What is the mystic Way? It is a way that is rooted in experience, presence, awareness or consciousness rather than doctrine, or abstraction. Mystics seek to explore the inner spiritual depths, the meeting place of the human and the divine. Mysticism is a Way to intimacy with the Ultimate ground of all things; it is the way of the heart. Mystics are found in all traditions both East & West. Their findings comprise the spiritual heart of the human quest, but are expressed in the languages of particular traditions. Mystics always tell us that their words are inadequate to their experience and simply point us towards the realities they have experienced or glimpsed. The challenge is how to read/understand the glimpses of insight and inspiration they offer to us. Are their Christian mystics? Yes, but they have been much neglected. I have come late to an appreciation of their ways. Here we will explore the mystical traditions of Christianity; traditions that go back to the Desert Fathers and give special attention to three women mystics: Hildegaard of Bingen on the Cosmic Creation, Julian of Norwich on the Living Trinity, and Teresa of Avila on the Stages of the Journey. We are just in the early stages of recovering this neglected aspect of Christianity and relating it to living as one all-inclusive global family.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and currently Director of the Centre for Dialogue & Spirituality in the World Religions at Renison University College/University of Waterloo, he was educated at Concordia College (BA Philosophy & Political Science), Harvard Divinity School (STB, Theology), and the Institute of Christian Thought, St. Michael’s University College (PhD, Special Religious Studies). He taught at Waterloo Lutheran University (now Wilfrid Laurier) 1967-69 and Renison College, University of Waterloo (1973-2007). He is the author/editor of more than 25 volumes in the study of religion, most recently, the 3rd edition of Religion in a New Key and three volumes of Ways of the Spirit: Celebrating Dialogue, Diversity & Spirituality, Ways of the Spirit: Voices of Women, and Ways of the Spirit: Persons, Communities & Spiritualities.
His passion has been the dialogue of the many pathways of spiritual life. He has engaged Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Tibetan Buddhists, Parsees and Christians in India – he has been to India more than 20 times, stayed in Buddhist monasteries in Korea and Japan, and visited Mosques in Jordan, Israel, Turkey, and China. It is these encounters – and subsequent friendships – that have shaped his life and attitude towards the world’s religious pathways, these manifold ways to meaning.
In 2016, he convened a Contemplative Seminar on Practices of Compassion in Hyderabad, India, together with his good friend, the Venerable Doboom Tulku.