I was angrily chastised the other day for quoting from the Buddha in one of my blog articles (something I do quite often): “Why don’t you just become a Buddhist instead of pretending to be a Christian?”
That one little comment spoke volumes to me about how so many of us continue to shelter and hide within the supposed security of our own version of the truth. Somehow a Christian is not supposed to turn to the Buddha, especially a priest - doing so dilutes the truth of the Christian faith, it turns you into a pseudo-Christian, a pretend Christian. I couldn’t disagree more.
I have no hesitation in identifying myself as a “follower of Jesus,” and I place myself firmly within the heritage of thousands of years of Christian heritage; yet at the same time I am totally convinced that I can and must turn to other paths outside my own tradition as I make my way along a way to wisdom. The road to wisdom is always a shared path and anyone who thinks they alone possess the truth is likely quite far away from it.
I have been reading Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko’s excellent new book, New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living. The authors make the point that now, in the 21st century, we are all being called to move way from the old comfortable niches in which we have so carefully positioned ourselves and one another when it comes to the spiritual quest.
In the 21st century the boundaries and borders of various paths to wisdom need to be more porous than ever before in human history.
The authors suggest that “interspirituality” must become the key characteristic of an authentic pursuit of wisdom for our own contemporary times:
Interspirituality plants us firmly outside of a fundamentalist adherence
to our own particular religion or spiritual path,
demanding that we take seriously the revelations, realizations,
and contemplative gifts of all authentic wisdom and religious traditions,
as well as insight from science, ecology, art, culture, and sociology.
Our various traditions are a common inheritance for all humanity,
each with its own integrity,
yet also belonging to a universal heritage of human wisdom.
Yes of course I am a committed follower of Jesus. I read the scriptures and cherish the rich tradition that has been passed down to me; but as a truth-seeker I also have an obligation to look to the rabbis and teachers, poets and Imams, the Zen masters and monks of all the many paths of truth - they have found a way to wisdom that is indeed a “common inheritance” for every human being. I also have an obligation to explore the wisdom of science and to find the truth in art and poetry. I even have an obligation to pay attention to what today’s contemporary agnostics or atheists may be saying about their own journey to the truth - who God is or who God is not.
Many may say that we live in confusing times. The path through the wilderness of life is no longer clear-cut or one-way for any of us.
I think it’s all pretty exciting!