The Infinite Within: Who We Are And What We Are Called To Be
An innovative online conference committed to the infinite potential of divine energy pervading cosmos, ecology, and culture—an overabundance of creative love within, capable of saving ourselves and our planet from our many 21st century challenges.
Our plan for Conference 2020 is to offer a combination of recorded and live online programming, including plenary presentations, speaker panels, contemplative prayer practice, discussion rooms, and workshops. The conference will take place over four days (Friday – Tuesday) with the longest days being limited to four hours. Most programming will take place Friday evening, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, with optional workshops then available for signup on either Monday or Tuesday, based on registrant preference.
All scheduled events are in the EST USA (UTC/GMT-4) timezone.
Friday Night, December 4th, from 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Saturday, December 5th, from 12:45pm to 5:15pm
Sunday December 6th, from from 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Monday, December 7th, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm; or,
Tuesday, December 8th, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm
All plenary sessions will be recorded and available to all registrants after the event.
Individual recordings of workshops will be only available to those registered for each specific date and time.
Ilia Delio: “Evolution and Infinite Potential: Why We Cannot Rest Until We Rest In God”
Biological evolution shows an irrepressible urge to transcend toward greater consciousness and complexity. Mechanistic explanations alone fail to satisfy this urge. Teilhard de Chardin recognized a hidden power in evolution, an ultimate source of vitality, urging life onward, which he identified as the power of God-Omega. The trinitarian matrix of divine, human and cosmic realities marks life in the universe as a cosmotheandric whole. With the insights of Karl Rahner and Teilhard de Chardin, I will explore what it means to be human in cosmotheandric evolution and discuss transhumanism and posthumanism in light of the irresistible desire to transcend.
Barbara Brown Taylor: “The Luminous Dark: Cosmic Unity in Troubled Times “
God’s creation is an infinite web of relationship, flung across the vastness of space like a luminous web. Yet in times like these, with every day’s headlines bringing more bad news, it’s important to remember that the divine Presence blooms in darkness as well as light. In this talk, Barbara Brown Taylor will explore the possibility of the “luminous dark,” suggesting that what we most need is often in the unlit places where we least want to go.
Rami Shapiro: “Perennial Wisdom and Holy Rascals: Realizing Infinite Oneness through Practice, Play, and Protest”
All life is a manifesting of a dynamic non–dual Aliveness known by many names: Tao, Mother, Brahman, God, Allah, YHVH, Nature, Dharmakaya, and others. This one reality is the source and substance of all creation: every single thing in the universe is a manifestation of the divine. The toxicity of our time—personal, interpersonal, political, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, social, economic, and environmental—stems from ignorance regarding this fundamental nature of reality and our place in it.
Awakening to Aliveness calls us to being a blessing to all the families of the earth, human and otherwise. We humans can achieve this awakening through contemplative practice, but we are also called to become “holy rascals”—spiritual culture jammers who use humor, play, creativity, and critical thinking to reveal the human origins of religions and live in the world as a liberating force of justice, compassion, and joy. While our task is serious―the liberation of humanity from the madness of unhealthy and harmful religions and religious beliefs―our attitude must be playful and lighthearted, creative and truly “infinite.”
Catherine Keller: “The ‘Unfinished’ Within: Entangled Becomings “
As the Infinite signifies at once the not-finite and the unfinished (infini), how does it unfold amidst our present crises of finitude? Might the explicatio (unfolding)/implicatio (enfolding) theocosm of the 15th century Nicholas of Cusa, along with early 20th century philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s “immanence of infinitude in the finite,” help to illumine a pathway within our pressured planetary entanglements? Can a mystically deepened cosmology help to emancipate our civilization from false infinites of power, growth and resources?
Cynthia Bourgeault: “Lessons from Teilhard in a Time of Pandemic”
If we really paid attention to the Teilhardian roadmap—ALL of it—we would be able to find our collective bearings in a much more creative and courageous way. This talk will build on five stipulations, foundational to Teilhardian metaphysics, that paint a radically different and more hopeful (yet more demanding) understanding of our current planetary crisis: Keeping Deep Time; Surrendering to the Whole; Trusting Interdependence; Committing to the Biosphere; and Contemplating the Christic Epicenter.
Our only way forward unfolds from Teilhard’s germinal vision that evolution, seen over the long arc as an irreversible “rise in consciousness,” is supremely under the reins of Christ, drawing us collectively toward the Omega Point. We will explore these five Teilhardian assertions, draw out their implications for our present situation, then explore the final point together in a collective practice of Centering Prayer.
Achievement Award Lecture
John F. Haught: “Einstein and Teilhard: A Conversation”
This presentation imagines a conversation between Teilhard de Chardin and his contemporary Albert Einstein on the topics of time, mystery, God, and freedom. In spite of Einstein’s exceptional appreciation of the mystery of nature’s comprehensibility, he thought that everything that happens in the cosmos is determined by implacable physical regulations and the geometry of relativity so that no intelligible room remains for belief in a personal God, human freedom, or irreversible time. What would Teilhard have said in response?
Andrew Del Rossi: “Holding All Things Together: Nondual Consciousness and the Cosmic Christ in Spirituality, Psychology, and Science”
In a world seemingly driven toward greater division, bifurcation, and discord, the vision of mystic scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin provides wisdom into the inherent unity within the universe and in the Cosmic Christ in whom “all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17)
Though predominantly identified within Eastern spiritual traditions, nondualism is commonly addressed in Christianity as contemplation. Nondualism is typically understood as a level of consciousness in which an individual transcends the distinction of “I-other” and experiences a state of union with ultimate reality. By tuning in to this nondual “frequency” of awareness, one accesses content not normally perceived by the rational, thinking mind and its faculties.
This workshop will explore the connections between nondualism and Teilhard’s thought from several perspectives. Teilhard’s spirituality and theology of oneness in the Cosmic Christ are foundational for understandings of nondualism presented through psychology and science. Pioneering schools of psychotherapists are now seeking out and integrating the ancient wisdom of nondualism to allow clients a more expansive sense of Self in the quest for healing and wholeness. Meanwhile, the latest discoveries of science—particularly neuroscience and quantum physics—highlight the intricately interconnected and interdependent nature of both the brain and of the world around us.
Over the course of this two-hour session, we will take time to engage in discussion about experiences of nondual awareness, nondual practices, and strategies for integrating this consciousness into our lives.
Alison McCrary: “Incarnational Engagement with Justice Work to Create New Realities: Contemplative Activism, Holy Resistance, and Evolutionary Hope”
True contemplation requires a deep engagement with the world. What does a radical incarnation of God’s evolutionary love look like in public? How do we alchemize with each other to bring the energies within and around us to higher frequencies? What sustains us as we actively engage with the chaos and mystery of this time? This interactive workshop will explore: the sacramental value of acts of resistance and protest, how evolution informs our theories of social change, how to cultivate characteristics of contemplative activism, and how to transform our consciousness to evolve new realities aligned with divine mystery and love.
Margaret Mell: “Contemplative Creativity: Awaken Your Infinite Potential”
Contemplation is well known for its capacity to change the human brain and thereby support personal transformation. The creative arts also have these transformative qualities. Neuroscientific studies have revealed that artistic modalities activate the same brain areas as meditative and contemplative processes. Practiced together, creativity and contemplation can amplify your ability to awaken to your infinite potential.
In this workshop, we will briefly discuss the brain science behind this dynamic synergy of creativity and contemplation, followed by group practice of a variety of forms of meditation, contemplation, and creativity—followed by sharing our experiences. Through contemplative depth and artistic play, we will explore “the infinite within” and provide some takeaway techniques for use in your everyday life.
L.J. Milone: “Love and Nothingness: The Core of Contemplation”
Contemplation has to do with knowing and enjoying God as God, beyond all things. God is not a thing, but the infinite nothing. Meister Eckhart, the Cloud of Unknowing, John of the Cross all treat the theme of mystical nothingness and it’s centrality to the contemplative experience of God.
Quantum physics tells us that all matter arises from the quantum vacuum; If everything arises from the quantum vacuum, then perhaps everything is connected through the nothingness that is also dynamic fullness? Perhaps the undivided wholeness of existence unites with the Holy Mystery beyond existence by this creativity that is both fullness and nothingness? The teachings of the mystics converge with scientific advancements around the quantum vacuum and nothingness in general. This workshop will explore these questions and the teachings of the mystics through contemplative practice, teaching, and sacred discussion.
Rhonda Miska: “Evolutionary Consciousness in These Times: from Teilhard to Today and Tomorrow”
In this interactive session, we will explore together Teilhard’s vision from his vantage point in the first half of the twentieth century as well as some of the spiritual and social movements which deepen towards a more just and unified future. How do calls for justice from previously unheard voices challenge our understanding of the Gospel and of evolutionary consciousness? What work is ours to do as we listen to these voices and their call to deeper conversion? Finally, what are spiritual practices that sustain and fortify us in a time of crisis and change?
Mark Wallace: “Rewilding the Infinite Within”
One source of hope in our era of despair and anxiety is rediscovering our earthen natures through environmentally-themed ritual activities. These activities we can do on our own whether at home alone or in groups as members of larger collectives.
We will practice and discuss remotely two such activities in this workshop: sacred hoop ritual and zazen sitting meditation.
Through Earth-centered ritual, we will seek to bring together the hidden landscape of the heart with the outer landscape of the world around us and its many challenges: systemic racism, ongoing pandemic, and climate catastrophe.
Kentucky poet Wendell Berry writes, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” The aim of this workshop will be to rewild our interior selves, consecrate again the gift of creation as a sacred place, and recommit to the great work each of us is called to in these troubled times.