Reflections from the Executive Director:




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A weekend retreat-workshop
on



INNER WORK

FOR SELF AWARENESS & TRANSFORMATION

Human relationships are beautiful, life-giving, soul-nourishing, yet complex and also oftentimes difficult and painful. Being in this world is about being constantly in relationship-- with our SELF, with God (whom we call by different names and experience in different ways), and with others. Life is a journey of countless moments when we are challenged to respond to the call of relationship-building. Although more often that not we find ourselves failing, each moment brings with it new gifts and new opportunities for us to BE and BECOME who we truly are as human beings. There are moments when we find ourselves reflected beautifully in another person whom we hold on to in a relationship as we revel in the experience of it, but there are also moments when we need to say good-bye, let go and move on.


INNER WORK is a weekend retreat-workshop designed to help us return to our SELF and regain our bearings as we move on in our life's journey with a sense of equanimity, gratitude, and joy. It offers moments for us to enter into our silence and be still, to explore our inner landscape and find our way through the darkness of our fears gided by the light of faith, hope, and love that is contantly burning within us (although this may not be readily apparent).

SCHEDULE of the retreat-workshop: (beginning at 5:00pm on a Thursday and ending at 5:00pm Sunday)

         This weekend retreat-workshop will invite participants to experience--
  • Entering into the Womb of Silence
  • Stillness in Motion
  • Walking the Labyrinth of Life
  • Befriending the Darkness, Reflecting the Light in our Inner Landscape
  • Opening the Treasure Box of the Self
  • The Art of Dialogue and the Heart of Listening
  • Sharing the Gift of My Life's Journey
  • Engaging the Moral Imagination in moving on in life from Inside-Out

The facilitators of this retreat-workshop are backed by over a decade of experience in INNER WORK at The Peacemakers' Circle, and have been conducting workshops on its various modules since 2001.

MARITES GUINGONA-AFRICA holds an M.A. in Theological Studies from the Loyola Shool of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila University. She is the founder and executive director of The Peacemakers' Circle Foundation, Inc. (TPCFI). Marites has been designing and conducting interfaith dialogue and relationship-building workshops for various groups of people since 2001, and has been engaged in building mutually respectful, harmonious and cooperative relationships between Muslims and Christians in grassroots communities around Metro Manila since 2003. From 2006 to 2008 she has trained on action-reflection approaches to engaging the Moral Imagination in Peacebuilding in the United States, India, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Philippines under John Paul Lederach (internationally renowned author and trainer on peacebuilding and conflict transformation) which was sponsored by the United Religions Initiative (URI). She is currently spearheading the TAYO-TAYO MUNA Catholic Intra-Faith Dialogue for Interfaith Understanding program in Manila in partnership with the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (ECID-CBCP).

ORLANDO TIU DE GUZMAN, JR. holds a degree in psychology and is a trustee of TPCFI. Orlan is a long-time facilitator of its TUESDAY INNER WORK CIRCLE. He is gifted in kinesthetic arts, and exudes stillness in motion. He practices and promotes holistic approaches to self-awareness, self-transformation, and healing. He has been designing and conducting peace- and relationship-building workshops for the youth in grassroots Muslim-Christian communities around Metro Manila since 2007. He is a cultural worker who (through the workshop group, SangHabi) promotes indigenous music, spirituality and culture. He teaches qi-gong and t'ai-chi regularly to different groups of people.



Request for this workshop-retreat for your group through our e-mail address: thepeacemakerscircle@gmail.com. Or contact The Peacemakers’ Circle through any of the following telephone numbers (02) 925-2815; cell phone numbers 0918-782-2805 or 0917-332-2454.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------





Features

The Peacemakers' Circle recent video clip of Muslim-Christian community of Tala on YouTube:


Also check out on YouTube the 20-minute version of our documentary film, In the Light of the Crescent Moon.

MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS in TALA receive 1.3M from DSWD SEA-K

Nothing is more rewarding for us at The Peacemakers’ Circle than to see Muslims and Christians in grassroots communities—whom we have trained in the ways of peace and relationship-building, and have journeyed together with for almost a decade—grow in capacity for handling their differences, build mutually respectful and collaborative relationships with each other, and be individually and collectively empowered to address the challenges that they face in their lives. It is with pride and joy that I share with you this success story in Barangay 188,Phase 12 in Tala, Caloocan City! (read more)


Past Events:




Celebrating 12 years of Interfaith Peacebuilding


by Marites Guingona Africa




On March 14, 2013, over a hundred people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions gathered together at the Ananda Marga Yoga Center in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City to celebrate FAITHS IN HARMONY. This was a joyful gathering that marked the 12th year anniversary of The Peacemakers' Circle in its endeavors to promote Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding.  Despite the summer drizzle, friends and supporters came and offered prayers for peace in music and dance; old friendships were renewed and new friendships were made, and a healthy vegetarian feast not only satisfied our hunger but also nourished our souls with the spirit of solidarity and care for the journey ahead!

Today, we at The Peacemakers' Circle give thanks for the friendship, inspiration and support that YOU our friends have given us these past twelve years! And we look forward to many more years ahead with new hope and commitment to the ongoing endeavor of building mutually respectful and harmonious relationships between and among peoples of diverse cultures and beliefs!

In this spirit of gratitude and joy, I am pleased to announce that in May we shall be launching our pilot project on INTRA-FAITH DIALOGUE FOR MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING in the conflict-affected communities of Midsayap and Aleosan in North Cotabato, Mindanao. This is a one-year training workshop program that aims to promote Love and Forgiveness in those communities. This will be conducted in partnership with the Balay Rehabilitation Center, the Imam Council of the Philippines, and the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (ECID-CBCP). This project is made possible through funding by the Fetzer Institute of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the support of Dr. Ruben Habito of the Perkins University (Dallas, Texas). A film documentary on the dialogue process will be produced by Surf Reyes.

While this is happening, our interfaith dialogue activities and initiatives in Metro Manila shall continue under the care of Shakuntala Vaswani and Orlan de Guzman; a weekend retreat on Inner Work for Self-Awareness Transformation is scheduled for November; and our Muslim-Christian Relationship-Building work in grassroots communities continues--in Tala (Caloocan City), Culiat (Quezon City), Maharlika-Bicutan (Taguig), and in Quiapo (Manila)--with the support of the Australian Embassy and other friends and supporters, most prominent of which is Rev. Fr. Andre De Bleeker, CICM, who has been helping to generate substantial funds (from Belgium) for our work these past five years! Thank you, Fr. Andre!

Fr. Andre De Bleeker, CICM is leaving the Philippines for good on May 28, 2013. He has been assigned to take charge of the CICM archives in Rome. We are happy for him and wish him happiness and success in his endeavors! Godspeed, Fr. Andre! 

Once again, thank you all for being part of our enriching and inspiring interfaith journey! We look forward to growing with you as we carry on with new hope and aspirations for the future!



See more photos at: 






See reflection-report and photos from Interfaith Harmony Week celebration on facebook: 







Global Symphony of Interfaith Peace Prayers - Manila 2011

The 7th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers (SOPP) on Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day / World Shift Day-- May 22, 2011 (Sunday) -- was joyously celebrated in Manila, Philippines at the Environmental Science Institute Conference Hall of Miriam College Quezon City.
More than 80 people from different faith groups, organizations and institutions participated in the event that was synchronized with the grand SOPP of the Byakko Shinko Kai at the Fuji Sanctuary in Japan, kicking-off the 24-hour worldwide prayer marathon that involves more than 500 different groups in various locations in over 80 countries.

On its fourth year (since SOPP began to be staged locally outside Japan in 2008) SOPP Manila has been organized by the Mandala Peace Arts Initiative, Inc. (MPAI), in partnership with The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. (TPCFI), United Religions Initiative in Southeast Asia-Pacific (URI-SEAP), and several other peace groups and faith organizations... read more


Earthday 2011 Sandiwang Interfaith Celebration on Easter Sunday


On March 24, 2011 (Easter Sunday) Earth Day was celebrated with the yearly Sandiwang (Isang Diwa ng Pagdiriwang para sa Kalikasan), an interfaith gathering organized by the Earth Day Network-Philippines.

The whole day program started with interfaith prayers from over 20 different groups and civil society organizations who offered solidarity prayers from their faith tradition. This was signaled by ringing of the Peace Bell by the Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista...
read more: http://peacemakersnews.blogspot.com/2011/04/earthday-2011-sandiwang-interfaith.html



Interfaith Dialogue at Quakers' Asia-Pacific Gathering

April 4, 2011 (Monday)

The Religious Society of Friends -- otherwise known as Quakers-- invited The Peacemakers' Circle to facilitate an interfaith dialogue session during their Asia-Pacific regional gathering (April 2 to 7, 2011) held at the Bukal ng Tipan Maryhill Retreat Center in Taytay, Rizal.
Read more..

Culminating Program of Muslim-Christian Grassroots Leadership


On April 2, 2011 (Saturday) The Peacemakers' Circle celebrated the culmination of the Muslim-Christian Grassroots Leadership Programs and honored 75 youths and 16 leaders from the four grassroots communities of Tala, Caloocan City; Culiat, Quezon City; Maharlika & Upper Bicutan, Taguig City; and Quiapo, Manila.

In partnership with the Miriam College Center for Peace Education, and supported by the United Religions Initiative-Southeast Asia-Pacific, and the Australian Embassy in Manila, the event was held at the ESI Conference Hall of Miriam College in Quezon City.
read more: http://peacemakersnews.blogspot.com/2011/04/culminating-program-of-muslim-christian.html



Interfaith Prayers for Japan


On March 28, 2011 (Monday) The Peacemakers' Circle participated in an interfaith prayer service for the healing of Japan and the rest of the ailing nations in the world.

Held at the front of the Japan Embassy in Manila, the simple yet very meaningful event was spearheaded by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) in cooperation with partner organizations such as the College of St. Benilde Social Action Center...
read more: http://peacemakersnews.blogspot.com/2011/04/interfaith-prayers-for-japan.html


Peacemakers at the Movies...(Robin Padilla film-screening)

March 24th (Thursday) 7:00pm

The Peacemakers' Circle was honored to have been invited to a special screening for the interfaith community of TUM: MY PLEDGE OF LOVE
latest film directed and produced by the action star himself, Mr. Robin Abdul Aziz Padilla, together with his new wife, Ms. Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla.

Known to be the first Filipino film shot almost entirely in India, TUM speaks of the message that resonates well with the advocacy of The Peacemakers' Circle about peace, interfaith harmony and unity amidst diversity...
read more: http://peacemakersnews.blogspot.com/2011/04/peacemakers-at-moviesrobin-padilla-film.html



Interfaith Women's Dialogue Circle on Women's Day

The International Women's Day this year was celebrated not just by women but also by men and youths from different faiths at the open evening session of the Tuesday Inner Work Circle which featured an Interfaith Women's Dialogue Circle held on March 8, 2011 at The Peacemakers' Circle.

With the theme:"The Role of Women in my Faith," insightful sharings from different spiritual traditions were heard... read more




World Interfaith Harmony Week 2011 first celebration

For the first celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week (February 1-7), The Peacemakers' Circle, in cooperation with United Religions Initiative in Southeast Asia-Pacific (URI-SEAP) conducted a series of activities throughout the week:

Welcoming the Lunar New Year, The Peacemakers' Circle co-organized with cultural workshop group, Sanghabi, a "Temple Hippity-Hopping!" (ushering the Year of the White Metal Rabbit) held on Feb.2, 2011 (Thursday).
(see more photos at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2079506&id=1376771160&l=96eccd6126)

On February 5, 2011 (Saturday) The Peacemakers' Circle joined forces with the United Muslim-Christian Peacemakers Association (UMCPA) of Tala to gather their youth group, the Muslim-Christian Youths for Peace and Development (MCYPD) in an Interfaith Harana (Friendship Serenade/visit to Faith Centers).
read the whole article here: http://peacemakersnews.blogspot.com/2011/02/world-interfaith-harmony-week-first.html.

******************************************

Previous events...

World Peace Day 2010 in Manila

The International Day of Peace 2010 in Manila was celebrated through several public activities throughout the Peace Consciousness Month of September.


Earth Dance Manila - Global Peace Festival (September 18-19, 2010)

On the weekend before World Peace Day, Manila joined countries in the global peace celebration called Earth Dance Festival that brought together artists, performers, ritualists, dancers, cultural creatives, peace workers, environmentalists, youths and different earth-lovers from all walks of life in an over-night gathering at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Monument in Quezon City.




GenPeace Youth Peace Day Celebration (September 21, 2010)

With its theme for the year: "Sustaining the Youth's Engagement, Bridging the Peacebuilding Gaps" -- the Generation Peace Youth Network, with partner organizations--including The Peacemakers' Circle, URI-SEAP, and World Peace Prayer Society-- led the celebration of World Peace Day in Manila at the Peace Bell Area of the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

Recognizing the different gaps (i.e. between youth and elder advocates, between apathetic and socially-active youth, etc.) the celebration saw a wide participation of different groups, civil society organizations, academe, government agencies, performing artists from all over Metro Manila and even as far as Visayas and Mindanao.

Read the rest of the report and see more photos here: http://peacemakersnews.blogspot.com/2010/10/world-peace-day-2010-in-manila.html



Peace in Diversity: Interfaith Youth Dialogue & Visit to the Ramadhan Fair


On September 11, 2010 (Saturday) The Peacemakers' Y4U (youth for unity) and the United Religions Initiative - Southeast Asia-Pacific (URI-SEAP) celebrated "Peace in Diversity" with more than about 25 youths from diverse faiths and different nationalities and cultures in an Interfaith Youth Dialogue held at the Partnership Center in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

The participants were Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Baha'i's and Multifaith youths from (aside from the Philippines) Malaysia, China, Myanmar, Laos, and Korea. They were representatives from the Institute of Formation Fondacio Asia (IFFA); Columban Missionary; Environmental Broadcast Circle Peace Program; Culiat Muslim community; and the Baha'i community.

After the dialogue circle, The Peacemakers' Y4U and members of IFFA proceeded to the Ramadhan Fair held at the Commission on Higher Education in UP Diliman to celebrate the Eidl Fitr with our Muslim brothers and sisters...




YPEACE youth workshop on interfaith dialogue by US Embassy


On August 30-31, 2010 The Peacemakers' Circle facilitated a two-day workshop on Youth Action for Interfaith Dialogue for young leaders from all over the country organized by the U.S. Embassy's Cultural Affairs Section. Below is an article about the event published at Philippine Daily Inquirer, written by Annelle Tayao...

‘It’s just opening ourselves to something as simple as conversation’

(PDI article by Annelle S. Tayao (First Posted 22:05:00 09/11/2010)

A SEMINARIAN, a Philippine Military Academy
student and the first woman president of Mindanao State University’s student government—they, with other youth leaders from all over the country, made their voices heard at the recent interreligious workshop “yPeace: Youth in Action for Interfaith Dialogue.”

Initiated by the US Embassy and facilitated by the Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation Inc., yPeace gathered 34 participants, some from as far as Tawi-Tawi, who, aside from representing schools and peace-related organizations, also served as spokespersons for their different faiths: Catholic, Protestant, Born-Again, Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Islam, as well as indigenous beliefs.

Held Aug. 30-31, the two-day intensive workshop was at Hyatt Hotel in Malate, Manila.

(To read more check out this link:



MANILA COOPERATION CIRCLES CELEBRATE


UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE (URI)
10 years of enduring daily interfaith cooperation in creating cultures of peace and healing for the Earth and all living beings...

THE PEACEMAKERS' CIRCLE (a founding member/Cooperation Circle of URI)
through its interfaith youth arm, YOUTH FOR UNITY (Y4U) in partnership with MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS ASSOCIATION CC,
the UNITED MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS SEA-K,
and the MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN YOUTHS FOR PEACE & DEVELOPMENT

successfully conducted an interfaith community service program:

TREE-PLANTING
ECO-WASTE MANAGEMENT SEMINAR

for the benefit of the Ondoy-affected Muslim-Christian grassroots community of Tala
last JUNE 26th - Saturday, 8am - 12nn at Brgy. 188, Phase 12, Tala, Caloocan City




2010 Syphony of Interfaith Prayers for Global Peace / World Shift Day

In the heat of the summer sun on May 16th, 2010 at the Riverbanks Plaza of Marikina City, the Philippines once again participated in creating a wave of prayerful vibrations around the globe as the Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day / World Shift Day was celebrated with the Symphony of peace prayers hosted by the Mandala Peace Arts Initiative (MPAI), and made possible by Byakko Shinko Kai, in partnership with The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) and the Riverbanks Center.


PCFI Launches Visits to Sacred Sites and Festival Celebrations for Peace monthThe Peacemakers Circle hosted a series of visits and faith observances together with partner religious organizations and groups leading up to September 21 as part of its cause to promote peace through interfaith dialogue and understanding. To launch this project, members celebrated Krishna Janmashtami with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) last Friday, August 14. Read more...




More news & events

For the first time since its eight years of engagement in the field, The Peacemakers' Circle reached out beyond the environs of Metro Manila to engage in consultation with representatives of organizations and institutions based in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao to explore the possibility of engaging in a long-term and sustainable action-reflection collaborative work with them. Read more...

Interfaith youth group visits Shumei : Farming to Create a Heaven on Earth

Y4U: Youth for Unity group of the Peacemakers' Circle Foundation, Inc. visited the Shumei (a Japanese spiritual movement) center at Valencia Hills Condominium, Quezon City to learn about their practice of natural agriculture. June 25, 2009 (Saturday)... Read more


Celebrating URI 9th Anniversary with interfaith leaders

The Peacemakers' Circle -- a Cooperation Circle or CC of the United Religions Inititative (URI)-- in partnership with the URI Southeast Asia-Pacific regional office had a beautiful gathering with interfaith leaders and friends on June 25 entitled People for Peace in celebration of URI's 9th Anniversary of its Charter-signing... Read more

Global Peace Prayer Day / World Shift day 2009
On May 17, 2009 the Philippines joined more than 52 countries in the world in synergetic harmony as the Global Peace Prayer and Meditation Day / World Shift Day was celebrated with Symphony of peace prayers (SOPP)*, an interfaith program jointly organized by the Byakko Shinko Kai – Philippines (BSKP) and The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. (PCFI), and in partnership with the Center for Peace Education of Miriam College... Read more

******************************************************


Interfaith Earth Day celebration
On April 18th, 2009 The Peacemakers' Circle Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) and Y4U (youth for unity) interfaith circle participated in the World Drum Project's interfaith celebration of Earth Day at the La Mesa Ecopark in Fairview, Quezon City...read more

******************************************


The Peacemakers' Circle staff has recently joined interfaith leaders and representatives of other URI Cooperation Circles (CCs) from all over the Southeast Asia & the Pacific region last March 15 - 21, 2009 for the United Religions Initiative Southeast Asia-Pacific (URI-SEAP) Regional Assembly 2009 held at the Mindanao Civic Center, Tubod, lanao del Norte, Mindanao... read full report


******************************************


World March for Peace & Nonviolence - Phil. launching (March 2, 2009)

On March 2, 2009 (Monday) The Peacemakers' Circle Foundation, Inc. participated in the public launching of the WORLD MARCH FOR PEACE & NONVIOLENCE campaign & network in the Philippines... read more

Muslim-Christian Dialogue and Relationship-Building


While we are inspired by a global vision, our projects and initiatives address local issues of concern. In the Philippines, the concern for the resolution of the conflict in Mindanao (involving Muslims and Christians) has been ongoing for decades.

Although Mindanao is the homeland of Muslims in the country, many Muslims have fled their homeland to seek better lives elsewhere. Many of them have settled in Metro Manila where various factors, including differences between them and their predominantly Christian neighbors, have made living conditions nonetheless challenging.

In response to the perceived need for peace among Muslims and Christians, The Peacemakers’ Circle engaged itself in partnership with the Office of the President on Muslim Affairs in embarking on the following projects and initiatives:

1. BUILDING MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIPS IN GRASSROOTS COMMUNITIES IN METRO MANILA

MCPA tala

A. Tala, Caloocan City. In October 2003 The Peacemakers’ Circle reached out to Muslim and Christian residents in the community of Barangay 188, Phase 12, Riverside in Tala, Caloocan City. It conducted weekly Inner Work sessions and monthly peacebuilding workshops and values formation seminars for a group of local residents who, one year later, were inspired to form a Muslim-Christian Peacemakers’ Association. They elected their own officers, and planned and implemented their own programs for the community. see www.muslimchristianpeace.blogspot.com

Watch a 3-minute video clip of the Tala community: 


B. Maharlika Village, Taguig City. In October 2005 The Peacemakers’ Circle conducted a medical and relief mission for the fire victims of the Muslim community. Consequently, a project called “Angat Buhay Maharlika” (Uplifting the Quality of Life in Maharlika) is being launched that will consist of feeding the hungry children, educating the mothers, and involving the youth in leadership training for community building.

C. Golden Mosque Community in Quiapo, City of Manila. The Peacemakers’ Circle has been assisting the Muslim leaders in the area in organizing a Federation of Muslim Religious Leaders. This Federation is being organized to promote peace and good will among Muslims towards their Christian counterparts, and to help bring to their attention the plight of the Muslims in the predominantly Christian metropolis.

D. Barangay Culiat in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. The Peacemakers’ Circle is in the process of reaching out to the Muslim youths in this area where differences among Muslim tribes and between Muslims and their Christian neighbors is an ongoing cause for concern. The focus of this endeavor is in training the youth in the ways of peace through various creative approaches to dialogue.

2. CONDUCTING MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE WORKSHOP-SEMINARS promoting self-empowerment and mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation among Muslims and Christians for Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation.

3. PROVIDING COMMUNITY SERVICES (e.g. organizing medical and relief missions, meeting of community leaders and members, bridge-building between the local government officials and the people in grassroots community, etc.)

Features

Finding the True Meaning of Diwali
by Sharon Danisha M. Vaswani

DIWALI GREETINGS!

In today's troubled world where relationships are strained by differences, Diwali brings fresh hope to renew and strengthen these ties that bind us together... Diwali is one of the most festive and beautiful times of the year in the Hindu Calendar. The word Diwali is from the Sanskrit word Deepavali literally meaning a "Row of Lights." It is the night when lights and love fill the hearts and homes and there is rejoicing and celebrations to herald the triumph of good over evil. The reasons for celebrating Diwali are many. One is that it celebrates Lord Ram's glorious and long-awaited return to his Kingdom of Ayodhya after his fourteen long years of exile in the forest. Another is that it commemorates Lord Krishna's victory over the demon Naraksura who had kidnapped and terrorized the gopis (cow maidens) of Vrindavan. It is also celebrated as the day Lord Vishnu married Goddess Lakshmi. However, what is the true meaning of this festival? What does it truly signify? There are three main aspects of this auspicious day called Diwali. The first is the celebration of light which dispels the darkness of our ignorance and shows us the way on our journey through life. The purpose is not to glorify the light of the diya (candle) or the light of the firecracker lit on this day but it is to glorify the light of God. It is He who bestows the real light, the everlasting light upon the darkness of this mundane world. A candle burns out; a firework is a momentary visual experience. But, the candle of a still mind and the fireworks of a heart filled with bhakti (true devotion) are divine and eternal and these are what we should be celebrating. Hence, the true light of Diwali should be within us. Diwali also marks the beginning of a New Year. It is a day of "starting fresh". It is the time that begs the questions: When was the last time we swept out our hearts? When did we last empty them of all the dirt and garbage that has accumulated throughout our lives? That is the real cleaning we must do. That is the real meaning of "starting fresh." We must clean out our hearts, ridding them of darkness and bitterness; we must make them clean and sparkling places for God to live. We must be as thorough with ourselves as we are with our homes. Let us therefore, truly clean out our hearts and rid ourselves of the grudges, pain, and anger that clutter our ability to love freely. Let us empty out every nook and cranny, so that His divine light can shine throughout. The third, and perhaps most important, aspect of Diwali is the worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. On Diwali we pray to her for prosperity; however this does not mean for material possessions only as it is only God's presence in our lives which makes us rich. We pray for an abundance of faith, not money; success in our spiritual lives, and for the love of God. Therefore, in its highest meaning, Goddess Lakshmi provides wealth for sustenance, not for indulgence. Our material wealth and prosperity should only sustain us, giving us that which is necessary to preserve our lives and all surpluses should be used for humanitarian causes. Lakshmi is typically portrayed wearing red. And as red is the color of action, this means that in order to obtain the true prosperity in life, we must engage in action. We must engage ourselves in active, good service; that is truly the way to be with Him. So, on this Diwali day, let us fill our entire beings with the light of God. Let us clean out our minds and hearts, making a true "fresh start." Let us pray to Goddess Lakshmi to bestow the divine gifts of faith, purity and devotion upon us. With those, we will always be always rich, always prosperous, and always fulfilled. Let us celebrate Diwali this year as a true "holy day," not only as another frivolous "holiday."

HAPPY DIWALI TO ONE AND ALL!

Be a Member, Be a Peacemaker!

**************************************