Brother Wayne Teasdale

Brother Wayne Teasdale

Brother Wayne Teasdale, a founding member of the Spirituality branch of Integral Institute, was a tireless spokesperson for the practical power of spiritual realization. A personal friend of the Dalai Lama, Teasdale has been a key figure in the interfaith movement, and through books like The Mystic Heart and A Monk in the World has brought contemplative spirituality—and the selfless service that stems from it—into common discourse.

Raised in a Catholic family in Connecticut, Teasdale's spiritual calling began on a warm summer's eve in his early childhood when, awed by the infinite expanse of stars in the night sky, he realized he would grow up to be a priest. And while his early years were full of faith and optimism, the tumultuous sixties challenged his belief in the goodness of God and plunged him into a three-year-long “dark night of the soul.”

Yet it was in the midst of this period that Teasdale enrolled in a small Catholic college in New Hampshire associated with St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where Father Thomas Keating was serving as abbot. Through his attendance at Keating's contemplative retreats for laypeople, the mystical dimension of his life opened up, and the two remained good friends up until Teasdale's passing away.

In 1973, Teasdale dedicated himself to his spiritual practice with renewed intensity, and that same year struck up a correspondence with Father Bede Griffiths, the British-born Benedictine innovator who drew on Eastern meditative paths to enrich Christianity's tradition of charity and selfless service. Teasdale would soon spend two years at Griffiths's ashram in southern India where he learned the ways of Christian sannyasa and bore witness to the pressing realities of overpopulation and environmental destruction. Upon taking vows of renunciation under Griffiths, he dedicated himself to a life of simplicity, service, and interspirituality.

The holder of an M.A. in philosophy from St. Joseph College and a Ph.D. in theology from Fordham University, Teasdale taught as an adjunct at DePaul University, Columbia College, and the Catholic Theological Union, and served as coordinator for the Bede Griffiths International Trust. He was also a member of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and helped draft their Universal Declaration on Nonviolence, and served on the board of trustees of the Parliament of the World's Religions. Through these important and diverse activities, Teasdale exemplified Christianity's most important contribution to the world: an ethic of social service grounded in Love. He spent his final days living a life of engaged monasticism in Chicago.

Brother Wayne Teasdale died of cancer on October 20, 2004, at the age of 59. We are honored to have walked with Brother Wayne, a true monk in the world, and to share his exquisite vision of the mystic heart. In the words of the Canticle of Simeon, from the Christian Night Prayer:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;

your word has been fulfilled;

my own eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared in the sight of every people;

a light to reveal you to the nations

and the glory of your people, Israel.

Brother Wayne's Body of Work:

(2003) Hermitage of the Heart: Contemplative Practices from Hundred Acres Monastery (audio cassette)

(2003) Bede Griffiths: An Introduction to His Interspiritual Thought

(2002) A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life (foreword by Ken Wilber)

(2001) The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions (foreword by the Dalai Lama)

(1996) The Community of Religions: Voices and Images of the Parliament of the World's Religions (edited with George F. Cairns)

(1987) Toward a Christian Vedanta: the Encounter of Hinduism and Christianity According to Bede Griffiths

(1982) Essays on Mysticism


Monday, October 4, 2004

In this discussion, Brother Wayne explores the secular, rational-scientific attempt to explain (away) the mystical experience, and some of the problems inherent in that approach. In particular, he challenges the scientific community to look at the "anomalies" of human experience the materialist perspective simply can't account for. As the conversation continues, it becomes apparent that one can't argue merely the primacy of matter or consciousness without running into severe theoretical problems. So far, it seems that an integral approach most adequately honors and incorporates the truths of both domains. But, as Ken points out, "Materialism is vastly winning the day," and so the playing field at large is certainly in need of rebalancing. The theoretical merit of this dialogue is first rate, and if you've never heard a Catholic monk telling a dirty joke, you've got to hear this one....

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In this dialogue series, Brother Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber discuss the advent of an integral mysticism in the postmodern world. Reflecting on their own spiritual experiences, the relation of science to spirituality, the lives of the great inter-spiritual pioneers, and how youth culture is revitalizing the mystical traditions, Brother Wayne and Ken show how an integral perspective can bring the revelations of mysticism into everyday life. In so doing, we learn to give fullest expression—as parents and professionals, students and seekers—to the Mystic Heart in each of us.