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Speeches

M. Murray: Address to International Leadership Conference

Address to the UPF International Leadership Conference
Seoul, Korea, February 9, 2011


Dr. Michael Murray is founder and Director of the Lantern Centre in Dublin, Ireland. The Lantern Center is a place of hospitality, set up to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue and action. He was Province Leader of the Christian Brothers in Ireland with responsibility for over one hundred schools and co-founded the Society for Management in Education in Ireland. He studied at the University College Cork and has been involved in many curriculum innovations in Ireland.

It is providential that my slot to address you is towards the end of the Conference giving me enough time to bond with you in love. I have come to recognize in you the same beauty, truth and goodness that I have come to appreciate in myself. The process of bonding with you as my true family was a steep mountain for me to climb burdened down as I was with prejudices inherited from my own insular culture with plenty of reinforcement from unsubstantiated media reports.

Because you have revealed to me the treasure which each of you is (beginning with my encounters with some of your members in Ireland) I feel encouraged to reveal to you my potential as a colleague to promote the culture of peace which is core to the mission of UPF.

Because we each share in the life of God we are impelled, like God to reveal the treasure that we are. This revelation can be achieved only through love. Like God, we love in order to be known.

As part of my  self -revelation I must confess that I was caste into a war stricken world on 17 September 1939 as a direct consequence of the actions of the quarter master of the military barracks near my home in Cork City Ireland. My homeland adopted a neutral stance in World War 2 so that, especially at the early stages,  the reality of the conflict did not impinge on people’s lives. It was felt that it would all go away and come to nothing. The British have a saying: ‘It is serious but not hopeless’. The Irish prefer to say ‘it is hopeless but not serious’.

Though the War was declared on 1 September, due to the neutral national stance and easy-going nature of the Irish, little was done in the local barracks for 17 days . Then the quartermaster decided that it might not be a bad idea to check on his store of ammunition for fear of an attack from either side.

The door of the munitions store had not been opened since the early 1920s when arms were put away at the end of a very bloody civil war. Naturally, the door lock offered resistance and pressure had to be applied. This generated a spark which triggered an explosion of the powder mills with a sound that startled the whole town. My mother, already in a nervous state due to her nature and condition, went in immediate labor and I was dislodged from my comfortable accommodation three or four days before my natural time.

Because I recognize the treasure of beauty, goodness, and truth, I need to reveal something of this to you. My personality profile reported from a number of indicators reveals me as a harmonizer and a visionary. I am likely to bite off more than I can chew in terms of responding to peoples needs. I believe that I can satisfy the needs of the whole world and still respond to my own needs. I am reported to be a charming manipulator who is likely to become an enthusiastic over-reactor when I don’t get my way. This often leads me to take more risks than I should and earns for me the reputation of being daring but devious. “Dare to be different” is my motto.

These traits were confirmed in the story surrounding my response in 2007 to the needs of the immigrant communities, which mushroomed in Ireland during 1990s, which were economic boom years in Ireland. I literally commandeered a vacated secondary school building and began to create there a place of hospitality and a space for interfaith and intercultural activity. My behaviour revealed more creativity than obedience and I behave in a manner  which could be described as subversively creative.

The clients came in their hundreds to celebrate their family occasions, their religious festivals, their national days. Currently, one room accommodates the Kinbanguist Congo Community, the Ethiopian Coptic Group, the Hindu Temple worship, a Bulgarian School, and a Georgian on a rotation basis at weekends. The Arab Forum, the Irish Muslim Magazine, the Irish Chinese Information Service, and the India Ireland Office are located in other  spaces. Interest groups from Finland and Russian-language groups work side by side and share facilities with Kurds, Tamils, and Unitarians.

We attempt to prototype the future which we know will be diverse. We are building a community of compassion on the foundation that we all share the same life, coming through us from the source of being.

We have had sessions of interfaith dialogue and debate that generated much interest and mutual understanding. We have found that sharing silence together is the most productive means of building the community of compassion. Consequently, a special space has been set aside to promote ‘Silence in the City’ activities such as meditation to the sound of, Tibetan bowls, Buddhist meditation, prayer to Gregorian chants, Relaxation Dance, and a variety of Yoga forms.

Because of the organic rather than strategic nature of the development, a ‘terrible beauty’  has been born. In the process I have exhausted the patience of my leaders and depleted my financial resources.

I have been devoured by the desire to pour myself out for the groups that came to the doors of the Lantern Centre. I have followed the path of self-emptying characteristic of the action of God in the act of creation. I found that the most difficult self emptying was in the process of surrendering the ego in order to find the self. This authentic self is what I hold in common with everyone: namely, the breath of life from the heart of Yahweh which needs love to be revealed.