Ellen Birx holds a Ph.D in psychiatric nursing from the University of Texas at Austin and is professor emeritus, Radford University, Virginia. She is the co-founder of New River Zen Community in Blacksburg, Virginia. We have reviewed two of her three books: Selfless Love which makes a good case for boundless love and compassionate action and Healing Zen about compassion, caring, and caregiving for yourself.
Years ago Brother Wayne Teasdale coined the term "interspirituality" which he saw as "the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions." Ellen Birx, like many other Christians, has discovered "the realization of our true identity in oneness with ultimate reality or God" through this path.
Another learning for this interspiritual practitioner is acceptance of the inconceivable mystery. It arouses in her the spiritual velocities of awe, wonder, and gratitude. A third insight from the Zen Buddhist path is letting go of the American ideal of the separate self. She does justice to what this means in the opening chapter on "Zen and Nonduality."
We were very pleased to see Birx's affirmations and explanations of spiritual qualities and virtues we hold dear to our hearts: reverence, humility, joy, freedom, love, and mystery. Here is her interpretation of reverence:
"Reverence includes and transcends religion, and it touches the heart of what being a decent human being entails. Reverence makes us want to bow down to that which is greater, makes us want to do better, makes us want to reduce suffering, and gives us the energy and vision to work to make the world a better place for everyone now, and for all those who will be born in the future."