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Engaged Love

Interspiritual Mysticism

Engaged Love
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

While interspirituality is not for the faint of heart, or for dabblers who merely want to appropriate the clothing, language, or customs of other faiths, sharing in the spiritual heart of a different religious tradition can be a genuine vocation, bringing much needed peace and healing to the world. My friend, author and spiritual teacher Mirabai Starr, offers a compelling invitation to engage in the work of interspirituality:

As a spiritual writer and translator of the Spanish Christian mystics, a religious studies professor, and a practitioner of many spiritual traditions, I have spent my life responding to the call to honor diversity and celebrate unity among all paths that lead us home to love. . . .

America is the Land of the Consumer. . . . We are conditioned to treat the spiritual life as another commodity, rather than as a discipline of inner transformation with a corresponding commitment to alleviating suffering in the world. Yet, authentic engagement with the perennial wisdom that lies at the heart of the well means we must leap from the lip of the vessel and dive into the unknown.

The late Brother Wayne Teasdale [1945–2004] coined the term “interspiritual” to describe “the shared mystic heart beating in the center of the world’s deepest spiritual traditions.” [1] This perspective encompasses a much broader scope of shared religious experience than does its predecessor “interfaith” movement, which focuses more on the dialogue between the established institutionalized religions than on an intermingling of their common heart. Genuine interspiritual dialogue demands that we draw deeply on our inner knowing and show up for the hard work of understanding. It requires that we not only study and discuss religions other than our own, but that we commit to a disciplined practice in more than one tradition, immersing ourselves in the well of wisdom they offer, allowing these encounters to change us from within.

The sacred scriptures of all faiths call us to love as we have never loved before. This requires effort, vigilance, and radical humility. Violence is easier than nonviolence, yet hate only perpetuates hate. The wisdom teachings remind us that love—active, engaged, fearless love—is the only way to save ourselves and each other from the firestorm of war that rages around us. There is a renewed urgency to this task now. We are asked not only to tolerate the other, but also to actively engage the love that transmutes the lead of ignorance and hatred into the gold of authentic connection. This is the “narrow gate” Christ speaks of in the Gospels [Matthew 7:13]. Don’t come this way unless you’re willing to stretch, bend, and transform for the sake of love.

References:
[1] See Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religious Traditions, (New World Library: 1999).

Mirabai Starr, God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Monkfish Book Publishing: 2012), 4–5, 6–7.

Image credit: Spärlich Belaubt (detail), Paul Klee, 1934.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: I had long been familiar with the mystical tradition of the West, but I felt the need of something more which the East alone could give; above all the sense of the presence of God in nature and the soul. —Bede Griffiths
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