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  • Buddhist and Ignatian Spiritualities:Reports on a Trial Run of an Interfaith Retreat based on Ignatius and the Buddha in Conversation: A Resource for a Religiously Plural Dialog Juxtaposing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and Buddhist Wisdom
  • Sarita Tamayo-Moraga

At the American Academy of Religion in November 2015, my co-panelists Ruben Habito and Andre Delbecq and I each reported on different aspects of an interfaith Buddhist-Christian retreat based on The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola for a panel titled "Buddhist and Ignatian Spiritualities—Points of Intersection and Dialogue." The three-day retreat was held at Santa Clara University in February 2014, and all panelists attended. The retreat itself was based on Ignatius and the Buddha in Conversation: A Resource for a Religiously Plural Dialog Juxtaposing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and Buddhist Wisdom (henceforth referred to interchangeably either as Ignatius and the Buddha in Conversation or the resource), co-authored by Andre Delbecq, Len Tischler, Juan Velasco, Bo Tep, and myself. The origins of this Ignatius and the Buddha and a brief report on the retreat by Delbecq and Tischler have already been described in an earlier issue of Buddhist-Christian Studies, so that will not be addressed in my paper.1 My task on the panel was to report on the fruits of the retreat and my own personal involvement in this retreat and the interfaith context at Santa Clara University, which is a private, Jesuit university. This paper expands on that theme and embeds these fruits within the larger context of contemplative/interior dialogue as a form of interreligious dialogue as well as briefly exploring the current state of Buddhist-Christian retreats for laypeople and specifically Jesuit efforts in this area both at Jesuit universities and in other settings with a focus primarily on Zen. First, I will report on the fruits of our specific retreat and then go into the larger context of Buddhist-Christian retreats at this time.

On February 13, 2014, Buddhist and Catholic practitioners gathered in the Multi-faith Sanctuary in St. Joseph's Hall at Santa Clara University to embark upon a three-day religiously plural retreat conference titled "Ignatius and the Buddha in [End Page 131] Conversation." From Zen masters and Bodhisattva teachers to a Pure Land Buddhist, from Jesuits to Catholic and Jewish lay practitioners and Catholic spiritual directors, we members of the retreat conference began an interfaith encounter that we hope will serve as a model and inspiration for other such encounters.

fruits of the retreat

Both traditions focus on the transformation of suffering into peace, joy, and liberation and the concomitant clarity of purpose that can arise from such a transformation. The preliminary fruits of the retreat conference using the manuscript are that the themes of feeling loved either by God or as an experience of interconnectedness, a change in perception, inner freedom, and courage were enriched by using Ignatius and the Buddha as a resource. After a personal account of my experience, I will go into a broader summary of the three days.

Personal Memories of the Retreat and the Context of Santa Clara University

In the past, I had led one-day interfaith retreats and co-led Zen retreats with coauthor Juan Velasco, and when I teach Zen in Theory and Practice, I lead a half-day sit for the students. All these retreats have been held on the campus of Santa Clara University. I am a life-long Roman Catholic and a dharma heir of Darlene Cohen Roshi in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi of San Francisco Zen Center. In the interfaith retreats, participants cycled through Christian Centering Prayer and zazen. The focus in these retreats was always on relief for the participants and tools they could use to transform their suffering in every day ways. Recently, Father Rob Scholla, SJ, and I have begun leading interfaith retreats together on campus once a year, and we both helped lead a weekend faculty retreat for faculty and staff of our campus that was held at a retreat center in Santa Cruz in June 2014. I led the Zen sections of the retreat. In February 2017 we will hold our next one-day interfaith...