Knowing that SGTI just completed its first residential institute in Chicago, we thought you might like to hear OUR thoughts on this extraordinary experience. "What were the highlights for you?" people have asked us. So here are our answers.
Listen and enjoy! (14 min.)
Co-Founders, Spiritual Guidance Training Institute
SGTI at the Midwest Buddhist Temple, Chicago, IL
There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
Participating in interfaith/interreligious work is harder than it looks. This is precisely what Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva addressed last fall at Chicago Theological Seminary. At the convocation, Rabbi Dr. Mikva explored some of the difficulties of engaging in interfaith/interreligious work and relationships by asking important and provocative questions. I am writing about her address nearly 11 months later because it was one that influenced me personally, as well as professionally, with the conception of The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.
Five points were discussed that supported the thesis that interfaith work is more difficult than at first glance. One overarching question that Mikva asks is, “Who gets to say who is included?” She suggests that interreligious discussion can be exclusive when its focus is on religion, leaving out those practicing or exploring spirituality and ethics.
Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva began with a discourse on Christian privilege in the interreligious sphere. For the most part, the Christians who host a gathering are the ones who control the agenda. Christians have also tended to receive grants, allowing them to fund their institution while others do not have access to the same resources. Theonormativity (a social assumption that belief in God is proper) is a barrier that excludes groups like secular humanists and others. As a result, the theistic, global, hierarchical religions promote western hegemony.
Second, there is a growing complexity of politics of representation. For example, individuals who practice in spiritual and ethical traditions may not identify as “religious”, yet may identify as interspiritual. Most often, it is the individuals who make meaning within their tradition; some Buddhists say they have a faith, while others don’t use the language of faith.
Third, interfaith/interreligious work does not stand alone, but is a part of a system of overlapping and intersecting social identities. A Spanish-speaking rabbi has his unique social, cultural and theological experience and offers unique interpretations of scripture.
Fourth, “the world weighs heavy”. There are hot-button issues in the social, political, theological, spiritual, scientific, and legal arenas that complicate the motivations of people wanting to do good will. For example, LGBTQ inclusion can serve as a barrier to different groups working harmoniously.
Fifth, the concept of claiming a tradition and being accountable to one another is complicated. When interfaith groups come together, how does one claim what is important in their tradition when it may be the very thing that offends someone else in a different tradition? What do healthy boundaries look like in interfaith/interreligious work and relationships?
A few compelling solutions were offered that I believe promote healing and community among traditions. Rachel Mikva suggests that we need neutral spaces for religious study to occur; we need to learn from, not just about, others who are different than us; we need to focus on more than others’ differences in order to understand our own traditions; we need to be cautious to not say things like “this religions states…” and “that religions believes…” because interfaith/interreligious work is ultimately about people.
Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD
The monthly newsletter offered by The Graduate Theological Foundation features this article: "Spiritual Guidance Training Institute Launches First Cohort in Chicago."
We are delighted to be featured in this way by our PRIME partner in inter-religious eduction.
SGTI's first Residential Institute in Chicago is now complete and we offer a hearty congratulations to our first cohort for their contributions and efforts. We will gather again with this group in April 2018. For now, our distance learning continues characterized by individual study, one-on-one mentoring, Zoom teachings and peer group experience, interviews with experts in the field, and more.
Our students came from many walks of life. This cohort boasted a teacher/mentor of teachers, a contemplative scientist, a yoga teacher, a spiritual activist, and a Protestant pastor—a truly interfaith/interspiritual collective.
Their early evaluations of our time together reflected their appreciation of:
• Sangha—spiritual practice and support in community
• Deeper understanding of what spiritual guidance is and how it works; learning the early skills of the practice so they can begin companioning others as "Associate Spiritual Guides"
• How to hold presence for and listen to others from a heart space
• Their own spiritual values and chosen practices
For us, these dedicated individuals embody the spirit of compassionate presence so needed in the world today. We are excited to see where this journey takes them in their own communities and circles of care.
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living,
we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
Richard Rohr, OSF
We tend to compartmentalize our lives into spiritual and non-spiritual. We may think that our inner life is separate from, even superior to, our daily life. In reality, it's all the same thing. Everything is spiritual. Everything.
Each human encounter invites us to more; to look at how well we are embodying the spiritual values we claim to hold dear; how well we are walking our spiritual talk—actually being the spiritual persons we claim ourselves to be. In fact, it is within the context of human relationship that we'll learn the most about ourselves.
Living in the "real" world—going to work or school, being partnered, having kids, living in a neighborhood--is how we come to know ourselves as divinely-sourced, but thoroughly human beings. We intend to love fully, yet close our hearts in anger. We preach generosity, but hold tight to our purses when we spot a homeless person on the street corner.
The truth is, we are perfectly imperfect and, because we are, life offers us one opportunity after another to grow. As marvelous as it might sound, framed in this way, every human being can be a teacher to us. Being in relationship is how we develop and grow into the people we are meant to be in the heart and mind of God.
1. Do you have a tendency to see your inner life as separate from your daily life of duties and human interaction? Do you see your inner life as sacred and your “regular” life as secular, even profane?
2. What is the one area of your daily life or your relationship life that is causing you the most difficulty right now? Consider that, right now, this arena holds your greatest spiritual invitation. It is where the Spirit is nudging you to grow.
3. Acknowledging this invitation, what is the Divine nudging you toward right now? To be more loving or kind? Generous or forgiving? Courageous or faithful? Name the “virtue of the spirit” that is beckoning you to wholeness, to integration, so that your outer life reflects your inner life.
Everything we experience in life is sacred because everything that happens to us is laden with holy purpose: to help us take a deeper look at how we are living in the world.
©2015, Janice. Lundy. Excerpted from My Deepest Me: A 30-Day Guided Journey
This post was originally published on the blog of Spiritual Directors International. SGTI's co-director, Jan Lundy, shares her favorite quotes on listening and explores the significance of listening within the spiritual direction/guidance relationship.
One of our passions is collecting and sharing snippets of "Universal Wisdom." Recognizing the sacred threads of truth that run through all of the world's spiritual traditions of the world can open the doors of perception, understanding and
Each week we select a key passage and concept of universal wisdom from a global tradition or spiritual luminary and send it out to a list of subscribers. Have you received yours yet? You may subscribe here and view a sample below.
In the words of Bede Griffiths in his book titled, Universal Wisdom: A Journey through the Sacred Wisdom of the World, "In each religion therefore we can trace the development of a comparatively simple and unsophisticated religion into a subtle and complex system of philosophy, which shows a remarkable unity underlying all the differences."
When you subscribe to "Universal Wisdom," you will receive one inspiring message each week. May you savor and enjoy the wisdom of the ages. SUBSCRIBE
I had the privilege of being interviewed by Kenny Brixey of "Life's ToolBox" on Empower radio about SGTI and the topic of spiritual guidance.
We discussed some important questions:
What is spiritual guidance?
What is the importance of spiritual guidance in someone's life?
Can we ever serve as our own spiritual guide?
Can we be a spiritual guide for others?
"Now more than ever we could all use guidance in our lives. Understanding that guidance, how it works and where to find it are all keys to living a life that is in alignment with our greatest good. We do not have to rely on our own efforts and struggle along trying to make things fit in our lives. With spiritual guidance, we have a loving guide. We need only tune into it." ~ Kenny Brixey
Submitted by Janice L. Lundy
Listen to the broadcast here. (25 min.)
In Dr. John Morgan's book, The New Paradigm in Ministry Education: A Radical Philosophy of Collaboration, Dr. Morgan outlines the myths that have pervaded academia and which have ultimately produced individuals who have paid their tuition and served their school, rather than having the experiences of being served by the school. He suggests that educational institutions have spent so many resources on the grounds, library, and sports complexes that they have not been "freed up to concentrate" on what the institution ought to be in the first place: education.
Dr. Morgan advocates for educational institutions to offer the student opportunities to create their own programs that are based on the unique context from their professional sphere, rather than completing a checklist of university-deemed requirements that may or may not align with real and current needs. His solution is to facilitate multi-institutional collaboration where students can create a program based on their discernment of what courses and experiences are most valuable to them. This kind of institution becomes student and learning-based very much akin to Paolo Freire's model of education as liberation. Freire believed in informed and value-based action that leads to emancipation—from the self and oppressed systems.
The Spiritual Guidance Training Institute is honored to collaborate with The Graduate Theological Foundation, the educational institution of which Dr. John Morgan served as president and is a longtime faculty member. Participants in the SGTI certification program may fulfill all of a master's degree in Pastoral Counseling and all but a project (or non-project) for a doctor of ministry degree. You can read more here: http://www.gtfeducation.org/about-the-gtf/the-spiritual-guidance-training-institute.cfm
At the SGTI, we value justice and peace that promote the healing and transformation of people through spiritual guidance and friendship. We believe that through deep listening, curiosity, hospitality, respect, and compassionate action, we can "inter-be" with family, friends, and strangers, as well as all living and non-living things. Our hope is that our educational model promotes the freedom to make choices that work for the inter-connectedness and betterment of our world.
Jeanette Banashak, PhD, EdD
Co-founders and directors of SGTI share their thoughts on how important spiritual guidance is in today's world as our religious affiliations continue to shift and change. Drs. Banaskak and Lundy discuss spiritual guidance and the emerging need for genuine hospitality and deep spiritual care to foster understanding in diverse communities. They also emphasize the importance of professional training in spiritual guidance because of this need.
Listen to the podcast. Enjoy! (18 min.)
Have you listened to our earlier podcast?
Listen in on the conversation. "What is Spiritual Guidance?"
About this blog
Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance across traditions.
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