Humankind has always been on a spiritual journey. This odyssey is in relationship to and toward the Ultimate Source. It is the human inheritance of ancestral grace which all spiritual traditions share no matter how much they differ one from another. Mystical awareness and contemplative practice are ways in each tradition beyond discursive explanations, terminology and ideas where all practitioners can meet. Behind all traditions and their vast multiplicity of doctrines, rituals and abuses, there is a mystical experience available which is rediscovered over the ages to this day.
It is the Divine Dwelling persons are seeking. This Reality, this mystical experience, has been interpreted in many different ways. All of them have a certain insight and value. None are absolutely adequate.
In the last thirty years, we have experienced that all the world’s cultures are now available to us. Not only are people geographically mobile, virtually every known culture on the planet can be studied. All cultures are exposed to each other in an unprecedented global village.
This means that knowledge, experience, wisdom and reflection of all major human civilizations—premodern, modern and postmodern is available and open to study by anyone. To even imagine that the sum of human knowledge, that literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential, spiritual growth, psychological and social growth could be used to create a composite cosmic sense is complex and daunting.
On the other hand, imbued with foundational goodness, freedom and power for creativity, we have the capacity to take what sounds complicated and imagine the essentials of human experience in surprisingly simple, elegant and integral ways. The deep conviction here is that the Divine Presence has been fully with humanity in our evolutionary journey even before religion was formally instituted. Our inherited wisdom, rooted deeply in our past, if embraced, can empower us for new challenges today and into the future.
The context of our era seems to be the beginning of a new Axial Age. The word mutation highlights our time characterized by an unprecedented convergence of global consciousness. This transformation is so comprehensively sweeping it will influence the sphere of consciousness for many centuries. A new global consciousness has already begun to be complexified through the meeting of cultures and religions, the breaking open of mindsets by scientific developments and a rediscovery of spirituality in the West.
A holistic insight into reality is needed to orient us in the midst of myriad opinions and specialized sectors of knowledge. Our dignity is inherent in the freedom grounded on Reality. We now discover old models are not sufficient to account for current objective data or subjective needs. We need to at least consider these anew. A movement is afoot in the direction of reclaiming spiritual depth both for the values inherent there and as a catalyst for engendering the transformation into global consciousness.
A direct experience of ultimate reality can generate a supreme conviction pointing us to a place of utter peace. The explosion of awakened consciousness can ignite a humanism with the adequacy to recognize the divine in the persons of all men and women and love them with an active love. Some choose to be interfaith pioneers in between traditions heralding an era for today’s global milieu.
Animated by eros, we are graced with the capacity to cultivate a vision of divine presence which could inspire new clarity and vitality into our religious understanding and imagination—a vision fully in dialogue with a contemporary spirituality and practice.
This vision must embrace an eco-theological wisdom essential in the twenty-first century for recovering our connection to the life-sustaining mystery of the earth’s creative energy. Reclamation of this archetypal wisdom will assist us in comprehending and appropriating the interdependence of all life forces, including death.
As we emerge into global consciousness and the convergence of cultures and traditions, we need to retrieve the mystical assimilating the transforming presence of the divine in the world. Over many hundreds of years, humankind has been impressed with an excessive rationalistic bent for comprehending reality. There are several predominating cultural assumptions keeping this view buoyant in the public domain.
An ancient wisdom is accessible to each human, specifically articulated in sapiential Christianity. Dialogue and reflection on the personal experience of contemplation that leads to intelligibility must continue and increase in the twenty-first century.
There is an urgent need at this historical moment for a contemplative emphasis and practice based on direct experience. Christian and Zen practice, for instance, as well as a viable spirituality of action and engagement originating from deep faith is advocated. Most importantly, we need to live from a realization of emptiness, oneness and non-duality in our ordinary lives. Wholeheartedly seeing, hearing and responding to life and reality allows us to be increasingly present to ourselves, others and the world and aware and responsive to life and love.
Wisdom unifies our poetic religious imagination. Wisdom is a necessary and pivotal adequacy in order to pass over into other traditions. We need wise models of East-West spirituality. Employing a holistic, all-embracing spiritual approach, they exemplify a spirit of intellectual openness and inquiry.
Refining our spiritual intuition will help us spin a profound narrative to encourage diversity in our understanding of the Divine Indwelling. This mystical insight must have sufficient traditional elements for continuity and enough of a revolutionary character to offer novelty, both serving as catalysts for hope.
The universal structure of Reality appears to be open ended. A converging global matrix and the ramifications of mutating traditions require a new myth. An all encompassing spirituality is needed which requires maturity. We must shape an authentic style of spiritual interiority congruent with the life context of our experience; a new paradigm appropriate to the contemporary world.
The cultivation and growth of the contemplative dimension leads to greater stability to perceive the presence of the divine dwelling in our contemporary world. A contemplative disposition inspires profound acceptance for the gift of life and inspires the conviction of the primacy of being over doing. The contemplative spirit arises from a fundamental human need that is more ontological than psychological. The contemplative “has an essential thrust towards the fullness of Being, Truth, Love, Immortality and Peace. This dynamic thrust possesses a simplicity and veracity which together specify the depths of human nature in its spiritual authenticity.”
Simply put, our world needs a new myth. We need a non-dual approach to help meld old and new into something we cannot yet anticipate. Myth is polysemic by nature. That is to say, present in the human spiritual myth-narrative there coexists many possible meanings.
With sincere practice and integrity, our experience will help us sort out ways to describe religious meaning. Trusting intuition and experiential knowledge, we will develop vocabulary to assist in the enterprise of overcoming misunderstandings, allowing for dialogue in the service of peace.
Non-dual consciousness has grown over a long period. Inheriting ancestral grace, we are slowly coming to terms more closely with the ultimate basic message of God-Spirit within us. We swim in it and breathe it. This calls us to a new spirituality—a new sanctity distinguished by a new kind of universal holiness without precedent—a catholicity of unconditioned universality.
While we have to avoid any sense of elitism associated with talking about the mystical (ironically, a practical disposition), I’ll tie these thoughts in a bow with quotes from two mystical minds of the twentieth century. Karl Rainer famously said, “Tomorrow’s devout person will either be a mystic—someone who has experienced something—or else they will no longer be devout at all.” This parallels Thomas Merton’s suggestion that, “the spiritual anguish of man has no cure but mysticism.”