Religion and Spirituality
RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY, AND INTERSPIRITUALITY
“..spirituality and religion, often confused, aren’t the same. Spirituality differs from religion in its sense of unconditional value that’s unaffected by circumstances. In spirituality, seen through the heart’s unconditional lens, God is one.
Although historically the offspring of spirituality, religion is more focused on whose view of reality is correct. In religion, God isn’t one. This is the antithesis of a prescription for a world that is both good and concerned for the interests and wellbeing of every creature.
However, as the millennium turned, a vision of interspirituality was emerging from within the world’s religions. …. those who seeded the vision began talking to each other across continents and oceans, and between traditions and cultures, they discerned that their experience, though hugely diverse, was ultimately much the same. All shared a sense of profound interconnectedness, oneness, and a unity that transcended the boundaries of their theological traditions, cultural backgrounds, and historical narratives.”
[Read more in TCIA about the challenge and future of “religion” versus “spirituality”]
WHERE INTERSPIRITUALITY CAME FROM
“The word “interspirituality” was nonexistent until it was coined in 1999 by a Roman Catholic lay monk and pioneer interfaith leader, Brother Wayne Teasdale, in a book aptly entitled The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. By 2004, when Brother Teasdale and colleagues introduced the perspective at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, the term was still hardly known. Yet today an internet search for “interspirituality” or “interspiritual” calls up over 100,000 hits.
It’s obvious to many that interspirituality— a more universal experience of the world’s religions, emphasizing shared experiences of heart and unity consciousness—represents part of the world’s ongoing movement toward globalization and multiculturalism. It can be seen as an inevitable response to globalization— …. Brother Teasdale predicted that interspirituality would become the global spiritual view of our era: ”
[Read more specifically in TCIA about what interspirituality is, and is not]
What Is Interspirituality?
INTERSPIRITUALITY IS THE LENS OF THE HEART
“…”the eyes of the heart,” one’s vision is tempered with understanding, love, and compassion for one’s fellow creatures. One sees the absolute value, which we might refer to as divinity, of everything.
IIn other words, one looks beyond categories—deeper than labels such as Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, black, white, gay, straight. Saints, sages, and heroes across the centuries have always understood that seeing with the eyes of the heart allows the greatest potential for understanding, thereby fostering unity consciousness.
…A heartfelt and experiential definition… “a spirituality so based on the heart and unconditional love that it would be impossible to feel separate from anything.” This definition has profound ethical implications.”
[Inquire further in TCIA about the dimensions of interspirituality, re: “heart, head and hands”]
DIFFERENCES WORLDWIDE– AND NOW RELIGION IS DIFFERENT THAN SPIRITUALITY
“Central to globalization is the fact that our two primary ways of knowing—the external explorations of science, and the internal explorations of religion and spirituality—don’t as yet agree much about reality. There are important crossovers between these distinctive ways of knowing, most of which are relatively new and part of the arising globalization process itself. There has also been a long-term trend toward holism. Again, such trends are only now coming to fruition in this time of globalization.”
[Read more in TCIA about the relationship of “inner knowing” and “outer knowing”]
“It’s important to remember that religion and spirituality are far from identical, as is apparent from the statistic that more than a third of the world’s population define themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” In general, the tendency of religion is to value creed over deed, whereas the tendency of spirituality is to emphasize deed over creed.”
[Read more in TCIA about how religion and spirituality are related and how they differ. Can we work out the problems of this paradox?]
Why Humans Disagree
WE CAN AGREE ABOUT WHAT WE SEE BUT NOT ON WHAT CAUSED IT
“While myriads worldwide can agree on common patterns we all observe, we tend to differ greatly about what accounts for these patterns. Most of the differences in our views of reality, including those that have led to wars, boil down to how successfully we are able to link an effect with a cause.”
[Read more about the paradox of “pattern”—what we see—and “process”—what we think caused it, in TCIA]
“The right diagnosis is key to arriving at solutions. In seeking the cause, our point of entry is crucial, for the lens through which we view the problem will influence what we see, especially in cultural and religious terms. As an example, the 14th century person viewed the great plague of that century—the Black Death—either as God’s wrath (the magic-mythic lens) or as caused by a germ (the rational scientific lens). Today we are still navigating between these two lenses as we move into the current millennium.
The capacity we most need, which is the ability to investigate issues from multiple perspectives, is the capacity we often most lack.”
[Read more about this vexing problem in TCIA]
Healthy Change, Unhealthy Change
EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE CAN ENGENDER POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE RESULTS—IT’S UP TO US
“Every historical change contains the seeds of a positive or negative result, and history seems to have meandered between these extremes.”
[Read more in TCIA about how humankind can skillfully learn from this].
“Three doomsday scenarios currently confront our species: being wiped out by wars based on religious allegiance, wiped out by wars based on national allegiance, or wiped out by the polluting and warming of our planet to the point that it becomes unlivable. How religious experience plays out in the world is linked to all of these.”
[Read more in TCIA about the “positive” and “negative” scenarios confronting humanity and how our spiritual choices are profoundly important].
THE MODERN DISCUSSION
TODAY’S DISCUSSION OF GLOBAL CHANGE
“If there is an emerging Interspiritual Age, as Brother Teasdale suggested, it will be in the context of a religious and spiritual discussion that can’t be separated from the secular, non-religious discussion. It also can’t be separated from the worldwide academic developmental discussion about whether there are identifiable historical trends that suggest where our future may be headed.
Neither can the religious and spiritual discussion be separated from cosmology and what it tells us about our origin, the arising of the human brain, and the nature of consciousness. Given that all of these are inextricably interrelated, a comprehensive understanding spanning the time from our cosmic origin to the current complex difficulties that face our species is essential.”
[Read on in TCIA about how many arenas of human endeavor are crucial right now to the world’s future].
The Essence of Interspirituality Isn’t New
YOU ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH INTERSPIRITUALITY
“Interspirituality itself isn’t new—just as evolution wasn’t new when its great synthesizer, Charles Darwin, changed history by popularizing the phrase “evolution by means of natural selection.” Darwin’s synthesis had many precursors…
[Read more at TCIA on how ideas come of age]
“Brother Teasdale’s naming of interspirituality was preceded by a host of earlier visionaries and leaders in all the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. Interestingly, the names on this roster aren’t the same as the names of the founders of the great religions…
The forerunners of interspirituality were visionaries who realized that a common experiential thread underpins all spiritual experience and is the harbinger of an eventual “great coming together.”
[Read in TCIA about these pioneers and how their vision is already coming true]
The Core of Deepest Spiritual Experience Is Always the Same
THERE IS A UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE OF “UNITY CONSCIOUSNESS” POSSIBLE
“At the core of Brother Teasdale’s vision was his conviction that a universal unity consciousness lies at the heart of all inner exploration. Since it arises naturally from all spiritual paths, he believed it would prove to be the great globalizer, bringing to a culmination the world’s millennia of spiritual journeying.”
[Read at TCIA about the universality of this experience and investigate for yourself]
“Historically, it was precisely the lack of this discussion that caused the world’s religions, with all their competition, conflict, and bad behavior, not to be acknowledged as the Great Wisdom Tradition they claimed to be. But if the world’s millennia of spiritual inquiry had essentially been a single existential journey aiming toward a convergence of what humans could be as elevated ethical beings, there was still a chance for religion to play this role.”
[TCIA discusses how it’s still possible for the world’s religions to be an asset and not a liability to our world’s future].
Needed Shifts in Global Awareness
EIGHT NEEDED SHIFTS IN GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS
“For Brother Teasdale these elements marked the threshold required for a healthy globalization and the participation of the world’s religions through an unfolding Interspiritual Age.”
[in TCIA read the details of Teasdale’s eight shifts required for out “global mind change” to create a better future and world].
A Final Marker
YOU MAY HAVE FIRST READ OF THIS IN “THE POWER OF NOW”
“Brother Teasdale was a proponent of the experience commonly referred to as “nondualism,” and for him unity consciousness refers to a nondual experience. The massively popular books by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now and A New Earth—the latter taught worldwide through the auspices of Oprah Winfrey—are similarly popular testaments to the nondual message.”
[read more in TCIA about what the nondual experience is—often called “awakening”, “unity consciousness”, or even “enlightenment”]
EIGHT BASIC ASPECTS OF THE INTERSPIRITUAL VISION
“Human consciousness and heart have been evolving toward a maximum potential regarding the kind of being humans can be and what kind of an earth we can create…. This has been going on since the known origin of the cosmos, as material evolution and as evolution of consciousness…. This is recognized in a fundamental tenant of the interspiritual vision, that the evolution of world religions has been one unfolding experience reflecting the gradual growth of human maturity…”
[Explore all eight basic aspects of the interspiritual vision in TCIA]
EVERYONE IS A MYSTIC
THE SEARCH FOR A “THEORY OF EVERYTHING” IS BOTH SCIENTIFIC AND SPIRITUAL
“The integralists took a gamble in choosing an independent path of exploration…. [they] realized that this world of relationships is expressed in every aspect of our complex existence”.
[Explore in TCIA how all inquiry into the nature, structure and meaning of reality can be viewed as “mysticism” when seen as authentic and deep inquiry].
The Everyday Reality of “I,” “We,” and “It”
WHAT DO ALL HUMAN BEINGS, PAST AND PRESENT, HAVE IN COMMON?
“…[the integalists] came to see that unity is even more deeply embedded in how humans understand reality than he expected, noting that all humans experience four simultaneous worlds.
A normal day for everyone in the world is a simple meeting with three of these worlds: “I” (individual), “We” (collective), and “It” (institutional), coupled with our attempt to make sense of them. Getting along with the institutional world (or “It”) is the rub for just about everyone. But if you wrapped all the institutions together—everything that goes on from institutional structures themselves to ideas and belief systems—you got a fourth, even more potentially intimidating arena: “Its.” How often do the bulk of our struggles come down to dealing with “Its”? Truly, it’s a small world.”
[Explore the universality of this experience in TCIA; it can shake your world].
Fruits of the Integrative View
EVERY DAY FOR EVERY PERSON EVERYWHERE
“…realize that every single one of the 7 billion people on this planet does this same thing every day. Their institutional or “It” space tells them what’s true, what to believe, and how to behave. Take some time to imagine yourself in different countries and cultures. What’s possible for you in terms of freedom and civil rights? What’s okay or not okay in terms of books or entertainment? What political system is forced on you? What religious beliefs are you expected to hold? These dynamics confront you and your 7 billion fellow humans on a daily basis.”
“When was the last time your bank did you a favor? What was your opinion of the “no questions asked” multi-trillion dollar bailout of the financial industry? When you examine social structures anywhere in the world, the most obvious disconnect is between the needs and wants of the “I” and “We”…”
[Explore further in TCIA how the world’s institutional spaces are not so user-friendly for our “I”’s and “We’s”; world change required bringing these into alignment].