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Subject:Interspirituality - Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Date new:Mon, Oct 7, 2013
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by Rabbi Rami Shapiro


According to the Book of Genesis, the first thing that adam (Hebrew for “human”) does is name the other animals in the Garden. Naming is essential to our nature. To name a thing is to make it familiar, to normalize it, perhaps, at least in the world of magic, to have some influence over it. And so we seek to be the first to name a thing and in that way make it ours. And not only things, but ideas as well.

We are now in a race to name the emerging spirituality of the postreligion world. By post-religion I don’t mean a world without religion, but a world in which a growing number have stepped beyond the limitations and boundaries of any one religion.

For the post-religionist each of us is heir to the entirety of human religious wisdom, and not just the subgroup into which any of us happens to have been born. The post-religionist is spiritually hyphenated. For example, while I identify primarily as a Jew, and use the artifacts of Jewish civilization as the main building blocks for making meaning in my life, my spirituality is a blend of Jewish-Muslim-Hindu-Buddhist-Taoist-Christian wisdom teachings, and my encounters with God are encounters with the Divine Mother, something normative Judaism would find alien if not heretical. So what do we call this?

The name of the moment may be “Interspirituality.” My friend and teacher Brother Wayne Teasdale spoke of Interspirituality in terms of the common “mystic heart” revealed and shared by the great contemplatives of all religions. My years of participation in Father Thomas Keating’s Snowmass Group, an annual gathering of contemplatives at St. Benedict’s monastery in Snowmass, CO, has helped me name that mystic heart through our Eight Points of Agreement:

1) The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality, to which they give various names.

2) Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.

3) Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.

4) Faith is opening, accepting, and responding to Ultimate Reality.

5) The potential for human wholeness – or, in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transcendence, transformation, blessedness – is present in every human being.

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

7) As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.

8) Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.

We can, and will, argue over the meaning of Interspirituality and the naming rights to it. We are, after all, adam. But the name is less important to me than the trend it seeks to articulate.

So who are the Interspiritualists? We are the Nones who refuse to be limited to boxes on a religion survey. We are Spiritual Independents who cannot imagine that anyone or any system owns the truth. We are Holy Rascals who dare to peer behind the curtain of religious power, pomp, piety, and politics, and free ourselves from the domination of little men with large megaphones. And we are humble Seekers without Borders who quietly pursue Wisdom wherever she may be found.


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