Brother Wayne Teasdale, a founding member of the Spirituality branch of Integral Institute, was a tireless spokesperson for the practical power of spiritual realization. A personal friend of the Dalai Lama, Teasdale has been a key figure in the interfaith movement, and through books like The Mystic Heart and A Monk in the World has brought contemplative spirituality—and the selfless service that stems from it—into common discourse.
In 1973, Teasdale dedicated himself to his spiritual practice with renewed intensity, and that same year struck up a correspondence with Father Bede Griffiths, the British-born Benedictine innovator who drew on Eastern meditative paths to enrich Christianity’s tradition of charity and selfless service. Teasdale would soon spend two years at Griffiths’s ashram in southern India where he learned the ways of Christian sannyasa (renunciate) and bore witness to the pressing realities of overpopulation and environmental destruction. Upon taking vows of renunciation under Griffiths, he dedicated himself to a life of simplicity, service, and interspirituality.
The holder of an M.A. in philosophy from St. Joseph College and a Ph.D. in theology from Fordham University, Teasdale taught as an adjunct at DePaul University, Columbia College, and the Catholic Theological Union, and served as coordinator for the Bede Griffiths International Trust. He was also a member of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and helped draft their Universal Declaration on Nonviolence, and served on the board of trustees of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Through these important and diverse activities, Teasdale exemplified Christianity’s most important contribution to the world: an ethic of social service grounded in Love. He spent his final days living a life of engaged monasticism in Chicago.
*Sourced from IntegralLife.com
An Excerpt from The Mystic Heart by Brother Wayne Teasdale
“We have become spiritually illiterate: ignorant of the realization that life is a spiritual journey, that everything is sacred or a manifestation of the ultimate mystery. We are morally confused, precisely because of this illiteracy. And this illiteracy and confusion have led directly to psychological dysfunction: the breakdown of meaningful communication in the family, and the indifference and insensitivity with which we treat one another. We fear the intimacy inherent in the interactions of society itself. People regard one another as objects, rather than as the precious beings they are. Our addiction to violence — vicarious and otherwise — is nourished by a steady diet of irresponsible Hollywood images and stories that subtly, and not so subtly, insinuate that violence is fundamental to life. Psychological dysfunction also appears in our frenzied pace of life, with its inevitable fragmentation and tolerance of noise, and in the endless stimulation we require through news, sports, and other forms of excitement. We have become a nation of compulsive neurotics. No wonder the quiet spiritual life has difficulty in being heard.”
The Heart of the Christian-Hindu Dialogue with Wayne Teasdale
This wide-ranging interview, taped at Hundred Acres Monastery in New Hampshire, describes the history of the Christian-Hindu dialogue in India, the work of Bede Griffiths, and tackles the difficult question of the relationship between Hindu and Christian mystical experience. Format: straight interview with several insertions of photographs taken at Shantivanam.
In A Monk in the World, Teasdale explores what Griffiths’ charge has meant for him — to live as a monk outside the monastery, to integrate teachings from the world’s religions with his own Catholic training, to combine his vigorous spiritual practice with the necessities of making a living and pursuing a course of social justice in a big American city—as well as how readers can find their own spiritual path amidst the rigors of everyday life. Along the way, Teasdale explores the real world topics of friendship; time, work, and money; the problem and opportunity of the homeless; a contemplative understanding of suffering; the struggle to promote personal and social change; as well as the as the role of the church and nature in building spiritual understanding.
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