can say “You are wrong! I
know these people and they are as human as we are”. This is so needed in
our country. And interfaith activities can increase what we share - help to
the poor, compassion, wisdom, peace.
Inspiration and motivation:
meetings of Long Term Care Hospital where you can see real life (without any
games, money, falsehood, fighting.) - the basics of humanity, which show me
the way of peace and understanding every time.
in a world full of tolerance (but not tolerance/intolerance!) and sharing.
And through the experience in Istanbul I see it's not just a silly dream. It
will happen somewhere, I would like to join.
The biggest challenge:
people who will be interested. Find the kind of activity which will be the
right one (how to find it?)
The nicest experience:
I had a
very strong meeting three years ago. It was with my great friend who is a
Catholic. I mentioned about Pepa, that he is a Buddhist. And within a few
moments her face, her whole behaviour changed. She started to tell me
something about the danger of this, about hell, the devil, about all the
stories she had heard about it. Our situation became very uncomfortable. I
was very sad. There was no understanding, no sharing, no touching of
reality. There was just propaganda against everything which is different. We
said goodbye with our souls shaken to the very core.
night she wrote me an sms: You are my very good friend and Pepa (Josef Kral)
is a very kind man. Our friendship cannot die on the difference between our
From that time I feel this person as the nearest to me from a spiritual point of view. She didn't become Buddhist and I didn't become Catholic - we can stay next to each other with understanding - we are going along another path, but we go along it with an open and warm heart, open eyes and hands prepared to help.
of URI Co-operation Circles
By Elisabeth Lheure
The event took place at Unescocat in Barcelona with almost 70 participants who reflected and discussed the effective role of the religions for the development the Millennium Objectives. We presented a recent public action – elaborated by one of our interfaith groups, who worked for almost two years with regular meetings; each member of this group identified Sacred Texts of his/her religious tradition related to each of the eight goals that the UN and the international community has set itself for this millennium.
It has been very interesting to see how believers from different traditions (in this case, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Muslims, Sikhs and Bahá’ís) and also “non believers”, taking advantage of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, demonstrated once more that they are willing to work for the recognition of “ the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation “.
from an email by URI
global's Executive Director, Charles Gibbs,
about an event hosted by URI UK CC
about an event hosted by URI UK CC
10 February 2011,....was the center of my trip – a day hosted by the URI
UK, bringing together members, current and potential partners, and
representatives of URI Europe and the global URI to receive an extended
briefing on URI UK’s innovative work as it renews itself with seven new
trustees, average age 34. In addition, we heard about the good work of the
breakfast, we traveled through rainy, clogged London streets to the site of
the URI UK convening – St. Ethelburga Church, which in its not too distant
past was bombed by the Irish Republican Army and then rebuilt as a place to
promote peace and interfaith harmony.
welcoming remarks, we were paired up for appreciative dialogue. I had the
privilege of being paired with one of the URI UK’s new trustees, an
inspiring young woman named Anita Nayyar. Anita, who runs her own
consultancy company focused on promoting positive collaboration, is a
one-woman interfaith movement. Her father is Hindu; her mother Christian.
Anita grew up Christian and, after a period of spiritual seeking, ended up
converting to Islam. She brings a bright and deep spirit, as well as
impressive professional expertise to her role as trustee. If Anita is an
example of the quality its new leadership, URI UK has an exciting and
effective future ahead. Since Matthew Youde, URI’s interim director of our
Young Leaders Program, is also one of the new trustees it seems clear that
this group will inspire and be inspired by our global youth network.
founder, Malcolm Stonestreet, and Anne Vance, another remarkably competent
woman who serves as the chief executive for URI UK, provided a compelling
picture of URI UK’s future, based on an innovative program called Faith in
the Community, in which the URI UK works with a partner organization, such
as a housing association or local authorities, to help the partner
organization meet government mandated requirements aimed at weaving new
social fabric to promote social cohesion in increasingly diverse
has five stages:
assessment with the partner organization
of all faiths staged a procession through the town centre in
Note: The Jewish Christian Muslim Summer School has taken place every two years since 1991.
the support of the URI Bill Bowes Award the DMLB CC could financially enable
nine young leaders to attend the event. Their presence was mutually
enriching and very enjoyable. The young leaders came from Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Germany, Turkey and the UK.
Deep gratitude goes out to URI and the Bowes family for making this project possible.
The Three Faiths Summer School takes place at Ammerdown, near Bath, in the UK and is co-organised by an interreligious leadership team: Rabbi Dr. Michael Hilton, Prof. Ursula King, Sheikh Bashir Ahmad Dultz, Benedicte Scholefield and Jane Ozanne - all of them wonderful people who are contributing on many levels. The sponsoring organsations for the event are the Ammerdown Centre, the Kol Chai Hatch End Jewish Community and the German Muslim-League Bonn (DMLB).
All leaders and participants expressed how enriching they found the inter-generational, international mix - and are committed to continuing to support young people to participate.
The next Three Faiths Summer School will take place on July 3 - 9, 2012, at Ammerdown. The topic will be “Pilgrimage in the Three Faiths”.
Three Faiths School Ammerdown, July 7-13, 2010
by Ema Smajic, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, URI Youth Ambassador 2011
Summer School will always be something that I’ll remember with a smile.
That beautiful school, placed in beautiful woods in England, a perfect place
for learning, and gaining new experiences. It truly is a place of spiritual
growth and relaxation. I could go on and on, on just how peaceful the centre
was. As I said a perfect place to meditate and think about spirituality and
day started with meditation in
the chapel and breakfast, and
then all participants were ready for lectures and debates. Every morning we
had lectures about places of worship in those three religions, buzz groups
and just enough time to ask everything we wanted. And it was always
interesting to compare places of worship in all religions. On the first day
we had sacred dancing, which really inspired me, because I am a dancer, it
was so peaceful. That was followed by a little break for lunch, and then
some singing sessions, art workshops etc., and everything to help us to get
to know each other and to prepare to learn about our, and others’
religions. The programme was designed wonderfully, just enough time for
everyone to rest and work. I was mostly impressed by our small outing to
Bristol where we were able to see religion in “action”. It was nice to
see how people respect religion in different ways and try to cooperate with
other religions. It was nice to see what difficulties they’re facing, how
they deal with them, and compare it to the situation in our community.
conference really gave me enough time to think about my doubts, and what’s
more important to share them with others and not feel ashamed, because this
conference was full of great people working together without discrimination,
and all in one goal- for peace.
I made there will last a long time, I am sure. It didn’t take long to make
them and it was such a beautiful change from the rush of the 21st century
where we don’t have time to meet new people and think about what we can do
to make a difference. Of course this conference didn’t solve all problems,
but it sure is a start.
am delighted and honored that I was part of this beautiful gathering, I hope
I contributed, but I can say only one thing: if the goal was to make friends
with different backgrounds, learn about differences, respect them and think
about what we can do to make a change, then this summer school is a great
thanks to the Sheikh Bashir, Chadigah, Sabri, Aminah and Karimah who made
sure everything was in order.
Ammerdown – Three Faiths Summer School
Ilva-Lisanne Goltz, Langenfeld, Germany
time at the Ammerdown Three Faiths Summer School was one of the most
valuable experiences in my life. It was the cooperation of many elements
during this week to make it so precious for me.
accommodation was one of the best I have ever seen. The Ammerdown Centre is
placed in the middle of the idyllic country in Western England. The
countryside was lovely and you were always able to find a place of quiet and
peace. The centre took perfect care of us on every level, including clean
and comfortable rooms, the most delicious food and kind and warm guidance
through the whole week. For that reason, with all possible needs covered, I
was able to concentrate on the thing I came for: the interfaith dialogue.
learned so much in the Summer School about the three Abrahamic religions,
including my own. All our faiths are rooted in the same point, they have
just all developed differently. This year’s topic “Places Of Worship”
helped me to understand that. For this topic presentations were prepared
from one person of each faith introducing their place of worship. We visited
all of them on a trip to Bristol which we made close to the end of the week.
It was a nice highlight. The different places of worship underlined the
difference between these three faiths. We all see God differently, pray to
Him differently and adjust our everyday life differently to Him. Still we
all believe in the same God.
was all that mattered to the participants. I met so many great people of
every age and every religion.
really took part in a lot of new experiences, which ranged from joining the
Islamic Dhikr and thedaily prayers to making bread for the Shabbath
celebration. At workshops offered by the centre I discovered I had unknown
capabilities of painting, dancing and singing songs which I had never heard
before. And I made many new friends.
am very grateful that this opportunity to participate was given to me and I
would like to support the interfaith dialogue now myself.
Brussels - the capital of the Belgians and of 500,000,000 Europeans - has been chosen as the host city of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014. The selection of Brussels was made by the Board of Trustees of the governing organization at its March 13, 2011 meeting in Chicago.
Special congratulations go to Martin Gurvich (Convictions in Dialogue CC and URI Europe board) who has been very active in promoting the Brussels bid for the Parliament and has worked on it consistently over several months! Various URI members, including Patrick Hanjoul (Bond zonder Naam CC and URI Europe President) and Elisabeth Lheure (UNESCOCAT CC and URI Europe board member) have supported the bid.
10,000 people from diverse religious, spiritual and convictional traditions
will participate in the 2014 Parliament, which will last for 7 days and will
comprise more than 500 programs, workshops and dialogues, alongside music,
dance, artistic exhibitions and related events hosted by religious
communities and cultural institutions. Since the historic 1893 World’s
Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago, modern Parliaments have been
held in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne
(2009). These periodic Parliament events are the world’s oldest and
largest interreligious gatherings.
Galina Ermolina from Russia is currently planning to register a new CC called “Northern Asia” in the Altai region in Russia.Galina Ermolina lives in Novosibirsk. She is a Doctor of the International Slavonic Academy and a member of Living Ethic group. She studied at the Institute of Foreign languages (teacher, interpreter) and has a Diploma of Journalism. She has stopped her teaching career and has devoted herself to the activity of “spiritual bridge Altai-India” and the world around.
Kizhi Kizhile Bai ( A man is rich in a man)
Altai- White Faith will spread and will overwhelm the minds of half of
(from Nostradamus predictions)
" It is strange and mysterious - wherever you go the people praise Altai. They say that the mountains are beautiful here, the cedars are mighty, the rivers are impetuous and the flowers are amazing. Some say that in spring, a particular kind of red lily blooms in Altai. Where does this general worshipping of Altai come from?"– these words Nikolai Roerich, the world famous Russian painter, writer, philosopher, whose Initiative “Pact of Peace”, known as “Pact of Roerich” was signed in 1935 in Washington, -wrote after his International Trans Siberian expedition.
Realizing that in spite of the great popularity among some people, Altai is still not much known to the rest of the world, I decided to give a summary about the main characteristic features of this region and its people.
Republic Gornyi Altai (High land Altai) is situated in the Southern part of Siberia, it has borders with a few countries: Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tuva, Khakasia. It attracts and surprises. Nowadays it is rapidly becoming a place of pilgrimage. The people from all over the world come here and each one finds his/her place of attraction here. Some come to Altai to honor Mother-Nature, “to recharge the batteries”, to relax in beauty, to be purified in the most pristine energies, the others want to experience extreme sports.
Hymn to Altai has been sung in thousands of stories, poems and songs.
Altai has been inhabited from ancient times due to it’s geographical position on the crossroads of many nations. Archeologists claim that the territory was inhabited from 690 thousand up to 1.4 million years ago. In the later Stone Age the banks of Katun river used to be the most densely inhabited places in Siberia. By the way, the name of the sacred river “Katun” means “woman”. The people of the so called" Afanasyevskaya culture"( at the end of the 2nd-beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C.) were Europeans and till the invasion of the Turkic, the native people looked more like Europeans. (Scythians period). Actually the people's appearance depends on the local geophysical conditions. The Russians, for instance, after 2-3 centuries of life in Siberia got typical Siberian broad cheek-bones, even without cross-marriages.
Altai was both -a cultural periphery as well as a center. Original "Pazyryk" culture of Altai(5-2 century B.C.) stands out from all the others. Rather recently it became the place of an archeological sensation, when well-preserved mummies were found in permafrost kurgans. A Nomadic life style with the main principal of not being attached to anything,- became the dominating one.
Nomads were changing themselves and renewed life around them very rapidly. Starting from the 6th century Gorny Altai became a part of Turkic Kaganat.
In the course of time Altai people have forgotten their Turkic written language. The Altai-Turkic people today seem to be unaware of the fact that their ancestors considered a she-wolf to be their fore-mother. Heavenly Ulgen is recognized to be the Father.
Uigur Kaganat followed the Turkic state in the 8th century, and in 840 the Uigurs were conquered by Kirghiz people from Yenisey. Oguzy contributed their input in the cultural development of the Northern Altai in 8-10 century. Then there were Kidani-tribes, who were drawn from Altai by Naiman tribes, defeated by herds of Tatar-Mongols in 1207.The Altai territory used to belong to the Golden Horde, then-to the White Horde and to Siberian Khanate. In the middle of the 17th century, Altai was ruled by Dzhungaria. This brought crisis to the Altai nation which was on the verge of disappearing, when the Chinese people of the Manchurian Dynasty killed almost all the population of Dzhungaria Khanate. The Altai people were saved only due to adhesion to Russia in 1756 (the Northern Altai people did it earlier, in 1625).
According to the language and some other features Turkic can be considered to be ancestors of Altai people. Besides those from above, some other tribes of Northern Altai, such as Tubalary, Chelkantsy, Kumandintsy have a lot in common with ancient Northern Siberian tribes (Ugro-Finnish, Camodiyiskiy and Ketskiy) on a genetic and life-style level. They were mostly hunters. As for the Southern tribes (Altai-Kizhi, Telengity,Tyelyesy and Teleuts), they were horse-riders, breeding cattle; the Mongolian tribes during their rule changed them on the genetic level. Actually there is one language and one nation. In the past differences happened mostly due to migration of some tribes or part of tribes to remote places. The historians revealed that almost all the Southern Altai people considered themselves to be one tribe "Altai-Kizhi", which means nothing more than "a man from Altai".
Old-believers were the first Russian people to come to Altai in the 18th century to settle there. They taught Altai nomadic people how to live a settled life, to work in fields, to breed cattle and to keep bees. Russian peasants were not allowed to settle in Gornyi Altai until 1818 ,because for a long time Altai territory was a kind of neutral territory between Russia and China. Nowadays 50 % of the population is Russian here.
The Altai written language was created on the base of Cyrillic alphabet. The fact of its absence for more than one thousand years was compensated by the oral tradition. It was considered as obligatory to recollect the family ancestors till the 7th generation. There were outstanding poets even without a written language.
From this observation one can get an idea that Altai really is a “melting pot”- a place of the greatest diversity in Oneness, where people of different minorities, tribes/syoks, beliefs and ways of life manage to live together for a long period of time. Even nature reflects this diversity, so different are the ten regions of Altai. One of the possible translations of the word Altai is “ my multi-images God”.
This all-levels diversity has affected the religious beliefs of the people here. During the Soviet time religious issues were under restrictions, but I wouldn’t say that it was a severe restriction, we had churches only in big cities, and who says that spirituality lives only in churches? People have never forgotten their spiritual roots, I spent my young years in Zabaikalye (a region behind Baikal) and remember that in childhood we celebrated old pagan Festivals, combined with Russian Orthodox Christianity; for us children especially it was a great fun, and nobody prohibited doing it. Many of us, Russians, learnt about Altai due to the ideas of Agni Yoga Teaching, given through the Roerich family, which is actually a Synthesis of Science, Religion and Culture. I started to visit Altai in 1992 and since then go there very often, have many friends on the personal and social levels. One of my friends there is Nikolai Shodoev-the former school teacher in a small village of Altai; he created a unique village Museum of Altai Bilik (wisdom) and Ethnography, which comprises a great number of ethnographic exhibits along with material on Spiritual research. He has written a few books on “Bilik”, and I helped him to have them translated into German, an English variant, but which have not yet been published.
thank you for your interest, participation
Activities of URI
Interested in Interfaith Peace Work? Become a URI Member!
You can register an interfaith Cooperation Circle:
you just need a minimum of 7 members from 3 religions, spiritual expressions or indigenous traditions and support the URI Charter.
Individuals can become supporting or affiliate members.
We unite to provide a global opportunity for participation by all people, especially by those whose voices are not often heard.
Nos unimos para ofrecer una opoortunidad mundial de participación a todas las personas, sobretodo aquellas cuyas voces pocas veces pueden oírse. (Spanish)