Last week, I attended a roundtable discussion featuring a Christian sanyasi visiting from Shantivanam, the ashram of the late Father Bede Griffiths. I could probably write about a half dozen blogs from that conversation alone! Some major thinkers from the interspiritual community were there and my poor little brain was on full throttle! More on all of that later…
There’s something that pops up in just about every group discussion I’m a part of that has to do with spirituality – and that is concern about millennials. Most of the time I sit back in mild amusement as I listen to a bunch of people fret about my generation as if I wasn’t sitting right there (I’m often in the minority in these circles, but rarely the sole representative of the millennial population). Particularly when it comes to interspirituality, these friends of mine fear that young people today aren’t going deeply enough into traditions, that by rejecting religion, they’re also rejecting the frameworks that can truly guide someone in their spiritual development. By languishing in Spiritual-But-Not-Religious Land, young people are susceptible to leading a shallow spiritual life. Sure, millennials might be having authentic spiritual experiences, but their development won’t progress without the guidance (including checks and balances) of an established religious tradition. Or, so the argument goes.
One of my dear friends and mentors, who happens to have been one of the leading voices of interspirituality, scoffs at people who use the term to justify “woo-woo” things like healing with crystals and channeling spirits of the dead. I don’t necessarily agree with them, but even if their perception of those healing modalities was correct, I’d argue that the Catholic Church, as just one example, doesn’t fare much better. The associations made with Catholicism go far beyond hippie-dippie and right into the shocking (can someone say sex abuse scandals?). So, tell me, why exactly am I supposed to trust the spiritual guidance of the Church just because the traditions have been refined for millennia?
The point is not to rag on the Catholic Church. I’m not saying that there’s nothing to glean from the world’s wisdom traditions – I think there’s a lot, even in Catholicism! I’m just trying to respond to this fear that I see worming its way upward, even in groups full of amazing people who live in unity consciousness, whose missions on earth are to advance that consciousness. This fear is fear of the unknown. Of course interspirituality is in its infancy, but you would never yell at a sprout for not being as strong as a tree! Something new is being birthed and it’s hard to see because we’re in the midst of it, but we need to trust that everything is happening just as and when it should be.
Again, going back to Christianity, what did it look like two thousand years ago? When Jesus lived, he hadn’t even heard of it! Would any of his followers recognize the church as it is today? I’m gonna venture a guess here: probably not. Things evolve. Mistakes are made, lessons are learned, and the essence of something simply takes new forms.
We need to nurture and allow interspirituality develop into what it is supposed to become. This means being able to live in the unknown, to live into our questions, and let go of the fear of making mistakes. I think we’re on to something – something that may change the course of history and the future of the planet – and the more that we can allow the path to emerge from the universal consciousness that we know deep within ourselves, instead of thinking of it as something far off and achievable, we’ll grow deep roots grounded in wisdom and strong limbs reaching wide in love.