For us, interfaith meditation (or multi-faith meditation) is trying-on two authentic meditations from two distinct religious traditions in a single session, co-led by two ordained or lay leaders with substantial meditation practice. One may intend to quiet the wandering mind, to reconnect with the essence of one’s being, or to experience another faith drecectly. (In our programs, interfaith meditation is neither a combined prayer service nor a joint worship experience.)
There is no intention to adopt any religious creed. We encourage substituting any potentially uncomfortable word of a meditation with what may be more conducive to relaxing the mind and welcoming one’s own spirit.
We offer these programs without required fees, ensuring access to individuals of all economic means. A voluntary contribution is requested during our programs, but no one is excluded for financial hardship.
We believe that meditation is common to most religions. The control of the mind’s attention or focus is universal.
The quantum physicist, David Bohm, observed during one of his public dialogues with J. Krishnamurti: “I think all the fundamental things are universal, and therefore you are saying that when the mind goes deep, it comes into something universal.”
While there are irreconcilable differences on the level of religious creed and observance, interfaith meditation connects us beneath this level as we investigate the ground of our shared humanity and spirituality.
“High levels of perceived similarity with religious groups are associated with more favorable views of those groups.” Interfaith meditation programming offers a conducive environment to experience these similarities and to recognize the “other,” of a different faith, as related to one’s own true self.
Moreover, trying-on a brief meditation of another tradition broadens our vision and deepens our understanding and appreciation of our own spiritual path (without any intention to alter our path), just as experiencing another culture can broaden our perspective and deepen our awareness of our own culture.
Finally, the interfaith nature of these programs creates a relaxed and open setting for those who have no prior experience meditating – awakening an interest to continue exploring meditation within their own faith. (See Intra-faith Resources.)
For me, it was much more than an interfaith event,
in which one learns about another faith
for the sake of building bridges and creating tolerance.
I found this gathering to be a way
to actually experience other spiritual traditions,
as a means not only of developing
compassion for other paths to God,
but also as a means of learning about myself and my own path to the Divine.
-WaleedZiad, World Organization for Resource Development & Education
No longer can we ignore the call to enhance inter-religious, cross-cultural relationships to deepen trust and cooperation in an inter-connected global community. “As a species whose survival depends on the ability to build mutually beneficial relationships with others, human beings have a deep seated need to feel connected,” and the perception of connectedness increases acts of trust and cooperation. Hutcherson, C. et al. (2008). (Please see Clinical Research.) “The question of inter-religious relations will remain an important issue for the public as well as for religious and political leaders.” Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Prospects for Inter-religious Understanding. Prepared for delivery at the International Conference on Faith and Service, March 22, 2006.
Interfaith may be understood as a movement bringing together people of different faith traditions for mutual understanding and cooperation. Often, this takes the form of interfaith dialogue, social action, economic outreach, political initiatives, and occasional collaborative concerts and religious services. We view interfaith as a profound, shared connection grounded in each person’s authenticity (rather than through any blending of religious belief or practice) and born of each person’s own deeply meaningful experience with the Divine, or transcendent, of their own understanding. To that end, we bring forward meditation practices from major religious traditions – through religious leaders from these traditions – in multi-faith meditation programs.