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“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

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A simple Quaker lady

Medical Whistleblower is as an advocacy network interfaith oriented and provides to all regardless of religious faith or spiritual pathway. 

 

Because I have had people ask me what my own faith is, I have put together this webpage to answer that question for those who are curious.

Medical Whistleblower supports the right to religious choice of all who come to us.  We are interfaith in nature and support all of every faith and even those who do not profess any faith.  Your religious faith or lack thereof is not a factor in your right to assert your human rights and your right to be a human rights defender.

I have offered this web page for those who  had questions and wished to find out more about Quakers - Religious Society of Friends. 

There are 92,996 Quakers in the USA and 339,933 worldwide.

Celtic Music

A Still Small Voice

The Light may illuminate a gathered group as well as an individual heart and bind the group together in a community of faith, of conscience, or of experience.

  - Gordon Browne, Executive Secretary of Friends World Committee for Consultation,

Section of the Americas (1981-1988)

 

 

Quakers hold the belief that God endows every human being with a measure of the Divine Spirit which may be directly experienced.

One of the most important messages that Quakers have to offer is that religion, or belief, is experiential. It is not just a matter of accepting words or practices, but of experiencing God for oneself. 

From the beginning, Friends gave women and men equal status, for the fact that we are all children of God bestowed an equality upon all. This concept led to the testimony that one person should not set himself above others through human honors and distinctions, which are meaningless in the sight of God. From this came the Quaker practices of simple living, plain dress and plain speech.

Friends believe that if they wait silently upon God there will be times when God will speak to us in the heart. The silent Meeting of Friends is, therefore, the sacrament of communion with God during which Friends lay themselves open to the leading of the Spirit. George Fox often wrote about his "openings," meaning revelations, and it has been the experience of Quakers over the centuries that openings will occur in the mind or that "a way will open." 

Openings can come to individuals when they are alone, or they may come out of the silence of a gathered Meeting for Worship. It is a perennial question as to whether a leading comes from God, from one's own ego, or from another power, and it is the practice in the Society of Friends to test a leading or a concern in a meeting with others.

When they meet for business Friends strive to obtain the "sense of the meeting" from those present before taking action, for they recognize the Light as a force which creates unity among all who respond to it or who "answer" it in one another. It does not follow that a majority is always right; a prophetic role is a lonely one and, if a concern is deeply felt and continues to be raised, the Meeting will continue to hear it and may later come to recognize its validity.

Our manner of worship is an outgrowth of this belief.  We gather in quiet assemblies, mindful of the words: “Be still, and know that I am God.”   In a Friends meeting for worship, we come together in reverent silence with the desire to draw nearer to God and to understand God’s will.  It is a time for sharing feelings and to reflect on the value of life.  All share equally in this.  We sit quietly, at times an individual may be moved to speak, to offer a prayer or a message that has come out of the silence.  All are welcome to share.  The meeting is closed with handshakes.  The responsibility for the spiritual depth of the meeting rests with each attender.  Those who keep silence as well as those who give a vocal message do their part when they yield their minds and hearts to the guidance of the Spirit.  Friends hope that in the Meeting for Worship a consciousness of the Divine Presence will come to every attender, to be a source of direction, strength and comfort after leaving the meeting.

Friends hold that the words of the Bible should not be taken as the final revelation of God. The Books of the Bible were written by men who were acting under the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is necessary to read the words in the power of the same Spirit and to listen to what the Spirit then speaks in your heart. The words are active agents in the sense that, when read in the Spirit at the appropriate time, they spring to life for the reader and take the reader forward on his or her spiritual journey.

Friends do not use the Bible directly as a guidebook or rule book lest it substitute for each person’s own direct experience of the Light of Christ.  In every area of life the Spirit must be absolute.   Quakers believe that the biblical writers were divinely inspired.  The power of the Spirit to bring people into unity is a final test of the guiding of the Light.  Sharing the Spirit of God within them underlies the deepest of all Quaker experiences, the unspoken awareness of the unification of the group by the Spirit in the Silent Meeting, where the whole body, and not primarily its individuals, received power, wisdom and joy.

 Over the years, the practice of Quakerism has developed in different ways in different regions. Members of the Society have been affected by varying influences such as the greater awareness of Eastern religions, the growth of psychology and the development of scientific knowledge. Since the Society is non-creedal, the spectrum of belief held by Friends has widened and different opinions may be held in different places or cultures.

"Government seems to me a part of religion itself, a thing sacred in its institution and ends. ... And government is free to the people under it, whatever be the frame, where the laws rule and the people are a party to those laws; and more than this is tyranny, oligarchy, or confusion. ... As governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad. If it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be ever so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn."

  - William Penn, "First Frame of Government", 1682

Quaker Declaration of Pacifism

 "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatever;  this is our testimony to the whole world.  The Spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move unto it;  and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world."

                    - to Charles II, 1660

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”


Martin Luther

"If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?"

Confucius

Faith and Action

IT MUST BE RIGHT to say that consistency between faith and action is one of the most characteristic features of Quaker faith. When George Fox, sought for a genuine way to find God, he looked in vain for witnesses among the Christians he visited, and he realized that he had to live it by himself rather than expecting it from others.

The hindrance of faith in action is fear. How are we able to overcome fears? In the history of Friends, there were many courageous ones who dared to go to jail. We are often impressed by the courageous acts of early Quakers like Fox and James Nayler, who spoke truth even when they were surrounded by people who would persecute them severely.

Victor Frankel, the German psychotherapist who survived the horrifying experiences of Auschwitz during the Nazi time, pointed out the freedom for us to choose with determination this or that, as something that nothing and no one can take away from us human beings, even in any existential, extreme condition. He said something like this: For us, rich possibility is open to form our life to be meaningful, even at the very end of our life.

If we seek meaning for our life, our life always has meaning, under any circumstance. By finding the meaning, we are able to view things differently than before. Not that we expect something from our life, but the expectation comes out of our life. For us, the crucial incidents—matters of life and death, unbearable pains and sorrows—are important for what they mean in the program of God, rather than in the unhappiness and failure they hold for us.

                — Susumu Ishitani, 1992

 

 Susumu Ishitani was a child in Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped there on August 9, 1945. Today he is a professor of ethics and an active member of the Tokyo Monthly Meeting.

Native American Flute

External Links:

The Religious Society of Friends

Contemporary Writings

Peacemaker sites 

Conscience and Light

FAITHFULNESS TO THE LIGHT is the watchword of all who hunger and thirst after righteousness-of all seekers after the kingdom of heaven. Is this merely an equivalent for the more commonplace expression "obedience to conscience"?

Surely not. Conscience, as we all know, is liable to perversion, to morbid exaggerations, to partial insensibility, to twists and crochets of all sorts, and itself needs correction by various external standards. Conscience, therefore, can never be our supreme and absolute guide. Whether it can ever be right to disobey it, must depend on the precise meaning we attach to the words "conscience" and "right," and into this puzzle I have to intention of entering. In a broad and practical sense, we know that if there were nothing above conscience, conscience would assuredly lead many of us into the ditch; nay, that, for want of enlightenment from above, it actually has led many there.

The light by which our consciences must be enlightened, the light in obedience to which is our supreme good, must be something purer than this fallible faculty itself. It must be that power within us, if any such power there be, which is one with "the eternal will towards all goodness." It must be a power as all-pervading and immanent in the spirit of man as is the power of gravity (or whatever yet more elementary force gravity may be resolved into) in the out world he inhabits. it must be the power in which we live and move and have our being – the power and presence of God.

– Caroline Stephen, 1891

"WHEN THE BRITISH Cabinet Mission went out to India to try to settle the Indian question on the spot, there were two or three interesting Quaker Meetings. Each of them was attended by members of the British Cabinet Mission, by prominent Indian Nationals, including the sister of Pandit Nehru, and by leading Moslems, including Sir Hassan Suhrawardy.  Mahatma Gandhi attended the second.

Mr. Gandhi, at his evening prayers, spoke highly of the calm atmosphere which prevailed there. "I greatly admire the silent prayers," he said, "We must devote part of our time to such prayers. They afford peace of mind."

He also said: "Emptying the mind of all conscious processes of thought and filling it with the spirit of God unmanifest brings one ineffable peace, and attunes the soul with the Infinite."

-- William H. Sessions, 1952.

Suggested Reading for Discussion:

Friends and the War on Drugs by Raymond Bentman, Friends Journal Nov. 200 Vo. 46, No. 11, p. 6-8

 

Silence is Complicity By Sam Chamberlain, Friends Journal Nov 2000 vol. 46, No. 11,  p. 10-11

Equal Property and Legal Rights for Native Americans:

William Penn respected Native American personal, religious and property rights and made every effort to insure justice towards them. Peace existed between the Pennsylvania government and local tribes for 70 years - as long as the Friends controlled the colony's government.

"NO QUAKER would suggest that Quaker worship, in its private or public aspects is a panacea for the ills of modern life. They would, nevertheless, want to affirm most strongly that their regular participation in silent worship is, at the very least, a vital and necessary form of therapy. By and large Quakers tend to be busy people, and you rarely find them wondering how to occupy their time. They would, however, be the first to recognize how essential it is for them to have periods of disinvolvement, even from the activities which express their continuing concern to care for people .... In our disinvolvement two elements will be present. First is a kind of detachment that while standing back, accepts all experience in the hope of transcending it- seeing beyond it creatively. Secondly a cessation from all mental activity so that the body and mind are as still and quiet as possible.

The Society of Friends has always encouraged its members to seek a daily opportunity to withdraw from, the necessary affairs of life, and, "in inward retirement", to renew their resources, and also to ensure that they get their priorities right. There is no hard and fast rule about how this should be done, and Friends will set about it In the manner most helpful and natural to them .... It is, of course, an individual discipline, but it has a two-fold objective. The first is to enable a person to be in touch with the inner core of his being so that his whole life may be renewed. The second is to help to prepare him to enter more fully into the corporate worship which is the central activity of the Society of Friends ... [Yet] the uniqueness of the Quaker approach lies in its emphasis on the role of silence."

 

         -George H. Gorman, 1973.

Quaker Statement of Social Concern

    Friends' belief in that of God in everyone leads us to work for a society in which everyone is valued and everyone is enabled to use their gifts to the full.

    We are concerned that since 1984 New Zealand society has been moving in the opposite direction. We see policies pursued by successive governments as socially destructive. We realise that many among those who have initiated and who support these policies have done so in the belief that the ends they seek are good ones. Present conditions are evidence of failure to achieve desirable outcomes.

    Indicators of social distress are high and have increased on former rates. This applies to unemployment, crime, depression and suicide, child abuse, domestic violence broken families and homelessness. The gap between rich and poor has been increased. Those who are poorest find it almost impossible to climb out of the poverty trap.

    Present policies erode the bonds of trust and respect on which our sense of community is based. They impoverish our spiritual lives through loss of compassion for others. They endanger the well-being of present and future generations.

    At least as disturbing as the substance of these policies is their spirit. This spirit is implied in the public discussion document "Towards a Code of Social & Family Responsibility."  It is a spirit of meanness and lack of imagination which blames, the poor for their poverty.  It ignores the fact that economic policy since 1984 has created high unemployment and therefore results in more beneficiaries.  Every policy decision needs to be made in the light of its human consequences.

    We urge concerned people to speak and act now. We need to remind government that exercising fiscal responsibility does not imply measuring the success of a country or its government only by economic indicators. Many of the things we value most in society cannot be measured in that way.

    We call for a response from all who see this time as an opportunity to transform an economic and social system based on exclusion into a society which recognises that social justice cannot be achieved at the expense of other people. We also call on our own community to look within our hearts, for as Friends we believe that the seeds of the present policies have nourishment in our attachment to possessions, our collusion with consumerism, our complacency, and even in our unrecognised elitism and monoculturalism.

    The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

    in Aotearoa/New Zealand

    Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri

    Quaker Peace & Service New Zealand

    PO Box 4631

    Christchurch

What Do Quakers Believe?

 Historically there can be no question but that the Society began as a Society of Christians, and for the most part of its life the Christian basis was accepted without demur by its members However, a Society lives in its members and not in its history. Any discussion of what the early Quakers believed is interesting...yet the important question is what Quakers believe now, not what they believed fifty or two hundred and fifty years ago…

 [Members] should not concern themselves with questions such as "What are your beliefs, my beliefs, the Society's collective beliefs...for such questions lead on to judgments of others, and the sorting of humanity into Christians and non-Christians.

It would be more productive and more Quakerly if the questions we asked ourselves were:

    (a) Why do I have to have beliefs?

     (b) Does it matter to me what other people believe?

     (c) Is it important to me if those with whom I worship and work are exclusive Christians or not?

     (d) If it matters to me, why does it matter?

 This last question is...the critical issue… It is surely very important to know why the convictions of others in this respect should matter so much to us. And it is worth remembering that one reason for attaching importance to uniformity of belief is not being quite sure of oneself I feel fairly sure Jesus himself ...would have been quick to recognize and applaud other teachers whose teachings were similar to his. We need the teachings too badly to split hairs about the differences...or worry about the names we give them.

 

- Geoffrey Hubbard, 1974

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
 
― Leo Buscaglia

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"Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself."  Confucius

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt- Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910