Why Emerald Hills Institute?
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
To be kind is more important than to be right
--Traditional Jewish Proverb
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
--The Dalai Lama
The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk on the earth in modesty, and if the impudent offend them, they continue their way, saying, “peace”
Sixty years ago a humble imam in Turkey, Fethullah Gulen, began teaching in earnest a principle taught through all the world’s great religions and by remarkable faith leaders on every inhabited continent. Articulated by the likes of the Buddha, Jesus Christ, and the prophet Mohammed – as well as countless others – the principle Fethullah Gulen emphasized was simply this: The greatest service we can render to our Creator is heartfelt service to our fellow human beings.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When a group of Turkish families in Utah sought a way to give back to the community which welcomed them, they turned to the hizmet (Turkish for “service”) teachings of this humble but scholarly imam, and discovered a rich field of opportunity – not just to serve their new neighbors, but to nurture opportunities to learn about and work with them.
I am not East or West.
I am not Christian or Jew or Muslim.
I am not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.
I am not owned by any established religion
Or any cultural system.
I am neither the body nor the soul,
For I belong only to the Divine Soul of my Lord, my Beloved.
It is remarkably easy to relax into viewing all the world as endless encounters of “us” versus “them”. Through service and mutual appreciation, this core of volunteers quickly recognized that those things which are common among all people – a desire for health and safety, security for our children, and peaceful society – far outweigh the differences, and whatever differences there are such as language, background, and traditions can be explored and appreciated.
Tolerance and dialogue allow us to grow together as friends; Emerald Hills Institute provides opportunities to work together as we make our entire community more vibrant and alive – not just for one group or another, and not just by one group or another, but through all of us working together for the benefit of everyone.
When you learn, teach; when you get, give
Through programs such as weekend school and tutoring, creative workshops and classes, community awards and panel discussions, special performances and presentations, and of course the many service activities from feeding frontline medical personnel to nurturing the most desperate among us, Emerald Hills Institute provides opportunities and support for giving back and strengthening our fellow human beings.
What is in a color?
First of all, we should accept the “Emerald Hills of the Heart” as a horizon and a goal. We should try our best to at least glimpse those sacred spaces, even if it is through a crack in the door. Then we can see their glory: their stars twinkling, the moon and sun rising and setting.
--Imam Fethullah Gulen
Green is a color associated with verdant growth and abundance. In the Abrahamic traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, green is associated with plant life and fertility – a symbol pointing to heavenly abundance in an otherwise dry and dusty world. For many Eastern traditions, green jade held a mystical quality – this translucent stone could be polished to a supernal sheen, and always stayed cool to the touch. It was the precious stone of emperors and heavenly emissaries, representing new life, regeneration, and hope. Maize in South America, wheat in North America, and other sacred grains sustaining life around the world – green associated with these is a symbol of health and well being.
These impressions were in our minds when we chose the name “Emerald Hills” – this is an institute with an eye to the happiness and growth of every person, from every culture and background. Rumi, the most popular poet in North America today, said it best – “Love is an emerald. Its brilliant light wards off dragons on this treacherous path.”
The Emerald Hills Institute is founded on the idea that love – for our community, each other, and even ourselves – is best expressed through service, with the two roses of these emerald hills being tolerance and dialogue.
Ralph Waldo Emerson taught that which we give attention to grows. When we give attention to love through service, we become better – as human beings, as family, as a community. This is the purpose of The Emerald Hills Institute, to celebrate the fertile hills and hearts of our Utah community through service to the members of our extended human family. Join us, and be a part of our family.
We need this, perhaps now more than ever.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.