Part of my lifelong calling and current work is as a teacher. One of the ways I really love to do this is lead groups to explore and discuss books. To find the right book, first I see where my current questions are leading me and then make the assumption that other searching souls are being led in the same direction. Then I look around at the books I’ve read or want to read and see which of those will shed light on my concerns and make the assumption that they will shed light on the concerns of the other searching souls. (Lots of assuming, I know.) Then I spread all these books out on the floor, get down on my knees, dangle a crystal over them until it is spinning wildly, and then I know that’s my book. Okay, that last part is not true. But I do pull a few books out and set them on my desk so I can see them in passing. I thumb through them, read or re-read parts, put them aside, ignore them, pick them up again, set them back down, and then (I swear this part is true), one day I just know which book to use. It’s like the cover is a little brighter and the words of the title a bit clearer than the others. This method has yet to fail me.
About five or six years ago, I read The Mystic Heart by the late monk Wayne Teasdale. I knew I wanted to offer it, but it just wasn’t time. I didn’t have a firm enough grasp on his proposition. So I’ve been using other wonderful books which I think really matter for the spiritual journey. Earlier this year, and as a direct result of the election, I led two studies of books which tie spirituality together with how to survive these chaotic and scary times. They are The Powers That Be by Walter Wink and Active Hope by Joanna Macy, both of which I highly recommend. Then I let the summer go by, led two workshops on the Enneagram and another on cultivating our relationship with the Divine all while incubating the question of which book to go with next.
And then one day in late August, The Mystic Heart leapt off my desk, shouting “Pick me, pick me! It’s time!”
Teasdale’s premise is that if our venerated religious institutions want to play their part in moving human consciousness to the next level so we can stand a chance of surviving, they better get over themselves. They better come to grips with the fact that at their core, they’re not all that different. They’re all trying to answer the same questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? And where am I going? These are questions which have captivated humankind long before institutional religion developed. They are questions of soul and spirit, not doctrine and dogma.
The answers to these questions can be found in the great perennial spiritual wisdom which runs like a river through the world’s religions. Each religious tributary certainly has its own direction, and that’s just fine. Teasdale nor those who inspired him are saying these have to be relinquished. What Teasdale IS saying is that the time has come for our religions to go beyond tolerance and even acceptance. To truly serve us at this critical moment in our history, our religions must find that place from which they all spring, that place where all directions to the Divine begin and end, a place Teasdale calls the “interspiritual.”
Teasdale tells us that without giving up their own particular form, our world religions must discover the mystic heart of “interspirituality” which beats in all of them. This heart reveals these core truths: We are all one, we come from the same place, we’re here to discover our true essential divine nature, and we’re headed back to the same place from which we came.
By embracing these fundamental truths, the religions of the world can come together, not to just tolerate and even accept one another, but to embrace one another like brothers and sisters separated at birth. While celebrating their individuality, these religious siblings can rejoice in their common spiritual parentage. In this blended family of “interspirituality,” the religions of the world truly can work together towards the common goals of human service grounded in a collective ethic, a shared global commitment to economic and social justice, recognition of our oneness as human beings, and the evolution of our glorious world into its next stage of higher consciousness.