Volume XII:1 January - June 2022
Interreligious Seminar on
The Contemplative Dimension of Life
The Italian Commission of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue was one of the sponsors and organizers of an interreligious seminar on "The Contemplative Dimension of Life. Meditation in the Buddhist, Christian and Hindu Traditions.” The seminar was held at  the Aurelia Convention Center in Rome on May 7, 2022. Among the one-hundred or so participants were representatives of the Italian commission of DIM•MID.
The seminar, which had been postponed for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, was the culmination of several years of dialogue that the National Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Italian Bishops' Conference has had with members of the Italian Buddhist Union and the Italian Hindu Union.
An important and welcome fruit of interreligious dialogue is the deepening of mutual knowledge, and with it, the humble recognition of the ignorance that the followers of one spiritual tradition have of other religious paths. All of us - Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists - certainly recognize that there is much we do not know about the meaning and place of meditation in a spiritual tradition different from our own. We therefore feel called to serious and in-depth discussion of the practice of meditation, aware that it lies at the heart of our different spiritual paths. Furthermore, those who are seriously committed to contemplative practice are able to engage in a deeper level of interreligious dialogue. Listening to presentations on the methods and practices of meditation that have been developed by different religious traditions over the course of centuries—and that must now be rediscovered and reappropriated—makes it possible to enter into exchanges that are respectful and fruitful and to investigate the ways in which other ways of meditating can enrich own practice.
As can be seen from the program, after the formal opening of the session and greetings from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and other sponsoring and supporting institutionsFather Alberto Cozzi, a Catholic theologian from Milan, gave an introductory presentation on the framework and climate in which reflection on the contemplative dimension of life can become a place for interfaith encounter. To this “overture,” a Buddhist and a Hindu offered two brief and complementary “counterpoints.”
The seminar then proceeded with a morning session devoted to Buddhist meditation, and two afternoon sessions, one on Christian, the other on Hindu meditation. In each session there were three talks dealing with the nature, means, and purposes of meditation in a particular tradition. Distinguished scholars, spiritual masters, monks of traditional orders, and recognized practitioners described the different methods and age-old practices of meditation and contemplation that are specific to each of the three spiritual paths.
The day closed with a concluding talk by Sister Maria De Giorgi MMX, a theologian who has been living in an interreligious setting in Japan and reflecting on the encounter of Christianity with Buddhism for many years. The purpose of her presentation was twofold: to offer a synthetic look at the content of today’s seminar and to reflect on how we might further develop this theme, especially from a theological and spiritual perspective.
We are well aware that in our contemporary social and religious context meditation practices from different traditions are becoming more familiar. On the part of Christians, there is a growing interest in and adoption of Eastern meditation practices. This development invites everyone, but especially Christians, to confident discernment that is open and free, but at the same time, prudent and informed.
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