In all there will be seven plenary sessions. We have prepared the following guidelines for all those who want to speak at any of them. Kindly read these guidelines seriously before you write your paper.
- Ecological Science and Eco-spirituality : A convergence of approaches ? Do recent developments in ecological science about the interconnectivity of all elements of natural systems point to a convergence with ancient spiritual teachings about the simultaneous interconnectivity of all beings ? Do discoveries in modern particle physics and quantum theory indicate the wisdom of ancient seers who analyzed reality to consist of infinite subdivisible “jivas” who are all dancing with life and consciousness at their own levels of awareness ? Are our responsibilities as human beings towards nature thus revealed both scientifically and also spiritually to be one of practising ecological inter-awareness with other life forms and with nature ?
- Medical Science and Spiritual Healing : A convergence of practices and theories ? Do new advances in medical research and physiology make ancient medical approaches to the “subtle body” more realistic ? Does healing consist not only of allopathic medical interventions based on microscopic research into physiological details, but also holistic approaches to the causes behind medical symptoms, using spiritual healing, prayer, counseling and mediation, as well as preventative medicine (diet, exercise, positive attitudes, spiritual consciousness etc.) ? Do the practices of complementary and alternative medicine not point to a reconciliation between scientific medicine and spiritual approaches to healing ? Through peace praxis, and an ending of wars and violent conflict, we can once again prioritise the health of society as a whole, an end of the diseases and suffering that still affect mankind largely.
Peace, Conflict Research and Ancient Solutions : Scientific and spiritual approaches, a convergence of ideas ? Have recent developments in peace and conflict research from a scientific perspective (mathematical modelling of conflicts, scientific psychological studies of the dynamics of communication breakdown and conflict causation), Burton’s theory of need fulfilment and Maslow’s description of the pyramid of material and spiritual needs as a framework for conflict resolution in complex multidimensional fights; how can we apply actualized wisdom in such situations ? Why can’t every school and university teach these subjects alongside the normal curriculum? How can UNESCO play a bigger role in promoting peace education ?
- Evolution: Scientific and Spiritual Approaches : Scientific and spiritual approaches to the big history of our planet and universe – where are we from ? Where are we going ? Do latest discoveries in evolutionary dynamics reveal that there are discrepancies within the purely materialistic account of evolution, as in traditional Darwinian accounts, and that spiritual factors might also be at work, as Alfred R Wallace always speculated ? How was evolution explained in ancient spiritual traditions (Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Theosophy, Kabbalah, Sufism etc.) and might they be being proved right after all ? Is conflict and violence a necessary component of evolution (“struggle of the fittest”) or was this element overemphasised by Darwinian science ? Is cooperative evolution possible ? Do recent researches show that animals and humans more often cooperate for mutual evolutionary advantages than compete ? Kropotkin, Wallace, Axelrod and other theorists have speculated that cooperation indeed plays a vital role in evolution. Metaphysics and spiritual thinkers have long argued that love is the key dynamic power underlying our onward evolution as human beings. What role does love play in evolution ? What is love ?
- Interfaith and Inter-philosophical Peace or Endless Religious Wars : A scientific and spiritual approach to interfaith and inter-philosophical peacemaking, is convergence possible ? Contemporary developments in comparative theology and comparative global philosophy point to the definite convergence of ultimate truths, and common ethical formulae that can heal the world’s problems and also our own personal dilemmas; yet too often vested interests in religious hierarchies resist theological reform or spiritual insight, and remain wedded to outmoded formulae that define religious groups as separate to one another; the Interfaith Peace Treaty is one attempt to bring about a resolution to this problem; how can religions declare their inviolable commitment to replacing inter-religious violence and hatred with inter-religious understanding ?
- Terrorism, Digital Warfare and Ahimsa (nonviolence) : Are modern day conflicts being fought by propaganda through digital campaigns and disinformation ? Since 9/11 we seem to be living in a post-truth generation, where claims and counter claims distort our perceptions of facts or lies; terror campaigns, counter-terrorism, the securitisation of our everyday lives, the widespread use of the internet for violent propaganda; all these pose new problems for traditional non-violence theory; warfare in the old sense has largely been replaced by covert and secretive violence, assassinations, murders, terrorist incidents; are the world’s so-called intelligence services also partly to blame by fostering a climate in which violence is becoming the norm in everyday geo-politics, and terrorism and counter-terrorism incidents occupy the news on a daily basis ? How can we recover respect for truth and integrity in society ? If ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth) can be restored as mainstream social values, how can we insist that political officers and military leaders tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to the people ?
- Is a Nonviolent Socio-Political World Order Possible ? : It is often said that the future of the world belongs to youths but do they have a vision of a peaceful and sustainable world order. Sadly, the world today is plagued by a plethora of problems. Humanity is fragmented into nations, divergent racial and ethnic groups, religious sects, haves and have-nots, nuclear nations and non-nuclear nations, developed, developing and under-developed nations, heterogeneous linguistic groups, theists and atheists. Can a world inhabitated by bitterly feuding, quarrelling and hating groups be rid of violence and hatred? Despite diversity can there still be unity, can all heterogeneous groups, co-exist peacefully ? Despite this heterogeneity can the dream of one world be achieved ?