Toward a Universal Spirituality

by Rev. David T. Bell

In his 1999 book “The Mystic Heart”, Brother Wayne Teasdale proposed that we could discover a universal spirituality in the depths of the wisdom contained in the world's religions. He said,

                        “Humanity stands at a crossroads between horror and hope. In choosing

            hope, we must seed a new consciousness, a radically fresh approach to life

            drawing its inspiration from perennial spiritual and moral insights, intuition and

            experience. We call this new awareness interspiritual, implying not the homogeniza-

            tion of religion, but the recovering of the shared mystic heart beating in the center

            of the world's deepest spiritual traditions.

In this sweeping statement, Bro. Teasdale has issued a clarion call to all who dwell on this planet to awaken and take action before we end up killing each other, through overt hostilities as well as through callous disregard of human and environmental rights. What is required is no less than a radical departure from business as usual. We are no longer served by religious conflict and hate of the “other.” He maintains that a proper focus would be upon the deepest human values, which are contained within the mystical branches of all the world's religions. The founders of all religions were mystics who apprehended the direct experience of ultimate reality. Over time, the mystical roots of religion have lost their primacy.

These deepest of human values, contained in all mystical traditions, include Agape or unconditional love, compassion, kindness, ahimsa or non-harm to all others, sharing and the work to eliminate poverty, disease and hunger. We are called to bring these values into our lives, both individually and collectively. This can only be accomplished by individuals committed to “making a difference.” This can not be legislated or mandated by any authority. It can only arise through achieving a critical mass, one consciousness at a time.

In order to alter one's consciousness it is necessary to establish the intention to do so, and to engage in the actualization of these values. Primary in this process is establishing some form of regular spiritual practice. Such practice may consist of prayer, meditation, chanting, liturgy, singing, yoga, tai chi, spiritual reading, walking or communing with nature. The method is up to the individual. The important part is the regularity, and the intention to grow in understanding. Doing so in community is even better. Meditating with others, regardless of method or background of the participants, is a way to multiply the impact of the meditation.

It takes only the most casual glance at the world events of today, to conclude that something must be done. Be not discouraged. It was Margaret Meade who said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world, for indeed, that is the only way for it to happen.”

David Bell is an Interfaith Minister at The Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth, which is located at 704 Airport Boulevard, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48108. Sunday services are held from 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. A full calendar of events and further information can be found at

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Posted on May 7, 2014 and filed under Spirituality, Religion.