Resources for Interfaith Dialogue
“...spirituality and religion, often confused, are not the same. In spirituality, seen through the heart’s unconditional lens, God is one. As we entered this new millennium, 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, between traditions and cultures and 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. 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 has been predicted that interspirituality will become the global spiritual view of our era. With such a view one looks beyond categories—deeper than labels such as Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, black, white, gay, straight. Saints, sages, and mystics across the centuries have always understood that seeing with the ‘eyes of the heart’ allows the greatest potential for understanding, thereby fostering unity consciousness. One sees the absolute value, which we might refer to as divinity, of everything. A heartfelt and experiential definition of interspirituality… “a spirituality so based on the heart and unconditional love that it would be impossible to feel separate from anything.”
--- Christian Sannyasin Brother Wayne Teasdale from this book,
The Mystic Heart~ Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions
Brother Wayne was a personal mentor to our community and visited many times.
INTERFAITH AFFIRMATIONS and PRINCIPLES
1. We affirm the beauty, the value, and the significance of the Interfaith concept as an important source of our spiritual teaching.
2. We believe in the One God. We think of God as a beneficent Divine Presence in every human heart, not as separate and remote.
3. We affirm the essential goodness of the human being and believe that meditation, inward spiritual seeking, is a valid tool for attuning to the Divine Presence at the very core of our human nature.
4. We believe that new and renewed forms of individual and communal prayer, such as meditation, visualization and affirmation can enhance the real purpose of the prayer experience. This purpose is to attain a personal God-consciousness and spiritual awakening--a deeper realization of the spiritual depths of our being.
5. We hold that one of the most important purposes of religion is healing--the seeking of wholeness in body, mind and spirit. Healing comes from knowing the wholeness of the spirit that is the essence of our being.
6. We have faith in the ultimate healing of the planet. We affirm that each human being is part of this healing process, the healing of the world. Each of us, as we fulfill our own highest good, brings this healing vision nearer to reality.
7. We view ritual as a way of opening to and touching the spiritual dimensions of life. We find little value in ritualism for its own sake.
8. The closer contact that exists today among diverse ethnic, cultural, racial and religious groups of humanity leads us to a deep sense of the oneness of humanity. The differences that exist need not be a threat to basic human unity, and in fact can be a source of enrichment. Old dichotomies of "us" vs. "them" do not serve the healing of our world. We affirm an inclusive vision of "We". We experience ourselves as part of the global human family and the wholeness of creation.
9. We affirm the truth in all faiths and spiritual paths. To use the metaphor of a tree, we are each rooted in our own tradition and then branch out toward the teachings of other spiritual traditions. All authentic spiritual traditions express the same universal teachings using different words and symbols, yet there is great value in keeping alive the words and symbols of the various traditions. The rainbow's beauty consists of its many hues, and the grandeur of a symphony is its many instrumental harmonies and colorations. Unity does not mean uniformity.
10. Seeking attunement to Spirit is, we believe, the highest goal of conscious living. Spiritual living unfolds our inner human possibilities and helps the individual to freely grow toward realizing his or her highest Self. We support and encourage whatever contributes positively to the unique creative growth of every person.
~ From A National Academy of Wisdom 1981.
Grassroots interfaith peacebuilders make a difference by:
~ bringing diverse groups together
~ listening with openness to others
~ educating and breaking down stereotypes
~ inspiring hope
~ building trust for dealing with tough issues
~ creating an inclusive sense of community that embraces those who are “other”
~ being models of constructive ways of dealing with differences
~ supporting a willingness to change unjust systems and structures that cause pain to others
United Religions Initiative ~ Interfaith Peacebuilding Guide, August 2004. Excerpt above from the Introduction.
"Whenever one is dealing with multifaith and interfaith matters, language can be a sensitive issue...the word “prayer” means different things to different people. And this word can certainly mean different things to people of various faith groups. For example, for faith groups who believe in a deity, “prayer” can refer to the relationship to that deity, a relationship that is engaged in by way of petition, praise or thanksgiving. For faith groups who do not subscribe to a belief in a deity, "prayer" can refer to a practice which leads to interior spiritual growth, inner transformation and transformation of consciousness, a practice that involves a process of ego-transcendence or selftranscendence. These are only two of many ways in which "prayer" can be understood and practiced." -- Guidelines for Designing a Multifaith Prayer Service by Paul McKenna
"We need a new global spirituality that affirms the unity of all being, that affirms the interconnectedness of all, and affirms a new bottom line of love, caring, and generosity." ~ Rabbi Michael Learner, Jewish author, in a panel discussion entitled "The Battle for God," at the 2004 Parliament of World Religions.
"All religions share a common root, which is limitless compassion. They emphasize human improvement, love, respect for others, and compassion for the suffering of others. In so far as love is essential in every religion, we could say that love is essential in every religion, we could say that love is a universal religion. But the various techniques and methods for developing love differ widely between the traditions. I don't think there could ever be just one single philosophy or one single religion. Since there are so many different types of people, with a range of tendencies and inclinations, it is quite fitting that there are differences between religions. And the fact that there are so many different descriptions of the religious path shows how rich religion is." ~ H.H. The XIVth Dalai Lama
See our links page for interfaith resources, websites and communities
INTERFAITH WISDOM about creating interfaith sacred space:
Space becomes sacred...
When it honours those who came before us and provides safe harbor today,
When it reminds us of larger realities and leads us to inner truths,
When it cradles the musician's prayer and the poet's melody, lifting our hearts,
When being there proved healing, nourishing and satisfying.
Sacred space for all peoples and faiths is secured...
When the door is open to all, in mutual respect and good will,
When every sacred symbol and spiritual story is welcomed,
When the truths that nurture us do not hinge on making others wrong,
When - bridging culture, race, and faith to be human with each other
~ we creatively appreciate life's blessings and
~ work collaboratively to improve life for all.
There is a place,
Indeed, there must be such a place...
Holy and set apart.
Where spirit calls to spirit
Here together we pray,
Where, united in spirit, we speak
Of Peace and Justice...
Of all that makes us One.
~ (W. Bruce Johnston, Associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, The College of Saint Rose.)
INTERFAITH: "It is an open door through which anyone may pass and be understood:
to share his faith with anyone else without fear of ridicule or censure."
~ Statement of Interfaith, Longboat Island Chapel
"Love is the doctrine of this church;
The quest of truth its sacrament;
And service is its prayer.
To dwell together in peace,
To seek kowledge in freedom,
To serve mankind in fellowship,
To the end that all souls shall grow
Into harmony with the Divine --
Thus do we covenant with each other,
And with God."
~ The Longboat Island Chapel Affirmation
Sometimes, when discussing the profound importance of interfaith, language fails to enlighten. At those times, heart communication is what may bridge understanding of the mysteries of the Oneness of humanity, the Oneness of God, and the Oneness of Religion. Poetry is offered here as that communication:
In the morning
When I began to wake,
It happened again
That You, Beloved,
Had stood over me all night
That as soon as I began to stir
You put Your lips on my forehead
And lit a Holy Lamp
Inside my Heart.
By Hafiz (Sufi Master)