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Peace & Life Connections Index

#391 Holiday Issue

Note: Due to the holidays, Peace & Life Connections will not be published on the next two Fridays, and will start the new year on Friday, January 5. If you have not yet made an end-of-year donation to us yet, we would greatly appreciate it. You can donate online or find the details on mailing a check at http://www.consistentlifenetwork.org/donate.

Holiday Edition: Interfaith Peace in the Womb

The Interfaith Movement Interfaith cooperation and dialog is a major aspect of peace work. The Parliament of the World Religions will hold its next conference, which normally attracts thousands of people, on November 1-7, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. Here we offer some examples from different major religions on how the womb has served as a symbol of peace and compassion.

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Judaism Hebrew letters can have a mystic meaning as building blocks of creation – the DNA of the universe. They each have meanings that make sense for that function. They each also represent specific numbers. The one that means vessel or womb is Tet:

It’s assigned the number 9, which goes with the nine months the unborn child is in the womb. So it’s a letter of goodness hidden in creation from the start. It symbolizes physical and spiritual birth. The Hebrew words for peace and life are both prominent symbols in Jewish culture:

Left: Shalom means peace. Right: Chai means life.

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Islam A phrase that begins all but one chapter of the Qur’an is transliterated as “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” (pictured in Arabic calligraphy below). This phrase is very common in daily use and art. It’s translated as something like “in the name of God, the compassionate, the caring.” But any translation doesn’t reflect the depth of its meaning. The words Rahman and Rahim contained in this phrase are the first two names on the list of the 99 beautiful names of Allah. The subtle difference between them, since they both mean love, can be likened to Rahman being like the sun, that shines over everybody at once, while Rahim is like the sunbeam of love which goes to particular individuals. But both names have the same root word: rahm -- which means womb.

Another of the 99 beautiful names is Al-Wasi’, which means a kind of surrounding love – therefore, a physical image of a womb. As it says in a Sufi book called Physicians of the Heart (page 193): “Invocation of Ya Wasi’ carries a feeling of safety in the womb…

It is a beautiful practice to make the universe as safe as possible. All is within the womb of God, and we are all in it together.”

The Name of God which is the source of peace is As-Salam, usually fifth on the list of 99 names.

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Buddhism From a Wikipedia article: “In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Womb Realm (Sanskrit:

garbhakoṣadhātu, Japanese: 胎蔵界 taizōkai) is the metaphysical space inhabited by the Wisdom Kings. The Womb Realm is based on the Mahavairocana Tantra. The name of the mandala derives from chapter 2 of the sutra, where it is said that the buddha Mahāvairocana revealed the mandala's secret teachings to his disciple Vajrasattva from his "womb of compassion."

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Christianity

In keeping with the Christmas story, a major part of the holidays, this delightful detail comes when the pregnant Mary visits her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. From Luke 1:41-44: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed . . . “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

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Past Holiday Editions In 2010, we showed “It’s a Wonderful Movement” by using the theme of what would happen if the peace movement and the pro-life movement hadn’t arisen (also this week’s blog post). We also had quotes from Scrooge (against respect for life) and a Martin Luther King Christmas sermon. In 2011, we covered the materialism-reducing “Advent Conspiracy” and offered two pieces of children’s literature: a 1938 anti-war cartoon called “Peace on Earth,” and the anti-war origins of “Horton Hears a Who,” whose tagline – “a person’s a person, no matter how small” - is irresistible to pro-lifers. In 2012, we had a couple of quotes showing the pro-life aspects of two prominent Christmas tales: A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge, and the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We also quote from John Dear about Jesus as peacemaker and Rand Paul about the 1914 spontaneous Christmas Truce; he then related it to the culture of life. In 2013, we shared several quotations reflecting on Christmas. In 2014, we offered a quotation from a lesser-known Christmas novella of Charles Dickens and cited the treatment of abortion in the Zoroastrian scriptures. In 2015, we had a list of good holiday movies with consistent-life themes – check it out for what you might want to see this season. (See also this recent commentary on the movie Joyeux Noel, which depicts the Christmas Truce of World War I). We also had information on Muslim nonviolent perspectives to counter the stereotypes against Muslims, which unfortunately are still a major concern. In 2016, we mentioned that “The Magi were Zoroastrians” and detailed how good the Zoroastrians were on consistent-life issues.

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Responses/News tips/Questions to share are all welcome. Send to weekly@consistent-life.org.

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