"Divinity is an underground river that no one can stop and no one can dam up." —Meister Eckhart
Following on Meister Eckhart, Reverend Mathew Fox wrote, regarding the many wells into that One River, "we would make a grave mistake if we confused [any one well] with the flowing waters of the underground river. Many wells, one river. That is Deep Ecumenism."
Deep Ecumenism teaches us that every religious tradition is a path to the One. In Rev. Fox's metaphor, each religious tradition is a wellspring tapping into the same underground river; in Reb Zalman's metaphor, each religious tradition is an organ in the body of collective humanity: our differences are meaningful, and our commonality is significant.
Deep Ecumenism teaches us that we can best serve the needs of all humanity when we not only respect other religious paths, but collaborate with them in our shared work of healing creation. No one tradition contains all the answers, but every tradition can be (in the Buddha's words) "a finger pointing at the moon," directing our hearts toward our Source.
Reb Zalman z"l taught that we can and should find nourishment in traditions other than our own. No single spiritual path contains all of the "vitamins" that are needed. He wrote that we must undertake "the more intrepid exploration of deep ecumenism in which one learns about oneself through participatory engagement with another religion or tradition."
In engaging with the other, we learn about ourselves. When we learn from and collaborate with fellow-travelers on other spiritual paths, our own practices are enriched — and we come one step closer to a world without religious prejudice or fear.
Reb Zalman z"l's teachings about deep ecumenism are featured in episode 54 of the podcast Will Call, in a thirty-minute segment that begins about 45 minutes in. You can read all about it and listen to the podcast here.