Hearing The Word In An Empty Sky: A Christian-Buddhist Dialogue with Brother David Steindl-Rast & Robert Aitken Roshi

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An exciting dialogue is emerging between Buddhism and Christianity. In this program, proponents of the two traditions meet with depth, humor and mutual respect. They examine the similarities and gifts each tradition offers the other, while honoring the richness of human expression, that their differences provide. Says David Steindl-Rast, "We have to learn to relate to one another as human beings who all share a deep religious experience, because that belongs to being human-but we ought to take the differences more lightly than we have in the past." Explore with them the subtleties of where the two traditions disagree, and some surprising common ground between them. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Brother David Steindl-Rast became a Benedictine monk in 1953. He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies in 1968 and received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious traditions. Presently he serves a worldwide Network for Grateful Living, through www.gratefulness.org.

He's the author of many books including:

To learn more about the work of Brother David go to www.gratefulness.org.

Robert Aitken Roshi is a retired master of the Diamond Sangha, a Zen Buddhist society he founded in Honolulu in 1959 with his late wife, Anne Hopkins Aitken.

He is the author of many books, including:

For more information on Aitken Roshi go to www.aitkenroshi.org.

Brother David and Robert Aitken came together in print in a book of dialogues entitled:

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is the "common mystery" of Buddhism and Christianity
  • Why it is dangerous to project enlightenment on a teacher
  • What is meditation in the Buddhist and Christian traditions
  • What are the three aspects of Christian meditative practice
  • Why differences are important among religious traditions
  • What is the silence, the word, and the experience
  • What is behind cynicism, and how to combat it

Host: Michael Toms       Interview Date: 10/12/1994     Program Number: 2494