UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez shared her journey to faith in all its forms at a conference Thursday night, recounting scenes ranging from worshipers in Bali to the Church in the Woods in California.
Tuminez has woven stories of religions and cultures around the world, noting the characteristics she observed at BYU’s second annual Richard L. Evans Memorial in the boardroom of the Hinckley Center. The conference aims to highlight interfaith understanding and is named after the Latter-day Saint Apostle known for his ability to overcome religious differences.
Tuminez shared stories from his early childhood in the slums of Iloilo City, Philippines, and the early foundations of Catholicism and Spiritualism. Her religious life became more formal when the nuns of the Daughters of Charity found her family and invited her to attend school for free.
After she converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she became hopeful and satisfied with her state of life and knowledge. Over time, however, she said her faith became more fragile. âI started to get hungry to better understand how God showed his love for all of his children. “
In a world of many ways of worshiping God, Tuminez decided to open his mind to “truths that others know that I did not know.” She not only studied the scriptures of her own Latter-day Saint beliefs, but also explored Hindu and Buddhist passages to gain a better understanding.
Tuminez presented the truths she learned on her journey, focusing on each with an interfaith curiosity perspective. These truths included mindfulness, temples, worship in its many forms, gratitude, compassion, and mercy.
Tuminez insisted on accepting change and advised against clinging to the notion of permanence. “We suffer because we do not deeply understand that happiness and suffering are two sides of the same coin.”
She explained that the balance between happiness and sadness is essential for overall development, but according to Buddhist teachings, suffering can be alleviated by love, kindness and compassion.
Tuminez advised listeners to aim for mindfulness in the midst of their busy lives and recommended building muscle for meditation. She said using her breathing can help “unite your body with your thoughts.” After a life of being her harshest critic, Tuminez described the progress she has made in caring for herself and others.
Describing each characteristic that she strengthened during her religious journey, Tuminez shared stories of travel and appreciation of distinct cultures, including religions such as Hinduism, Catholicism, Sikhism and Islam. . She spoke of her 11 years of kung fu training and adventures in many temples around the world.
She also mentioned a broader understanding of prayer. âPrayer could not say anything that we say. In some cases, it may simply be the ability to feel awe in the presence of mystery and the sacred. “
Tuminez said she was amazed when she saw the transient Northern Lights in Finland, and advised her listeners to strive to have that same admiration for “what is around and with us” and not to take life for granted.
Tuminez shared one of his biggest lessons learned from his Muslim friend and businessman, Datu Ibrahim ‘Toto’ Paglas III. She said establishing a plantation helped transform a local area, turning Muslim and Christian hearts towards each other. Following this example, Tuminez said, âWe must remember that the sun and the rain fall on everyone, and we are not to judge. We only have to love others.
Concluding his lecture, Tuminez described all of his experiences saying, âI welcome the proposition that the truth of God is one. Everywhere is the light of God.
âEvery moment, in every circumstance, in every interaction, in shared experience, if we pay close attention to it, we can find the virtuous, the beautiful and the true. We can touch God. We can find love. It’s abundant and it’s enough, âshe said.