The Global Alliance for Interfaith Action (GAIA) is a community of caring global citizens with diverse backgrounds and beliefs (including the spiritual and the secular) who are united in our commitment to collaborate creatively to relieve suffering and increase harmony.
GAIA’s Mission & Values
The GAIA mission is to put the wisdom of the world into action to heal the suffering of the world, one heart and one community at a time. We identify specific, concrete challenges in our local, regional and global communities that can be met more effectively, powerfully and sustainably when people who do not normally collaborate or even communicate are united in service of a common altruistic goal.
We see compassion as the common ground of all the world’s wisdom traditions, and we aspire to cultivate compassion in our hearts and put it into action in our communities and our world. For GAIA, applied compassion includes caring for all people, for animal life on earth, and for the ecosystem that sustains us.
Proactive Altruistic Collaboration Across the Divides of Culture & Beliefs
GAIA appreciates the value of intercultural and interfaith dialogue as a bridge-builder, but GAIA is not a talk-oriented initiative: GAIA is about putting compassion into action.
We bring people together, across historical boundaries, in active altruistic collaboration, usually in the form of volunteer service and other such activities.
The premise, which our experience since 1997 consistently supports, is that when people from distant backgrounds (geographic, cultural, or belief) come together in selfless service of another, great things can happen. Doors, eyes, minds, and hearts are opened by the warming experience of altruistic service, and in that context there is greater possibility for meeting and deeper connection between people.
For GAIA, “Interfaith” Includes Secular Ethics
GAIA is not a religious initiative. GAIA’s work is essentially secular, humanitarian and ecological in nature.
Though many people involved in our work do have their own spiritual beliefs and practices, and we respect all of them equally because there is wisdom in all of them and all of them can inspire people to improve and to serve, those specific beliefs and practices are not the focus of our work. The “interfaith” aspect of the GAIA experience is that a central aspect of the mission is bringing together people of differing backgrounds and beliefs. But those beliefs needn’t be religious. Participants with secular/atheist/agnostic views are equally enthusiastically welcome. In fact, all people with caring hearts and reasonably open minds are warmly welcome to join GAIA and participate in its community and its programs and events.
GAIA’s view is that what is often called “spirituality“ could also be referred to in secular terms as “warm-hearted presence, relaxed awareness, honest inquiry, and compassionate behavior.” These are qualities that we value and aspire to cultivate in our work, whatever one prefers to call them, and they are central to the cultural we seek to maintain in all of GAIA’s activities.
This happens to be a priority shared by most if not all of the world’s wisdom traditions, but it is also shared by many people of a more secular orientation — and, after all, it’s a view that is quite rational and pragmatic.
So, for GAIA, “interfaith action” really means, “whatever you or i may happen to believe, let’s work together to our improve our world.”
The Genesis of GAIA
The seed for GAIA was planted during a series of interfaith exchanges and educational programs in Dharamshala, India, the exile home of H.H. the Dalai Lama of Tibet, from 1997 to 2001, and a meeting with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in Boulder, Colorado, addressing some of the same topics. In our conversations with the Dalai Lama, he strongly encouraged a focus on action more than talk, and on “secular ethics” over religious ideas. Reb Zalman highlighted the simple and (too) obvious fact that it is the earth that is everyone’s common ground (and it was he who suggested the name “GAIA” for our project, which we reverse engineered into “Global Alliance for Interfaith Action”).
Today, GAIA includes people, projects, and programs from all corners of the globe.
GAIA’s Programs & Activities
Our past activities include a variety of programs in India, the Middle East, and the USA.
Our current focus is building community online by connecting kindred spirits who are inspired by the vision of interfaith collaboration in service of others. The Earthville Network’s virtual community is our meeting place. We also post in Earthville’s “Global Citizens Blog” and we welcome GAIA allies to sign up and post there as well.
One of our proposed projects is to develop a service-learning and cultural exchange program between the Middle East and India. Approximately US$12,000 will be required to launch this project. If you might be interested in supporting GAIA with gifts, grants, or bequests, you can give online or contact us here.
And many caring people like you, from around the world.
If you have an interfaith/intercultural action project that you would
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