Spiritual inclusion, compassion drives RSO

Gabriel Tomer, Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles about religious and spiritual groups on campus.

Eastern’s Spiritual Pluralism and Selfless Service celebrates a spiritual holiday once a month in an effort to focus on spiritual growth.

The group started this activity by handing out traditional Jewish pastries in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and plans to celebrate Diwali, a Hindu festival, this October.

“Rosh Hashana celebrates a time of renewal and purification. It’s usually observed over a couple of days,” Alex Hill, vice president of the group, said. “Diwali is known as the Hindu Festival of Lights and celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness.”

Hill said the group is a spiritual organization where people may have their own religious beliefs but still recognizes other beliefs and ideals.

“We don’t adhere to a certain set of beliefs,” Hill said. “We are more guided by the principal that all people brought along the paths of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the people who are exemplary practitioners of these paths, all have something to offer…We’re not against religion, but we don’t particularly adhere to it.”

Ali Fisher, president of EIU Spiritual Pluralism and Selfless Service, helps to promote the idea of celebrating and encouraging spiritual life.

“We’re just here to provide an opportunity for people to cultivate compassion for other people’s beliefs and viewpoints,” Fisher said. “We encourage tolerance and allow people to express their beliefs in a way that allows people to feel confident and can practice their beliefs stronger. We encourage the idea that whatever path you follow is what is best for you.”

Chris Adams, one of the group’s members, said he knows Eastern’s culture of diversity plays a major role in religious-based groups on campus.

“This is a university, we’re on a college campus. There’s a large and diverse culture that’s here,” Adams said. “People are raised up in their own environment with whatever they were taught. But there are so many beautiful, different paths out there that promote love.”

People that want to join EIU Spiritual Pluralism and Selfless Service should do so to better understand spirituality as a whole, Fisher said.

“To encourage and celebrate spiritual life, this group focuses on individual commitment you make to encourage your own spirituality,” Fisher said. “If you’re seeking to deepen your faith, figure out what you believe in, or become a more compassionate person, this can provide opportunity for growth and knowledge about that and how to apply it to your life. If you want to change the world, you start with yourself. People can apply that firsthand in this group.”

Eastern Spiritual Pluralism and Selfless Service meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:15 p.m. in the Paris room at the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. All students and faculty are welcome to attend.

Gabriel Tomer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]