When we designated Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center as an Interfaith Church, was because we believed it should be a place where people of all faiths and religions should be able to come and feel welcome. That is still what we believe. It is also out of respect for all religions, because if they are based in Love, then they cannot be too far off of the mark, for God is Love. Every religion has within it the capability of enriching people's lives in a spiritual manner, and of helping them to live better and more fulfilling lives, prospering in the ever-present abundance of God's holy Love. This is a very beautiful thing. People come together in the name of Peace and Love in every religion. Interfaith helps us to recognize the Oneness and Unity of All.
But.....Does it go far enough? These are questions I've asked myself all along as the founder of Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center. Interfaith is more expanded than Interdenominational, because Interdenominational implies strictly a Christian stance. I was raised in the tradition of what's known as Practical Christianity, but I didn't want to restrict us to being only a Christian church. I mean, what is that? Really? To which Christian church would Jesus belong? I think Jesus would want people of all faiths to be served in the name of Love. I think Buddha would want the same thing. That's what the God in all of us wants.
So Interfaith became the descriptive term we embraced. But I ask again, does it go far enough? What about those of no particular religious belief, but having rather a more individualized spiritual outlook on life? What about those who wish to actually transcend religion? These are more the ideas that we embrace in our vision and heart. Religion has been used throughout the ages as a control mechanism.
What if we took the spiritual aspects of what is contained in the teachings, and leave the politics out?! Looking at history when studying religion is a very valuable and important tool. Religion has become so impure in the way it has been passed down, and there is much speculation as to how much of it's even true. Spirituality, on the other hand, can also be defined as a sense of Truth. Truth with a capital "T!" The Spiritual aspects of Life and the Universe never change. If we allow ourselves to be guided by this Perfect Wisdom and Light, we will manifest heaven on earth! This is what Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center is all about! It is about healing the world, not getting caught up in this religion or that. We draw wisdom from all religions and we have the deepest respect for the wisdom and traditions they share, but the important thing is the Love.
So what do we call ourselves to reflect that this is not only a church for those who belong to this church or that? Some religions don't even all it a church, and it is not necessary that anyone does. But how do we present ourselves so that it is clear people of all faiths are welcome and also those who do not associate with a particular faith? We respect everyone's belief in God, and we respect those who do not even use the word, "God." We identify God as, "God is Good, God is Love, God is Life!"
Well, one day our worship service director, Rev. Holly Rowley, asks me if we are sure we want to call our weekly service an Interfaith Service, or perhaps did we want to call it an Interspiritual Service, instead. She said she was ordained in both traditions. To this I said, "Hmmmmm...." to myself. I'd never before heard that term!
We just happen to be in the phase of development here as to be writing the Articles of Incorporation, the Constitution and Bylaws, and the Policies and Procedures for Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center, Inc. Wow is that a hard job to put Spirit down in legal terms, but it has to be done! So, I think it's quite timely that I am made aware of this term at this point in time, because it gives time to put it down on this legal paper we're writing now!
You see, it is very important what we write in our Articles of Incorporation, etc., about what our purpose is and what it is in which we believe. We could have been done with all of this most dreaded and boring task of paperwork had it not been for this pesky idea of doing it right! We're not like any other church of which I know, although we have bits and pieces of many. It is important to write it down not only legally, but also so we, ourselves, know what it is we are here to do as a church. Our work is in healing the world! We need to focus on just exactly how it is we are to proceed!
So, in defining who it is that we are, choosing a proper designation for our spiritual approach is very important. We are holistic in outlook. We know that much for sure. It is as basic to us as the Trinity is. In fact, we see them as one in the same. We also know we believe that healing is natural, and that we are meant to be healers and that our environment is supportive to us in that role. We are created in the image and likeness of God, springing forth from our Mother Earth. We want to celebrate THIS! We want to learn who we are as brothers and sisters, and how to support life on earth! ALL life on earth! We want to act in a manner congruent with the Truth of our natural selves.
So, what do the various Christian sects say? What about Buddhists? What about those of the Jewish faith? What do the Essenes have to say? What about Hindus? Or Muslims? What do these religions say about God, about Love, about healing, about ancient traditions and paths to spiritual enlightenment and bliss? What wisdom do they have to share? But most importantly...and come to find out what they all have to say...is that the Truth can be found..................................................WITHIN!
So what is the difference between Interfaith and Interspiritual? In my mind it is the difference between studying what different religions have to say and studying what different individuals share of their own experience of God and Love and healing.
Yes, we can share these religions, and their wisdom is valuable and we never, ever want to interfere with someone's practices and traditions held dear, but...what we are here to share is our spiritual understanding and love for God, ourselves and each other as we continue our quest for the Truth about how to heal according to God's natural plan. (If anyone does not relate to the word, "God," substitute, "Good, Love and/or Life." I simplify it by saying, "God."
So back to the topic at hand, what is the difference between the two terms, "Interfaith" and "Interspiritual?" Here's what I found so far. First, I looked on the website for the school Rev. Holly attended to see what they had to say. She attended One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York, New York. It's amazing how much their definition of Interspirituality reflected the heart of this church. I took this directly from their website at http://onespiritinterfaith.org/
The Interfaith initiatives of the late twentieth centuryâthe opening of dialogue and sharing of wisdom among leaders and practitioners of different religions â have flowered into an exciting new possibility for spiritual exploration and expression. The late Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart, coined the term âInterspiritualityâ to describe this new spiritual perspective.
Beneath the diversity of theological beliefs, rites, and observances lies a deeper unity of experience that is our shared spiritual heritage. Mystical spirituality is the origin of all the world religions, and every authentic spiritual path offers unique perspectives and rich insights into this, direct experience of truth. In our time, the wisdom and depth of all paths are available to anyone who brings an open mind, generous spirit and heart to the search across traditions.
All authentic spiritual paths, at their mystical core, are committed to the common values of peace, compassionate service, and love for all creation. An inner life awakened to responsibility and love naturally expresses itself through engaged spirituality, in âacts of compassionâ¦, contributing to the transformation of the world and the building of a nonviolent, peace-loving culture that includes everyone.â (The Mystic Heart)
Wow! I found out through reading the above passage that we are indeed an Interspiritual Church!
So, let it be known, from this day forth, that Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center is an Interspiritual Church. The above passage perfectly represents our purpose here! Thank you so much to Rev. Holly, to the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and to the late Wayne Teasdale, author of, The Mystic Heart. Thank you also to Kurt Johnson who is the author of, The Coming of the Interspiritual Age, featured in the video below. Please take the next 26 minutes to watch this very insightful video on the topic at hand. It will explain much of what we are about.
Life on this planet was placed here to LIVE. We must cooperate and learn to live together...with all religions...all creatures...all plant life...the environment in its totality is in a mutually beneficial relationship with us. We are all part of life on this earth. God on this earth. God is Life. Interspirituality implies a connection between all which is very real regardless of anything else. We are connected on a much deeper level than any religion can possibly define. Interspirituality is as infinite as Infinite Love!
Blessings of Love, Peace and Healing to ALL,
Rev. Dr. Jody Evans, ND, CTN, CNHP, D.D.
Essentials of Life Holistic Enrichment Center
...A Place to Come Together and GROW!!!
Please reference our website as source of all quotes, and please quote in context. Thanks!