Reason 2: It’s time to move from interfaith dialog to inter-spiritual practice.
Interfaith dialog is viewed by many as a political necessity in today’s interconnected world. And so we often let our respective leaders do the talking, and just get on with our own traditions without taking on the radical challenges of loving and living with those with “opposing” views.
The great treasure that interreligious dialogue among the world religions could unlock is to enable people to get to know and love other religions and the people who practice them.
― Thomas Keating, Consenting to God As God Is
But while dialog is always good, it cannot be the end goal. It can become a game of comparing your ideas and my ideas, without sharing life. It can get stuck in the head, and focus on difference and dogma, and the lowest common denominator. Mere talking even risks devolving into conflict. Compared to talking, practice is more of a challenge; talk is cheap, but experience is costly.
Inter-spiritual practice is about doing things with those different to you, openly and non- judgmentally. It is about encounter, hearing the heart, feeling the pain, and deepening experiential knowledge. There are inevitably aspects of other religions we find hard to accept. But if we focus on what is common, we might be surprised. Take the “petals” of the flower from the book “InterSpiritual Meditation” (right) – even the most traditional religious people would agree on most of these. We might even find that we are in denial about things the “others” can offer.
In fact, inter-spiritual practice is an exciting, cutting-edge creative act. It means we are all in the same “boat of unknowing”, it levels the playing field to a space with no “experts”. Every religious tradition started somewhere, with a great deal of unknowing, and this fact, this “genesis”, gets forgotten, lost in the mist of myth, where we start developing attachments to some supposed and certain past.
We are called, like Abram, to be ever beginning, and the participation in a “third space”, neither wholly yours nor mine, is profoundly creative.