Season for Interfaith-Intercultural Celebration

9-Week Self Study Program

Week ONE: Gratefulness, Contemplation & Action

Interview Dialogues
Discussion Questions
Preparation & Background

Related Global Manifesto
Further Reading/ Links

 

INTERVIEWS

Bro. David Steindl-Rast on Gratitude from the Perspective of Christianity
An Austrian-American Roman Catholic theologian and Benedictine monk, notable for his active participation in interfaith dialogue, and his work on the interaction between spirituality and science. In addition to being a pioneer in Buddhist-Christian dialogue, he has contributed to understanding and peace in the world through interdisciplinary social commitment. Among the vital findings which have brought changes in the scientific view of spiritual practice are: the role of gratefulness in political and altruistic action, the relationship between gratefulness and happiness.
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Fr. Thomas Keating OCSO on Peace and the Inner Life
Cistercian monk and former abbot of St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts. Former president, Temple of Understanding; founder of Contemplative Outreach and the Snowmass Interfaith Conference; and former chair, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. Author of numerous books and articles on Christian contemplative practice and on dialogue with other religions.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Explore the ways in which your own understanding of gratefulness shapes your spiritual life, your personal relationships, and your life in community.

2. What is the relationship between contemplation and action in your own life?

 

PREPARATION & BACKGROUND

Christianity

The Christian faith embraces a wide variety of doctrines and religious groups based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is held by Christians to be the Christ, the Annointed One, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and the Savior of humanity. This teaching finds its essential expression in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. Although Christianity is in one sense the most fragmented of the world’s religions (thousands of variations exist on the Christian theme), most Christians see the promises and prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For Christians, Jesus is Lord, brother, exemplar, and transcendent savior. Christians celebrate the life of faith as the key to real relationship to Jesus Christ as God and through that relationship the path to salvation and eternal life. Like Judaism and Islam, Christianity has a powerful social message. Christians believe in the action of God as Holy Spirit, informing and transforming humanness through faith.

Excellence: A unique vision of the human divine connection and of the power of love as the essence of that connection The person of Jesus Christ as one of the most powerful and evocative of spiritual symbols. Devotion to and reliance on the Savior as the essential spiritual path.
Story: The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
Ritual Pattern: Holy Week
Ethic: Love one another

 

Theme: Peace and the Inner Life

What is the alternative to the culture of violence that thrives in so many regions of the planet? Thomas Keating suggests one real possibility.

As we confront the crisis of civilization culminating in the specter of humanicide, is there an alternative to the present plunge of humanity toward the abyss of unmost violence? There is an alternative. It is the commitment to the practice of charity. In the Hebrew language the term for charity is hesed – love that is boundless and everlasting. In Greek, agape -- love that is totally selfless. In Latin, caritas – unconditional love. In English charity or loving kindness – limitless compassion for suffering at every level of human experience.

Thomas Keating, Trappist monk, teacher of contemplative “centering prayer,” has been a peace activist for most of his life. For him, however, the key to building peace in the world lies in cultivating peace in one’s heart. The gradual enrichment of the inner life leads to a healing of the outer world.

Excerpt from Thriving in the Crosscurrent: Clarity and Hope at a Time of Cultural Sea Change (Jim Kenney, Quest Books 2010), p. 228-229:

Growing out of over a half century of profound dialogue between spiritual and cultural traditions and practices, interspirituality acknowledges and explores the very different but convergent spiritual visions and practices that nourish all cultures. The late Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart, coined the word “interspiritual.” He expressed it as “the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions.” As he put it, “Interspirituality is not about eliminating the world’s rich diversity of religious expression. . . . Rather, it is an attempt to make available to everyone all the forms the spiritual journey assumes.”

Perhaps you’re not a religious believer and have no interest in the existence of any transcendent reality. Not a problem, Wayne would say. You still have an inner life, and it can without question be broadened, deepened, and enriched. The exploration of interspirituality, as a matter of fact, sets aside the doctrinal disparities that separate the world’s religious traditions. Buddhists do not accept the existence of a creator God. Jews, Christians, and Muslims do—though in appreciably different ways. But all can come together to share what their communities have learned about the deep inner workings of mind and the still deeper life of spirit. It’s worth noting that humankind’s earliest reflections on evolution were spiritual in nature.

Links & Media:

LINK: Quotes from the World's Religions on Gratitude
LINK: Video Meditation on Gratitude

 

RELATED GLOBAL MANIFESTO

The Assissi Decalogue: (Offered by Pope John Paul II as a summary of the reflections of over 200 religious leaders who gathered in 2002 for the Assisi Day of Prayer for Peace). CLICK HERE TO READ

 

FURTHER READING

A Conversation with Thomas Keating: http://theindiespiritualist.com/2010/12/22/father-thomas-keating-laughs-...

The Centering Prayer: http://www.concentric.net/~cosmas/centering_prayer.htm

Bro. David's "Peace Through Gratefulness" Practice: http://www.gratefulness.org/p/worldpeace.cfm

Snowmass Abbey (and Interfaith Conference): http://www.snowmass.org/

Contemplative Outreach: http://www.centeringprayer.com/

Monastic Interreligious Dialogue: http://www.monasticdialog.com/