Life as Walking the ‘Interspiritual Way’ –
The gift of Transcendence as the ultimate context of our chosen faith
Copyright Dr Roger Prentice
INTRODUCTION: The first chapter of the Tao Te Ching says; The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery & manifestations arise from the same source….. The Interspiritual Way instead of drawing on just one great Tradition,Taoism, draws upon 7 Traditions. At the heart centre of them all is the magnetic force of love – that makes of us, & every ‘thing’ the Transcendent Whole.
Our true Self is love & our place to be is the One Garden. Love is the spirit, the energy, the life-force, the ‘chi’ – the river of life that through us flows. You don’t ‘get a life’ – you are life. Love is the magnet of compassion that unites, makes of parts wholes. It is peace & the bringer of peace. We need the spirit of love but we also need forms through which love may flow. Love is the reality, the hub, the mystic heart around which all can centre. As Ibn ‘Arabi says; “I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take, that is my religion and my faith.” From Rumi there is an ocean of inspiration concerning love & gardens. One Garden is the ‘state of being’ we are in when we realize the Oneness behind the various Traditions, & it is the name of One Garden face-to-face groups. Other metaphors include many pathways but one summit, many rivers; one Ocean. Intellect & the ‘word’ are God’s gift. Nevertheless as Rumi says “Silence is God’s first language,” so all our words are merely ‘pointers’ that might gift us insights with which to transform & see the Nondual, the light of heaven, Nirvana or bliss.
Being interspiritual is to walk the path of life Awakening, Detaching & Serving others better …. the perennial framework, taught by all great Teachers – our spiritual legacy, ancient but perpetually new. With love as the’ river ‘& ‘perennial wisdom’ as the ‘river-bank’ of structure we have the Inter-spiritual Way; & its vision, mission – & a course of supporting study. The briefest says “No self; no problem.”
Our primary purpose as people on the spiritual path, & members of various faith traditions, is to live in the presence of God, or Nowness The Nondual – as sages & mystics have taught down through the ages. In so being we can become agents of unity, & crafts-people for peace-building. The ‘key’ lies in resisting any claims of ‘exclusivity’ & develop ‘centering on the Oneness at the heart of all great traditions’. The Interspiritual Way & interspiritual living, engender “recovery of ‘the shared mystic heart’, beating in (us & in) the centre of the world’s deepest spiritual traditions”, Rabbi Shapiro. It’s the eternal thread of gold.
‘Nonduality is, when we stop ‘selfing’ enough, to be surrendered within, the Whole out of which the I appears.’ ND is the ‘center pole’ or ‘backbone’ of the direct, mystic One Garden interspiritual reading of life. It is the realization that we are citizens of 2 realms, the dual & the Nondual. Q. In the processes of transformation to what do the pointers, that bring insights, point? Rumi says; “Not Christian or Jew or Muslim. Not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not from the east or the west. Not out of the ocean or up from the ground. Not natural or ethereal. Not composed of elements at all. I do not exist,. Am not an entity in this world or the next. Did not descend from Adam & Eve or any origin story. My place is the placeless, a trace of the traceless – neither body or soul. I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one & that one call to & know, first, last, outer, inner, only that breath, breathing, human, being.” – Rumi – 13thC Sufi mystic – (C Barks). This has to be one of the greatest teachings ever to show our dual nature, & its context of Nonduality. We are each ‘a being’ within ‘Being as a Whole’. “We interbeing are”- Thích Nhất Hạnh. Only God is Self-subsisting.
THE INTERSPIRITUAL WAY introductory course PART 1: SPIRIT = the life-force
Here are inspirations from 7 teachers – 7 texts & 7 pathways – building peace one soul at a time
QUESTION: Around what can we unite? ANSWER: Love and the Golden Rule. Or, as the Dalai Lama says; “Kindness is my religion.” “Theologians may quarrel but the mystics of the world agree.” Meister Eckhart
TAOISM Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Sufi/ISLAM: O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaa’ba,
and the tablets of the Torah and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take,
that is my religion and my faith. (Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi: Treasure of Compassion Theos Pub House 1911 Poem XI )
JUDAISM: Blessed are the men and women who are planted on your earth, in your garden,
who grow as your trees and flowers grow, who transform their darkness to light.
Their roots plunge into darkness; their faces turn toward the light. All those who
love you are beautiful; they overflow with your presence so that they can do
nothing but good. There is infinite space in your garden; all men, all women
are welcome here; all they need do is enter. SOURCE – The Odes & Psalms of Solomon
HINDUISM: For those who set their hearts on me/ And worship me with unfailing devotion and faith,/ The way of love leads sure and swift to me. Krishna – Bhagavad Gita – SOURCE
CHRISTIANITY: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16
BUDDHISM:“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, & we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace & love.” Zen – Thích Nhất Hạnh
BAHA’I FAITH: Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the diverse elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization …. SOURCE
ECKHART TOLLE: Love is a state of Being. Your love is not outside; it is deep within you. You can never lose it, and it cannot leave you. It is not dependent on some other body, some external form. In the stillness of your presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the unmanifested life that animates your physical form. You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature. You look beyond the veil of form and separation. This is the realization of oneness. This is love. What is God? The eternal One Life underneath all the forms of life. What is love? To feel the presence of that One Life deep within yourself and within all creatures. To be it. Therefore, all love is the love of God. SOURCE – ‘The Power of Now’ -0- “Love is the recognition of oneness in a world of duality. This is the birth of God into the world of form. Love makes the world less worldly, less dense, more transparent to the divine dimension, the light of consciousness itself.” ET & TNH Take 3 conscious breaths!
SOPHOCLES: “One word frees us of all the weight & pain of life: That word is love.” (from Oedipus at Colonus)
KHALIL GIBRAN: “Work is love made visible.”
TIM FREKE: ‘Love is ease of being’ & “Love is how Oneness feels.”
RICK ARCHER: “I have a friend who likes to say; “We are all sense organs of the Infinite.” -0- -0- -0-
PART 2: THE FORMS through which we transform in becoming our true Self
& the structures through which love flows
INTRODUCTION: like the banks of a river that channels the water of love back to the infinite Ocean the eternal ‘perennial spirituality’, the mystical faith core at the heart of all great Traditions, is the key form to enable love to flow. ‘One Garden groups’ are a form or structure to help us practice healing Wholeness via perennial wisdom – personally or organizationally or poetically as; ”Sipping the healing nectar, perfume, & wisdom from 7 mystic flowerings!”
HEART & HEAD – Love is the ‘blood’ & heart-beat, the chi or life-force & primary ‘covenant’. Our practice & action nondual & dual = the channel or framework for the life-force or spirit to flow to us, through us & from us – at all levels. In awakening the Nondual becomes the background music to all.
INTER-SPIRITUALITY for me = “the recovery of the shared mystic heart beating in the center of the world’s deepest spiritual traditions.” See Teasdale’s The Mystic Heart & Tolle’s The Power of Now etc. 2 wings of spirituality = A) Connection with the non-dual Whole + B) perennial wisdom & dialogue for 1) Awakening: 2) Detaching: 3) Serving, effective action in ‘love as service’. Love is the hub of all.
‘The One Garden’ groups are about having a supportive ‘family’ to inspire living in the interspiritual way. They are a ‘sacred space’ for practice & dialogue, using eternal wisdom sources. Why? For greater happiness & peace, both as individuals & for the wider community, up to ‘the planet’s global family’ – by returning to the Traditions’ core teachings. The 7 Teachers, Texts & paths teach head, heart & action.
The ‘One Garden’ goal = living the harmony of 2 ‘wings’ i) realizing mystical connection to the formless Whole and ii) dialogue-ing Perennial Wisdom. Together their concern = Awakening:Detaching:Serving. KEYS include ying+yang, breath-work, nonduality+duality, heart-mind, words+silence, panentheism (immanence+transcendence). Stated simply it is “All in God; God in all.” Q. What is conscious breathing? Breathe in&out through your nose. You will get it if you breathe with a healthy sleeping baby’s breathing
OUR 3 SPIRITUAL CHALLENGES to become I=Awareness are awakening; Detaching; Serving.
1 Awakening is primarily learning to stay mindful in our connection with the nondual Whole (God if you prefer). Conscious breathing is for many the No 1 re-minder, the anchor, the means to awareness, nowness, integration & presence. Resting in awareness is the default home, of which we remain conscious in all forays into the dual realm. Take 3 conscious breaths & on the out-breath for…give…
2 Detachment is learning to reduce the average level of ‘radio’ interference (egotism) as we interact with others, within consciousness of the Whole. Ego like a body is necessary. But egotism is the disease of perpetually ‘selfing’ – we transform via learning to ‘die before we die’. Enjoy 3 breaths & forgive!
3 Service is action dedicated to the well being of others – starting with our friends, family & workmates – through to the ‘planetary family’s’ concerns. Our efficacy is proportionate to how successfully we love, challenge & integrate our ‘self’ & its shadow side – learning respect for our Covenantal relationship & taking inspiration from the great Traditions. Our first Covenant is with God. Enjoy 3 breaths & forgive!
1) to AWAKEN – “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” T N Hanh SL p504
A) • There’s a reality, beyond the material world & its life force: • It is uncreated. • It pervades everything, • but remains (as a Whole) beyond the reach of human knowledge & understanding.
2) to DETACH – “A (wo)man is a slave to anything s/he cannot part with that is less than her/himself” – George MacDonald. We release our ‘self’ from negatives we we see what (false) purpose they serve.
B) • You approach that reality by: • Distinguishing ego from true Self • Understanding the nature of desire • Becoming unattached • Forgetting about preferences • Not working for personal gain • Letting go of thoughts • Redirecting your attention • Being devoted • Being humble • Invoking that reality • Surrendering etc. “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” The ‘way’ or the ‘teacher’ appear whenever we need to move on up through the next stage. For Thích Nhất Hạnh & Tolle Conscious breathing = the key to deepening consciousness i.e. Awareness. Enjoy 3 breaths.
C) • That reality approaches you through: • Grace • (RP We the finite cannot comprehend the Infinite, or even others or our ‘self’ but can, as with the physical sun, feel the warmth of love & see via the light of knowledge.) NB see A J Heschel’s writings starting with ‘Who is Man?’ Enjoy 3 breaths & forgive!
D) • You’re transformed, enlightened or saved when we embody or reflect that reality by: • ‘Dying’ & ‘being reborn’ i.e living more deeply in the true, higher, non-egoistic Self, mirroring virtues in our being, doing & having. “Mindfulness as Presence, Nowness, allows us to spend more time in eternity! ” LoL! – (RP) The rhythm of our life is switching between the dual & the Nondual until I = Awareness.
3) to SERVE E) You then find (even better) ways to serve realizing all work done in the spirit of service is ranked as worship. NB the ‘triangle of the three’ Awake:Detach:Serve works synergistically – we can start anywhere. “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” A Schweitzer. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” “The breath of God is breathing me, and you – and them!” “Breathe Yahweh.” Rest as Awareness – I = Awareness.
CONCLUSION: As well as a celebratory presentation this is an outline for a one-year course. You only need a minimum of one study-buddy. ‘The Interspiritual Way’ is to foster respect for other traditions, via the Oneness at the heart of all of, and beyond, the great Traditions & enable us to be our true Self. -0-
OUR ONE GARDEN = ‘Learning to celebrate’ Oneness, beauty, truth, goodness & justice via;
a) PURPOSE: Awaken to Awareness: Detach from negatives, ego & exclusivity: Serve others better
b) PRACTICE: Practice diligently – start with Smiling more: Breathing consciously: & going mindfully.
c) PROCESS: Read any 2 or 3 of the quotes. Meditate in silence. Ask Questions & dialogue with a friend
All these teachings are at the Transcendent heart-centre of all Traditions –
Enjoy 3 breaths – forgive, & let go negatives!
FOR HELP & RESOURCES: Roger (Dr Roger Prentice) onesummit AT gmail DOT com