Interspiritual Monastic Options
In 2013, The Community of The Mystic Heart began partnering with Slate Branch Ashram in Kentucky to create a traditional monastic Order dedicated to Interspiritual teaching and learning. CMH Sannyasa also offered lay Sannyas to householders who were interested in living by monastic principles.
CMH Sannyas and CMH Interspiritual
Monastics in the World
[see these categories under “Membership”]
Sannyas: In 2016, when CMH Interspiritual Monastics in the World completed their foundational documents, a decision was made to discontinue lay Sannyas to avoid overlap and to focus on building a traditional monastic Order. Sw. Bhagavananda, a CMH Sannyasin with 40 years of monastic experience, is creating a Novitiate path by which candidates may move toward initiation in CMH Sannyasa.
CMH Sannyasins are expected to spend time in residence at the mother ashram in Kentucky and to offer Dakshina, a monetary gift which carries blessings, once yearly to remain monks in good standing. The amount of Dakshina given is not nearly as important as the heart with which it is offered. CMH monks may also apply to live in residence in a CMH Sannyasa facility on a long term basis.
Traditional CMH Sannyasa follows a path laid out by Eastern and Western monastic orders historically. The Order requires a vow of Brahmacharya as well as certification that candidates are debt free as well as in good health physically, mentally, and emotionally. Candidates also must have been celibate for a period of no less than five years prior to initiation. Upon acceptance into the CMH Order, monks continue to honor a vow of Brahmacharya and to live in accordance with the “bhav” of Shri Maha Lakshmi, Indian goddess of abundance. Whereas CMH historically has focused on the teachings of Fr. Bede Griffiths and Bro. Wayne Teasdale, the Order under Sw. Shraddhananda’s direction is equally interested in the legacy of Sw. Abhishiktananda who spent his last days in meditation in the Himalayas.
Slate Branch Ashram hosted the first ever CMH residential retreat in late April 2016 at Boat Dock Road Retreat in Kentucky. Sw. Shraddhananda, Dr. Kurt Johnson, and Mirabai Starr served as lead teachers for this historic gathering, the theme of which was “The 9 Elements of Mature Interspirituality” from Bro. Wayne Teasdale’s pioneering text, The Mystic Heart. Both East and West Coasts of the USA were represented at the retreat along with the Southwest and Canada. Dr. Kurt Johnson, CMH Administrator, formally installed Sw. Shraddhananda as Mahant and Preceptor of CMH Sannyasa. A collection of articles based on talks and dialogues from the retreat is scheduled to be published by The Sacred Feet Publishing Imprint in 2017.
Future plans include a “Feast of the Epiphany” retreat open to all members of CMH to be held Jan. 6-7, 2017 at Anugraha House, Sw. Shraddhananda’s new residence in Kentucky. Anugraha translates from the Sanskrit to mean Grace. Anugraha House is located in a tree-shaded grove in Somerset, KY across the street from St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. All the houses on the block where Anugraha stands majestically are on the National Historic Register.
This grand old home, built in 1903, is also slated to house The Anugraha Institute of Yoga and Interspiritual Studies. In addition to sponsoring a year-long training program for Sannyasins (CMH and Saraswati Orders), Anugraha plans to launch two doctoral tracks, one in Yoga and one in Interspiritual Studies in September 2017. Sw. Shraddhananda is scheduled to teach the Introduction to Yoga seminar in its first semester, Fall 2017. Dr. Kurt Johnson, author of The Coming Interspiritual Age, is to teach the Introduction to Interspiritual Studies seminar the same initial semester. Additional outstanding Yogis and Scholars are being added to the Anugraha Faculty. The accreditation process for the Anugraha Institute by the new Accrediting Agency for Interfaith, Interspiritual, and Trans-Theological Institutions and Programs, Inc., headquartered in metropolitan New York in New Jersey, is underway.
Interspiritual Monastics in the World
Interspiritual Monastics: The IMW is an interspiritual dispersed community of universal, contemplative, worshippers of the Divine seeking to live lives of dedicated spiritual practice and sacred activism as disciples living in the world. This association is universal in that it is open to people of all wisdom traditions or none, women or men, from East or West, from North or South, who are looking for a deeper interspiritual understanding and experience, each within their own chosen understanding, tradition and practice.
In line with Bro. Teasdale’s vision of living as “monks-in-the-world” we use the words interspiritual monastic to express the universal outlook of the association and its members as well as the distinction from ancient forms of traditional monasticism. In this association, a monastic is either a woman or man who is dedicated to a live of depth and fullness dedicated to the divine according to their own understanding, tradition and practice.
In the World: members of the IMW typically are people of all walks of life living their individual or family lives in the world at large but can include as well the hermit in the hermitage, the traditional monk in the monastery or the nun in the convent. For each and all the IMW provides a network of like-minded mystics and contemplatives, a de-centralized community of support and sharing to aid in their interspiritual growth, understanding and practice.
Typically, the interspiritual monastic carries out all the duties and obligations of their state in life, with work, friends and family or religious community while engaging in some form of sacred activism, of their own choosing, for the betterment of the world around them.
As Bro Wayne Teasdale put it:
“The Interspiritual Age will require institutions and structures to carry,
express and support 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 and clear, adherents or not, with faith or agnostic – united in their desire for a deeper,
more meaningful life.” –Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart, p. 248
Within the overall work of Bro Teasdale, within the supporting framework of the Community of the Mystic Heart, this vision has taken three distinct, autonomous but deeply mutually supporting forms, the Sannyasa program, Friends and Associates, and the Interspiritual Monastics in the World.
News of the Interspiritual Monastics in the World
Leadership circles were established and volunteers taken, including—
Central Coordinating Circle—Rev. JoAnn Barrett, Neil Deuchar, James Hopkings, Timothy Olivieri, David Wachter; Media and External Communications Circle—David Wachter; Postulancy and Novitiate Facilitating Circle—Tim Olivieri.
On September 16, 2016 the first Interspiritual Monastic in the World applicants began their three month postulancy period.
September 29, 2016, the first new applicant was accepted: Eosaidh Lopez-Hineynu submitted his application and began his three month postulancy study period.
Neil Deuchar is planning his first meeting of intespiritual activists in the UK coming up soon.
Continuing improvement are being made to the Foundational Documents to further address questions of acceptance and accessibility to all. Of specific concern are questions of gender balance and the need to attract and bet truly welcoming to a wider and more diverse population of interspirituals.