A Brief History of The Interspiritual Dialogue
Host of the Light on Light Family of Magazines
Founding of ISD
The Interspiritual Dialogue (Interspiritual Dialogue, Inc.) was co-founded with Br. Wayne Teasdale (who created the terms “Interspiritual” and “Interspirituality” in his now classic book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions) with Kurt Johnson and other colleagues in 2002.
It’s first activity was the presentation of Interspirituality at the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain (as reported in Kosmos).
Working through a circle of colleagues primarily of the United Nations “Spiritual Caucus” (today, among others the UN NGO Committee for Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns) and the Ethical Culture Societies of New York City further activities developed until Br. Wayne’s transition in later 2004.
ISD then co-hosted a 2005 Tribute Event to Br. Wayne at The Crossings in Austin, Texas, where attendees expanded ISD to become “ISDnA” (Interspiritual Dialogue in Action) and the website www.isdna.org was established. It was expanded to add “The Interspiritual Multiplex” resource website soon thereafter. These are still maintained today for historical purposes along with a newsletter (“The Interspiritual Multiplex”). Also established, in 2010, was The Community of The Mystic Heart, which, at its height, had 350 active members experimenting with the life-roles of Br. Wayne’s “Nine Elements of a Universal Spirituality.” It continued, based on Br. Wayne’s vision of a “Universal Order of Sannyasa” in The Mystic Heart and A Monk in the World with a sannyasa subgroup under the supervision of a United States interspiritual ashram and a group experimenting with individualized life-practice and personal “rules.”
Following Br. Wayne’s passing in 2004, Fr. Thomas Keating, the famed founder of Centering Prayer, Contemplative Outreach, and the Snowmass Inter-religious Dialogue stepped in to further aid the ISD family and it begin cooperating with the Snowmass dialogues and the planning for the 2013 “Dawn of Interspirituality Conference” (an article on the conference is also available via The Interfaith Observer online). Fr. Thomas Keating had also formed The Spiritual Paths Institute and Foundation with other prominent interspiritual leaders, and it, ISD and the Satyana Institute effectuated the first Dawn of Interspirituality Conference. ISD continued close cooperation with the dynamic interfaith and Interspiritual programs at New York City’s One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and its founder Rev. Diane Berke. One Spirit has become an international flagship for interfaith and Interspiritual education.
In 2013 Kurt Johnson’s book The Coming Interspiritual Age was published, furthering communicating Br. Wayne’s vision of interspirituality and helping create a wider interspiritual movement. After this “The New Monasticism” movement also began, nurtured by ISD colleagues and friends of Br. Wayne, Adam Bucko and Rory McEntee. Another Br. Wayne colleague, Jeffrey Genung, founded Contemplative Life which has also remained an important contributing member to the growing interspiritual phenomenon.
The 2013 Dawn of Interspirituality conference appointed a Committee—Kurt Johnson, Diane Berke and Ed Bastian—to effectuate a new “association” and website which became The Interspiritual Network to serve the growing worldwide interspiritual community. No longer needing its interactive capacities, in 2019 it was transferred to new secure platform for historical purposes.
Karuna and Swami Shraddhananda join with ISD
Karuna (Light on Light Host Editor) and Swami Shraddhananda (Light on Light Books Editor) became associated with ISD with the lst International Happiness Conference in 2014. Both known to Kurt Johnson already through international interspiritual circles and United Nations activities, Karuna and Swami, along with Kurt and Ken Kitatani (who had formed the Forum 21 Institute in the United Nations community) at about the same time, were keynoters at the conference. There followed five years of programs in Colorado, from where Karuna hailed, effectuated by Forum 21, The Aspen Institute, The Aspen Chapel, Karuna’s Light on Kundalini, and the Denver integral and interfaith communities. This highlighted ISD’s long involvement with Ken Wilber, who had also been a close friend of Br. Wayne, and Wilber’s integral vision and movement. They cooperated on the 2015 Self Care to Earth Care Conference further leading to cooperation with Forum 21’s conferences on Spirituality and Sustainability annually in Rome and Assisi. Ken Wilber’s video on the roots of integral spirituality and interspiritual from the first Self Care to Earth Care Conference is available via YouTube.
These co-workings culminated in the series of “Crestone Leadership Conferences” from 2016 (article in Issue 3 of Light on Light magazine), which furthered the Sacred Sites work of Forum 21 and established the base for the Conscious Business World Summit of 2019. Also developed by Kurt, Presence, and UNITY EARTH was The Convergence series on VoiceAmerica, now into its third year and over 100,000 listeners. Karuna joined the Host Group for The Convergence.
For numerous years Swami Shraddhananda and Dr. Kurt Johnson were also part of shepherding The Community of The Mystic Heart, a important incipient organization, originally founded with Br. Wayne Teasdale, within the growing interspiritual movement at the turn of the millennium. During that time Swami hosted interspiritual retreats and, through her publishing imprint Sacred Feet Publishers, published the important book Mature Interspirituality: Wayne Teasedale’s Nine Elements—and Beyond. Today Swami continues her important work through her family foundation The Jones Educational Foundation (“JEFI”) and its work with Anugraha Interspiritual Ashram and Mangala Mandir (temple) as well as Slate Branch Retreat Center, both homes to Sacred Feet Yoga.
Shannon and David Winters join with ISD
In 2015 ISD also met America’s Presence International and Australia’s 1God.com. They soon developed the UNITY EARTH network with global programs of breath and scope. Another colleague creating significant events and initiatives with ISD was also Dr. David Sloan Wilson and his Evolution Institute and emerging Prosocial Movement. Kurt and Dr. Wilson created a series “Steering Toward the Omega Point” which resulted in a series of conferences and video’s on Wilson’s theme of altruism, available online and archived on The Coming Interspiritual Age website. In Winter 2017, Shannon Winters joined Kurt Johnson and David Sloan Wilson for a class at New York’s One Spirit Interfaith Seminary on the relation of science and spirituality and soon thereafter joined in the interspiritual initiatives. Learning of the conferences and events just generated and of the UNITY EARTH network, Shannon and her husband, David Winters suggested the development of e-magazines for these activities, similar to what had been created for Kurt’s works with Namaste Publishing, the publisher of The Power of Now, A New Earth, and Kurt’s The Coming Interspiritual Age.
Thus was born The Convergence magazine, whose first issue was about the Altruism conferences with David Sloan Wilson. When The Convergence became a recognized magazine, and became more identified as a sacred activism publication, Karuna, Shannon, and colleagues suggested the need for something just on spiritual practice and inspired lifestyles. This evolved into Light on Light magazine. The secret to Light on Light’s success has been that each issue focuses on a theme with content related to spiritual practices and inspired lifestyles that can be applied in every day life—crossing all pathways and world wisdom traditions, a truly interspiritual publication—and readership expanded rapidly. Also aiding that was our partnering with major leaders and organizations, like the global events of UNITY EARTH, to tell their story., as well as, nearly 80 “Evolutionary Leaders” who have contributed to issues of the magazine.
ISD and the Future
In 2019 ISD Inc. was re-formed based on an outstanding Board Resolution from Br. Wayne’s time to recreate ISD’s structure and activities to fit the time. With Light on Light Magazine thriving and with plans for special programs to be developed by all three editors—Karuna, Kurt and Shannon—ISD seemed the perfect foundation for support of both the magazine and these special upcoming programs, which you will read more about on this website. Also, with the strong Vedic/Shaivite foundation represented by ISD’s founders and mentors—H. H. the Dalai Lama, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Br. Wayne Teasdale, Fr. Thomas Keating and the Sannyas of the Saraswati Order of India, ISD can credibly support and innovate programs across the whole world of yoga, spiritual practice and lifestyle (see “Events and Programs”).
We also plan to serve the thought leader community by continuing and expanding The Convergence magazine from Light on Light, and the interfaith community by publication of Waking Up, Growing Up, Cleaning Up, Showing Up, Linking Up and Lifting Up, a book on transformational change assembled with nearly 100 interfaith and thought leaders for, and at, the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions.
The Growing Edge of Interspirituality by Kurt Johnson in The Interfaith Observer 2018
Interfaith Observer interview with Kurt Johnson and David Ord on the book, The Coming Interspiritual Age
Pioneers in Hindu-Christian Spirituality—Merton, Griffiths and Teasdaleby Kurt Johnson, Robert Toth and Adam Bucko in The Interfaith Observer
Spirituality in the 21st Century—Editorial on Johnson and Teasdale in The Interfaith Observer
The Dawn of Interspirituality Conference 2013 in The Interfaith Observer
Interfaith Seminaries Chart New Territory, by Kurt Johnson and Diane Berke, in The Interfaith Observer
Tension in Barcelona: the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions, by The Interspiritual Dialogue, in Kosmos Journal
Recent Major Shifts in Science and Religion, by Kurt Johnson, in Kosmos Journal
A Spirituality for the 21st Century: Inevitabilities and Possibilities, by Kurt Johnson and David Robert Ord, in Kosmos Journal
Interspirituality—Evolving Toward Cooperation, by Kurt Johnson in Kosmos Journal
Further Integrating Integral, by Kurt Johnson and David Sloan Wilson, in the Integral Leadership Review
Mature Interspirituality: Wayne Teasdale’s Nine Elements and Beyond, 2017, Sacred Feet Publishing. In 2017, through her Sacred Feet publishing imprint and, as Editor, Swami Shraddhananda published Mature Interspirituality: Wayne Teasdale’s Nine Elements and Beyond, featuring multiple authors from the interspiritual community and The Community of The Mystic Heart’s first residential retreat, also hosted by her in Kentucky. The book was met with widespread praise and endorsement.
Additional Website Resources
ISDNA’s website includes many photos and links, to all of Br. Wayne Teasdale’s writings available online.
The Coming Interspiritual Age website includes a photo archive of the world’s renowned Interspiritual Pioneers.
The Interspiritual Multiplex created nearly twenty years ago by Br. Wayne Teasdale and associates is available online.
The Interspiritual Network’s website is preserved for historical reference.