20 years ago on October 18, 1992 the First World Congress of Spiritual Concord took place in Almaty. For the first time in the history of our planet the representatives of all religions, spiritual and social organizations, well-known scholars and artists who were concerned about the problems of spirituality gathered at one table. The date of the Congress was not chosen by chance.
A hundred years before it such an attempt to convene the Congress was made in Chicago (USA), but unfortunately it didn't find its continuation in the future.
Space. Earth. Humanity. These are the words that became the main congress motto in Almaty. It is these comprehensive words which indicated the basic ideas of the Congress, which was able to unite in the days of its work very different in outlook and confession people from different continents.
The common prayer at the opening of the Congress at the Palace of the Republic was the most memorable episode. Three thousand people under one dome turned in unison to the Creator with the most sincere impulses of their hearts. They sounded in unison with an appeal to preserve peace on earth, give patience and wisdom to all people regardless of religion and philosophy, provide food and shelter for orphans and deprived people. It is difficult to convey in words the unanimity which we had at the time of meditation. It was then when the aura appeared which during all these 20 years had been giving the vivifying energy to maintain that great beginning. This aura had been giving strength and opportunity to inherit the helm and aspirations of people who were the pioneers of our movement.
And now I am thinking with admiration and respect about untimely passed away Valentin Mitrofanovich Sidorov, an outstanding poet and publicist, President of the International Association "Peace through Culture" and G. Veselitsky, Secretary General of the International Association "Peace through Culture".
I express my deep gratitude and appreciation to those people who were pioneers of our movement and are still in their ranks, supporting and strengthening our spirit. They are Tula and Belevsky Metropolitan Alexis (and 20 years ago - Archbishop of Almaty and Semipalatinsk), Inna Ippolitovna Nemirovskaya-Kun, head of the social center "Consent", a true peacemaker and humanist, William Augustat, President of the International Association "Peace through Culture - Europe," Olzhas Suleimenov, my friend and a poet of eminence and public man, Plenipotentiary Representative of Kazakhstan in UNESCO, Eduard Balashov, a great Russian poet, and many others.
The role of Nursultan Nazarbayev, Head of State, in holding the First Congress is invaluable. Except for his support this Congress would have been simply impossible. It is enough to recall the time when it was convened. Kazakhstan as an independent state was not yet a year old. The great empire had just broken up. This led to enormous geopolitical changes in the world and deep turmoil in the minds and souls of people. The contours of the future world order and the prospects of the newly independent states obscurely showed up. The economy was in deep decline, and people lived very hard materially.
At that moment when everyone was facing the issues of physical survival of the country and every single person, it was necessary to have the wisdom and foresight of our President to understand that the main thing was the spiritual core within us and that social and spiritual concord was our precious asset and the most important condition for a decent life.
Such principles as "Let's have respect for faith!", "Differences without Discord!", "Co-service and Mercy!" became foundational for the work of the World Congress of Spiritual Concord. In the manifest accepted the participants of the Congress appealed to announce October,18 to be the Day of Spiritual Concord, the day of moratorium on conflicts and collisions, the day of searching for reconciliation, initiating understanding between people, the day of mercy and help towards fellow-creatures.
Spiritual harmony in our understanding does not mean unification, consistency, uniformity, or creating some common religion. But we hold together and seek in religion not the opposition of people to each other, but the unifying principle. All religions indeed are based on simple and comprehensible principles for all people around the world. They are the following: love your neighbor, help the afflicted, be pitiful to the poor and miserable, and follow the eternal commandments. That's the spirit of space which is the general area that brings people together.
We are united by a peremptory rejection of any form of violence. The true faith has nothing in common with violence, hatred, xenophobia, and all the more with terrorism. The new millennium should be marked by the celebration of humanity, respect for faith, kindness and mercy.
Looking back at two passed decades, we sum up and elaborate on what we have been able to implement and what remains to be done.
Upon an initiative of the World Congress of Spiritual Concord a socially significant date – the Day of Spiritual Concord - had been included in Kazakhstani calendar. It is widely celebrated among public of our country with the full support of government agencies. This unique holiday is not yet in any other calendar of the world, but our supporters in other countries celebrate it also.
Carrying out the Days of Spiritual Concord, we have revived the traditions of charity, after they had been lost for decades. In as little as five years after the first Congress in 1997, 60 thousand people all over Kazakhstan gathered at one dastarkhan on the Day of Spiritual Concord on one day and at one hour. And they were all united by feelings of mercy and compassion, attention to childhood and orphanage, old age and loneliness, the ill and disable people. Charity events on October 18 are not just a nice gesture, but really the creation of something for public weal, the creation of good. It is an impulse of the heart. And if it comes from the soul, it creates a return awe in the soul of a person who accepts it with gratitude. Thus a special spiritual connection between people is born.
International Foundation "Congress of Spiritual Concord" and association "Peace through Culture" annually conduct informative international research and practice conference focused on the spiritual and moral problems of human survival.
Perhaps it would be no exaggeration to say that the Movement of Spiritual Concord largely paved the way to implement in future such a global project as the Congress of World and Traditional Religions in the capital of Kazakhstan. Three congresses have already been hosted in Astana with great success and they have been preparing for the fourth one. Kazakhstan has initiated a dialogue of civilizations within the frames of "The Muslim World - the West".
At the present time, when the idea of achieving Spiritual Concord is acquiring more distinct lines, we have come to understanding that a key element in achieving the Spiritual Concord is the Spiritual Culture.
The World Forum of Spiritual Culture, which was held in Astana on October 18-20, 2010, has become the most important stage of our work. More than 500 delegates from 72 countries of the world came to attend it. For the first time ever the Forum appealed to unite the two wings of spiritual culture: religious and secular spirituality, to which we could refer anything related to human activities outside the material culture.
The World Forum of Spiritual Culture indicated a deep crisis of modern technocratic civilization and the necessity to move to the civilization of Spiritual Culture. The Forum turned attention of the world community to the vital necessity to overcome the global crisis of spirit and morality. It urged everyone to mobilize their inner strength and physical ability to restore harmonious relations between people, a man, space and nature, states, nations and the international community, an individual and the Higher World. In such a way the Forum at a new stage of its development picked up the torch of the First World Congress of Spiritual Culture in Almaty with its "Space. Earth. Humanity" motto.
All the latest events in the world did only confirm the analysis of the situation on the planet made at the Forum. The world is inevitably creeping into a new phase of financial and economic crisis. The latest World Economic Forum in Davos admitted that proper conclusions had not been made in regard to the crisis in 2008. The current global economic model is in need of a fundamental reconstruction. Millions of frustrated, unemployed people, who lost their savings and means of sustenance, have become breeding grounds not only for peaceful protests, but also for illegal, extremist actions. Entire states are ready to resort to arms to protect their selfish interests in search of virtual and illusory enemies. Endless local wars, never-ceasing arms race, unlimited plundering of the earth interior, fussy game in defence of narrow corporate and so-called national interests have become a stumbling block of the modern world, an enormous labyrinth, to escape from which is just impossible.
We have seen different "colour" revolutions, local wars and conflicts. Unfortunately, none of the smouldering or hot conflicts has yet found its solution, and people are more sceptical of the possibilities of the international community to influence their peaceful outcome. The political structures, interstate and international organizations are not able to effectively resolve these challenges. The reasons are in their dependence on customary stereotypes in relationships, the desire of some people to have all the material benefits of the world and the desire of others to be more independent in their development, lack of real parity between states, double standards in dealing with pressing problems and conflicts. The most important thing is that every year these conflicts worsen notwithstanding external, sometimes impressive forums and summits, numerous bilateral and regional meetings, signed agreements, because every time they face the impossibility of opponents to move beyond their own interests.
All this, of course, affects the aura that surrounds the earth space, and accordingly evokes response from the Earth to man's irresponsible behaviour. Climate changes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, devastating hurricanes are the answer of the foremother Earth to our truly barbaric and destructive attitude towards her. After all everything in this world is interconnected. There is nothing accidental, and the Earth with all creatures inhabiting it is a single living organism. Thus the evil perpetrated by us towards our neighbours, other specimen of humanity, animate and inanimate nature, inevitably comes back as a boomerang. We see how weak and helpless people are in the face of environmental and technological disasters, which, alas, increasingly become a matter of their own hands.
Thus the situation in the world is perhaps even more drastic than it was 20 years ago. But if all is that bad, does not the mankind have any prospects? Are those prophets who herald the end of the world in the near future right?
Our like-minded colleagues from International Public Organizations "Congress of Spiritual Concord" and "Peace through Culture" and we are convinced that there is a solution. Only spiritual and moral rebirth of a man can save the world from destruction. We are sure that the spiritualization of the world is a common task for all sensible people both for the present and for the future. According to the tradition we propose to convene in Astana on October 18, 2012 the conference dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the First World Congress of Spiritual Concord. We are to draw the results of the past period and to define the tasks of our movement for the future. This conference will be an important step in preparation for the Second World Forum of Spiritual Culture, scheduled for 2013.
We invite all who share our views and to whom they are close to Astana. We should hold together more than ever, since there are not so many of us, as wished it to be. And significance of each of us is much larger than we tend to think and suppose. The more we are, different and unlike each other, but united by one goal and task, the more effective our team work will be. Let's do everything we can so that the work started 20 years ago has a worthy continuation and a bright future!