Reverend Doctor Wells, Lord Griffiths, Professor Halík, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening everyone. On behalf of the Trustees and my colleagues at the John Templeton Foundation, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you gathered here and also we are so grateful to all of the others who will be watching online – as we honor the 2014 Templeton Prize Laureate, Monsígnor Professor Tomáš Halík.
It is a great joy and privilege to hold the Templeton Prize Ceremony at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields. This is a church whose aim – in its life of worship and prayer – is not just to provide simple answers, but to uphold one another in, first of all, living with the questions. And then to see that questions can increasingly open both our minds and the minds of others – that, truths are real and, in turn, truths can be quite true blessings.
Thus, our presence here is so appropriate, since one of the central missions for Sir John in founding the annual Templeton Prize has included exploring questions – of such dimensions to more and more lead to breakthroughs in discoveries about Spiritual Realities.
For this privilege, we express our special gratitude to the Reverend Doctor Sam Wells. Reverend Doctor Wells – you, your colleagues and all of your staff, have been so gracious and so helpful – in making this celebration an event in which global gratitude is the order of the day.
As one of the most notable and remarkable Prize winners, Professor Halík is the 44th Templeton Prize Laureate since my Father, Sir John Templeton, the late global investor and more so even than what people might call a philanthropist, somebody who wants to empower every one of you as we have heard the music and in every other way, to be a blessing to others. And therefore the basics of this annual prize program has been a clear perspective of honoring thoroughly remarkable leaders of both limitless “Spirit and Mind” – so typically focused on others.
As Lord Griffiths noted earlier this evening, Sir John’s vision for the Prize has always fostered a pursuit of discovery – most especially the seeking of new insights into the limitless potentials in the realm of the Spirit.
The essence of this vision is what he summarized as both mental progress and likewise Spiritual Progress. From the beginning Sir John envisioned that the Prize would identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit” – those who devote their talents to expanding our vision of the intangible and deeper realities of human purpose and ultimate reality.
If Sir John were still with us today, in honoring Professor Halík, he would offer the words he so often emphasized at Templeton Prize ceremonies. That is:
“No person may even know one percent of the infinite creative spirit. To learn anything, we must first become humble and rid ourselves of things that are egotistical but instead to represent things that we do continue to know about God and more importantly, to share God with others.”
The optimal context for this vision is to encourage an open-minded spirit of humility. Many past Laureates have typically been characterized – not by claims always of finding final answers – but instead, by the discipline and the adventure of endless questions.
Sir John stressed that questions – when framed in humility – create an open mind, which in turn makes it possible for us to learn – and especially to learn from each other. Moreover, he saw that from such a passion for learning – a rising level of new glimpses of a larger, timeless Truth. In turn, even science itself actually provides wider insights into such glimpses that they become major beneficial contributors to progress.
As always, a larger, more projected optimist, my Father foresaw a day when new information from research on Spiritual Realities might truly reduce conflict between all religions. He felt that, from such research, people would come to acknowledge a rich diversity of spiritual information, which is, for some, universally accessible, or in time, could be and may well become for those who ask a question on a given day, accessible to all people.
Thus, in this way, it is hoped that all religions will embrace both Sir John’s vision, and his shaping of our Foundation’s motto: “How little we know, how eager to learn.”
Therefore, in reflection on Professor Halík’s remarkable life’s work, I would like to offer, for all of us, some quite notable contributions on how he shares my Father’s vision for spiritual progress.
First, he has rigorously pursued intellectual investigations of mind and spirit. Professor Halík asks questions relentlessly, and does not seek only simple answers.
He has worked tirelessly to explore innovative ways to think about and convey timeless Truths to others, so that people of all spiritual and cultural traditions – even atheists – may find new and deeper ways to express them.
He and his colleagues were for decades in the “underground university” and also the “underground church” in Czechoslovakia. Some of his colleagues are here today with us. In their shared determination was the determination to create the “moral and spiritual biosphere” – which is his own way of framing how the mind and the spirit can grow – and thereby to prepare Czech society for life in freedom.
Since that time, he has widely shared his ideas and beliefs worldwide among followers of widely varying cultural and spiritual traditions and, notably, also between believers and non-believers.
He speaks to those who are believers and non-believers at the same time, much like the man in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 9 verse 24, who cries out: “I believe! Help my unbelief!”
He calls for the Church to “seek the seekers”, and yet he also asks those who seek to have “patience with God.”
And for those people who do not believe – even for them, he says that they are also not blind to life’s spiritual dimension, at least if they were to ask one question, two questions and beyond. That is the basis of being a seeker which surely begins to open more and more doors.
In one of the “Big Question” videos which you can view on our website at www.templetonprize.org, he challenges us by asking: “Is God the answer or rather a question?”
He states so probingly: “Answers without questions are like trees without roots. But how often are the ‘Christian truths’ presented to us like felled, lifeless trees in which birds can no longer find a nest?”
Professor Halik continues: “We must shift from apparently final answers back to infinite questions. Questions are sometimes more important than answers. There are also questions that are so good that it is a pity to spoil them with answers.”
Today, as we celebrate the Templeton Prize and more than 40 Years of Spiritual Progress built into the Prize, we offer the same homage that Sir John would happily do, to Monsignor Professor Halík.
He has continually opened vistas that advance human rights and humans’ opportunities when they do open their Minds and their Spirits.
Many of his notable and relevant visions correlate in various ways to previous Templeton Prize Laureates who have accentuated virtues that are essential to the advancement of society. These virtues include love, and the breadth of human qualities such as: humility, gratitude, creativity, accelerating creativity, and future-mindedness.
For Sir John, each year’s Prize winner was a blessing, because each provided a significant spectrum of wider sense of ways to think – ways that often offered truly transformative ideas. That is the blessing that Professor Halík has brought to us – and by way of this Prize, he will offer it to more and more people in the world.
You can all learn more about the previous Templeton Prize Laureates in an exhibit downstairs here at Saint Martin. Those of you watching online can always learn more through our website.
In this spirit, we earnestly ask all of you in our global audience to please recognize more specifically Professor Halík as an inspiration for this ministry. Then, with the diversity and depth of his many contributions, we sincerely hope that among the many here this evening – in person, or via the media – that you may also ponder other persons – who in turn will consider other persons as probable or likely worthy nominees for the 2015 Templeton Prize.
In fact, everyone in the world is a potential nominator for the Templeton Prize. I sometimes think that people do not believe me when I say this! But it’s true. This is because the very qualities recognized by the Prize are wide and also multi-dimensional concerns or roles – and thus, are deeply relevant to every human being in the world.
The objectives and criteria for making nominations are clearly provided on the Prize website, and also in a takeaway brochure at the exhibit downstairs. Thus, in addition to sharing your thoughts with us regarding our honor of the judges’ selection of Professor Halík, we also look forward to your range of nominations for the next cycle, which are due by July 1, this year.
And so, again in the spirit of Sir John, and on behalf of the Trustees of the John Templeton Foundation and the Judges of the Templeton Prize, Professor Halík and Lord Griffiths, please now join me for the presentation of the 2014 Templeton Prize.