"Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book, GOD OF LOVE, in which I am exploring the distinction between the classic “interfaith” movement and the emerging “interspiritual” quest. Put simply, the interfaith movement is comprised primarily of ordained representatives from established faith traditions who are seeking to impart and acquire knowledge of one another’s religions, to foster empathy and acceptance. The interspiritual quest is more about immersing ourselves in the practices at the heart of various spiritual paths, and experiencing them from the inside.
"A little more than a hundred years ago, Swami Vivekananda—beloved disciple of the God-intoxicated Indian saint, Sri Ramakrishna–came to the West and convened the first World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. This event marked the birth of a global dialogue of faiths, a conversation that has been unfolding ever since. The interfaith movement has been characterized by the sincere effort on the part of religious believers from all the world’s major faith traditions to build tolerance, trust, and mutual understanding. In light of the historical atrocities committed by powerful institutions in the name of God, this dialog has been both liberating and healing.
"Now, at the dawn of a new century, it’s time to go deeper. It’s not enough to seek an intellectual orientation toward other traditions. We need to plunge into their mystic heart and let them transform us. (Thanks to the late Brother Wayne Teasdale for coining the delicious term, “interspiritual.”.)
"This is exactly what Ramakrishna was up to. He did not politely approach Christianity and agree to tolerate it. He enfolded Christ into his own blazing heart and met him there, in the fire of love. He kept a picture of the child Jesus and Mother Mary on his altar, along with Kali, Krishna, Tara, and the Buddha, and offered incense to them every morning. He repeated the name of Allah throughout the day with great devotion, and experienced a vision in which the Prophet Muhammad merged into his own body. He adored the Divine Mother in every form; it was through her that he experienced all paths reconciled. Ramakrishna actively practiced diverse faith traditions, and their particular objects of devotion regularly brought him to tears of ecstasy.
"Immersion in the well of any single spiritual tradition dissolves the forms that limit the Divine. Repetition of any of the Holy Names carries us to a place that transcends all naming, where we rest in the One Reality. Ramakrishna says that it is not necessary to renounce the formalities of religion. When you place your devotion at the feet of whatever spiritual ideal is most natural to you, 'formalities of every kind will simply disappear from your being.'"
Mirabai Starr.Interspiritual Quest « Mirabai Starr, author and speaker