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Letters from the Heart

What is the difference between spirituality and religion? Do I have to belong to a religion to have a spiritual life? How do I choose a teacher, a path, a discipline?


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On tour for her book, The Seeker's Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure, Elizabeth Lesser faced these questions as she traveled across the country. "These are the big questions of the hour," she says. "And it seemed to me that Huston Smith would make an ideal partner for further explorations. We began discussing them over lunch when he was teaching at Omega Institute. I followed up with a letter, and he graciously replied. Several letters later, I realized that we had built up a correspondence worth sharing…."

This article appeared in the Spring 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. “Whenever two or more of us are gathered in anyone's name, there's trouble.” — Elizabeth Lesser As cofounder of the renowned Omega Institute, the nation’s largest holistic education and retreat center, in Rhinebeck, New York, Elizabeth Lesser has had a front-row seat for the expansive and liberating spiritual developments of the last 25 years. Given her proximity to so many of the Institute’s speakers and teachers, she could have spent most of her life in workshops. But after a while, she chose to study with only a very few of Omega’s teachers, noticing a disturbing trend shadowing the rich learning opportunities available at Omega and similar institutions: some of the kids in the holistic candy shop were stuffing themselves with so much variety that they were never nourished by the depth of any one tradition. Lesser began to understand that spreading wide must always be grounded by going deep. Otherwise learning does not take root and the student floats, always hungry, grasping at whatever sounds new and promising. …

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