During the past forty-five years, my inner life has been profoundly shaped by wonderful teachers, colleagues, and students, along with life’s many challenges. Because of my deep gratitude, I want to share a meditative practice that emerged from this work. I hope it will inform and benefit your personal practice as well as your interactions with people from the world’s marvelous variety of contemplative traditions and belief systems.
My Buddhist formation began in my mid-twenties; when I began learning Tibetan and Sanskrit; and through studying with extraordinary teachers in monastic settings in South Asia and America. The fruits of this training ripened in wonderful ways during the past ten years as I worked closely with over forty Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Taoist, and Native American teachers in our Spiritual Paths programs and books.
InterSpiritual Meditation is the result of both my hope for a mature personal contemplative practice, and my hope to formulate a universal practice that can be done in harmony with people of many traditions. Both hopes have been profoundly informed by my collaboration with great meditative practitioners with a variety of spiritual and secular methods.
First, from the perspective of a personal meditation practice, I have learned that each meditator must take personal responsibility for the method and the outcome of his or her practice; in my case, a practice which is at the same time Buddhist and inclusive of other traditions. While our teachers and colleagues can impart their wisdom and experience, the actual practice of meditation is something we have to engage in alone with their continued blessings. Working alone, with occasional guidance from our teachers and mentors, we must learn to cultivate the internal processes of our minds, accentuating the positive and
eliminating the negative. This work is invisible to the outside world. It is subtle and refined. Like many of life’s most precious skills, it takes years to cultivate. Meditation is both an art and a science. It is a cultivated taste. Therefore, in the kitchen or laboratory of our minds we must personally apply the science, the recipes, insights, methods, skills, patience, and perseverance we have learned from others.
Second, through many sessions of group meditation with teachers of diverse practices, I have experienced the presence of shared consciousness even though we are all doing different internal practices. In spite of, or perhaps because of our diverse practices, I have found that we actually co-create an InterSpiritual consciousness that is greater than the sum of its parts. This shared experience, I believe, can be a foundation for peace among peoples of all spiritual and non-spiritual beliefs. In this experience we know for certain that we can no longer look at each other as the “other.” We become inextricably linked, such that to harm another is to harm our self.
During the past few years I have taught many courses and completed two books on InterSpiritual Meditation. However, I realized that I needed to do something more to help people engage in this practice. Therefore, I am deeply grateful for this partnership with the Charter for Compassion. Working together with you, we can further this grand new InterSpiritual paradigm to create peace for the Earth and all living beings.
I hope that our online course will help you develop and refine your own meditative practice, and to work in contemplative alliance with others whose inspiration and practices emerge from the world’s marvelous variety of beliefs, practices, and traditions.
Ed Bastian is the president of the Spiritual Paths Foundation and holds a PhD in Buddhist Studies. He is an award-winning documentary film producer, author of the award winning “Living Fully Dying Well,” and author of ”InterSpiritual Meditation” and “Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path.”
Ed is a former Fulbright Fellow in India, Global Trustee for the United Religions Initiative, Smithsonian program director, and board president of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara. He developed InterSpiritual Meditation through his participation in Father Thomas Keating’s Snowmass Conference and through his close collaboration with over fifty contemplative teachers from many spiritual traditions through dozens of programs he has organized since 2002.
Ed is also on the faculty of Antioch University where he teaches Buddhism and Mindfulness Meditation. He teaches online courses on InterSpiritual Meditation and the InterSpiritual Mandala Process and leads seminars and workshops at retreat centers throughout America.