One of Loka Hatha Yoga's teachers, Aaron, had served the Grand Valley Interfaith Network as Vice Chair for over 2 years. He has recently resigned from these duties in response to changes being undertaken in the Network. Loka Hatha Yoga will remain a member of the Network at this time: but our leadership is unable to perform both the new duties of the Network's leadership and our own leadership duties. In resignation, neither he nor we intend to express anger, hostility, or antagonism. But there is sadness.
Ours is a practice that is all-embracing, one of inclusion - not exclusion. The changes intended by GVIN to modify its bylaws, articles and purpose to reinstate its 501c3 status was not a decision made by all its members (as required by its current bylaws), nor one which we would have supported if it were presented as a question to us. It was a decision motivated out of fear - of the broadening and diversifying membership of GVIN, intended to retard the expansion of the networking opportunities of members with groups whose theological and philosophical positions are different. We find this decision ethically questionable, morally objectionable, and procedurally improper. It has been damaging to the friendship of member organizations and communities, and divisive: it has obstructed our ability to work together to achieve our shared 501(c)3(A) purposes.
It has surprised some members that Loka Hatha Yoga would feel such love and friendship for atheists and satanists. It has in the past surprised others that we would befriend Evangelical Christians. We are friends with everyone: ours is, if the phrasing may be forgiven, a "catholic" practice, which is all-embracing. We stand opposed to antisemitism, islamaphobia, anticatholicism, homophobia, and all xenophobia and exclusion.
We believe that in such a small world we cannot stand apart. Therefore, it is impossible for our leadership to perform the duties of Vice Chair in facilitating the exclusion of atheists and satanists. We cannot require any declaration of faith from our members, nor any declaration of belief, nor adopt any creed, or dogma. Friendship and love know no boundaries - especially in a network intended toward facilitating friendship and love between very different community organizations.
GVIN has not been a religious organization for decades: the reason for this is because this makes GVIN more effective at promoting networking opportunities between its member organizations. We cannot undertake activities that are calculated to cause one another distress, not when we are all working toward the same goals already, and require everyone's help to succeed. We must remain mutual friends with everyone, despite their long animosity toward one another, and this is possible - if we do not actively participate in GVIN's leadership in this action of exclusion.
We also would strongly object to the new desire to require donations to participate in the network without any clear indication on how the money is required, or where it will be spent. GVIN has more financial resources than most of the families in the Grand Valley it is trying to help. It has gone years without spending money in its service, an example of frugality and generosity. Why is it suddenly unable to serve the community of members with a network through its present resources? Are GVIN's resources now being used to supplement the activities of its members as they serve the community? How can this be divided fairly?
It is contrary to our practice to give Dana without need. It is also contrary to our practice to contribute Dana indirectly through a clearinghouse, but to provide Dana directly, and to facilitate the Dana whenever possible, instead. We teach against the senseless accumulation of wealth; instead we teach resourcefulness. It is outrageous to think GVIN could become a pay to play organization: the network's free communication and networking opportunities cost nothing. It is run by volunteers.
We teach that to succeed one does not require more money. We must focus on our similarities, not our differences and where we work together, work better together. To do this we must promote friendship among all religious communities. To do this we must learn about our different practices, and learn to tolerate them - however barbaric or backwards they may seem to us. We must not be afraid to sit down at the same table as our traditional enemies and opponents: not if we would accomplish that worthy goal which brings both of us to the same table. We have many differences but when we see that we are working toward the same goal, we have to acknowledge we are already working together.
In response to this growing xenophobia, both in GVIN and in our city at large, Loka Hatha Yoga has begun a campaign of friendship and love through Yantra, Dana, and other directed engagement. We intend to show that no resources are required for Dana, to reaffirm faith in frugality and resourcefulness. We intend to restore faith in friendship and the reality that we are all very much more similar than different. We ask you to reach out to us, and network, so we can work together toward the betterment of our shared home better. We all live here together, we have no one but each other. Therefore we must take good care of one another.