Alexandra mann beitrag

World Monastery – Encounter through Attachment

Spirituality as a bridge between religions

Author: Alexandra Mann
Category: Theology
Issue No: 93

Following Frido Mann’s contribution “Thomas Mann’s Relationship to Religion”, the pluralistically oriented Weltkloster network feels committed to an expansion of the concept of “applied religion”. With the supporting association once founded in Radolfzell on Lake Constance and the “Weltkloster Dialogue Concept” developed there over many years, the Weltkloster would like to make a contribution to advancing the necessary exchange between religious traditions, cultures and belief systems and to shaping it constructively and salutary for the benefit of societies.

Starting from the assumption that before the possibility of a change of man towards an ethically and humanistically shaped attitude of mind, there is a basic religious attitude that still has to be interpreted (Thomas Mann, 1947: “What is necessary first of all is a change of the spiritual climate, a new feeling for the difficulty and nobility of being human, an all-pervading, if you like, religious basic attitude. “), it is both the concern and the task of our institution to demonstrate the far-reaching dimensions of spiritual life and spiritual training in the realm of monastic, spiritual traditions.

Meeting of representatives of different religions: Dialogue of experience in the Archabbey of St. Ottilien © Weltkloster

Monasteries and religious orders as founders of interreligious dialogue

This means, in particular, supporting monasteries as well as traditionally religious centers of different religions in East and West to be able to authentically pass on and preserve their spiritual heritage developed over centuries/ millennia to the next generations – also to make it fruitful for an urgently needed discourse in the field of increasing religious resentment and cultural alienation. Furthermore, we face challenges that we will hardly be able to cope with well without resilience training and empathy training. Concepts such as that of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), adopted from Buddhist traditions by molecular biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn and made available to the public, have increasingly brought the positive influences of contemplative practice and behavioral patterns conducive to inner and outer peace into societies and have already been integrated into behavioral therapy approaches. These methods of wholesome spiritual training are considered, not least, to be effective counterparts to the development of destructive emotions and extreme fundamentalist attitudes that exclude and degrade the other as not equal. It can be emphasized here that ideologically extremist reactions today go beyond the time-honored power struggles of religious institutions.

Tiebeti monk and Benedictine during common spiritual practice © World Monastery

Thus, embedded in a larger context, we would like to contribute to solutions to current problems by establishing cross-religious references that equally include monastic, contemplative and meditative pillars and practices of different religions – in the sense of an orientation and help for life that has an impact on society. This intention is based not least on the fact that it was above all religious who played a central role in advancing interreligious exchange for many decades. This can be seen, for example, in the works of pioneers such as Thomas Merton OCSO (Ordre Cistercien de la Stricte Observance = Cistercians of Strict Observance) or Henri Le Saux OSB (Ordo Sancti Benedicti = Order of Saint Benedict), Swami Vivekananda, founder of the Ramakrishna Order, or the 14th Dalai Lama, member of the Order of Saint Benedict. Dalai Lama, member of the Tibetan Gelug tradition, as well as in the formation of organizations such as the committee DIM/MID (Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue), which is run by the Benedictines as a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and has been promoting exchange programs between monks and nuns of the different religions – especially on the level of their own inner experience – for about 50 years.

The aim is not only to look at and analyze the foreign and different from one’s own horizon of interpretation.

Rather, an awareness of inner connectedness is to be created through the communal contemplation and sharing of different techniques of deepening, the common silence as well as the discussion of content.

About the author : Alexandra Mann

Alexandra Mann M. A., chairwoman and managing director of the supporting association Weltkloster e. V., studied comparative religious studies, philosophy and historical ethnology in Frankfurt/Main. During several research stays in India, she accompanied, among others, the project “Science meets Dharma” under the patronage of the 14th Dalai Lama in the rebuilt Tibetan monastic exile university Sera Jey Monastery.

This article appeared originally on the German Homepage of Tattva Viveka: Weltkloster – Begegnungen durch Verbundenheit

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