Recently, certain similarity in the attitudes of religious experience of different traditions appealed to me. I saw an older video recording of a brief instruction, in which at that time relatively young Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh was introducing a group of people to walking meditation. He suggested they should walk slowly as if they were the happiest people on Earth – as if the Pure Land had already become reality in them.
The other day I was reading a passage from The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:7–8a), where Jeremiah, in the name of God, provokes joy, singing aloud with gladness and exultation. After the first words of the appeal, we would expect that this is the way to celebrate the end of some tribulation, but it follows from the sequel that the prophet appeals to joy not for what has already happened, but for what God yet promises.
Both approaches take seriously spiritual experience. The touch of transcendence, which both proponents have personally experienced, is offered to others as a possibility of openness for transcendent goodness and beauty, which can transform them and the world around them. Not as a technical guide, but as an attitude, in which we can prepare ourselves for such an experience that is not fully at our disposal and that, in these traditions, is referred to as the Pure Land, the Promised Land or the Kingdom of God.
These aspects of spirituality can also be found in this issue of Spirituality Studies. The interview with William Skudlarek and the Mark Graceffo article directly deal with the dialogue between different religious traditions. Texts of Mike Sosteric and Sandó Kaisen are, in turn, a similar challenge to openness for spiritual experience as Thich Nhat Hanh’s and Jeremiah’s exhorts.
I wish to you, dear readers, that reading of this issue would help you not only to understand academically the aspect of spiritual experience, but also to contribute to your greater openness for transcendent hope, to a possibility to be happier people.
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