South Florida Hosts Interfaith Discussion On Compassion

May 22, 2014

Dr. Nathan Katz introduces the seven panelists at Florida International University's GC ballrooms.
Credit Lisann Ramos

Florida International University hosted a panel discussion between leaders of different faiths Wednesday evening. The theme of this interfaith dialogue was “Love and Compassion is Our True Nature.”

Representatives from six different religions each spoke about compassion and how it relates to their practices.

The panel was put together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Paramahamsa Hariharananda’s journey to the West. He was born in India, studied all religions and worked and lived in Miami before passing away in 2002.

Dr. Nathan Katz, a professor at FIU who moderated the panel, feels that Paramahamsa was the perfect subject for the discussion.

"Pointing all of us towards not a particular religion, not his Hindu faith, not any particular faith but to what underlies our traditions and that’s this heart, this compassion. Secular people, religious people, we all have that same heart and that same essence, I believe," said Katz.

"For me it’s such an act of love for all these religions to come together and discuss what... they have in common," said Laura Pascal, an attendee. "That love and compassion is something that crosses what seemingly are lines between religions. That they’re more alike than they are different."

The panel included Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson,  and representatives of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Jainism.

There will be a second interfaith panel at 6 p.m.  Thursday night at the Unity Church of Fort Lauderdale.