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Non Violent Communication events in India and Nepal - Feb 2016
Report by Secretary, JSMC

Recently JSMC Interfaith Lead Dr. Hema Pokharna and her sister Dr. Manda Pokharna participated as Trainer in Non Violent Communication (NVC) convention held in Pune, India. The convention was hosted from Jan 9th to Jan 15th, 2016. 100 participants from around the world had participated in this convention. The purpose of this training was to bring healing through non-violent communication, one of the aspect of Ahimsa that is a basic tenet of Jainism 

After the convention, they headed to Nepal for a seven days post-earthquake healing event. This event was to bring healing to the earthquake affected, many of whom are in a state of shock, grief, and trauma, and unsettled with the challenge of how to rebuild their lives.

This training is featured in a film that can be viewed by clicking here.

Inter-Faith Dialogue at HWPL - Feb 2016
Report by Secretary, JSMC

On February 27th Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago was represented at an interfaith peace dialogue by our Youth Secretary Meghna Shah. The dialogue was organized by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a non-governmental, non-profit organization registered under the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs that transcends differences in culture, belief and region to engage leaders and youth in sustainable and comprehensive solutions for peace.

The topic for this seminar was "What contents are there in your scriptures?" It is a very wide topic to talk about from such rich scriptures of ours. Meghna chose to talk on soul eternity, the 3 A's in Jainism, the 4 auxiliary bhavnas for her share of 7 minutes and concluded her speech with first stanza of "Maitri Bhavnu Pavitra Zarnu" and "Khamemi Savva Jive" with their meanings.

On behalf of HWPL, Director Shin acknowledged JSMC’s representation and extended an invitation to JSMC for their next meeting on March 25, 2016.

Inter-Faith Dialogue at HWPL - Jan 2016
Report by Secretary, JSMC

On January 30th Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago was represented at an interfaith peace dialogue by our immediate past president Tejas Shah and his son Satej Shah. The dialogue was organized by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a non-governmental, non-profit organization registered under the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs that transcends differences in culture, belief and region to engage leaders and youth in sustainable and comprehensive solutions for peace.

On this occasion Tejas Shah represented JSMC as one of the invited speakers to speak on the topic of “What are the blessings my scriptures promise?” His speech, where he started with defining who Jains are and then introducing the audience to the philosophy and teachings of our tirthankars, was very well received by the audience.

On behalf of HWPL, Director Shin acknowledged JSMC’s representation and emphasized that at HWPL they strongly believe that through dialogue, we can move people of all faiths one step closer to peace. He also extended an invitation to JSMC for their next meeting on February 27, 2016.

A video of the speech is available at https://vimeo.com/153678427. For more information on HWPL, visit http://www.hwplchicago.org.

Chinmay Mission Intra-Faith Dialogue - Dec 2015
Report by Dr. Kaushal Mehta

Jain Society of Metropolitan Chicago was invited to an Intra-Faith Dialogue on "How can Religion answer Challenges Faced by Today's Youth". The dialogue was held at Chinmaya Mission located at Willowbrook, IL. Dr. Kaushal Mehta represented JSMC at this event in person and Dimple Shah, our past youth secretary, helped put together all the materials to present. This event was also well represented by other faith based organizations like BAPS, ISKCON, Manav Seva Mandir and Vishwa Hind Parishad among many others, representing Jainism, Swami Narayan’s, Hindus and Sikhs.

Representatives from all faiths presented the events they do to engage youth, including their Pathshala curriculum for youth. From the discussion, a common theme of challenges emerged. It seemed that even though events and reach outs to youths were promoted via social media and app, there was an urgent need to address the waning engagement of youth once they are college bound. During the conversation, everyone felt the need of a common platform to share their events and ideas on how to engage youth. On the same note a need to share resources to overcome challenges faced by Faith based organization was also felt.

In the end, everyone agreed to work towards building this common platform and invite each other to their respective organization and share resources. A follow up meeting will be held soon to implement discussed initiative

Dalai Lama Visit in Chicago - Jul 2011
Report by Vipul Shah

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Chicago during July 2011. During his visit on July 17th, 2011 he gave a public talk on “Bridging the Faith Divide” at University of Illinois, Chicago, Pavilion.  About 20,000 people attended his talk. This public talk kicked off with an interfaith outreach presentation where many faiths presented a symbol of different faith/religion to HH Dalai Lama. Along with 9 other religions/faith, Jain Society was invited to participate in building and creating a sculptural object in 6 weeks of workshop and finally to present the symbol during this public talk.  JSMC, under leadership of Vipul Shah (Interfaith lead, Membership Secretary) build out 9 feet sculpture of Buddhism symbol – “Wheel of Dharma (Dharma Chakra)”.  During these workshop many volunteers participated and took and active interest in learning Buddhism.  More details...

Interfaith Event with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at JW Marriott, Chicago - May 2011

Government Shutdown could be avoided
Report by Dr. Hema Pokharna

The impending federal shut down reminds me of the story of a shoe factory.

The factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying: "Situation hopeless. Stop. No one wears shoes." The other writes back triumphantly: "Glorious business opportunity. Stop. They have no shoes!"

The government and all concerned need to look at the situation with glasses of possibility. Like the Chinese word for crisis, which combines the symbols for danger and opportunity, difficult conversations can lead to either distress or harmony.  More details...

Obama, Palin should collaborate to conquer obesity
Report by Dr. Hema Pokharna

First Lady Michelle Obama's efforts to reduce childhood obesity have faced opposition from evangelicals and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who calls the campaign another example of an overbearing government and wishes the First Lady would let other parents decide what's best for their own children.

Imagine how beautifully a collaborative initiative would serve all concerned when both listen to each other as Mrs. Obama shares the wisdom of healthy foods from childhood and Mrs. Palin shares her passion for autonomy and freedom to choose.

I wish to share a very important aspect of Jainism which is the concept of anekaantvaad, or the principle of plurality of viewpoints. It is central to the ideas of tolerance and mutual respect..  More details...

World Spiritual Pathways: Sacred Songs and Chants
Report by Chandan & Jiten Shah, JSMC

At the invitation of the Lake Street Church of Evanston, JSMC presented sacred songs and chant on Jain Religion. The event was held at 607 Lake Street, Evanston, Illinois. Representatives from six major religions of the world (Hinduism, Judaism, African Indigenous, Jainism, Sikhism and Christianity) had accepted the Church’s invitation.

Dr. Hema Pokharna and Mr. Vipul Shah represented JSMC. The initial introduction to Jainism was provided by Dr. Hema & Dr. Manda Pokharna. In a moving speech Dr. Hema recalled her long association with the Church. Dr. Manda then gave a brief synopsis of her mission to represent Jainism at the international Parliament of the World Religion conferences all over the world. Vipul Shah then performed a moving rendition of Pujya Chitrabhanu’s soulful composition “Maitri Bavnu Pavitra Zaranu” in a melodious voice. Each line was translated in to English, and explained in a lucid manner to an attentive audience of approximately 250 attendees.

After the main event, a luncheon was organized by the Church for all attendees. Several JSMC member families participated in this event by preparing savory vegetarian dishes for all the attendees. Jain food was well liked and much commented upon by everyone.

This event provided a valuable opportunity for JSMC to present Jain views and philosophy to the general audience as well as to the representatives of the other faiths.

  • "It was one of the unique event which I have attended. I never thought of summarizing a religion into a song. The theme of the event was exceptionally good. This kind of an event will have special place in my heart. This will make me better person at end of the day." - Manish Jain

  • "Music is a universal religion - I had always heard about this, but in this event, I witnessed it and enjoyed it! What a nice theme. On top of all it was very nice to meet other faith leaders and learn their religion values" - Vipul Shah