"The call to mystical openness is echoed across millennia of humanity's wisdom; it is the call to discover a unitary point of view that holds the promise of a more just and peaceful planet," writes Beverly Lanzetta, the founder of Schola Divina, Interfaith Theological Seminary, and Desert Interfaith Church. She is also Research Scholar, Southwest Institute for Research on Women, University of Arizona. Among her publications are Radical Wisdom: A Feminist Mystical Theology (2005), The Other Side of Nothingness: Toward a Theology of Radical Openness (2001), and Path of the Heart (1986).
Lanzetta joins with other daring and adventuresome writers who envision a new paradigm for the spiritual journey. It is a global spirituality that blends mystical insights with interfaith and feminist perspectives, contemplative practice, and a keen appreciation of the heart's response to a battered and brutal world of injustice, environmental destruction, and violence. An added value is Lanzetta's acknowledgment and explanation of the contributions of the pioneers of this expansive global spirituality: Ewert Cousins, Raimon Panikkar, Mohandas Gandhi, Thomas Merton, Abraham Joshua Heschel, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Global spirituality, according to the author, is mystical and evidences the highest regard for the mystery of the Holy One who moves throughout the universe and in our daily lives. Gone are the old dichotomies of spirit and matter, sacred and profane, and divinity and humanity; in their place is a radical respect for all religions and the profusion of spiritual paths that present themselves in the world. Lanzetta takes some time to explore the value of inter-religious dialogue, especially that which has taken place between monks from different religious traditions. We, too, have been very impressed with this exploration of shared contemplative practices. She notes:
"It is my dream that as we come to understand the hidden stirring of our hearts, we will find a shared spiritual grammar and a shared spiritual vision that is not religion as we know it that intersects with and advances the living stream of humankind's diverse religious heritage."
Lanzetta salutes the questing of millions of people who are unaffiliated with any religion but are seeking sources of meaning and spiritual practice. Like Mahatma Gandhi, they subscribe to "the manyness of truth" and are uncomfortable with religious institutions that exclude, oppress, and patronize. Many would no doubt find it appealing when Lanzetta states: "I am called to practice the silence of the Buddha, Krishna's devotion, Rumi's fasting of the heart, the nonviolence of Jesus, the wayless way of Tao, Hopi earth awareness, and Jewish teshuvah (repentance)." In this same hospitable spirit, we appreciated the quotation from Fernando Pessoa: "In every corner of my soul exists an altar to a different god."
Global spirituality offers an alternative to the selfishness and greed that are so dominant in today's world. All the religions stress the importance of love and compassion and service of others. Lanzetta emphasizes the emergence of "an expanded heart consciousness" which connects people with one another and honors the divine spark in all human beings. She concludes:
"The spirituality that flows out of divine intimacy is directed toward preserving the communion of beings, so that no matter how far we stray, we always belong to God, to the beginning. We are held in a circle of belonging." Beverly Lanzetta's vision of global spirituality stirs the soul and presents a cogent and imaginative mystical path into the future.