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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