The beauty of interspirituality as the mystical heart: 8 guidelines + Thomas Merton

The following is a set of handout notes that I hope you find inspiring based on Chapter 9 of Wayne Teasdale’s masterpiece The Mystic Heart;

INTERSPIRITUALITY as MYSTICISM, The 8 GUIDELINES + Thomas Merton quotes on integration & maturity

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of

all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good

as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most

radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling,

is at the center of true religiousness." – A Einstein

The 8 Guidelines + prayer

  1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of the Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahman, the Absolute, God, Allah, (the) Great Spirit, the Transcendent.

  2. The Ultimate Reality surpasses any name or concept that can be given to It.

  3. The Ultimate Reality is the source (ground of being) of all existence.

  4. Faith is opening, surrendering, and responding to the Ultimate Reality. This relationship precedes every belief system.

  5. The potential for human wholeness — or in other frames of reference, liberation, self-transcendence, enlightenment, salvation, transforming union, moksha, nirvana, fana — is present in every human person.

  6. The Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships and service to others.

  7. The differences among belief systems should be presented as facts that distinguish them, not as points of superiority.

  8. In the light of the globalization of life and culture now in process, the personal and social ethical principles proposed by the world religions in the past need to be re-thought and re-expressed. (127-128)

NB IN Chap 9 of The Mystic Heart WT says the Snowmass conference added ‘further guidelines related to the practical dimension of the spiritual journey’ – in particular; “prayer is communion with Ultimate Reality, whether it is regarded as personal, impersonal (transpersonal), or beyond the both.” About prayer he says; “It defines human nature in its highest sense, in its efforts at spiritual attainment, and inner change of heart, mind and behaviour. It is the fundamental and perennial method of scaling the heights and probing the depths of the real.”

RP NB – The 8 guidelines are of course the same as ‘Perennial Philosophy’ & ‘Interspirituality’.


“ It is a wonderful thing….to be united to God in the divine light by a mystical and denuded union. This occurs when a humble, pure and resigned soul, on fire with ardent charity,, is elevated above itself by the grace of God…and totally fluid with love, and reduced to nothing, melts away into God…….. becoming one with God does not imply becoming the same substance and nature as God.” p221 Luis de Blois 16thC Christian mystic.


‘….true or final integration requires one to become more universal and transcultural, rather than to remain stuck in one tradition to the exclusion of all others. This universal openness characterizes the inner awareness of the person who reaches his or her spiritual potential.’ p231

RP This is both an outer integration and an inner integration – but the outer depends on the inner. Head and Heart, unitive meditation + dialogue, The Whole + the parts etc.

Thomas Merton: “Final integration is a state of transcultural maturity far beyond mere social adjustment , which always implies partiality and compromise. The person who is fully born’ has an entirely ‘inner experience of life’. Sucha one apprehends his life fully and wholly from an inner ground that is at once more universal than the empirical ego and yet entirely his own. Such an individual is in a certain sense ‘cosmic’ and ‘universal person’ …HE/she is in a certain sense identified with everybody…. p232

WT says; ‘An individual who has arrived at final integration is a mystic.’ p 232 The Mystic Heart

Merton continues; Again the state of insight which is final integration implies an ‘openness’, a poverty, similar to ..the Rhennish mystics….the Sufis, early Taoist masters and Zen Buddhists. Final integration implies the void, poverty and non-action which leave one entirely docile to the ‘Spirit’ and hence a potential instrument for unusual creativity. The person who has attained final integration is no longer limited by the culture in which s/he has grown up….S/he accepts not only her/his own community, his own society, ,,friends, …culture but all humankind….S/he has a unified vision and experience of the one truth shining out in all its various manifestations, some clearer than others,. S/he does not set these partial views up in opposition to each other, but unifies them, in a dialectic or an insight of complementarity. p232 THMH

RP Question: It is not the complementarity of the diversity in which the hope of harmony lies. It lies in the identical nature of the mystic heart to be found in all great wisdom paths that has been buried beneath the (man-made) cultural accretions – isn’t it?

WT the mystic is the new cultural hero who guides humankind to its maturity p232

INTERSPIRITUALITY: honours all the experience and insight of each tradition, and gathers these experiences into an organic synthesis. We awaken to this synthesis when we walk the intermystical path with an open heart and a capacity to be transformed in our understanding and our being. When we do that, we can utter, like Raimon Panikker: “I am a Hindu, Christian, Buddhist….” – Jew and Muslim – and Baha’i! – p227 TMH

WT By realizing that this diversity of tradition and approach is willed by God, the mystic becomes the guardian of interspirituality. p233



EXTRAS – Thomas Merton – To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that Love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.

We drive by night. Nevertheless our reason penetrates the darkness enough to show us a little of the road ahead. It is by the light of reason that we interpret the signposts and make out the landmarks along our way. SOURCE

EXTRAS: 3 quotes from KARL RAHNER

1) “When man is with God in awe and love, then he is praying.” 2) In the days ahead, you will either be a mystic (one who has experienced God for real) or nothing at all.” 3) “The number one cause of atheism is Christians. (RP for Christians you can read any religion) Those who proclaim Him with their mouths and deny Him with their actions is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.”


“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

PURPOSE: greater awakening;detachment;service PRACTICE: smile;breath;go mindfully

comments to Roger –
onesummit AT gmail DOT com

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