Monday, September 25th 2017

Meetings with Remarkable Men and Women

David Rickey reports on the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, and his dialogues with the Dalai Lama, Pujya Swamiji, Amma, and other leading lights of enlightenment


BY DAVID RICKEY — I’m happy to report back on an amazing week I spent at the Parliament of the World’s Religions where I saw and heard, up close, the Dalai Lama, Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Pujya Swamiji), Amma Sri Karunamayi (Amma) and many others. Those others included some wonderful young people who are not potential leaders of the future, but leaders now!

There were two significant messages which I brought home with me, and which I offer to you: First, you as an individual, have the power to change the world. And second, it is important that  we all begin doing so immediately.


Being our true essence

My experience of both Pujya Swami-Ji and the Holy Mother, affectionately known as Amma, was the radiant truth that they were fully human and were calling us to be fully human by waking up to the divine presence and power that is our essence and our purpose. I had expected to feel an aura, an otherworldly aspect, when the Dalai Lama was close to me, or when Swami Chidanand looked into my eyes. Instead, I not only felt honored and empowered, but also deeply challenged to be the best I could be.


Swami Chidanand Sariswati

The divine is not some far off concept but a reality that infuses the life of every being with its power. It is who we are. These teachers exist to not to be adored, but to show us this truth and to inspire. The Swami talked of the reality of fear during his journey and of his clarity now. He also spoke of  the sacred power and presence that he uses to bring changes to his world. He said: “You say ‘I want peace.’ Remove the ‘I’ and remove the ‘want’ and ‘Peace’ is all that remains.” He is that simple and that direct. Both he and Amma are active in their homelands: building schools, empowering women, being peace and speaking out for peace where ever they go. As Ghandi  said, they are being the change they want to see.


Amma (Sri Karunamayi)

Time is of the essence

The other message I received was the absolute necessity of acting now. The Parliament focused on climate change, the system of power that perpetuates poverty, and the struggle of the indigenous peoples both in Australia, and around the world, to reclaim their rightful place in the human community. Many indigenous cultures, like the Aboriginal peoples upon whose lands we were meeting, have been marginalized by the predominant cultures in their countries. I met a Buddhist monk from the Chakma people of Bangladesh who told me about, and showed me artwork depicting, the massacre of his people by the predominantly Islamic government there. I met Imams who spoke poignantly of the truth of the Koran against the “militant piety,” to use Karen Armstrong’s name for fundamentalism. I saw Rabbis and Imams hugging and talking together, embodying the peace they work together for in the world.

And most exciting was the work of young people from around the world who are striving toward the eradication of poverty and hunger, but who are also frustrated by the more senior “gatekeepers” of power who hold the funds.

parliament-humanCommitment to a spiritual path is essential

We can all be part of the change that needs to happen to save our planet and our human community. There are no excuses. I have seen people,  like myself, who are doing the work and showing us the way. But the important key to our moving forward is having and nurturing our individual spiritual paths. As Joan Chittister, a gutsy nun from Erie, PA quoted from the Chinese saying: without a personal spiritual path, “Before the revolution, man is oppressing man. After the revolution, the opposite is true.” Every leader I heard spoke the same message, that what supported them in their work was some form of personal spiritual practice.

One of the most important results to come out of of this gathering of spiritual leaders from across cultures and around the planet, is a new website,, which will serve to link us all together, and will help us to  find the resources and channel the energies to make this all happen. I invite you to sign up and join in today!

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11 Comments on “Meetings with Remarkable Men and Women”

  1. As one who has bowed at Amma's feet, and who has had a long and deep connection with the author of this post, I was blown away by what David Rickey experienced and wrote here.

    David is the most deserving person of what he received at this summit of wise women and men, and his call to all of us is so unassailable and prompts such a felt-shift.

    David brings it, and has inspired us all on the Soul's Code team to propel this site you see right now over the past 18 months -- and the fully blown-out, richly-interactive experience which our best intentions have baked that you are about to see, God-willing, insallah :)

    Thank you, David.

    If I could turn around the headline in this article, which our own people wrote, it could be that Amma, and the Dalai Lama and the other dude met *their* peer and remarkable man.

    We know that we did! Paul Kaihla

  2. "we all have the power to change the world"...what a basic message, but what a message that everyone needs to hear over and over again and take deep into our hearts.

    david's article has reinforced to me that everyone is special, everyone has gifts and everyone can be just takes standing up for what you believe in and helping others who are on the journey we are all on.

    thanks for another wonderful piece of writing david!

  3. Great reminder! Let's do change the world, shall we?

  4. It's remarkable what a few individuals can do. I believe that through faith and hard work, the world can and WILL change. Thank you for your wonderful post, David.

  5. The infinite untapped potential within us is available to everyone that has the urge to cultivate it. My personal practice as a member of the SGI-UK, the lay organization of the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, is my own daily strategy for tapping in to this source of wisdom, courage and life force. Being part of a lay organisation also enables me to encourage fellow practitioners and to seek guidance when the need arises.
    I deeply respect different peoples methods and practices for the awakening of their greatest potential, and believe the importance of a regular practice is the most self empowering method to fully develop as a human being.

  6. Sing it--let peace begin on earth and let it begin with MEEEIIIEEI! xo Sue

  7. Thank you all for your responses. It was truly an amazing experience. I am convinced that interfaith work is the way to go on this planet. Each path has truth, that when listened to and valued gives a multidimensional vision of this amazing mystery we live in.


  8. Thank you for the wonderful article and thank you for the reminder that we have within ourself the power to change the world. As the saying goes, it only takes a small pebble to make great ripples.

  9. David,

    I am pleased to hear that the world's spiritual leaders and our youth are convening to focus on pertinent issues. We can all do our part, in whatever small ways we can. Thanks for the reminder and for the information that this transformation is occurring on a global level.

  10. Thank you, David, for bringing us a view of this amazing conference!

  11. Thank you, David!

    The feeling I experienced, reading your article, is the elevated vibe, which I believe existed in the space of the Parliament of World's Religions. I feel encouraged, knowing that courage's beings gathered together, saying no to fear and chose to trust an underlying force.

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