When people learn about OUnI for the first time, they often have questions. We have tried to address the most common ones here but if you have an additional inquiry, please do hesitate to contact us.
What is “Interfaith?”
In keeping with the definitions approved in August 2009 by the Board of Directors of the Council of Interfaith Communities of the United States, the term “Interfaith” is now used to refer to:
- spiritual practices that promote dialogue between religions;
- worship and service based on the rites, beliefs and practices of the world’s religions and new revelations as they are revealed;
- shared worship and community building between spiritual people from a variety of faith paths and traditions; and
- all other activities that have been described through terms such as “multifaith,” “interspiritual,” “intrareligious,” “transpath,” and “omnispiritual.”
What is Universal Interfaith?
When there is only one individual, there is only one religion. Interfaith comes when there are two (or more) individuals entering into a discussion or relationship, hence the initials for Universal Interfaith are “UnI” pronounced “You and I.” According to UnI principles, all religions and spiritual perspectives are deserving of validation, reverence and respect as long as they encourage compassion and do no harm or disrespect others. UnI does not call upon us to ignore our differences but rather to respect them and to realize that each faith tradition calls us to love and be loving.
Universal Interfaith is a way of viewing the world’s different religious communities as part of a greater whole. The basic principle of UnI is that our spirituality is a fundamental part of who we are as individuals and as members of humanity. Every person is given a unique spiritual “seed” that is a gift from the Divine and that must be discovered, accepted and nurtured. Our encounters with the sacred are deeply personal and may even change at different times and different places in our lives. Universal Interfaith does not seek to discover which religion or spiritual path is “right” but instead encourages education about a variety of faith traditions so that each person can enjoy and be nurtured by the many different visions of the Divine.
What is “Interspirituality?”
Brother Wayne Teasdale, a Catholic monk, author and teacher, coined the word “Interspirituality” in his 1999 book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions. He defines Interspirituality as “the common heritage of humankind’s spiritual wisdom; the sharing of mystical resources across traditions; the inter-subjective discussion about what humankind is experiencing; and the movement of these discussions to the experience of Oneness.”
What is “Integral Spirituality?”
“Integral Spirituality” was first articulated by American philosopher and visionary Ken Wilber in his seminal work Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Integral Spirituality is an all-inclusive philosophical framework that draws on the key insights of the world’s religious traditions while including the revolutions in science and culture. The awareness gained from drawing on all truths and faith perspectives allows the Integral thinker to bring new depth, clarity and compassion to every level of human endeavor — from unlocking individual potential to finding new approaches to global-scale problems. There are many different “flavors” of Integral Spirituality based on the initial faith path that the practitioner was walking in life. There is even an evolving “Universal Integral Spirituality” that calls for one to walk multiple paths and/or in the common elements of all the world’s religions.
Why does the movement use so many terms (e.g. Interfaith, Interspiritual, Integral) to describe itself?
At the first conference to define the theology and spirituality of the movement, the BIG I Conference for Inclusive Theology, Spirituality and Consciousness, co-founder of OUnI Rev. Tim Miner explained that labels — nouns and isms — are often the great dividers of humans. Consequently, it was decided that we needed inclusive adjectives to describe our spiritual work in the world. OUnI and the greater movement attempt use a variety of terms to gather together everyone who wants to work for a “unity consciousness” and a sense of spiritual oneness.
What does it cost to join OUnI?
OUnI is not a membership organization that individuals can simply join. It is a religious society and ecclesiastical organization for clergy who take vows and pledge to the values of interfaith spirituality as a lifestyle and a goal that will bring peace and harmony among people around the world. OUnI receives its operating funds from grants and donations from those who support its spiritual work in the world.
Are OUnI clergy required to give up their own religious beliefs?
No, OUnI clergy are not obligated to give up their own religious beliefs. However, according to the third point in the OUnI Declaration of Faith, all OUnI clergy must vow to help individuals walk the path they were meant to walk — not the path that the clergy walks, nor the path that others may think the individual should walk. We offer everyone, including our clergy, the chance to be their own authentic spiritual person.