Saturday, December 22, 2018

Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 7)

The Wild Reed’s 2018 Advent series focuses on eight guidelines for interreligious understanding and the recognition and facilitation of a universal approach to mysticism. These guidelines were developed by Thomas Keating and members of the Snowmass Conference. They are excerpted from Wayne Teasdale’s 1999 book, The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions.

Along with many other people, I trust that the coming (or advent) of this universal spirituality is something that the Divine is calling humanity to embrace and embody. (Note: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

The Seventh Guideline

The chief characteristic of the age we live in is our willingness to explore other ways of looking at life. . . . We are beginning to feel comfortable [exploring aspects of] other traditions, particularly alternative prayer forms, meditation, and yoga. We are hungry for the divine; we are striving for a breakthrough. Sooner or later, it will happen. If a person is really trying, and is devoting time for prayer or meditation each day – preferably twice a day – then, sooner or later, a breakthrough will occur.

One of the great problems of the contemporary world is the sense of isolation people feel – from the ultimate mystery, nature, other people, and our fellow creatures. This feeling of separation is a relative perspective growing out of a cultural milieu of human autonomy from the source and from one another. Such a perspective is, in the end, an illusion. The seventh guideline, and a further basis for interreligious conversation and cooperation, recognizes this danger of isolation and separation: As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance, illusion, weakness, and suffering.

When our life is divided against itself, it is out of touch with the way things really are: each person as part of a vast community of consciousness that embraces the totality. Bede Griffiths often said that sin is separation, referring to the false posture of autonomy so many people assume in their lives. Autonomy is illusion, and the paramount ignorance of our time. It has justified so much destructive behavior, in government, business, education, health care, and within families. But if we understand that we are intimately connected with the totality, and with all others, then our attitudes, habits, words, and actions will be measured, always seeking harmony.

NEXT: The Eighth Guideline

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism: An Introduction
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 1)
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 2)
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 3)
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 4)
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 5)
Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 6)
Something Extraordinary . . . Again
In Search of a Global Ethic
The Ground Zero Papal Prayer Service . . . and a Reminder of the Spirituality That Transcends What All the Religions Claim to Represent
A Return to the Spirit
Beltane and the Reclaiming of Spirit
New Horizons: Reflections on A Passage to India
Advent: A “ChristoPagan” Perspective
An Advent Prayer
Advent: The Season of Blessed Paradox
Active Waiting: A Radical Attitude Toward Life
No Other Time, No Other Place
Advent: Renewing Our Connection with the Sacred
Celebrating the Coming of the Sun and the Son
Christmastide Approaches

Images: My friend Mahad at the “Prayer Tree” (Michael Bayly, 8/12/18). Each of the posts in this series is accompanied by one or two images of what I've come to call the Prayer Tree, that special oak tree by Minnehaha Creek, close to my home in south Minneapolis. This tree and its location serve as a sacred place for me; for as its name suggests, I go there to pray, meditate, and reflect deeply. Also, as my friend McAuley recently pointed out, it serves as a beautiful representation of the axis mundi – the cosmic axis, the center of the world. Often symbolized by a tree, the axis mundi, as both a celestial and geographic pillar, serves as a point of connection between sky (heaven) and earth, the higher and lower realms of consciousness, and the four compass directions. As a representation of the axis mundi, and thus a rich symbol of groundedness, connection, and unity, the Prayer Tree seems a very appropriate image for The Wild Reed's 2018 Advent series on universal mysticism.

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