For Brother Wayne Teasdale (in The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, A Monk in the World, and Bede Griffiths: An Introduction to His Interspiritual Thought) use of the word “Sannyasa” had a universal meaning, which is the one we stress in the Community of The Mystic Heart.
The Universal Order of Sannyasa was envisioned by Brother Wayne, in each of these now classic books, as a modern gathering of those committed to a life dedicated to deep spiritual practice, sacred service or activism, and advancement of the InterSpiritual Message– that life in the heart knows no boundaries in creed or belief. It is a modern gathering of persons from many and varied life circumstances, dedicated to a lifestyle possible and appropriate for them within this deep intention.
“Love in Action”
For Bro. Wayne, the modern Sannyasa lifestyle (in A Monk in the World) came under the subtitle “Love in Action” (p. 201):
Of it he said, “Perhaps one day we will witness the eventual emergence of a universal order of sannyasa: contemplatives or mystics from all traditions united in their awareness, their love, and their dedication to earth and humankind, and all sentient beings. As mystics in the world are we not creating this universal order? Are we not allies of the natural world in its struggle to be and to seek harmony with the human species? Do we not thereby become natural advocates for the homeless, the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the starving, the diseased? This universal order has the pressing task of raising the consciousness of the world, to that highest level …to which all the great spiritual paths are dedicated” (p. 16, in part).
And, in The Mystic Heart, he wrote “The term sannyasa, referring to renunciation, points to all those saints, seers, sages, acestics, and yogis, over thousands of years who have renounced the world and made possible something beyond the comprehension of religion, something that transcends religion, because it is infinite and ineffable. It eludes the capacity of any concept or
doctrine to express or contain it” (p. 248, in part).
And, of the “Universal Order of Sannyasa” he said “It should be an interspiritual order….open to all people– men and women, married and single, young, middle-aged, and old, confused or clear, adherents or not, with faith or agnostic– united in their desire for a deeper, more meaningful life. This would be a truly universal society of sannyasa, an order that welcomes as members individuals from all the world’s religions and even from no tradition at all.” (p. 248, in part).
Assembled and delivered by Kurt Johnson, representing the Founders:
We are here to fulfill Brother Wayne’s dream of a Universal Order of Sannyasa, the part of his classic book The Mystic Heart (1999) to which, Wayne said, he received the most response worldwide.
It is important to understand that this dream is the culmination of the dreams of many, in all the traditions, and a part of the evolution of the world’s spiritual paths into a recognition of the one convergent path they have always been, leading as Wayne said to the possibility of a civilization based on the Heart. To understand this, and to make this endeavor together, we need to refresh some of the reminders and pointers which Wayne provided. He said:
“We are at the dawn of a new consciousness, a radically fresh approach to our life as the human family in a fragile world”. “This journey is what spirituality is really about”. “We are not meant to remain just where we are. We cannot depend on our culture either to guide and support us in our quest. We must do the hard work of clarification together ourselves”. “This revolution will be the task of the Interspiritual Age”, he wrote, “The necessary shifts in consciousness require a new approach to spirituality that transcends past religious cultures of fragmentation and isolation”.
“We need to understand, to really grasp at an elemental level”, he said “that the definitive revolution is the spiritual awakening of humankind”.
Of our balanced attention, Wayne also wrote: “If transformation is only a matter of consciousness, then there is always the risk that the change may never touch the deeply hidden intentions of the heart. If the will is not involved in the radical change the spiritual process initiates, then the resultant “enlightenment” is only partial. Clearly, if the mystical process is to be complete, it must include a profound transformation in the will. Achieving the ultimate awareness of the way things are is simply not enough.” But, instead to “forge a common ground and actual impetus toward realization of this dream of a new civilization grounded in the “mystic Heart.”
“This new paradigm must be able to accommodate all human experience, knowledge and capacities” “built both on intellectual integration and direct experience” and “make available to everyone all the forms the spiritual journey assumes”.
“It will take enormous vision and courage to walk this path in history. It brings to mind Christ’s words: “Unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain, but if it dies it yields a rich harvest”.
“Spirituality, finally, is awareness and sensitivity, and sensitivity is itself awareness-in-action. It is this quality that we most require in our time and in the ages to come, but it is a quality refined only in the mystic heart, in the steady cultivation of compassion and love that risks all for the sake of others. It is these resources that we desperately need as we build the civilization with a heart, a universal society capable of embracing all that is, putting it to service in the transformation of the world. May the mystics lead the way to this rebirth of the human community that will harmonize itself with the cosmos and finally make peace with all beings.”
“The Interspritiual Age will require institutions and structures to carry, express, and support of it. I suggest that a fundamental institution should be an interspiritual order of monastics or contemplatives open to all people — men and women, married and single, young, middle-aged, and old, confused or clear, adherents or not, with faith or agnostic — united in their desire for a deeper, more meaningful life. This would be a truly universal society of sannyasa, an order that welcomes as members individuals from all the world’s religions and even from no tradition at all.”
“The term sannyasa, referring to renunciation, refers to all those seers, sages, ascetics, and yogis over thousands of years who have renounced the world and made possible something beyond the comprehension of religion, something that transcends religion, because it is infinite and ineffable. Ite eludes the capacity of any concept or doctrine to express or contain it. Sannyasa transcend religion because they seek integration with the absolute, which is infinitely beyond our spiritual institutions and all our conceptual and theological formulations. Sannyasa is a call to the mystical life.”
“A universal or intermystical order of sannyasa, of contemplatives or mystics, would act as a meeting point for all traditions. It would also democratize the spiritual life as a state in which people could help one another, sharing their insights and spiritual resources. Sannyasa would be an existential place of encounter, free of the doctrinal differences that divide the traditions. Sannyasa from the various religions could then join together in collaborative efforts to reverse the negative habits that produced the ecological crisis, countless wars, and the many forms of injustice, oppression, and inequity. The interspiritual society of sannyasa would also provide a forum for the further exploration of the mystical journey in all traditions, and in the emerging universal tradition as well. Teachers could be trained in the order in a universal vision, formed in the commitment.”
Nearing the end of his earthly life, Bro. Wayne said of his core teaching: “The Divine is infinite sensitivity.” And, of the dream of the Universal Order of Sannyasa. Wayne said “We must believe that extraordinary people will step forward and establish extraordinary relationships.”
We are privileged to be here today to work together toward the fulfillment of that dream.
The “Universal Order of Sannyasa” was envisioned by Brother Wayne Teasdale on pages 248-250 of his classic book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. He suggested it as a basic “institution” or “structure” to help carry and express The InterSpiritual Age.
Bro. Wayne saw the initial founding of an “association” around his interspiritual vision (InterSpiritual Dialogue founded with Brother Wayne in 2002, later becoming InterSpiritual Dialogue in Action after his transition in 2005) as a first step in that direction. But he always saw the “Sannyasi”, the renunciates who could dedicate themselves to the 24/7 task of the evolving interspiritual message, as the vanguard of this movement.
The founding of the Universal Order of Sannyasa (subsequently becoming the Community of The Mystic Heart) finally came about in 2010 advancing the following timeline of the Wayne-related work.
2002: InterSpiritual Dialogue (ISD) founded with Brother Wayne
2004: Program of ISD at Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain
2005: Tribute Event to Brother Wayne at The Crossings (Austin, Texas); ISDnA founded, www.isdna.org website established
2007: 2nd “Common Ground” event at The Crossings
2008: ISDnA partners with a New York interfaith seminary, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and Learning Alliance, to found Wayne-based education program
2009: Joint ISDnA/World Council of Interfaith Congregations presentation at Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia: “The Call to Interfaith MInistry”
2010: ISDnA launches “InterSpiritual Multiplex” website with strategic partners and founds Universal Order of Sannyasa (subsequently becoming the Community of The Mystic Heart) in partnership with the Order of Universal Interfaith and the World Council of Interfaith Congregations
2011: CMH joins with One Spirit Interfaith (New York) and Spiritual Paths Foundation (Colorado, California) to sponsor interspiritual education programs and events. CMH grows to 300 members after ceremonies in Washington, New York, Sedona and London.
2012: CMH joins with the Snowmass Inter-religious Initiative (now the Snowmass Interspiritual Dialogue) for meetings on future direction and programs and with SID seeds the “New Monasticism Discussion”. The Coming Interspiritual Age by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord, an important followup book to Bro. Wayne’s The Mystic Heart, is published by Namaste Publishing.
2013: Growth of the Interspiritual Movement nearly outpaces that of CMH which helped launch it. CMH cultivates its first association of those making “Personal Covenants” of a regular lifestyle of spiritual practice and sacred activism. Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko publish the New Monasticism Manifesto. CMH hosts a gathering for members and shared ceremonies at the Dawn of Interspirituality Conference in Washington state.
2014: Swami Shraddhananda proposes, and CMH accepts, a plan for offering full Sannyas though CMH. Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko write The New Monasticism. Kurt Johnson, Mirabai Starr and Matthew Wright become “regulars” speaking on Interspirituality worldwide. Ed Bastian expands the Interspiritual Meditataion and Interspiritual Mandalla programs of Spiritual Paths Foundation.
2015-2016. At, and after, the Community’s residential retreat at Slate Branch Ashram in Somerset, Kentucky, The Interspiritual Monastics in the World (“IMW”) program was initiated through a volunteer circle of James Hopkins, Tim Olivieri, Joan Barrett, Patti O’Connor, Elizabeth Teal and Neil Deuchar. Some changes regarding the CMH Sannyas program were made by Swami Shraddhananda given the positioning of the IMW. CMH members Dorothy Cunha and T.S. Pennington initiated regular discussion calls among members of the community and Kurt Johnson and Yanni Maniates worked with Br. Wayne’s close friend Jeff Genung to create a virtual “hub” for CMH at www.contemplativelife.org
Note particularly the first two rows. These Christian-Hindu pioneer contemplatives represent the “lineage” that led to the founding of the the Christian-Hindu Shantivanum Ashram in India from which evolved the vision of InterSpirituality and the Universal Order of Sannyasa. Included are: Fr. Jules Monchanin (aka Swami Parah Arubi Ananda), Fr. Roberto de Nobili S.J., Fr. Henri Le Saux OSB (aka Swami Abhishiktananda) and Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB (aka Swami Dayananda). From Shantivanum came the work of Russill Paul, Bro. Wayne Teasdale, Andrew Harvey and others. See the work of these three latter pioneers at http://multiplex.isdna.org/contempo.htm
Many photos, and links to all of Brother Wayne’s writings available electronically, can be found here: http://multiplex.isdna.org/newpage16.htm and here: http://www.isdna.org/wayne.php