The Lakeshore Interfaith Institute....
The Lakeshore Interfaith Institute is an outreach program of Mothers Trust/ Mothers Place, a non-profit 501C (3) religious order organization and interfaith community. We strive to cultivate understanding and peace through deepening our spirituality as individuals and as a global community. Interfaith in philosophy and practice, our programs foster spiritual reconciliation and compassionate service; while enriching the intellectual life through scholarly study, experiential learning, and spiritual exploration.
The Interfaith Institute, located at Mother’s Trust / Mother’s Place is a community of monastic residents, clergy, dedicated individuals, and an interfaith spiritual community, working together for the common good of people from various faiths, religions and spiritual backgrounds. The Institute maintains a strong commitment to the integrity of each religion and faith tradition, and believes that each can better remain true to itself by honoring the truths inherent in all traditions. The Interfaith Institute believes in the validity of all religions as paths to Truth. We strive to foster the harmony of body, mind and spirit while celebrating the wholeness and oneness of all. Community members welcome all at Mother’s Place and do their best to make it a center to heal, to educate, to transform and to enlighten.
What is Monasticism?
Monastics are members of a religious organization, who vow to live under strict set of rules requiring moral and spiritual self sacrifice and dedication to the goals of the organization. After successful completion of the organization's training program and probationary period, make a long-term commitment to the organization. At Mother's Place the monastics final vows of Sannyas were given after 14 years of strict training. The sannyasin trustees have been together for 36 years. Monastics normally live together as a part of a community and are held to a significantly stricter level of austerities and private prayers, while participating in activities such as worship services, religious study, care of aging, outreach programs and services, and administration and ministry. Each monastic works or serves on behalf of the religious, educational and outreach programs and services of the organization.
What is Interfaith?
Interfaith is an expression of spiritual concern and love that serves as a bridge for members of all religions and spiritual teachings to reach out in understanding and communion with each other. Interfaith affirms and supports the underlying goodness of each person and the healing of our planet. Interfaith does not seek to blend or homogenize religions. Rather Interfaith honors the sacredness and uniqueness of each faith and then creates ways by which the many paths can meet on common ground. Differences between various religions and philosophies need not divide and separate but can instead enrich our lives and deepen our capacity to love. Interfaith study and dialogue is a bridge to honor the differences in World Faiths and the Common Ground in Human Dignity and Spirit. One of the many goals of the Lakeshore Interfaith Institute is to create an interfaith community, of monastics, clergy and laity, who celebrate and embrace diversity, while searching for common ground at the heart of the World’s Great Wisdom Traditions. Such a community, we believe, can be a transforming force for human harmony, compassionate service, world peace, the wellness of all creation, and the flourishing of a global civilization with strong spiritual roots.
Explore the Sacred Ways of the World's Wisdom Traditions Certification Course.
The governing metaphor for our course of study together this year is that of Pilgrimage. Individually and as a community of pilgrims, we will be journeying into the sacred wisdom of the world’s major faith traditions, and into our own sacred center as well. Like pilgrims everywhere, we will do best to travel lightly, leaving behind as many of our assumptions and other kinds of baggage as possible, so that we will be truly open to what wisdom and experiences speak to our hearts and minds. Such an experience has the potential of being formative and transformative on many levels, particularly as we integrate what we are learning into our thinking, imagining, feeling, and living. Each of us will do this in our own unique way, and we will also find that we have much in common as we go on this pilgrimage together.
Our guides will be our visiting faculty and the books we read, along with our own inner spiritual guidance and each other’s wisdom. Each afternoon from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. our visiting faculty persons will offer a presentation and engage in dialogue with us, concluding with a spiritual practice, ritual, meditation, or something else of their choice from their own tradition and practice. This will give us an experiential encounter with their wisdom tradition, and something we can, if we choose, use ourselves during the coming month of exploration of the tradition that has been presented. We have asked our presenters to respond to the following questions as part of their presentation. We will be alert to how they do this, and follow up with our own questions, insights, etc.
The Questions given to our Visiting Faculty are:
1) What are the most important teachings and practices of your tradition?
2) How does your spiritual tradition impact your culture with regard to rites of passage i.e. birth, death, coming of age, marriage etc.?
3) How does your tradition honor women and the feminine in Divinity?
4) How does your tradition treat the distribution of gender roles and the education of young people?
5) Are there texts, prayers, music, art, or practices you could share and explore with us?
Address and Opening Session:
Saturday: April , (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon
speakers open to public)
Dr. Sripada Raju, Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment of
Lansing, has taught Hinduism in the US and India for the past 40 years.
Well versed in both the philosophy of Vedanta as well as the ritualistic
and devotional aspects of Hinduism, Dr. Raju is highly respected devotee
of the Bharatiya Hindu Temple of Lansing and teaches Bhagavad Gita and
other scriptures on a daily basis in the temple and in various other
venues in the Lansing area.An avid exponent of Ghandian social philosophy,
he spends time every year in India, teaching Vedanta in the villages
and advising grass roots NGOs on sustainable development of the rural
populations. Dr. Raju will give an overview of the Hindu religious and
theological traditions and teach us some spiritual practices for us
to experience for ourselves.
|Saturday: May, (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon
speakers open to public)
1:30pm Public Program: Essential Buddhist Spirituality
Rev. Jimyo Lisa Ferworn
Rev. Jimyo is a Buddhist Priest who has a broad background in several Buddhist traditions. Originally ordained within the eclectic Japanese Tendai sect, she spent 6 years training and practicing the Japanese Vajrayana practices. Over the remaining span of her 11 years, she has spent time with Pure Land and Zen practices. She is currently enrolled in the Maitreya Buddhist Seminary at the Zen Buddhist temple in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rev. Jimyo will teach the core tenants of the various Buddhist practices and discuss the religious aspects of Buddhism.
She will teach a core meditation practice that can be used to understand
the nature of suffering and how to end it. Also, she will lead the group
in a loving-kindness visualization, and teach a chanting practice.
|Saturday: June, (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon
speakers open to public)
1:30pm Public Program: Taoism: Natures Oriental Code
Dr. Douglas Chung, Grand Valley State University
Dr. Douglas Chung comes from China where he was born into a family of practicing Taoist. He learned Qigong, the Taoist equivalent of yoga, from his father. As an adept and teacher of Qigong, Dr. Chung has produced videos and several about this practice of meditation and energy alignment.
As President of the Asia Society and professor of social work at Grand
Valley University, he has taught extensively about Taoist and Confucian
culture and religion. He will give an overview of the essentials of
Taoist philosophy, the teachings of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching, the
symbol Yin and Yang and the enduring impact of these ideas upon Chinese
culture and religion. He will lead a Taoist meditation.
Saturday: July, (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon
speakers open to public)
Ms. Punkin Shananaquet is a full-blooded Pottawatomi- Ojibway and is
employed in The Gun Lake Tribal Office. She describes these teachings
that she will give our class:
The protector is Ginew or the Golden Eagle for
the protection of Zeeqwun or Spring a forever pure
virgin spirit who brings us the new cycle of Spring and whose voice
is the only one Biboon (old man winter spirit) will
listen too. How important to understand our protector Ginew who protects
the Spring virgin spirit and how it relates to our own daughters and
Saturday: August, (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon speakers open to public)
(Field trip to Benton Harbor, Michigan)
Rabbi Rascoe has been active in interfaith dialogue, being a founding member of the Grand Rapids Interfaith Dialogue Association. He has worked with groups formulating minority relation, and prison religious policies. In addition, he has served as a consultant on academic and governmental projects, and been an advisor on counseling and medical issues. He has also taught elementary to college level classes.
Ordained from The Jewish Theological Seminary, rabbi Rascoe has
an MA and a BA in Jewish Philosophy from JTS and a BA from Columbia
University in Political Science
(10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon speakers open to public)
As a member of the secular branch of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, Ms. Blay -Stroba is an experienced teacher of two of the Mystical Doctors of the Catholic Church, St John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. She has served as Formation Director to Secular Order Carmelites and has conducted regular retreats and days of recollection for the Order.
She has also studied world religions for the past twenty years and has made intensive studies of Vedanta under the tutelage of Swami Bhashyananda. She will present a brief theological history of Christianity with especial emphasis on the mystical traditions.
Ms. Blay-Stroba will focus her presentation on the premise that the various spiritual traditions of the world offer contexts within which individuals strive to evolve to deeper and more profound levels of Consciousness. What is it that makes Christianity and Christian spirituality a unique voice in the spiritual world today, a voice heard first in the Galilean wilderness 2000 years ago and one that is still transforming it’s hearers today? What does it mean to “put on the mind of Christ” and to live “not I, but Christ who lives in me”?
Saturday: October, (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon
speakers open to public)
The Koran is a revealed text spoken by the Angel Gabriel into the Ear
of Prophet Mohammed [peace be upon him]
Presenting the Tenets and Practices of Islam is Dustin Byrd. Mr. Byrd
is a “local son” from South Haven, who became attracted
to Islam while in high school. Impressed by its message of radical social
equality, he saw Islam as the complement of the message given by Jesus
in the Sermon on the Mount.
Mr. Byrd will present the Five Pillars of Islam, discuss the mystical
tradition of the Sufis and will share with us some of the spiritual
practices of Islam. He brings a unique perspective of Islam unencumbered
by the cultural attributes that often permeate religious traditions
which are brought to the West from other areas of the world.
Saturday: November, (10:00am-3:30pm)--afternoon
speakers open to public)
This segment, which will close the World Faith Traditions course, will be a day long symposium dealing with the Development of Human Consciousness and how that process is approached in the various faith traditions.
Opening the symposium in the morning session, Dena Blay-Stroba
OCDS will give an overview of the process as seen through the
eyes of Developmental Psychology and Western Mystical Spirituality.
In the afternoon a panel of presenters from Hinduism: Dr Sripada
Raju; Buddhism: tba; Sufism: Muhammad
Ichlas; and Physics/Vedanta: Neil Feldman;
will approach this process from their respective traditions point of
view. We will end the presentation with an exploration of the similarities
and their implications for human harmony, and then close with a guided
Pilgrimage and Sacred Tour to Chicago: All Welcome!
For six months, students will have met together, sharing insights, dreams, visions and studies. Now they will retreat together for closer bonding, spending a few days together visiting the holy places of many faiths and sharing insights with practitioners of these faiths. This pilgrimage to sacred places in Chicago is a wonderful opportunity to put newly acquired interfaith skills into actual practice.
We will be visiting Temple, Synagogue, Basilica, and Mosque and be able to savor, first hand, the unique ambience and cultural mystique of the traditions we have studied on a more academic level. We will be able to interact with practitioners of different faiths on their own cultural ground, and participate in worship services and meditations of many of these traditions. In past years we have taken part in the Holy Eucharist at a Greek Orthodox basilica, a Shabbas service at a synagogue and have toured a Zoroastrian Temple.
These opportunities lend a profound depth of experience to our already ambitious interfaith journey. Sharing the lovely home of our hosts, Mr.Jogi and Mrs. Indra Makhija, trustees of Mothers Trust/Mothers Place and Friends of Mothers Trust, we will have the chance to eat, talk, laugh, pray, and meditate together over this joyous weekend and life time wonder! Students should also know, there will be a Sacred Pilgrimage to India, this year as well--
Reading List: Mother's Trust/LakeShore Interfaith Institute World Wisdom Course:
(Throughout the Course):
1. Religions of the World: Huston Smith
2. The Worlds Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World Religions: Philip Novak
3. The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the Worlds Religions: Wayne Teasdale
*These three books will be used throughout as base texts
NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY:
1. Black Elk Speaks: John Niehardt
2. Spirits of the Earth ( Guide to the Native American Nature Symbols, Stories and ceremonies) Bobby Lake-Thom
3. The Sacred Tree (Reflections on Native American Spirituality) Isbn 0-941524-58-2
4. The Way of the Earth: T. C. Mcluhan
5. The Earth Shall Weep: James Wilson
6. The Mishomis Book: Edward Benton-Banai
7. A little Matter of Genocide: Ward Churchill
8. American Holocaust: Stannard
1. Srimad Bhagavad Gita Swami Tapasyananda isbn 81-7120-094-X
2. The Upanishads: Christopher Isherwood; *Primary scripture of Hinduism
3. The Cosmic Revelation (The Hindu Way to God) Bede Griffiths
4. The Spiritual Heritage of India Swami Prabhavananda ISBN 87481-022-1
5. Inspired Talks Swami Vivekananda
6. The Living Goddess: Linda Johnsen (Mythology)
7. The Ramayana: retold by Krishna Dharma; also William Buck rendition (Epic)
8. The Mahabharata: retold by Krishna Dharma; also William Buck rendition (Epic)
1. The Tao of the Tao Te Ching (Translation and Commentary)* Michael LaFargue
2. The Way of Chuan Tzu: translated by Thomas Merton* *Primary Scripture of the Taoist tradition
3. The Shambala Guide to TAOISM (ancient Chinese Spiritual tradition) Eva Wong ISBN 1-57062-169-1
4. The Taoist Experience (Anthology) Livia Kohn, editor
5. Wen Tzu (Understanding the Mysteries--Further teachings of Lao Tzu) Thomas Cleary, translator
6. The Tao of Pooh; The Te of Piglet: Benjamin Hoff (Taoism Lite)
1. The Holy Bible: (Tanakh--the Hebrew Scriptures)
2. Jewish Literacy: Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
3. The Messianic Idea in Judaism : And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality : Gershom Scholem
4. Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem
5. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism: Gershom Scholem
6. Living Judaism (the complete guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition and Practice) Rabbi Wayne Dosic
7. A Jewish Theology: Louis Jacobs
8. What Do Jews Believe: David Ariel
9. The Story of God: Karen Armstrong
1. The Dhammapada Eknath Easwaran ISBN 0-915132-37-0 *Primary Scripture
2. Kindness, Clarity and Insight His Holiness Tensin Gyatso --The Fourteenth Dalai Lama -- ISBN 0-937938
3. The Heart of the Buddhas Teaching Thich Nhat Hanh ISBN 0-938077-81-3
3. Old Path, White Clouds Thich Nhat Hanh ISBN 0-938077-26-0
4. Buddha: Karen Armstrong
1. The Bible (New American; Revised Standard, or New RSV editions ----Study Bible with commentaries useful
2. Christ of the 21st Century: Ewert H. Cousins
3. The Historical Jesus--The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant John Dominic Crossan ISBN 0-06-061629-6
4. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: Marcus Borg
5. Second Simplicity: Bruno Barnhart
6. The Inner Eye of Love: William Johnston, S.J.
7. The History of God: Karen Armstrong
8. The Gnostic Gospels: Elaine Pagels
1. The Qur’an (Koran) many translations and commentaries available *Primary Scripture
2. Islam: Karen Armstrong
3. Major Themes of the Koran: Fazlur Rahman
4. The Essential Rumi (Introduction by Huston Smith) Coleman Barks -- translator ISBN 0-965-064871
5. The Essential Sufism: James Fadiman and Robert Frager
6. The Sufis: Idries Shah
7. Islamic Spirituality Foundations: Crossroads Press
8. The Heart of the Koran: Lex Hixon
9. What Everyone Should Know about Islam and Muslims: Suzanne Haneef
10 The History of God: Karen Armstrong
1. The Universe is a Green Dragon: Brian Swimme
2. The Mind Paradigm: Keith Chandler
3. Earth Dance: Elizabeth Sahtouris
4. Masks of the Universe: Changing Ideas on the Nature of the Cosmos Edward Harrison
5. The Elegant Universe: Brian Greene
6. The Hole in the Universe: K.C. Cole
***Presenters in each module will also recommend reading material for that module.
Swami Atmalokananda and Swami Tapasananda: commissioned by Swami Bhashyananda and Swami Sarvagatananda, are the Monastic Assistants and Trustees to Mataji Gauribrata Puri Devi, President of Mothers Trust/Mothers Place, Ramakrishna Sarada Ashram, Lakeshore Interfaith Community in Ganges, Michigan. Swami Atmalokananda will be the Swami-in-Charge, acting as the Successor to Mataji Gauribrata Puri Devi. It takes 14 years or longer of serious study and training to receive final vows as a Sannyasin monastic. In the Ramakrishna Sarada Ashram a Mataji-in-Charge, or Swami-in-Charge, will be appointed the President, Head of the Order. Swami Tapasananda and Swami Atmalokananda from 1973-1992 constructed the Vivekananda Monastery, in Ganges, Michigan. Both joined the Vivekananda Vedanta Society in Chicago under Swami Bhashyananda in 1973. Both were sent to India, on several occassions, then in the Vivekananda Monastery, in Ganges, Michigan, where Swami Tapasananda became in charge of construction and Swami Atmalokananda became manager from 1983-1992. In 1985, after 12 years, 1973-1985, in the Vedanta Society in Chicago, Swami Bhashyananda and Swami Bramarupananda brought Eva E. Schroeder to enter into the womens side of the Vivekananda Monastery in Ganges, Michigan, to create a monastic lineage in the direct order of Ramakrishna/Sarada nuns founded by Sannyasini Gaurima. In 1987 Eva E. Schroeder was taken by Swami Bhashyananda and his group to India where she first came upon the oldest womens convent established in 1895 commissioned by, Sri Ramakrishna and founded by Sri Ramakrishna's only woman monastic disciple Sannyasini Gauri Mata Puri Devi, named Sri Saradeshwari Ashram. Again in 1989 Eva E. Schroeder was sent by Swami Bhashyananda to this convent, Sri Saradeshwari Ashram to become the first western woman to receive sannyas from the oldest woman convent in the direct lineage of Ramakrishna/Sarada. Swami Bhashyananda and Mataji Vandana Ma exchanged letters. Swami Sarvagatananda inspired women to leave Chicago, give $20,000 and renounce to Ganges, MI, to help consruct the Holy Mother's Temple and womens side in Ganges, Michigan. Swami Bhashyananda and Swami Sarvagatananda commssioned Swami Atmalokananda and Swami Tapasananda to help with the work of constructing a Temple to the Holy Mother and with the blessings of Swami Shraddhananda giving the name, Mothers Trust/Mothers Place, and Swami Sarvagatananda giving the Articles of Association and By Laws for the religious order, organization to incorporate Mothers Trust/the Ramakrishna/Sarada womens lineage and social work began. Swami Sarvagatananda told Eva, now Sannyasini Gauribrata Puri Devi to take the help of Swami Tapasananda and Swami Atmalokananada and with their help, western women were established in the Ramakrishna Puri lineage and Sarada, Holy Mother lineage of monastics, at the Sri Sri Saradeshwari Ashram in Calcutta, India, established in 1895. Hinduism is traditionally called Sanatana Dharma which means perennial wisdom. It is very diverse and, like a mighty river, it has many sources, most of which are lost in the mists of prehistory. Not until 1987 did the west ever know of the direct women's lineage to Ramakrishna Sarada nuns established in 1895. Not until Swami Bhashyananda, translated the book Sannyasini Gauri Mata Puri Devi did the west ever know that Ramakrishna amongst his 16 male monks had a woman monastic (nun), and honored her on the altar of the Vivekananda Monastery in Ganges, Michigan. During the largest Vedanta Conference in 1987, that ever took place in the United States Sannyasini Gauri Mata Puri Devi was placed in the shrine room as the 17th monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna in the Vivekananda Monastery, by Swami Bhashyananda, President of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society In Chicago and the Vivekananda Monastery in Ganges, MI. A truth untold became a reality when in 1998 disciple of Sannyasini Gauri Mata Puri Devi since age 7 and Mataji, President of Sri Saradeshwari Ashram came to Mothers Trust, invited by Swami Bhashyananda and inaugurated the Holy Mothers Temple in Ganges, MI. The Ramakrishna Monks and Ramakrishna/Sarada continue to work in dedicated to equality, truth and spirituality and service. We are monastics, western michigan health clergy, parish nurses, and an interfaith community.