I would like on behalf of the Trustees of the Templeton Prize to say a sincere thank you Madame Suave for chairing this meeting and to the Toronto Children’s Choir, The Most Reverend Edward Scott and Dr. Suwanda Sugunasiri for participating in the ceremony.
Also a very big thank you to the small committee that has worked so hard over the past months to make this ceremony a success.
It is our fervent prayer that as a result of this ceremony being held here in Toronto a personal faith may become a vibrant way of life for many for it is I believe this personal faith that offers a joyous and happy life.
The Templeton Prize is awarded annually to a living person of any tradition or movement. The Templeton Prize does not encourage syncretism but rather an understanding of the benefits of diversity. It seeks to focus attention on the wide variety of highlights in present-day religious thought and work. It does not seek a unity of denominations or a unity of world religions; but rather it seeks to encourage understanding of the benefits of each of the great religions.
The Templeton Awards are open to every child of God. There is no limitation of race, creed, sex, or geographical background. Each year the selection is made by a panel of distinguished judges from at least four major religions. Each of the 21 Winners has been very different from each other. We rejoice in the increasingly rich diversity of religion. Millions of people in all nations are uplifted and inspired by studying the life and work of each recipient.
The world’s largest annual prize of any kind is the Prize for Progress in Religion. This is a way of saying to the world that progress in religion is more important than progress in any other area; in fact, more important than progress in all other areas combined.
The Templeton awards are given not for saintliness nor for mere good works but rather for progress in religion.
The judges ask first what has this person done which was entirely original? Secondly, was it primarily spiritual rather than merely humanitarian?
Lastly, did this original contribution by this nominee result in a great increase in either man’s love of God or man’s understanding of God? To clarify this important difference, for example, if a church should found a hospital that is humanitarian, but if a hospital should create a new kind of church, that is originality in religion.
Many other awards honour wonderful humanitarian works, but this award is reserved for originality or research in religion or spirituality.
This award is intended to encourage the concept that resources and manpower are needed for progress in spiritual knowledge. We hope that by learning about the lives of the awardees, millions of people will be uplifted and inspired to be enthusiastic about the further study and worship of God. The prize is intended to help people see the infinity of the Universal Spirit is still creating the galaxies and all living things and the variety of ways in which the Creator is revealing himself to different people. We hope all religions may become more dynamic and inspirational. We hope that more manpower and resources will be devoted to research and discovery in spiritual forces than in the physical sciences. We hope that everyone will study and work for personal spiritual growth and progress. Progress comes in many different forms and by their fruits you shall know them.
The main purpose of this programme of prizes for Progress in Religion is to help millions of people in all nations to grow spiritually in their love of God and understanding of God. Wonderful and exciting new advances are now being made in every religion. Those people who learn and read about these advances are thereby inspired and uplifted. They gain more understanding of God and love of God so that religion is a greater part of their lives and thoughts.
The Winner may benefit from the prize; but the vastly greater benefit is for the millions of readers whose spiritual growth is enhanced by studying the life and work of each awardee. Millions of readers may learn that religion is progressive and dynamic. Nothing is more important than the need to learn more about our infinite, omnipotent and all-loving creator.
Another purpose of these awards is to encourage progress in religion by calling attention to the wonderful new research, new revelations and new organizations now arising is each of the world’s religions. Progress is a part of God’s ongoing creative process.
Each major religious organization can help by establishing a department devoted to research for progress. Increasing multitudes of blessings now flow from the two hundred billion U.S. dollars devoted each year to manpower and resources devoted to research in the natural sciences. Similar manpower and resources devoted to research in spiritual subjects could lead to greater blessings for mankind.
Each of us should be deeply grateful that God allowed us to be born in this generation when the quantity of knowledge is increasing and accelerating. Much evidence has been found that God’s ongoing creative process is accelerating. Even this discovery rate in natural sciences needs to be matched by man’s spiritual progress and discovery. This could happen if religious organizations budgeted enough resources and brains towards spiritual research.
If we humbly admit how little we know, perhaps we will become diligent in searching and learning.
Greater humility is needed about our knowledge of God. He is infinite and we are very tiny and limited. No man may ever know even one percent of the infinite creative Spirit. To learn anything, first we must become humble and rid ourselves of the egotistical idea that we know all about God already.
Humility causes an open mind, which in turn makes it possible for us to learn from each other. An open mind causes progress. One of the purposes of the prize programme is to cause humility by helping people of all nations to learn about the rich variety of ways that other men love and understand the Supreme Spirit. Also, competition causes progress. it may be good for the great visions and revelations to compete with each other in a living neighbourly way. If the earth knew only one religion, mankind’s spiritual progress might be slow. When scientists study the history of the millions of types of life on earth, many conclude that the Creator has ordained competition for the purpose of progress.
Every person is a child of God. Therefore we are all brothers. Let us all then not only love each other and learn from each other. God is infinite and no human can know more than a tiny fraction of God. Therefore, in humility let us admit our ignorance and seek to listen and learn from every child of God who seeks to share with us his great inspirational visions. By listening we may learn. Loving competition with each child trying to share with other his most beautiful insights about God may enhance the vision of all.