Five Things Christian Contemplatives can learn from Buddhists

The Meditation Hall, Dharma Jewel Monastery

Last night I attended a Beginner's Meditation Class at the Dharma Jewel Monastery in Atlanta. Dharma Jewel is the home to several Chan Buddhist nuns from Taiwan.Recently, two friends of mine — one a Zen Buddhist priest, the other a Catholic theologian — suggested within 24 hours of each other that I would enjoy exploring Chan (the Chinese form of what in Japan is called Zen). So I signed up for this class, figuring it would be a way for me to connect with the nuns here in Atlanta.I was bl … [Read more...]

The Contemplative Story of Dear Prudence

"Dear Prudence" by Prudence Bruns

I love the Beatles, and like many Beatles fans, I think The White Album is one of their great masterpieces. And one of the best songs on The White Album is, without question, "Dear Prudence."But did you know that the song was influenced by the music of the Gypsies, Transcendental Meditation, and the daughter (and sister) of Hollywood celebrities?"Dear Prudence" was written in early 1968, when the Beatles were in India, while John and George were studying Transcendental Meditation with th … [Read more...]

Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr

Mirabai Starr

One of my favorite contemporary authors is Mirabai Starr, who I first encountered through her vivid and accessible translations of John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Norwich. Mirabai has emerged in the last few years as one of the leading voices in interspirituality. Mirabai has a free web event coming up next week called Reclaiming the Power of Ecstasy as a Feminine Mystic (to register for it, click here). When she asked me if I would help to get the word out, I thought the best w … [Read more...]

Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, "everything belongs." It's a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics. Generally speaking, my experience shows that the critics of Christian contemplation reject it for two … [Read more...]

Interfaith Dialogue, Interspirituality, and Holy Daring

Recently I spoke at a church located about an hour north of where I live. As I drove to the church, I chatted on the phone with my brother who lives in Florida. We were making plans for me to come visit him on the weekend of our birthdays (his is a day later than mine). I mentioned that while I was there, I wanted to attend a training weekend at the local Shambhala Center.My brother, who is a confirmed agnostic, surprised me with his response. "Are you sure that's wise?" he asked."What … [Read more...]

Our Words, Our Breath, Our Bodies, Our Spirit

Once again, Alison Leigh Lilly wows me with the elegance, beauty and insight of her writing. The fact that her most recent blog post begins with something I tweeted yesterday is not only a delight in itself for me, but her reflections in that post are so rich and relevant to concerns that I am wrestling with in my own current writing that it seems, well, serendipitous.The piece is called Why I Cannot Tell You About My Gods. And yes, "Gods" is meant to be plural, for Alison is a Pagan, her … [Read more...]

Two New Reference Books For You (or Your Library)

Mysticism — whether Christian mysticism, or comparative (world) mysticism — is a vast subject, one to which you could easily devote your life without any fear of ever mastering (or exhausting) the literature associated with it. Recently two books have crossed my desk that should prove to be invaluable for anyone seeking to study mysticism on a scholarly level. But first, a word of warning: these books are priced for library or textbook sales, and so they are not cheap! If you're on a budget, you … [Read more...]