Interfaith vs. interspirituality

The word "interspirituality" is relatively new to our vocabulary, having been coined in 1999 by the late Brother Wayne Teasdale - a lay Catholic monk and a "Christian sannyasi" (a monk in the Hindu tradition). The word was first used in his seminal book, "The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions." Interspirituality refers to that deeper unity of experience that is our shared spiritual heritage, irrespective of our outer religion or lack thereof. It is the common ground - the fountainhead - which lies beneath the diversity of theological beliefs, rites, and observances. Interspirituality sees this mystical spirituality as the origin of all the world religions, and posits that every authentic spiritual path offers unique perspectives and rich insights into this deeper, direct experience of truth.

According to an LA Times article from 2012 written by Philip Clayton, Dean of Faculty at Claremont School of Theology, about 75% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 now consider themselves "spiritual but not religious." Clayton argues that young people today are not necessarily rejecting a sense of the divine, rather they feel that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in the structures of the political status quo. Thus, the need for a spirituality that is open and accepting and evolutionary. In his book The Mystic Heart, Brother Wayne says:

The religion of humankind can be said to be spirituality itself, because mystical spirituality is the origin of all the religions. If this is so, and I believe it is, we might 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...

The "Interspiritual Movement" builds on the Interfaith experimentation and dialog among the most brilliant minds from within traditional religions. Some names that come to mind as the forebears of Interspirituality include Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Yogananda, Father Bede Griffiths, and Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi. Each of these people immersed themselves deeply in more than one spiritual path, and created a synthesis that, for them, was richer and more authentic, than any single path.

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