Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The OnBeing Project Newsletter- An Invitation

In his poem “The Northern of Ireland” (read in this interview), Pádraig Ó Tuama asks:

“Who are we to be with one another? And how are we to be with one another?”

The are many ways we can begin to explore these questions — and yet I never thought I’d find an answer to any of them in mysticism, a concept I’ve long associated exclusively with religious experiences of God. While it’s true that mysticism is part of many major religious traditions, the term can also encapsulate spiritual experiences of unity more generally.

Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, for example, defines mysticism as “the experience of limitless belonging” that can be felt by everyone, whether in nature or in parenthood, in community or in love. 

I think his conception of mysticism pairs well with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner’s. A scholar of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, Kushner defines a mystic as “anyone who has the gnawing suspicion that the apparent discord, brokenness, contradictions, and discontinuities that assault us every day might conceal a hidden unity.”

These definitions, borne from different religious traditions, help deepen the questions that Pádraig asks: How might an experience of limitless belonging change how we are to be with one another — or even our duty to one another? How then might we be moved to show up for one another? And when we’re accompanied by the conviction that we belong and are one with the world, how might we be moved to act?

Perhaps mysticism is simply the foundation, the beginning, from which we can continue to explore these questions. As writer Pico Iyer says, mysticism “is a way of cutting through the cacophony of the moment and reminding us of what is real — and then reminding us of how to respond to the real and to do justice to it.”

Kristin Lin
Editor, The On Being Project

This Week at The On Being Project

Our Latest Episode

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On Being with Krista Tippett
Lawrence Kushner
“Kabbalah and Everyday Mysticism”
The rabbi, long-time student, and articulator of the mysteries and messages of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition.
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