Points of agreement among world’s religions, and guiding our spiritual traditions through higher levels of ethical and moral behavior

https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/evolving-toward-cooperation/2019/02/12

…A major background event (known by some but not by all) was the thirty-some year process, through the Snowmass Interreligious Conference (hosted by the late Catholic Benedictine monk, Fr. Thomas Keating and involving delegates from across all the world’s traditions), creating the “Nine Points of Agreement” among the world’s religions. [11] From these emerged, through Teasdale, a behaviorally-oriented calling articulated as the “Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality.” [12]  Globally now, most interfaith discussions are based, knowingly or unknowingly, on these elements or principles.

The “Nine Points of Agreement” put forward by the Snowmass Interreligious Conference include these shared principles:

  1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahma, Allah, (the) Absolute, God, Great Spirit.
  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. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
  5. The potential for human wholeness—or in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, nirvana—is present in every human.
  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 separated or experienced as such from Ultimate Reality, it remains subject to ignorance, illusion, weakness, and suffering.
  8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment isn’t the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness (unity) with Ultimate Reality.
  9. Prayer is communion with Ultimate Reality, whether it’s regarded as personal, impersonal (transpersonal), or beyond both.

These are the more mental, intellectual, or “left-brain” elements of the consensus that has been arising across the world’s religions for the last four decades.

On the other hand, the “Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality” reflect the behavioral implications, traits of personal character, or spiritual maturity, that would reflect the values inherent in the “Nine Points of Agreement.” The Nine Elements not only represent the aspirations of authentic spirituality but also describe its goals and fruits. Each circumscribes a realm of spiritual and ethical inquiry and responsibility, and each contains multiple aspects that are critical to global interfaith harmony and interfaith education:

  1. Actualizing full moral and ethical capacity
  2. Living in harmony with the cosmos and all living beings
  3. Cultivating a life of deep nonviolence
  4. Living in humility and gratitude
  5. Embracing a regular spiritual practice
  6. Cultivating mature self-knowledge
  7. Living a life of simplicity
  8. Being of selfless service and compassionate action
  9. Empowering the prophetic voice for justice, compassion, and world transformation

In sum, these principles—springing from whatever language is used (Brahma, Allah, (the) Absolute, God, Great Spirit, etc.)—emphasize the great ethical and wisdom teachings of the religions. They stress the grandeur of humanity—a grandeur that is not only the heart of authentic religion but of the arts, including literature, poetry, music, art, dance, and all the other manifestations that mark Homo sapiens as an unparalleled species.

These values have become the hallmark of the currently emerging global Interspiritual movement which arrives at the same conclusion as Wilber’s Integral Spirituality: that (i) it is not your worldview that is important but how you act; and (ii) the historical calling of all the world’s religions is to guide our globe’s spiritual traditions through these higher and higher levels of ethical and moral behavior.

As Brother Teasdale said in his seminal writings on Interspirituality, “This journey is what spirituality is really about,” and “This revolution will be the task of the Interspiritual Age.” [13] The heart-centered Interspiritual movement, emerging from the global interfaith movement, seeks to meet this challenge head-on. Through cooperation and co-creation, the diverse inner experiences and wisdom of our species can become a transformational asset for our future. Always an outspoken and challenging voice, Teasdale also warned that it would take great courage for members of any world religion or spiritual tradition to follow a more universal path. Nevertheless, he was convinced that this path is the destiny of all the world’s religions. Teasdale’s view echoes the current message of Integral Philosophy and Integral Spirituality—that the mandate of the world’s religions is to become a “conveyor belt” for moving the religions from their millennial foundation of “Waking Up” to today’s crucial process of “Growing Up,” with all the aspects and implications of creating an actual world that reflects those high values and aspirations.

The role of global interfaith movements and their synergy and co-working with the diverse efforts of the world’s widespread peace and sustainability movements are critical to this positive manifestation planetwide. Without these cooperative efforts, we may face not only critical global challenges but, in our inability to meet them with the creativity that has aided our species’ survival in the past, we may face the ultimate possibility of eventual extinction.

  1. Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality from Wayne Teasdale’s The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions (Novato, CA: New World Library, 1999).
  2. Nine Points of Agreement of the 30-year process of the Snowmass Initiative.
  3. Seven Points of Interspiritual Education developed by Kurt Johnson and Robert Ord.
  1. Assumptions regarding the origin and development of Interspirituality, Wayne Teasdale’s major points as summarized by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord.

 Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality:

  1. Actualizing full moral and ethical capacity
  2. Living in harmony with the cosmos and all living beings
  3. Cultivating a life of deep nonviolence
  4. Living in humility and gratitude
  5. Embracing a regular spiritual practice
  6. Cultivating mature self-knowledge
  7. Living a life of simplicity
  8. Being of selfless service and compassionate action
  9. Empowering the prophetic voice for justice, compassion, and world transformation.

Nine Points of Agreement (from the 30-year Snowmass Inter-religious Initiative):

  1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality to which they give various names: Brahma, Allah, (the) Absolute, God, Great Spirit.
  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. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
  5. The potential for human wholeness—or in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, nirvana—is present in every human.
  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 remains subject to ignorance, illusion, weakness, and suffering.
  8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment isn’t the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness (unity) with Ultimate Reality.
  9. Prayer is communion with Ultimate Reality, whether it’s regarded as personal, impersonal (transpersonal), or beyond both.

Elements of Interspiritual Education:

  1. Teaching interspirituality itself (the journey from interfaith to experiential interspirituality)
  2. Teaching sacred activism (the inherent connection of being and doing)
  3. Cultivating higher consciousness (unity consciousness as an actual experience)
  4. Nurturing individual formation (personal maturation in authentic universal spirituality)
  5. Teaching integral (the integral vision and the developmental view of history)
  6. Community building (building authentic communities of all kinds)
  7. Ministry development (developing interfaith and interspiritual ministry from conventional roles—in religious institutions, chaplaincy, hospice—to entrepreneurial initiatives, creating new roles for interfaith and interspiritual ministry).

Assumptions regarding the origin and development of Interspirituality (Wayne Teasdale’s major points as summarized by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord)

  1. Human consciousness and heart have been evolving toward a maximum potential regarding the kind of being humans can be and what kind of an earth we can create
  2. This has been going on since the known origin of the cosmos, as material evolution and as evolution of consciousness
  3. This is recognized in a fundamental tenant of the interspiritual vision, that the evolution of world religions has been one unfolding experience reflecting the gradual growth of human maturity
  4. This trend is anchored in the universally unfolding experience of “unity consciousness” or “awakening,” the experience of profound interconnectedness, no separation, and the world of the heart
  5. This unity consciousness has been emerging through all the world’s spiritual traditions
  6. Historically we have witnessed this unfolding in myriad identifiable threads in the world’s philosophies and religions
  7. This unfolding has implications for how we develop our collective skills so that this consciousness can manifest in the world in tangible skill-sets working toward global transformation
  8. This has implications for the innumerable realms and arenas of endeavor, represented by all humanity.

For additional information about the Interspiritual movement, see http://interspirituality.com/ and Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord, The Coming Interspiritual Age (Vancouver, BC: Namaste Publishing (2012).

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