- Contemplation, Practice, and the Crossroads of Spirit
In a world so often painfully divided by religion, the process of interfaith dialogue offers an inspiring and potentially fruitful path for engaging both the shared ideals and differing languages of religious traditions. In this gathering, renowned contemplatives from the Christian and Buddhist traditions joined to share the views, practices, and insights of their particular faiths, uncovering common ground while teasing out what makes each tradition unique. In a process of shared practice and discussion, the very practice of dialogue emerged as a path of contemplative awareness. Through talks, practice intensives, shared ritual, and intimate and group dialogue, themes such as meditation and prayer, theism and nontheism, and the role of contemplation in our modern, busy lives were explored. The practice of interfaith dialogue as a ground for understanding spirituality in America today was a fruitful topic, examining the role that such dialogue has on personal and communal practice, regardless of faith tradition. Such dialogue requires meeting the other; in doing so, we meet the edge of our own view and a ground of dialogue emerges with the possibility for greater understanding, expanded awareness, and healing. This gathering was a historic reunion of several members of the groundbreaking Buddhist-Christian dialogues that took place at Naropa Institute in the 1980s, offering an opportunity to evaluate the impact interfaith dialogue has had over the last twenty-plus years and to look ahead to the emerging landscape of this practice.
The program format included an opening gathering and reception, evening keynote lectures, group practice in each faith, intensive workshops, small- and large-group dialogues, and a closing ceremony. In the midst of and in between all these events, participants enjoyed one-on-one dialogue with each other.
Speakers and leaders were drawn from both Buddhist and Christian traditions, including Father Thomas Keating, Mother Tessa Bielecki, Judith Simmer-Brown, Reggie Ray, Judy Lief, Jack Engler, Bruce Coriell, and Priscilla Inkpen.