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The Future of World Religion Beyond Religious Unity and Spiritual Individualism: (Re-)Dreaming Chaudhuri.

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Presentation on theme: "The Future of World Religion Beyond Religious Unity and Spiritual Individualism: (Re-)Dreaming Chaudhuri."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Future of World Religion Beyond Religious Unity and Spiritual Individualism: (Re-)Dreaming Chaudhuri

2 Contemporary Sources of Spiritual Diversity & Innovation 1.Interfaith Interaction 2.Inner Reconstruction of Traditions 3.New Problems! 4.New Responses: Understandings & Practices 5.New Religious Movements 6.Spiritual Individuation

3 1. Interfaith Interaction Interreligious, intermonastic, & interspiritual Three types of “cosmological hybridization:” – Doctrinal (e.g., insights, views of liberation and ultimate realities; Mohammed/Jesus as shamans) – Practical (e.g., prayer & meditation; sacred medicine & reiki; ecumenical services: Fox’s technomasses) – Visionary (Christian/indigenous ayahuasca visions) Intensification & acceleration (global virtual interconnectivity)

4 2. Inner Reconstruction of Traditions Human Dimensions (embodied spirituality) – Body, sexuality, passions, the erotic (e.g., Yoga in the West; body theologies; Ray’s embodied Buddhism) Human Diversity (post-patriarchal spirituality) – Women/Children/LGBTQ spiritualities/minority races Domains of Practice (engaged spirituality) – Relational (intimate relations; e.g., sympathetic joy) – Social/political (Gandhi, King, Tutu, Lerner’s Tikkun) – Environmental/Plant/Animal/Gaian: “greening of religion”

5 3. New Problems! Virtual age’s new challenges: cyber-addictions; isolation (“alone with others”); narcissism (“ego-surfing,” self-promotion/self- absortion—Twitter, Facebook) Globalization of kleshas (corporate greed; lust & porn industry) Ecological crisis Globalization & fairness in international business Global exploitation of women & children Social integration of cultural/ethnic/gender diversity Role of religion in the modern secular state Capitalism & increasing polarization of rich/poor New sexual ethics (challenges to religion): gay marriage; religious homophobia; challenges to monogamy

6 4. New Responses I: Understandings Social re-interpretations of spiritual individualistic doctrines (dukkha, moksa, salvation) Eco-psychospiritual views (e.g., ecofeminism) New frameworks (e.g., liberation theologies; Wilber’s AQAL; engaged Buddhism; participatory spiritualities) Re-evaluations of role of body & sexuality (e.g., “Integral Boddhisattva Vow”) Revalorization of women experience & post-patriarchal ways of knowing/being in men, women, and beyond (e.g., feminist & queer models; men movement)

7 4. New Responses II: Practices Embodied spiritual practices (outside & inside traditions, e.g., Albareda & Romero’s Interactive Embodied Meditation; Ray’s Enlightenment through the Body; dance & Christian prayer) Co-operative/peer-to-peer/relational spiritualities Eco-spiritual practices & rites of passage; ecotherapy Socially engaged spiritual activism – Global meditations & subtle activism – Spiritually-informed ecological activism Integration of Western psychology & sp. practice – Vipassana/breathwork; sacred medicine/psychotherapy; somatics/mindfulness, Diamond approach; ITPs; etc.

8 5. New Religious Movements 9,900 religions/2-3 new ones per day! (Barret, 2001) Main features: (Clarke, New Religions in Global Perspective) – Individualism/experiential approaches – Integration of psychology/religion – Self-actualization through work – Multiple religious membership – Network-type organization – Hybridity – Claim to newness or correct understanding – This-worldly: “Paradise on Earth” as goal

9 6. Spiritual Individuation “Subjective Turn” (Taylor, 1989) Pull to spiritual differentiation/personal life as sacred craft/life-style transformations – Intimate relationships (parenting, sacred monogamy, polyamory, community, animals & plants, etc.) – Postconventional gender identities – Work/business/politics/arts/health/culture/cuisine – Relationship with nature, matter, & objects – Education/teaching/scholarship/writing/research Resacralization of all facets of life: “The Life Divine” (Sri Aurobindo)?

10 Future of Religion: Three Scenarios (I) 1.A Global Religion (or single world faith) – Triumph of an existent tradition (e.g., Catholicism, Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Buddhism, etc.) – Emerging synthesis (e.g., New Age; Wilber’s integral spirituality, etc.) Where: interfaith dialogue, transpersonal/integral psychology, new religious movements, New Age movement

11 Three Scenarios (II) 2. Mutual Transformation/Interspiritual Wisdom – Creative unions toward diversification (Chardin) – “Reciprocal illumination” (Sharma) – Multiple religious participation – Religious syncretism/hybridizations (“we are all hybrids”) – Global ethics (Küng), inter-spirituality, (Teasdale) trans-traditionalism (Forman), CIIS world spirituality series (Caplan), etc. Where: Interfaith dialogue, New Age movement, eclectic/integrative spiritualities

12 Three Scenarios (III) 3. Spirituality Without Religion – Individual experience over religious authority – Calls for a “democratization of spirit” / “spirituality revolution”/ “direct path to the divine” / “reclaiming of inner spiritual authority” – “Spiritual but not religious” (Fuller), “religion of no- religion” (Spiegelberg), “religion without religion” (Caputo/Derrida), “believing without belonging” (Taylor) Where: Postmodern spiritualities; New Age movement; naturalistic, scientific, & psychological spiritualities; secular & postsecular spiritualities

13 Two Spiritual Impulses Toward Spiritual Individuation: Evolutionary & developmental pulls toward differentiation, creative diversity, & plurality; person as unique embodiment of the Mystery Pitfall: Spiritual Individualism (“Sheilaism”) Toward Spiritual Unity: Intuition of the spiritual unity of humankind, deep communion, universal spiritual ethics Pitfall: Religious Unity (dogmatic/ideological) Is there a middle path capable of reconciling these apparently conflicting impulses while avoiding their pitfalls?

14 Enter Chaudhuri’s Integral View of the Person Uniqueness/Individuality Importance of Spiritual Individuation: Grounding in Spirit Within (“ From Ego to True Unique Self”) Interrelatedness Importance of Mutual Transformation: Communion with Spirit In-Between (“Relationships,” “Service;” Global Ethics) ANTIDOTE: To the Spiritual Narcissism underlying both Religious Unity and Spiritual Individualism. Transcendence Importance of Spiritual Unity: Openness to Spirit Beyond (“Union with Being”)

15 (Re-)Dreaming Chaudhuri I: Universal Religion Chaudhuri’s “Universal Religion” as Perspectival Perennialism: Religious ultimates as partial perspectives of same spiritual reality or God /different names for same ocean; different paths, same goal=core religious experience (“integral, monistic nondualism”) But… Chaudhuri’s “Creative Universalism” and “Evolutionary Participation”! “Religious aspiration which aims at the fulfillment of man [sic] in creative fellowship with the evolutionary world-spirit, beyond all religious differences” (Modern Man Religion, 37) And… Embodied Transcendence! As rooted in individuality & relatedness in the world

16 (Re-)Dreaming Chaudhuri II: Embodied Transcendence Spiritual Unity: Not in the “Heavens” (common spiritual ultimate, vision, or cosmology) but deep down into the “Earth” (embodied connection with shared creative source, i.e., undetermined creative power of mystery/cosmos/life with which we cocreate the rich diversity of spiritual worlds) Common Spiritual “Healthy” Family: Supports spiritual individuation while affirming our common roots Spiritual Horizon: Not identity, but alignment of infinite diversity of unique spiritual perspectives

17 Conclusion The future of world religion will be shaped by spiritually individuated persons (individuality) engaged in processes of mutual transformation and hybridization (interrelatedness) in the context of a common spiritual family (transcendence) that honors a global order of respect and civility (engagement).

18 Coda: The Participatory Chaudhuri “It is through participation in history that he can evolve and manifest the unsuspected glories of his inner being” (Being, Evolution, & Immortality, 33) “He considers it his fundamental spiritual task, his God-assigned purpose of life, to participate in the evolutionary being of the world” (Modern Man’s Religion, 74)


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