My First Article in Contemplative Journal, or, How to Be a Faithful Christian While Embracing Interspirituality

Contemplative Journal is the loveliest and most promising new website to come along in quite some time. Unlike some of the more prominent inter-religious websites, this start-up is dedicated to the contemplative dimension of the spiritual life, with a decidedly interspiritual presence. Early contributors included a variety of well-known and intriguing voices in the contemplative world: Judith Simmer-Brown, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Mirabai Starr, Thomas Keating, and many others. According to its website, “Contemplative Journal boldly explores the mysteries of the universe within the context of the daily lives of our readers. The Journal focuses on spirituality, contemplative prayer, Christian meditation, spiritual growth, mindfulness, awareness, inner peace, spiritual retreats and more.” A community blog is already up and running, and future plans include a contemplative calendar, database of retreat houses. and a mentoring program.

Last week, Contemplative Journal published what I hope will be the first of many articles of mine to appear there. It’s called Embracing Depth and Diversity: a Contemplative Approach to Interspirituality and Religious Commitment — and as the title indicates, it’s an exploration of why I see an essential harmony or perhaps unity between interspiritual exploration and commitment to one “home” spiritual or religious tradition. For me, the home tradition is Christianity, and yet over the years I have also drawn sustenance from various forms of Neopagan spirituality as well as Buddhism. As I said on Twitter recently,

The exploration of other religions is not about diluting my faith, or creating some sort of syncretistic blend, or concocting a self-directed “pick-and-choose” faith. Frankly, anyone can dilute or pick-and-choose his or her faith without bothering to learn about any other religions. When we approach it in the right spirit, the rigorous effort to learn about the teachings and values and worldview of other faiths helps us become more intentional and clear about how we understand those same elements in our own tradition. Especially when the “home” tradition is something you’ve known and practiced since childhood (as is the case with me and Christianity), the temptation to keep religion on auto-pilot can be very strong. Interspirituality and inter-religious study can be a wonderful tool to remain intentional and conscious about what we believe, how we see, and the values and behaviors we espouse.

Anyway — please take a moment to visit Contemplative Journal and especially to read my article. Please leave a comment (either here or there). And I hope you’ll make CJ a regular part of your web routine. Helping this website to succeed can only support the contemplative community as a whole.

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  • Danielle Castronis

    I read your blog with great interest. I could not figure out how to comment in the journal itself. So I came back to this page.

    I want to tell you that you are not alone on this path.

    I was also raised catholic. Perhaps because it was in France, and the mass was still celebrated in Latin, I left in my teens.

    I then was unknowingly tutored in Eastern philosophies when I moved to the Bay area and listened to Alan Watts every day as well as having lots of exchanges with a very diverse group of people in the music scene, and tasting the spiritual diversity of the time and place.

    At 30 I had a very deep spiritual experience while reading “The Autobiography of a Yogi”. I then started to look for a path. I stumbled into an enlightened teacher, a westerner, but his teachings were Zen influenced.

    After a few years I decided to return to Christianity and ended up getting married to a minister (Presbyterian). This is when I finally read the bible!

    But religion is not my path. I am a mystic at heart, and the cultural part of the faith is not for me.

    I started to meditate again and this time things happened very fast. I was introduced to a spiritual master and everything changed.

    Non-duality is the common denominator of all mystical practice. Once that becomes a knowing, it is difficult to return to a dualistic view. Actually, I find it impossible.

    I also want a practice that does not negate the fact that everything changes. Evolution is happening on the outside as well as in the interior of the cosmos.

    Our culture is too often blind to the subtleties of the field of consciousness.

    We need a rich contemplative life and also an active collective practice- both. We need a community. Maybe that is where a lone path is difficult, if not dangerous.

    Diversity is what we are as the human race- One, and diverse. I believe we are just starting to understand this.

    It is humbling to be confronted with different and divergent views and practices because one is forced to abandon some assumptions one may have about the way things are. It works as a mirror to our own preconceived ideas and beliefs.

    Tolerance is not agreeing to everything but it means that we are willing to consider and ponder and contemplate deeper and thereby expending our context and holding more complexity.

    Thank you for the opportunity to engage in this way