Br. David and Ken open this dialogue by discussing Br. David’s book, Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day. Br. David explains how after so many decades of Christian contemplative practice he has developed a profound appreciation for how the hours of the day and the seasons of the year are connected to sacred moments and sacred realizations.
Ken comments that Spirit has many beautiful aspects that different people resonate with, and Br. David responds by saying that the aspect that has become the theme of his life is gratefulness, or Great Fullness. Addressing this Great Fullness in the context of contemplative prayer, Br. David begins by saying that prayer is simply the opening of one’s heart to the mystery we are confronted with, and that this opening is a natural manifestation of sincere gratitude. If we harbor preconceived notions of what we will be grateful for, says Br. David, we may be thankful, but we are not actually grateful.
Here Ken points out that gratitude can function as a bridge between traditions. For example, the equanimity of the Buddhist tradition, often known as the “mirror mind”—the perfect reflection of all that is arising moment to moment—is so utterly peaceful that it tends to appear devoid of the overflowing of love that is so prominent in the Christian tradition. But situated between love and equanimity is gratitude, and both Christians and Buddhists share a deep gratitude for what is simply given in each moment, and it is in this Great Fullness of the heart that the traditions can meet.
In closing, Br. David and Ken discuss how, in order for a person to realize equanimity in terms of loving all that arises and of genuinely embodying the Great Fullness that is gratitude, he or she must learn to listen with an infinitely silent ear. This ear, says Br. David, is actually the innermost Heart, or that which is the common center of all creation, flowing through all forms as its own manifestation.
We hope you enjoy this exchange between two friends who beautifully embody the gentle practice of gratitude through the endearing mutual appreciation they demonstrate in this dialogue….
Written by Corey deVos
About David Steindl-Rast
Brother David Steindl-Rast has been a practicing Benedictine monk for over half a century and was one of the first Vatican-sanctioned delegates to participate in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He is a recipient of the Martin Buber Award, and serves as a senior member of the Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, New York.
About Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.