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Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama 1968

Dialogue with Mindfulness

Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama 1968
Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama 1968

It makes great sense to me that monasticism spearheads inter-faith dialogue. Comparing different religions, different faiths, different approaches and understandings of living, can too easily degenerate merely to observable practices (I cross myself left to right, you cross yourself right to left…)

Such real dialogue, I suggest, is better at the level of spirituality. And I think a similar dialogue can take place between those committed to the spiritual journey and those who practice mindfulness. Mindfulness practices are regularly drawn from religious disciplines. Mindfulness even uses religious language – particularly Buddhism, which seems to be more politically correct amongst those who might even denigrate other faiths (eg. “A university wellbeing retreat is helping business executives find their inner zen through mindfulness and meditation.”

In recent posts on mindfulness, I have been underscoring that spirituality and mindfulness practices may be the same, but the intention of the person is different. (“The [mindfulness] course helped a leader make their business more profitable.”)

But I suggest there may be a crossover. Just as the side-effects for the spiritual pilgrim following contemplative disciplines of silence may include deeper peace, joy, creativity, so the side-effect of the one practicing mindfulness may be deeper union with God.

There is much room for dialogue (not least beginning with what one means by the word “God”).

I encourage dialogue between those who follow different practices for the same purpose, or similar practices for different goals.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Dialogue with Mindfulness”

  1. Here is a book that documents exactly the sort of thing you are describing: The Common Heart–An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue, Netanel Mile-Lopez, editor; Forward by Ken Wilber, Introduction by Fr. Thomas Keating.

    The blurb:

    For twenty years, a group of spiritual seekers from many religious traditions met in various places around the United States under the rubric of the Snowmass Conferences to engage in the deepest form of interreligious dialogue. The experience was intimate and trusting, transformative and inspiring. To encourage openness and honesty, no audio or visual recording was made of, and no articles were written about, the encounters.

    When these encounters came to an end, it was agreed that reflections on what had happened emotionally, spiritually, philosophically, and theologically during the Snowmass dialogues should be written down. The result is The Common Heart.

    Here is an extraordinary exploration of the wealth of the world’s spiritual traditions combined with dialogue from the heart about the differences and similarities between their paths of wisdom. Participants include Fr. Thomas Keating, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Swami Atmarupananda, Dr. Ibrahim Gamard, Imam Bilal Hyde, Pema Chodron, Rabbi Henoch Dov Hoffman, and many others.

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