What is Interfaith?
When the term “Interfaith” first appeared in the late 1800’s, it was used as an adjective to refer to a coming together of people from different faith traditions to complete a particular task (“interfaith dialogue”). If one person from a religious background married someone from a different religion, it was said to be an “interfaith marriage.” Interfaith nowadays is more likely to be used as a noun, referring to a spiritual path that integrates practices and beliefs from several or numerous traditional and nontraditional religions, denominations, belief systems, and ethical systems. Interfaith is the honoring of all faith traditions, believing that there are many paths to the Divine called by many names (God, Love, Allah, Brahma, Great Spirit, (the) Absolute, Ultimate Reality, among others). An interfaith ministry embraces and respects each of the world’s wisdom traditions.
Emergence of Interspirituality
“Interspirituality” was first coined by a Catholic monk, Brother Wayne Teasdale in his 1999 book, The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. He believed that the only viable religion for the future is spirituality itself:
“The real religion of humankind can be said to be spirituality itself, because mystical spirituality is the origin of all the world religions. If this is so, and I believe it is, we might also say that interspirituality—the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions—is the religion of the third millennium.”
He believed that beneath the diversity of theological beliefs in the world’s wisdom traditions lies a deeper unity of experience that is our shared spiritual heritage. That is, a mystical spirituality. An universal unity consciousness that lies at the heart of all inner exploration, a spirituality so deeply rooted in the heart and the heart-experience of oneness (a “felt-sense”) that any creed, belief, background, history, or anything that may cause separation becomes secondary.
We see this in the mystical core of all the world’s spiritual and wisdom teachings, as they are committed to common values of peace, compassionate service, and love for all creation. An awakened inner life transcends ideas, beliefs, or concepts, but also includes them all, and naturally expresses itself through engaged spirituality similar in ethical and behavioral standards that all these traditions hold—most widely known as THE GOLDEN RULE (do unto others as you would have done to you), such as kindness, compassion, understanding, loving service.
The 9 elements of a Universal Spirituality as published in Teasdale’s book included:
- Actualizing full moral and ethical capacity
- Living in harmony with the cosmos and all living beings
- Cultivating a life of deep nonviolence
- Living in humility and gratitude
- Embracing a regular spiritual practice
- Cultivating mature self-knowledge
- Living a life of simplicity
- Being of selfless service and compassionate action
- Empowering the prophetic voice for justice, compassion, and world transformation
This vision for an interspiritual era in the future was developed further and published by author Dr. Kurt Johnson in 2013, The Coming Interspiritual Age. Dr. Kurt Johnson explains that interspirituality, the more universal and mystical inner life experiences of the world’s religions, emphasize shared experiences of heart and unity consciousness and are not a blending of religions or a “new religion,” but represent spiritual, ethical, and moral maturity in the context of any of the world’s spiritual traditions.
In today’s world, when recent studies have shown that nearly 40 million Americans are religiously unaffiliated and seeking alternative modes of spiritual experience and expression, interfaith/interspiritual ministers are uniquely prepared to minister to the spiritual needs of this growing population—for Community, Spiritual Counseling, Ceremonies & Rituals, Blessings, and all facets of spiritual life. Additionally, for those who are agnostics or athiests, interfaith/interspiritual ministers welcome in openness and offer acceptance and nonjudgmental space for exploring ideas and beliefs about spirituality.
About Rev. Shannon Winters’s Interfaith/Interspiritual Ministry
Rev. Shannon’s ministry is within the lineage of the founder of interspirituality (Brother Wayne Teasdale) through her collaborations with her mentor, Dr. Kurt Johnson who is widely regarded as the closest associate of Brother Teasdale. She collaborates with Dr. Kurt Johnson on multiple initiatives including The Convergence Magazine, Light on Light Magazine, UNITY EARTH, The Convergence Radio Series on VoiceAmerica, and The Interspiritual Network, among others. Her ministry is dedicated to:
- The discovery and deepening of inner spirituality, the awakening of consciousness, cultivating of spiritual practices, unfolding of possibility and inspiration, and trusting fully in the Divine wisdom of our hearts
- Honoring the Universal oneness that is shared in mystical and contemplative practices found in the perennial wisdom within all religions and faith traditions and appreciate the diversity of paths to the Divine called by many names (God, Love, Allah, Brahma, Great Spirit, (the) Absolute, Ultimate Reality)
- Deepening our connectedness with true Divine nature through an awakened inner life and heart experiences that transcend ideas, beliefs, and concepts while seeking to discern deeper unity and understanding
- Grounding our practices and service in the common values of love, compassion, kindness, peace, forgiveness, tolerance, humility, curiosity, and open minds. Seeking to honor and respect all of humankind, do no harm, and live by the Golden Rule in harmony and peace for all.