Are you tired of the divisiveness and acrimony that pervades our society? Do you want to learn actual techniques and strategies to counter the trend and create harmony?
This 4-week course brings together ideas from interfaith activists, Nobel peace prize laureates, modern psychologists, and ancient Indian seekers to create a unique recipe for all those who are interested in working towards harmony.
You will learn about dialogue principles, bridge-building techniques, basic human psychology, the experiential dimensions of faith, effective communications, and more. By the end of the course you will have concrete steps you can take and be inspired to create your own path.
The course was created and will be facilitated by Interfaith Minister Gudjon Bergmann, who is the founder of Harmony Interfaith Initiative and author of more than twenty books. It includes (live chat) interactive sessions, downloadable audio recordings for each session, worksheets, PDF documents, and a free PDF edition of his book, Experifaith: At the Heart of Every Religion.
Start date: May 21, 2018
Duration: 4 weeks
Registration Opens: May 1, 2018
Price: $15 minimum donation. Bergmann has decided to donate his portion of the earnings, which means that all proceeds go directly to fund The Charter for Compassion. The more you give, the more they get.
Scholarships: If you are enthusiastic about this course but cannot make a donation due to a
financial hardship, you can ask about the availability for a scholarship. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The course includes:
- New self-study section posted weekly with written word, audio, links, and discussions. Participants get 24/7 access to all the sections from the time they are posted until the course ends.
- Optional weekly live-chat sessions with the facilitator (7 PM Central Standard Time on Mondays).
- Ability to interact with other participants and the facilitator between live sessions.
- Downloadable audio recordings for each session.
- Downloadable worksheets and PDF documents.
- PDF edition of the book, Experifaith: At the Heart of Every Religion.
- Short homework assignments to increase understanding and engagement.
- Provide ideas, techniques and strategies for social harmony.
- Improve communication skills.
- Reduce tensions.
- Deal with potential prejudices.
- Create a vision for future engagements with other people.
- Develop a harmony mindset.
Section 1: Introduction and Status Check
- Learn how the course came into being and why the lessons it provides can counter the undercurrent of social acrimony.
- Get an introduction to the five elements that are central to the program (1) the wide spectrum of harmony, (2) human and ideological personas), (3) using human experiences to build bridges, (4) ten interreligious dialogue principles, and (5) the attraction-repulsion axiom.
- Perform a personal status check.
- Obtain a list of things you can do until next session (such as watching a video, gathering quotes about harmony from people you admire, and comparing yourself to people around you).
Section 2: Harmony and the Two Personas
- Explore the spectrum of harmony—variety, subjectivity, relativity, and more—and compare humanity to a symphony orchestra.
- Learn about the two personas; a concept from Padraig O’Malley that is central to the course and the foundation on which the rest is built.
- Become aware of the danger of dehumanization and what it takes to re-humanize people once the line has been crossed.
- Understand what the path back to harmony looks like and what steps you can take in that direction.
- Watch a video about the effect of humanizing adversaries on social media.
Section 3: Bridge Building and Respectful Dialogue
- See how face-to-face human experiences are fundamental in the bridge building process and how we can create more such opportunities.
- Garner an understanding of the Experifaith model and see how it can be used to transcend ideological differences between religions and spiritual paths (PDF edition of the book, Experifaith: At the Heart of Every Religion, is included).
- Learn about the ten interreligious principles, which were created by Dr. Leonard Swidler, and how they can be used in potentially difficult conversations about all divisive topics.
- Watch a TED talk by the Three Interfaith Amigos about religious interactions.
- Begin exploring places where you can interact with people that you may disagree with.
Section 4: The Attraction-Repulsion Axiom and Next Steps
- Gain insights about human behavior from the attraction-repulsion axiom, which simply states that a strong attraction to one thing automatically creates a strong repulsion for the opposite.
- Learn about moderating behaviors that you can engage in to reduce the likelihood that your love for one thing will turn into hate for another.
- Envision your next steps and make a plan that you will engage in once the course is finished (if you can’t think of anything, suggestions will be provided).
- Learn about ways in which you can stay in touch and keep growing.
The Course Creator and Facilitator
Gudjon Bergmann is an Interfaith Minister and founder of Harmony Interfaith Initiative, a community organization that combines his passion for spirituality and religion with his deepiinterest in human psychology and his two decades of experience as a professional speaker. He has written more than twenty books and a copy of his latest work, Experifaith: At the Heart of Every Religion, is included with this program.
Bergmann graduated from All Faiths Seminary International and was ordained on June 17, 2017. He writes weekly columns for Patheos, facilitates dialogues for Interfaith Action of Central Texas on a regular basis, and teaches meditation. He was born and raised in Iceland, but moved to Texas in 2010 where he now lives with his wife and two children.
Testimonials About Gudjon Bergmann
“What can be done to facilitate meaningful discussions amongst people of different faiths and persuasions? Rev. Gudjon Bergmann has an answer. An interfaith minister, Bergmann gave a talk at Xiang Yun Temple’s Dharma Service on February 10th. The brief but illuminating presentation focused on providing listeners with guidelines and tools that they can use to share and discuss their experiences across faith-based groups. The audience found the guidelines helpful for interfaith dialogues and appreciated Bergmann’s insight and passion on this issue.”
FGS Xiang Yun Temple
"Working with Gudjon has been a delight. His professionalism, depth of knowledge of meditation and stress management is impressive. He customizes the workshops and material to best serve our attendees who really enjoyed his step-by-step method of teaching. We have had great success and positive testimonials from our attendees. We look forward to collaborating with him on future events at Sage Recovery & Wellness Center."
Sage Recovery & Wellness Center
“Gudjon’s approach is clear of dogma and codes of behavior. He describes how to establish the very basic conditions for yourself that will invite a more peaceful state of being. Gudjon is also easy to talk to and easy to understand.”
"Gudjon Bergmann is a skilled educator, scholar, writer and lecturer. It is the result of his relentless search and dedication for truth. He has fundamental qualities required for the search. He has intense desire for learning, dedication, enthusiasm, questioning, exploring and making sacrifices for the truth. He is well read in Western philosophy and psychology and has explored Eastern mysticism in a scientific way."
Yogi Shanti Desai