John Ruusbroec, nondual Christian mystic

John Ruusbroec, nondual Christian mystic

My friend Ellen recently asked me on Facebook to define nondualism for her. I referred her to a post I wrote on the subject last summer called Nonduality in the Bible… and Us. Not much to add to that post, but I though I’d offer a short list of books that explore nonduality within a Christian context. These books  come from a variety of perspectives, so read with a thinking mind and a discerning heart.

  1. Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See — Probably the single most accessible introduction to nonduality within a Christian context. Rohr offers down-to-earth, easily accessible reflections on why the Christian life is about a new way of seeing — where “everything belongs.”
  2. Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—A New Perspective on Christ and His Message — My understanding of metanoia as “attaining nondual consciousness comes from Bourgeault, whose vision of Jesus as a “wisdom teacher” is deeply contemplative, mystical, and nondual.
  3. John Ruusbroec, The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works — Meister Eckhart is generally considered to be the greatest of the nondual Christian mystics, but I  follow Evelyn Underhill in considering Ruusbroec, who lived a generation after Eckhart, as being more accessible while as daring in his vision. Eckhart was condemned as a heretic, whereas Ruusbroec has been beatified. Go figure. Anyway, this is an excellent example of Christian nonduality from the middle ages.
  4. Sara Grant, R.S.C.J., Toward an Alternative Theology: Confessions of a Non-Dualist Christian — Grant, a Scottish Catholic nun, lived in India and lived and prayed  alongside such luminaries as Bede Griffiths and Abhishiktananda. In these lectures she details how Advaita (nondual) Vedanta influenced her faith as a Christian.
  5. A Monk of the West, Christianity and the Doctrine of Non-Dualism — An anonymous Cistercian penned this theological treatise which affirms the possibility of fruitful and meaningful interspirituality between Christianity and Advaita Vedanta.
  6. Bruno Barnhart, The Future of Wisdom: Toward a Rebirth of Sapiential Christianity — Barnhart is Bourgeault’s mentor and a Camaldolese hermit. This book looks not only at east-west dialogue but also Christianity’s dialogue with modernity and postmodernity to articulate a new vision for nondual wisdom.
  7. James Charlton, Non-Dualism in Eckhart, Julian of Norwich and Traherne — This one is brand new and I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, but based on its Amazon page it looks pretty interesting. My link takes you to the Kindle edition, which is far less expensive than the academically-priced hardback.

Of course, these seven titles are offered just as a way to whet your appetite. If you want to explore nondualism further, especially within a Christian context, then consider the writings of Meister Eckhart, Thomas Keating, Martin Laird, Michael Casey, Raimon Panikkar, Bede Griffiths, Abhishiktananda, Maggie Ross… the list could go on and on.

If you know of any other books that explore nondual awareness from a Christian perspective, please post a comment below and share your thoughts.

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