Wayne Teasdale

wayne-teasdale

Brother Wayne Teasdale (1945 – 20 October 2004) was a Catholic monk, mystic, author, and teacher from Connecticut, best known as an energetic proponent of mutual understanding between the world’s religions, for an interfaith dialogue which he termed “interspirituality”. He was also an active campaigner on issues of social justice, and was a tireless spokesperson for the practical power of spiritual realization. A personal friend of the Dalai Lama, Teasdale has been a key figure in the interfaith movement, and through books like The Mystic Heart and A Monk in the World has brought contemplative spirituality—and the selfless service that stems from it—into common discourse.

Raised in a Catholic family in Connecticut, Teasdale’s spiritual calling began on a warm summer’s eve in his early childhood when, awed by the infinite expanse of stars in the night sky, he realized he would grow up to be a priest. And while his early years were full of faith and optimism, the tumultuous sixties challenged his belief in the goodness of God and plunged him into a three-year-long “dark night of the soul.”

Yet it was in the midst of this period that Teasdale enrolled in a small Catholic college in New Hampshire associated with St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where Father Thomas Keating was serving as abbot. Through his attendance at Keating’s contemplative retreats for laypeople, the mystical dimension of his life opened up, and the two remained good friends up until Teasdale’s passing away.

In 1973, Teasdale dedicated himself to his spiritual practice with renewed intensity, and that same year struck up a correspondence with Father Bede Griffiths, the British-born Benedictine innovator who drew on Eastern meditative paths to enrich Christianity’s tradition of charity and selfless service. Teasdale would soon spend two years at Griffiths’s ashram in southern India where he learned the ways of Christian sannyasa and bore witness to the pressing realities of overpopulation and environmental destruction. Upon taking vows of renunciation under Griffiths, he dedicated himself to a life of simplicity, service, and interspirituality.

Often he labored at various social causes, from environmental responsibility to homelessness, especially while he lived in Chicago. He spoke quietly about how to benefit the human community. Often people would be affected by the kindness of his heart. He could also be funny and rollicking. Teasdale served the Parliament of the World’s Religions by sitting on its Board of Trustees, where he worked with others in order to convene the centenary parliament of 1993 in Chicago. This event brought together eight thousand people of many different faiths worldwide; out of it came the Guidelines for a Global Ethic.

Truth has the unique quality of being absolute. What is true is true no matter what or where or how it is expressed. That is why the core of all of the world’s great religions reflect the same common wisdom, whether it is Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic or Jewish. Wayne Teasdale dedicated his life to encouraging this dialogue regarding the common ground of all religions: the timeless reality of all traditions, not just the Christian tradition he was first introduced to.

Devoted to such a new interfaith understanding, Teasdale came to espouse what he termed “interspirituality”, a perspective that discovered in the world religions a degree of commonality which could be approached through mystical experience. Teasdale was active in promoting and developing this facet of spirituality. Interspirituality is the subject of his now-classic books The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions (1999) and A Monk in the World (2002).

Over the course of about a decade, the word interspirituality has become commonly used throughout the world, with hundreds of citations at Google and other search engines. Interspirituality is important for understanding what distinguishes spirituality and religion. In a nutshell, interspirituality refers to a spirituality so deeply rooted in the heart and the heart-experience of oneness—so deeply rooted in “felt-sense”—that any creed, belief, background, history, indeed anything that could cause separation between beings, becomes secondary if not irrelevant.

Interspirituality is about love and oneness, not “who is right” in the world of exclusive religious narratives, stories or claims as to history, historical persons, or what will happen in the future. Interspirituality is more about the underlying essence of religious experience, which is spirituality: the sanctity of all things, the forever now, and all that this implies.

In this way, interspirituality is different from conventional interfaith, which is really a horizontal discussion among various religions, beliefs, and creeds in the hope for more tolerance, peace, and mutual understanding. Interspirituality also transcends and delves deeper than conventional trans-traditional spirituality, which is an authentic enjoyment of many paths but perhaps not including the actual experience of this mystery of absolute oneness in multiplicity.

Interspirituality also sees all religious experience and spiritual paths as one existential evolutionary process, converging toward what the ultimate potential of our species can be in both consciousness and heart.Thus the truth of who we are in consciousness and heart has been evolving and converging through all the spiritual paths and spiritual experiences of our species. It’s a vertical process, not about the question of “who knows best” regarding belief or creed, but about our relationships reflecting ever-higher realizations of love.

Brother Wayne associated with several contemplative and interfaith groups, including the Hundred Acres Monastery in New Hampshire (his resident address for several years), the North American Board for East-West Dialogue, and Common Ground (Center for inquiry, study, and dialogue). Teasdale also was coordinator of the Bede Griffiths Trust. He became well acquainted with the Dalai Lama. As a member of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, he assisted the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) and others, including the Cistercian Thomas Keating, in negotiating the text of the Universal Declaration on Nonviolence (1990), which sought to further the Satyagraha ideals established by Gandhi.

The Synthesis Dialogues has sponsored several conferences for selected religious and secular leaders, which aimed at increasing dialogue between faiths and at discerning how such interspiritual cooperation could benefit human affairs in general. Teasdale worked with the group initiating the dialogues.

In 2002, Teasdale, with friends and colleagues, founded Interspiritual Dialogue (ISD), an NGO accredited by the United Nations Department of Public Information. After his death in 2004, ISD expanded internationally to become Interspiritual Dialogue ‘n’ Action. This network works to promulgate Teasdale’s vision of interspirituality and the interspiritual age. In 2008, ISDnA, the Common Ground Conferences and other of Teasdale’s friends partnered with One Spirit Learning Alliance and Interfaith Seminary in New York City to form an educational program based on Teasdale’s work and that of the Integral thinkers such as Ken Wilber and Don Beck. A centerpiece of this program has been articulated by Gorakh Hayashi and Kurt Johnson, colleagues of Teasdale, in The Heart of Brother Wayne Teasdale’s Vision of the Interspiritual Age (Vision in Action, 2008).

In 2009 ISDnA created the educational website InterSpiritual Multiplex: A Guide and Directory to InterSpirituality Worldwide. In 2010, ISDnA partnered with the Order of Universal Interfaith and the World Council of Interfaith Congregations to create, with some one hundred founders including many friends of Teasdale, The Universal Order of Sannyasa, as association of interspiritual contemplatives and sacred activists envisioned by and spoken of by Teasdale in all of his books. Soon after its January 2010 founding, the name was modified from “The Universal Order of Sannyasa” to “Community of The Mystic Heart, an Interspiritual Circle of Mystics and Contemplatives originally envisioned as the Universal Order of Sannyasa by Bro. Wayne Teasdale”.

The purpose of the community (established as a religious order and able to ordain “interspiritual ministers” and “wisdom keepers”) fulfills Teasdale’s vision of an active international association dedicated to spiritual life practice, sacred activism and advancement of the interspiritual message. Kurt Johnson became the first administrator serving a circle-style leadership including numerous persons associated with Teasdale during his life’s work.

Through these important and diverse activities, Teasdale exemplified Christianity’s most important contribution to the world: an ethic of social service grounded in Love. He spent his final days living a life of engaged monasticism in Chicago. Brother Wayne Teasdale died of cancer on October 20, 2004, at the age of 59.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Teasdale

https://www.integrallife.com/contributors/brother-wayne-teasdale

http://www.namastepublishing.com/blog/compassionate-eye/what-interspirituality

In the following online article, entitled The Interspiritual Age: Practical Mysticism for the Third Millennium,Wayne Teasdale proposes his view of a unitive spirituality which transcends tradition:

http://csp.org/experience/docs/teasdale-interspiritual.html

Wayne’s final manuscript entitled “Spirituality as a Primary Support in Promoting Peace”, can be found online here:

http://www.interreligiousinsight.org/April2006/TeasdaleEssay.html

Some quotes from Wayne Teasdale:

“Every one of us is a mystic. We may or may not realize it, we may not even like it. But whether we know it or not, whether we accept it or not, mystical experience is always there, inviting us on a journey of ultimate discovery. We have been given the gift of life in this perplexing world to become who we ultimately are: creatures of boundless love, caring compassion, and wisdom. Existence is a summons to the eternal journey of the sage – the sage we all are, if only we could see.”

“Everything Bede Grifiths wrote aims at awakening others to the contemplative dimension in themselves. His contemplative theology-as well as his entire theological “system”-emphasizes the ultimate value of the experiential approach to the Divine Reality. To this end, he encouraged a rigorous sadhana or spiritual practice. This practice includes meditation and asceticism, and Father Bede practiced both with extreme assiduousness as the way to come to mystical realization and identification with the Absolute, to have knowledge of God (brahmavidya), which is like the &iosis of the Christian tradition or jnana in the contemplative way.”

“Interspirituality is essentially an agent of a universal mysticism and integral spirituality. We often walk the interspiritual or intermystical path in an intuitive attempt to reach a more complete truth. That final integration, a deep convergence, is an integral spirituality. Bringing together all the great systems of spiritual wisdom, practice, insight, reflection, experience, and science provides a truly integral understanding of spirituality in its practical application in our lives, regardless of our tradition.”

“The rise of community among cultures and religious traditions brings with it a deeply fruitful openness to learning from one another. It makes possible what we can call ‘interspirituality’: the assimilation of insights, values, and spiritual practices from the various religions and their application to one’s own inner life and development. This phenomenon has truly revolutionary implications, especially for the real likelihood of a global culture and civilization forming that is unmistakably universal in more than a geographical sense.”

“We have become spiritually illiterate: ignorant of the realization that life is a spiritual journey, that everything is sacred or a manifestation of the ultimate mystery. We are morally confused, precisely because of this illiteracy. And this illiteracy and confusion have led directly to psychological dysfunction: the breakdown of meaningful communication in the family, and the indifference and insensitivity with which we treat one another. We fear the intimacy inherent in the interactions of society itself. People regard one another as objects, rather than as the precious beings they are. Our addiction to violence — vicarious and otherwise — is nourished by a steady diet of irresponsible Hollywood images and stories that subtly, and not so subtly, insinuate that violence is fundamental to life. Psychological dysfunction also appears in our frenzied pace of life, with its inevitable fragmentation and tolerance of noise, and in the endless stimulation we require through news, sports, and other forms of excitement. We have become a nation of compulsive neurotics. No wonder the quiet spiritual life has difficulty in being heard.”

“The spiritual journey changes us to the core of our being. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be real. This quality of inner change is what I understand by the term transformation: a radical reordering and alteration of our character, and all our old habits of thought, feeling and action.

“Spirituality is always meant to make us better by unlocking our potential for divinity, to be likeGod in some participatory way. This is what the Christian theologians of the early Orthodox church called theosis, or deification, becoming like God. It is what the Eastern traditions mean when they speak of awakening the Buddha-nature within us, or the Atman. If spirituality does not offer access to actualizing our potential for this higher form of life, which is what we are made for, then what ultimate value can it possibly have for us?”

“The rise of community among cultures and religious traditions brings with it a deeply fruitful openness to learning from one another. It makes possible what we can call ‘interspirituality’: the assimilation of insights, values, and spiritual practices from the various religions and their application to one’s own inner life and development. This phenomenon has truly revolutionary implications, especially for the real likelihood of a global culture and civilization forming that is unmistakably universal in more than a geographical sense.”

“We have become spiritually illiterate: ignorant of the realization that life is a spiritual journey, that everything is sacred or a manifestation of the ultimate mystery. We are morally confused, precisely because of this illiteracy. And this illiteracy and confusion have led directly to psychological dysfunction: the breakdown of meaningful communication in the family, and the indifference and insensitivity with which we treat one another. We fear the intimacy inherent in the interactions of society itself. People regard one another as objects, rather than as the precious beings they are. Our addiction to violence — vicarious and otherwise — is nourished by a steady diet of irresponsible Hollywood images and stories that subtly, and not so subtly, insinuate that violence is fundamental to life. Psychological dysfunction also appears in our frenzied pace of life, with its inevitable fragmentation and tolerance of noise, and in the endless stimulation we require through news, sports, and other forms of excitement. We have become a nation of compulsive neurotics. No wonder the quiet spiritual life has difficulty in being heard.”

“The spiritual journey changes us to the core of our being. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be real. This quality of inner change is what I understand by the term transformation: a radical reordering and alteration of our character, and all our old habits of thought, feeling and action.

“Spirituality is always meant to make us better by unlocking our potential for divinity, to be likeGod in some participatory way. This is what the Christian theologians of the early Orthodox church called theosis, or deification, becoming like God. It is what the Eastern traditions mean when they speak of awakening the Buddha-nature within us, or the Atman. If spirituality does not offer access to actualizing our potential for this higher form of life, which is what we are made for, then what ultimate value can it possibly have for us?”

“Spiritual practice is the core of our transformation, and it requires what can be called the contemplative attitude, a disposition to a life of mystical depth. Spiritual practice often means meditation and other forms of inner exploration. It can also mean prayer. Silence, solitude, and mysticism — the seeking of illumination and wisdom — are further parts of the contemplative experience, a process of our ultimate evolution, our unfolding to higher states of consciousness.”

“As matrix, the Church might strive to become a container for all humanity’s noble aspirations. The Church could be a nurturer of interfaith encounter, interreligious dialogue, spirituality, interspirituality, work for justice, the promotion of peace, creating sacred culture, and teaching environmental responsibility and economic sustainability. . . . The Church is now required to radiate Christ’s radical love and not simply insist on his unique salvific role. It will also require the reform of capitalism, the promotion of ecological justice, and a full commitment to the full development of all people, with special attention to their educational, economic, moral, and spiritual needs. It will teach the importance of nonviolence in all relationships. It will be a human order in which spirituality and interspirituality will be the highest pursuits. Economics and power will be the servants of this new civilization rather than its masters.”

“As I stood with the sun on the summit of the modest mountain peak, the solar orb became a catalyst for my encounter with the Divine. As often appears in myth, the sun became the conveyance for God. It ushered me into the Divine Presence through its powerful symbolic function, its archetypal capacity to represent the one. I was overcome as I stood alone before the Divine. I was seized by the Presence communicated through the sudden appearance of the sun. It carried me into an intense awareness of the Divine’s utter reality. I knew then why I had made this journey, and the peace it conveyed remains with me to this day.”

“I experience the Divine Presence in many ways, but the form most often available to me is “spiration,” or the act of breathing in which the Spirit often manifests itself and communicates itself. This process has given rise to the experience of inspiration, or in-spiration, in which the Spirit breathes into us. To be aware of God through spiration is to become conscious of God’s subtle Presence through our own breathing.

We all share in the eternal spiration of the Spirit. When I am sufficiently absorbed in the experience of divine spiration, I realize inwardly my dependence, and that of all beings, on this subtle action of the Source.”

“Simplicity clears away all the inessentials of existence and makes a life of genuine depth and meaning possible. When we remove the clutter from out lives, we become inwardly free to give ourselves to the mystical journey, to seek union and communion with the ultimate mystery. Simplicity of life allows us to become single-minded about the inner experience, and not waste our precious time and energy on useless efforts that only distract us.”

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About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have several other sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/1heart Essays on the Conscious Process: http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Poetry and Prosetry: http://feelingtoinfinity.wordpress.com/ Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: https://westernmystics.wordpress.com/ https://freetransliterations.wordpress.com/ Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: https://spiritguidesparrow.wordpress.com/ Thank You!
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One Response to Wayne Teasdale

  1. bob knab says:

    Thank you ———————–

    Belief _________

    Beyond belief –
    This mystery –
    This process –

    All
    appearances !
    sucked into
    the black hole
    of
    transformation –

    This process –
    This mystery –
    This today

    Nataraja dancing ______ boK

    Like

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