Habib Syed Hassan Al-Attas, Imam and Head of Ba’alwie Mosque, shows the prayer beads of different religions at the Common Ground seminar.

Despite the different techniques used in meditation for various faiths, this practice holds common ground for different religions, say participants who attended a recent seminar.

Common Ground: A Seminar on The Contemplative Dimension of Faith was held from Jan 7-8 at the Catholic Junior College Performing Arts Centre.

Hundreds of participants from various religions attended the event, which was organised by the Archdiocesan Council for Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED), The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) and supported by the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore (IRO).

Leaders of different faiths shared about the practice of meditation.

Fr Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and director of the WCCM led the sharing on the Christian tradition.

Other religious representatives who also shared were Mr Ashvin Desai (Jainism), Venerable Chuan Guan (Buddhism), Habib Syed Hassan Al-Attas (Islam), Mother Mangalam (Hinduism), and Masters Huang Xin Cheng and Chung Kwang Tong (Wei Yi) of the Taoist faith.

Participants said they found the interreligious event enlightening.

One Methodist participant, who wanted to known only as Mrs Wee, said that whenever each faith practises meditation, it is for the same objectives of compassion and humility.

She said she also learnt from the Taoist representatives that Wudang Taiji is a form of meditation for them.

Mrs Mag Ayers from Australia said the seminar was a “valuable” experience. “I didn’t realise how many of the major faiths used meditation,” said the teacher.

For example, she did not realise that the Buddhists placed importance on breathing in meditation or that the Hindus used yoga for theirs.

Mrs Ayers said she feels meditation would help her students to become better people.

Ms Samantha Yee, who says she has no religion, said the seminar was like a “101 introduction to meditation”.

To her, “the outward form may differ a bit, but fundamentally it’s fairly simple” and is similar among various religions as a “reductive way to experience God … to remove all barriers between oneself and God and to come into direct communication”.

By Darren Boon
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