Editors Donald W. Mitchell and James Wiseman have gathered 25 presentations from an historic five-day meeting in July 1996 at the home of Thomas Merton. The tone of this impressive work is set in the Dalai Lama's foreword: "All faiths, despite their contradictory philosophies, possess the ability to produce fine warmhearted human beings. Therefore, there is every reason to appreciate and to respect all forms of spiritual practice."
The quest begins with sessions on the practice of prayer and meditation in the spiritual life, the stages in the process of spiritual development, the role of the teacher and the community in spiritual life, and the spiritual goals of personal and social transformation. The real heart and soul of this interfaith dialogue comes in the second section where participants ponder mind and virtue; practice and discernment; and suffering, violence, and social action. Here Buddhists and Christians share their experiences and epiphanies about the inner cloister of the heart; the self-giving, egoless path of service; the importance of peacemaking; and enthusiasm for virtue. Their dialogue on the spiritual life makes a convincing case for the bounties that come with hospitality, openness, and unity. This illuminating work is another legacy of Thomas Merton's shining light.