Five Approaches to InterSpirituality

Brother Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions and A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life, coined the new word "interspirituality." Sort of a mash-up between "interfaith dialogue" and "spirituality," interspirituality refers to the possibility or practice of integrating spiritual exercises and practices from more than one faith tradition into one's own expression of spirituality.Obviously this covers a wide … [Read more...]

The Contemplative Story of Dear Prudence

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...]

How Mysticism is Unique — and Universal

How, exactly, does Christian mysticism relate to all the other "mysticisms" of the world (Kabbalah, Sufism, Taoism, Vedanta, Zen, etc.)?A reader of this blog writes:I have been reading your Big Book of Christian Mysticism: on page 64 you say that "Ultimately ... no absolutely clear distinction can be drawn between Christian and non-Christian mysticism." This concerns me, because you *do* seem to say in other parts of the book that there *is* a clear distinction between the two (for one, … [Read more...]

Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?

A reader of my blog wrote the following message to me: I have been meditating for about a year now. I have been working with a meditation teacher who has been helpful, but, even though we are of the same Christian faith, he leans too far into the Yogi tradition for my comfort level. My experience with Centering Prayer has been very positive and what I have read and heard about the Christian Contemplative Path resonates with me. To really deepen my practice, do I need a spiritual teacher? If so, … [Read more...]

Interfaith-Friendly Christianity?

Jesus, following the law of his people, instructed his followers to "love your neighbor as yourself."But then he upped the ante by telling the story of the good Samaritan — in his society, the Samaritans were the social outcasts. Yet here was a parable in which the social outcast was a better neighbor to a man in need than the community and religious leaders who didn't want to get involved.The message is simple: Our neighbors are not just the people who look like us, act like us, or en … [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...]

Seven Books I Hope to Read in 2014

Are you looking for a book or two to read, on the topics of contemplation or mysticism?I thought I'd offer a twist on the typical blog post where books get reviewed. Here is a list of seven books I hope to read, ideally sometime this year. Some of these books are brand new, others a few years old, others older still. They all touch on contemplative prayer, the Christian mystery, and/or interspirituality, in some form or fashion. A disclaimer: copies of three of these seven books were s … [Read more...]