Perhaps it was a “Fruedian slip” but during last night’s phone meeting for the leadership circle of the Community of The Mystic Heart, I overheard one person say, “…and Namaste is defining interspirituality to be…” My first thought was that quoting Namaste on the facts of interspirituality was like quoting Johann Gutenberg on the facts of Christianity. Yes, they are the media for delivery of the message, but they are NOT the authority nor the owners of the message. I think that sense of ownership belongs to the extended “Alliance” that is doing the teaching, community building and ordaining of interspiritual ministers. I have to print up several OUnI co-ordination certificates today for Interspiritual Ministers ™ where the “Alliance” is referenced in the fine print. Is there a community and voice within Namaste that is now part of this greater community?… Just my initial thoughts on this and wondering what everyone else is thinking about moving interspirituality forward into the world.
Thanks for this Kurt. If we were creating a new religion, the arguments about definition would ensue and the results could be fatal. But it doesn’t feel to me that we are creating a new religion. It seems that we are exploring, interspiritually, a new perspective on the human urge to find ultimate meaning and purpose through a universal and consillient spiritual container that transcends the dogmatic boundaries often imposed institutionalized religions. Ours seems to be a process rather than a end-state. Therefore, Namaste’s definition can be welcomed along with everyone else’s. It seems to me that our blog can provide a “commons” that can include a marvelous diversity of definitions and views on the subject from which we can forge our own private and shared definitions and perspectives.
(Ed, is there a comment from Kurt that I’m not seeing that you are responding to or are you responding to the initial post from me?)
Ed, thank you for your comment. While I would like to agree with you that we are not creating a new religion, I have to hold my breath when I say that. According to Ken Wilber, we create a religion every time we try to teach another person how to duplicate our spiritual path. Are we not trying to manifest change in people’s lives by drawing themy from belief to a mystic state where there is a connection to others with a different path? That seems to be the mission of SPI. OUnI takes those folks and validates and ligitimizes them to be accepted by other spiritual paths and organizations and governments. We like to say that we are a new form of spiritual expression, not a new religion…. But don’t hold me to that since I believe that we meet Wiber’s definition criteria. What do you think?
It’s too soon to define Interspirituality. Nor will it be one person or one company that does the defining. Rather the meaning of the term will emerge over time and after lots of wrangling. Even then each of us using the word will probably put our own spin on it.
I think of Interspirituality this way. Interspirituality is a method for moving toward Truth. This of course begs the question, “What is Truth?” Taking refuge in Lao Tzu I would say the truth than can be defined is not the Eternal Truth. The Eternal Truth is a direction we can move in rather than a destination we can arrive at. Truth is like “north.” We can travel north, but never arrive at north.
As a method Interspirituality helps me hold the various insights of religion (as well as other wisdom paths such as art, literature, music, and science) without having to choose among them. It teaches me how to hold paradox and difference without trying to solve or reconcile anything.
For example, Interspirituality doesn’t ask me to take the Christian’s Heaven and the Buddhist’s Nirvana as synonyms. Rather it allows me to hold the truths of both as an expression of a larger and perhaps undefinable human need. I don’t have to choose between Heaven and Nirvana, only be present to them both. Since Truth is undefinable, the question isn’t which is truer–Heaven or Nirvana–but what truths can I glean from each.
Does this method imply a new religion? Sadly, I think many of us will push to make Interspirituality a religion with its own clergy, rites, saints, and (most importantly) heretics. This is how the ego works, and there are those among us whose egos need the imprimatur of some institution, and will create the Church of Interspirituality to meet that need.
One last thought: I have deliberately avoided any mention of mysticism. My friend Brother Wayne Teasdale linked Interspirituality with mysticism, and my friend Tim Miner seems to be doing the same. If we are, as Tim says, seeking to move people from belief to a mystic state we are doomed. Very few people actually achieve mystic states, or at least the only mystic state that matters: the state of nondual awareness. If Interspiritual people have to reach that state we needn’t worry about creating a religion. We’d be lucky to have a bowling team.
I think Interspirituality as a method isn’t tied to any state or any religion. It is broad enough for mystics and nonmystics alike. Sorry to go so long.
I am really pleased to be entering into this conversation for THIS is the heart of where our movement is today on interspirituality. My friend, Rami, has so brought up so many points that should be explored. Where to begin?
I see Rami quoting LZ about the nature of “truth.” I am afraid he was sidetracked by that issue. I agree with him that interspirituality is a “moving towards.” In my presentation at the first BIG I Conference I said that interfaith must be thought of as a verb, not a noun. Interspirituality is also a verb. It is not the movement towards the truth, it is the reconciling of our respective current understandings of the truth in a way that is mutually supportive and empowering. Interspirituality is a way to survive the human condition in a landscape full of “un-knowables and the un-provables.” The issue is not whether there is a Heaven or a Nirvana, it is that one has come to an answer for themself that meets their own spiritual need, and whether he/she is now supported in that current understanding by all the rest of us. I didn’t say that we agree, only that we support the current understanding for their place on their path.
I am relieved to take the “mystic” out of the equation since that limits the “worldview” choices that one can believe and still play in this game 🙂 This action may limit the final influence of Wayne Teasdale on the evolution we represent, but I think it is important.
Finally, when we evolve our spiritual thinking, we can’t help but destroy a bit or more of the old to make way for the new. When we do the action of interspirituality, I think we can’t help but let go to what we were. We are forever changed. Where can we go but to collect together and share thoughts just like this? We become a community unto ourselves. We self-select teachers and guides to move us forward on our paths. We choose to serve other people in our more accepting and compassionate state. When we do all that we have to create the structures that allow for that growth to happen… I don’t think we need to call it a religion, but it is a new way of experiencing human spiritual potential…
So what do YOU think?
Tim, I respect your point and the nuance that Ken Wilber brings to the subject. But it seems that most people generally associate the word “religion” with an institution and its distinctive body of beliefs, rituals, ethics, rules, membership rules, ordination of leaders, etc. The term “interspiritual” to me connotes the contemplative, heart-centered and compassion-based experiences found among people both inside and outside these religions. By connecting and sharing these interspiritually, we are free from the dogmatic constraints of the religious institutions and can meet heart to heart. Sharing in this heart space we can co-create inclusive new rituals, practices, and principles built on those found within each of the religions. I’d like to think that this creative work can be done, that interspiritual communities can be formed, and that interspiritual ministries can be authenticated without the creation of new religious institutions. I would hope there is a middle path between the formation of institutions and the flourishing of dynamic, democratic interspiritual communities. I seems that you are dealing with these issues in your work and I appreciate your open-hearted approach to the challenges.
I am getting in on these discussions very late, and so I’m still struggling to understand exactly what are the threads of conversation and issues. But I’d like to get into some conversations so I can begin to learn about the movement.
At this point, I’d like to say that I’m a little uncomfortable with the concept of ordaining new ministers and a new priesthood. Priesthoods have stood between seekers and the definition of Truth and God’s Will for many millennia and I’d argue, just for the sake of conversation, that it is the ministers and priests who need to be involved in dialogue to break down their belief systems and open up to other points of view, while it is the seekers or “worshippers”, if that is even an appropriate term to use, who need to learn to do their own work.
Breaking down the walls created among people by religious institutions and religions is something that might progress both within the clergy and outside the denominations. There needs to be an organization that works with ministers and priests to bring them into dialogue “across the faiths” to broaden their perspective. But this task is likely to be viewed as threatening to the established orthodoxies and religious institutions. So this work needs to be pursued by a very politically savvy crew, to say the least. Outside the established religions, there might be a role for discussion groups to focus upon ways to support people in “doing their own work” without a minister or priest being directly involved as teacher or minister…but perhaps as a “spiritual friend.”
I identify one of the primary needs for us as human beings at this critical time in history is learning to become “spiritual adults”…to cease acting like children spiritually, being followers rather than taking our own authority, and taking on such issues as “what does it mean to be in one’s authority spiritually and to do one’s own work.” Otherwise, are we not replicating the hierarchical approach to defining what is correct or true for everyone by creating another hierarchy?
Where is the place for a new denomination or kind of clergy in this inter-spiritual movement? If the clergy we have would open up and access one another’s wealth of wisdom and viewpoints, we will be richer by far. If seekers from all over the world would recognize that they must stand in their own power and authority in defining their own spiritual needs and approaches to truth, then we are dealing with an entirely different dynamic worldwide than we have in the past.
I’d like to see how we might pursue this task of promoting spiritual adulthood among our populations and stop creating priesthoods to define what people ought to be learning or pursuing as spiritual truth. I am modelling such a role perhaps upon the archetype of “the Hermit” in the Tarot…the mentor who does not give seekers answers to their questions but instead turns the question back to the seeker to answer and thereby promotes the authority and responsibility of the seeker to act in his own power.
It may be that many seekers are not mature enough to take on responsibility for their own truths, but we don’t have to take their power by fulfilling their wish to give their power away to “another spiritual authority.” Instead, we can challenge them to find their own answers and offer resources they might access among the various religious teachings. I like the idea of a spiritual friend though that might be accessible to seekers without taking on the role of a minister or teacher.
How do you react to this idea?