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Excerpt from "The Coming Spiritual Age"

The Emerging Universal Spirituality and The Coming Interspiritual Age

by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord

…we are witnessing a trend toward globalization and multiculturalism. Of the world’s 7 billion people, at least 70% believe globalization in inevitable. Worldwide, more than 60% believe that mutual understanding and multiculturalism will be important to making this transition a smooth one for our planet.

The big question is whether the global era that's dawning will be kind to the world’s masses… Unless there is a sense that we are a single people, we will undoubtedly end with a catastrophe in which not even the elite will be safe. …The issue is how to create a sense of identity larger than "my interests," “my nation," “my religion," “my ethnic group.” A holistic world-centric view would be a tall order for much of the world. Yet terms such as “transnational," “transcultural,” and “trans-traditional" are becoming the clarion calls of our generation.

Movements of oneness—of unity consciousness—are afoot in nearly every arena, from the protests in the streets to the emergence of a new science and technology. The quantum world, string theory, and now M-theory in physics are introducing us to a “vibratory” view of reality. A cosmology of potential multiverses and additional dimensions is also being proposed. With the heralded discovery of the universal Higgs-Boson energy field announced by physicists in 2012, science may be closer to understanding how “things” manifest “out of nothing.” New frontiers open before us that are immensely creative and promising, offering a vision of a world in which humanity's capacity for self-consciousness is explored for the benefit of all, including the planet itself.

… It's important to recognize that spirituality and religion, often confused, aren't the same. Spirituality differs from religion in its sense of unconditional value that's unaffected by circumstances. In spirituality, seen through the heart’s unconditional lens, God is one.

Although historically the offspring of spirituality, religion is more focused on whose view of reality is correct. In religion, God isn't one. This is the antithesis of a prescription for a world that is both good and concerned for the interests and wellbeing of every creature.

However, as the millennium turned, a vision of interspirituality was emerging from within the world’s religions. The result of the inner exploration of contemplatives, meditators, and mystics, along with those who seek to foster the advancement of their fellow humans, the vision draws on the commonality embedded in nearly all the world’s Great Wisdom Traditions, both religious and spiritual.

As those who seeded the vision began talking to each other across continents and oceans, and between traditions and cultures, they discerned that their experience, though hugely diverse, was ultimately much the same. All shared a sense of profound interconnectedness, oneness, and a unity that transcended the boundaries of their theological traditions, cultural backgrounds, and historical narratives.

The commonality came as a surprise—and yet not a surprise, given that science and technology were also heading in the same direction. A new unity was emerging among the scientific disciplines, epitomized by the new physics and reflected in new modalities in the philosophy of science and the emerging integral theories of the interrelationship of everything.

As if serving as a harbinger of what was to come, the first book to clearly identify this trend and name it “interspirituality” appeared in 1999, at the cusp of the new millennium. As doors were opening worldwide and millions were stepping into the streets to imagine a new world, the stage had been set for a global dialogue.

The word "interspirituality” was nonexistent until it was coined in 1999 by a Roman Catholic lay monk and pioneer interfaith leader, Brother Wayne Teasdale, in a book aptly entitled The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. By 2004, when Brother Teasdale and colleagues introduced the perspective at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, the term was still hardly known. Yet today an internet search for “interspirituality” or “interspiritual” calls up over 100,000 hits.

It's obvious to many that interspirituality— a more universal experience of the world’s religions, emphasizing shared experiences of heart and unity consciousness—represents part of the world’s ongoing movement toward globalization and multiculturalism. It can be seen as an inevitable response to globalization—be it welcomed, as in the case of advocates of an unfolding world culture and planetary economic system, or pushed back against by religious fundamentalists and parochialists of all kinds, including terrorists.

Brother Teasdale predicted that interspirituality would become the global spiritual view of our era:

The real religion of humankind can be said to be spirituality itself, because mystical spirituality is the origin of all the world religions. If this is so, and I believe it is, we might also say that interspirituality—the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions—is the religion of the third millennium. Interspirituality is the foundation that can prepare the way for a planet-wide enlightened culture, and a continuing community among the religions that is substantial, vital, and creative. This revolution will be the task of the Interspiritual Age. The necessary shifts in consciousness require a new approach to spirituality that transcends past religious cultures of fragmentation and isolation. We need to understand, to really grasp at an elemental level that the definitive revolution is the spiritual awakening of humankind." [1]


[1] quotations from the book The Mystic Heart (copyright 1999 by Wayne Teasdale) reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com (p. 4 f, p. 26).

Kurt Johnson is well known internationally as a scientist, comparative religionist, social activist and former monastic. With a PhD in evolution, ecology, systematics, and comparative biology, plus extensive training in comparative religion and philosophy, he was associated professionally for twenty years with the American Museum of Natural History and also the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City. Ordained in three spiritual traditions, he is widely regarded as the closest associate of Brother Wayne Teasdale, the founder of the modern “interspiritual movement,” and works also with the international Contemplative Alliance and Father Thomas Keating, founder of the Centering Prayer Movement. In science, Dr. Johnson has published over 200 professional articles and seven books on evolution and ecology. His popular book Nabokov’s Blues: The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius (co-authored with New York Times journalist Steve Coates) was a “ten best” book in science in 2000 at Booklist, Library Journal, the Washington Post and HMS Beagle and “Editor’s Choice for 1999” at The Seattle Times. Johnson and Teasdale cofounded the international Interspiritual Dialogue association in 2002, which presented at the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions and then expanded to become the virtual Interspiritual Multiplex web resource

See also Wikipedia at: Kurt Johnson (entomologist)

For Kurt Johnson at Namaste see: https://www.namastepublishing.com/people/kurt-johnson

David Robert Ord is a former Presbyterian (USA) minister and Graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary. Coauthor with Dr Robert B. Coote of The Bible’s First History—From Eden to the Court of David with the Yahwist, In the Beginning—Creation and the Priestly History, and Is the Bible True? Understanding the Bible Today, he is also author of the Namaste Publishing book Your Forgotten Self: Mirrored in Jesus the Christ. He is currently Editorial Director for Namaste Publishing.

For David Robert Ord at Namaste see: https://www.namastepublishing.com/people/david-robert-ord

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