If you live in Vancouver, and you’re available on Thursday evenings throughout the summer (of 2012), you’re invited to join us! (If you’re into meetups, here we are: meetup.com/VancouverSpirituality.)
Here’s what we’ve been doing: meeting at a coffee shop, reading a passage (~5–10 mins.) from a certain thought-provoking, uplifting book, and then discussing it and other things that come up with the friends present (usually about five people at this point; people are free to come once or as many times as they like, but there is a core group of regulars).
I designed a poster to help publicize our little event, for it is open to all, and we will be putting this up around the neighbourhood.
The book we’ve been reading passages from is called Paris Talks, for that is what it is: a series of short talks given in Paris in 1912 by ’Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. He traveled from the Middle East to Europe and North America to support early Bahá’í communities but also to meet with the public and discuss the purpose of religion, the role of religion in society, and the process of bettering society as well as ourselves as individuals.
(In fact, this year is the centenary of ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey, and an amazing social-media documentary called 239 Days is covering it. I recommend taking a look; learning about this inspiring figure is absolutely worthwhile, and the project is such an innovative way of bringing history to life!)
One of the most important aspects of this discussion group is the approach: everyone speaks with humility and respect for others; everyone is free to present their opinions; everyone makes the effort to listen and truly understand what others are saying. It has sometimes been difficult to maintain these attitudes, but for the most part we have, and it has been an enriching experience.
So far, we’ve discussed a number of interesting topics, trying to think about each at both the scale of the individual life and the life of society: the relationship between thoughts and actions; diversity, multiculturalism, and pluralism; the concept of divinity and God as an unknowable essence; and causes of war and strife and paths toward unity and peace.
If you’re interested in joining us, do!
If you’re interested in reading Paris Talks, it’s available online.