According to a recent study conducted by Pew Research, people with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group, placing after Christians and Muslims and just before Hindus. Included in this group are individuals who say they are more spiritual than religious. This begs the question: What does it mean to be more spiritual than religious? And this has led to a new term: InterSpiritual – coined in 1999 by Wayne Teasdale in his classic book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. (The original spelling was ‘interspiritual’ and then later changed to ‘InterSpiritual.’) We prefer to call this global consciousness shift simply Spirituality.
We have several questions we’d like to toss out, to stimulate your thoughts and generate your feedback related to this issue. But before we throw out the questions, let’s explain three terms that always show up in this type of discussion: Inter-Faith, InterSpiritual and Spirituality. Here’s our perspective.
InterSpirituality is quite different than both an Inter-Faith perspective and traditional mainstream religious perspectives. And we believe Spirituality, without the need for the ‘inter’ prefix or any other kind of prefix, is a direction humankind is moving – and has been moving – since homo erectus stepped out on the planet 1.5 to 2 million years ago.
What Is Inter-Faith?
Inter-Faith is a term used by organized religions to promote mutual dialogue, tolerance, understanding, and peace between religious denominations and, by extension, many of the world’s faith traditions. However, the undercurrent is, and continues to be, one of tolerance, since each faith tradition maintains its own identity, and often considers its understanding of humankind’s relationship to God (the Ultimate Reality, Pure Consciousness, the Eternal Presence, Source, the Absolute, etc.) as the one that is truer than any of the other faith traditions.
This parochialism is fed by religious and denominational biases that perpetuate division, distrust, and ‘walled-in’ religious biases that make it difficult for there to be any real sense of unconditional respect and whole-hearted acceptance. Individual creeds and dogmas are valued more than openness and a greater awakening. However, it is a step in the right direction toward the concept of Oneness.
What Is InterSpiritual?
As people begin to move to a more spiritual orientation than a purely religious one, they develop an appreciation for the rich variety of religious teachings and experiences that characterize many of the world’s religions. They begin to adopt the best spiritual practices associated with those traditions and build them into their own spiritual practice. They begin to lose the sense of separation, exclusiveness and the view of God as an anthropomorphic deity ‘out there’ somewhere in the sky. They become more InterSpiritual oriented than Inter-Faith immersed.
And, of course, there are those InterSpirituals called mystics who may or may not have been associated with any organized religion at all. These individuals stepped out on an individualized path that kept them adjacent to, if not completely separate from, organized religion.
However, when you say ‘InterSpiritual’ you still get the sense that traditional denominational baggage (which is described as either ‘inter’ and/or ‘intra’) is a feature of the InterSpiritual concept.
What is Spirituality?
On the other hand, Spirituality seems to be a more holistic and seamless way of describing our spiritual awakening. It honors the deep and abiding interconnectedness and unconditional acceptance of everyone’s truth walk. It is a heart-to-head resuscitation route to an enlightened oneness. It subordinates the mind – no matter how illumined – to the wisdom of the heart. It refuses to give energy to dogmatic religious narratives that retail their own particular stories, translations, prophecies, and predictions about who has the ‘correct’ doctrinal interpretation of our relationship to the Field of Infinite Potential (God, the Eternal Presence, the Absolute, etc.), the universe, and even the multiverse.
From a Spiritual Perspective
Spiritually speaking, humankind is experiencing a shared spiritual journey. Each faith tradition, and the denominations it spawns, and every mystic’s solitary journey is a ‘pocket’ of individualized spiritual awareness that is unfolding along a continuum of awakening. From the Spiritual perspective, the conflicts and skepticism imposed between these ‘pockets of awareness’ are unnecessary and debilitating. They slow humankind’s ability to raise its collective consciousness to a higher spiritual octave.
A global appreciation for humankind’s collective awakening will lead to the global oneness necessary to achieve that planetary awakening. We believe an appreciation for quantum physics, the neurosciences, epigenetics, and biology will contribute to that global consciousness connection. The marriage of science and spirituality will help humankind seeeee and feeeeeel and understaaaand and welcooooome the oneness that has always been there.
It is this convergence of inner space and outer space that will create such a compelling cosmology of global interconnectedness that someday all of humankind will understand why Pure Consciousness is the Ground of All Being! We are at the dawn of a higher octave of collective consciousness that continues to be more process than event.
The pull toward greater understanding and the long sought-for enlightenment is greater than the grip of religious dogma. We have moved from homo erectus to homo cosmo! When Traditional Faith and Inter-Faith met Spirituality, the collision caused a ‘big bang’ in human awareness that has inflated humankind’s overall consciousness to inter-galactic proportions. And the inflation has become just as exponential as the expanding universe!
Humankind birthed universal thought and expanded its awareness of its perennial spiritual birthright. And this awesome collective shift upward just might help us create Heaven (Cosmic Consciousness) on Earth (egocentric human consciousness).
Here Are the Questions We Promised (for your own introspection or to share your thoughts in the comments section):
- Which sounds more like your orientation: Inter-Faith, InterSpiritual, or just plain Spiritual – and why?
- In what ways might you be a blend of the three? Explain.
- How far removed are you from a homo erectus level of spiritual awareness, especially as it relates to the concepts of God, heaven and hell, sin and redemption, salvation and damnation, etc.?
- How close are you to a homo cosmo spiritual awareness as it relates to the homo erectus question plus these additional concepts: astral travel, reincarnation, God as Universal Principle, immortality, levitation, your interconnectedness with other dimensions of being, God expressing Itself as you in human form, etc.?
- What does being “more spiritual than religious” mean for you, and how do you practice this belief?
If you answered these questions – congratulations! We offer you our heartfelt appreciation. There’s still hope for humankind’s eventual enlightenment with folks like you around … willing to participate in these types of conversations – as together we walk the spiritual path on practical feet!