Monday, December 24, 2018

Guidelines for the Advent of a Universal Mysticism (Part 8)

The Wild Reed’s 2018 Advent series focusing on eight guidelines for interreligious understanding and the recognition and facilitation of a universal approach to mysticism, concludes today. As has been noted previously, 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. May it be so!

(Note: To start at the beginning of this series, click here).

The Eighth Guideline

Guideline eight turns to the issue of spiritual practice, emphasizing its utter importance in the mystical journey. Yet it also recognizes that spiritual practice alone will not achieve the transformation we desire. It is deeper than simply a matter of our own efforts at inner and outer change, regardless of how noble and heroic these are. Our transformation is based, rather, on the depth and quality of our relationship with Ultimate Reality. It is this relationship that determines our elevation into higher awareness, compassionate being, and loving presence. The eighth guideline says: 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 (unity) with Ultimate Reality.

In other words, what transform us is not what we do but our integration with what is. What we do in the way of our spiritual effort, our habits of prayer,* meditation, compassion, and love are all important; but the cause of change is the inner mystical process of union with the source. That, and that alone, is what brings about inner change and carries us into the everlasting roots of our expanded identity in the divine.


* Prayer is communion with Ultimate Reality, whether it is regarded as personal, communal, or both. Prayer is an essential activity found in every culture and every time. It defines human nature in its highest sense, in its efforts at spiritual attainment, and inner change of heart, mind, and behavior. It is the fundamental and perennial method of scaling the heights and probing the depths of the real.

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

Opening image:The Prayer Tree” by Michael Bayly. 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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