Dawn of InterSpirituality International Conference

Cascadian Center, Mt. Vernon, WA Sep 29 – Oct 4, 2013

Conference Purpose and Key Questions

(Draft, 7-14-13)


Traditional boundaries and barriers between the world religions and spiritual traditions are shifting and breaking down today in various ways. This creates new opportunities and challenges, as well as many new directions and forms for spiritual life and service. The emerging ʻinterspirituality movementʼ addresses this creative and unprecedented emergence on multiple levels.

The Dawn of Interspirituality conference is being convened to support this emergence—building upon the foundations of the worldʼs great religious and spiritual wisdom traditions. “Now the time has come,” proclaimed the Dalai Lama during his recent U.S. tour, “Now! This is the period [in history]: we must make every effort to promote religious harmony.” He went on to stress the need not only for scholarly exchanges, but also to bring deep practitioners together from different religions; people with “real experience, deeper experience.” “This is very, very important,” he said. The Dalai Lamaʼs plea expresses precisely the purpose for which the Dawn of Interspirituality conference is convened, and toward which the Snowmass dialogues have been convened over the past three decades.

The purpose of the Dawn of Interspirituality conference is several fold:

  • to harness key learnings from the 30-year Snowmass InterSpiritual Dialogue convened by Fr. Thomas Keating, and to build upon this legacy,
  • to share inspirations, effective practices, personal journeys of transformation, and spiritual breakthroughs emerging from cross-fertilization and synergy of multiple faith traditions,
  • to enter into shared contemplative practice and prayerful space together,
  • to galvanize the rapidly emerging Interspirituality movement by convening keyleaders and practitioners from across the globe,
  • to explore new forms of collaboration, contemplative praxis, sacred activism,and spiritual training across the faith traditions,
  • to explore how interspirituality serves younger generations, and the growing ʻspiritual but not religiousʼ population,
  • to introduce Cascadian Center as a potentially important center for all of the above—as religion and spirituality move swiftly forward into the third millennium.Questions for Presenters to reflect onBelow are a few questions and themes for the Dawn of Interspirituality conference that emerged from a recent informal collective inquiry among close colleagues. These questions are intended to provide a starting place; they are neither definitive nor exhaustive, but offer a way to begin focusing on certain key ideas, themes, and explorations around the conference.We encourage all presenters to review these questions, and to consider them in preparing your presentations. This will perhaps serve to spark some particular inspiration, or help you shape your own thinking or emphasis. It will also serve us to begin exploring and inquiring broadly around some of the same questions and concerns.

• What are some definitions,articulations, or expressions of interspirituality?Here are three examples, which are certainly not exhaustive:

  • Interspirituality is the experience of the sacred and the holy across the faithtraditions. Interspirituality links the faith traditions at their universal core.
  • “The religion of humankind can be said to be spirituality itself.
  • ʻInterspiritualityʼ—the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions—is the religion of the third millennium.” (Wayne Teasdale)
  • Inter-spiritual: the compassionate intention to engage in an open, non-judgmental and non-hierarchical sharing of the foundational contemplative insights, processes, values and experiences among people from diverse spiritual and non-spiritual traditions. (Ed Bastian)

• What does ʻinterspiritualityʼ mean in practice for the future of religion? For spirituality?

• What is the difference between interfaith dialogue and interspirituality?

• How does interspirituality relate to the major religious traditions? How does it build on them? How does it motivate them to new levels of excellence? How does it challenge them?

• What is the relationship between interspirituality and the churches? Or sanghas, ashrams, tariquas, etc?

• How does interspirituality relate to your specific religion? What message and insights about interspirituality will you take home to your religious congregation?

• What are the modes of spiritual authority and/or leadership in interspirituality?

• What is the relationship between spiritual mastery, spiritual leadership, and religious leadership? How can interspirituality avoid the problems of institutionalized spirituality?

• What are your personal challenges and growing edges in your own spiritual journey?

• What is interspiritual formation? Multiple religious belonging? Interspiritual mentorship of young people?

• What is interspiritual discipline? What are the forms of interspiritual worship?

• How can interspirituality avoid some of the abuses of power weʼve seen in institutional religion?

• What does interspirituality offer for inter-religious reconciliation?

• How can interspirituality help heal some of the traditional prejudices and injustices embedded in religious institutions?

• What are the guidelines and ethical standards for interspirituality?

• Interspirituality emphasizes the contemplative dimensions of the traditions. What is the relationship between contemplative interspirituality and action in the world?

• How can interspirituality serve a sacred reconnection to the Earth?

• How can interspirituality deal in practice with gender injustice? Racial and class injustice?

• What is interspiritual service? Social action? Environment? Art?

• Does interspirituality move us toward universal spirituality of some kind? Or toward a harmonious plurality of existing spiritual traditions? Or both?

• How does interspirituality serve the needs of those who identify as spiritual but not religious?

• How can interspirituality serve the poor, the needy, the vulnerable populations?