Mindrolling – Ep. 173 – Reverend Alexander MacPhail


Reverend Alexander MacPhail visits Mindrolling to discuss the parallels of Christianity and Eastern spiritual practices

Rev. MacPhail explores Christian mysticism and answers questions about combining Christianity with Buddhist practice.

Show Notes

Christ in India (Opening) – Raghu shares his story with Rev. MacPhail. His experience with Maharaji was Raghu’s real introduction to Christianity, and the teachings of Christ, which resemble so much of Maharaji’s lessons.

Mysticism (7:30) – Rev. MacPhail is unable to resonate with the experience that Raghu had in India. However, Rev. MacPhail experiences a great deal of resonance with the mystical experience associated with the teachings passed on by Maharaji as well as his tradition.

Rev. MacPhail reached out after seeing a post on Ram Dass’s Facebook page that said:

“We are all just walking each other home.”

The simplicity of that saying really cuts through.

“As Ram Dass has said on many occasions, ‘People open up through all kinds of ways, and you have to honor that.” – Rev. MacPhail

En(light)enment (10:50) – Rev. MacPhail shares his backstory and his interest in the mystical side of Christianity. He describes an impactful moment growing up in the Church of the Brethren where he came to appreciate the concept of the light and love of God and Christ which moves from person to person into the world. That was a transcendent moment that was deeper in Reverend MacPhail than he can describe.

After becoming introduced to Henry Nouwen and Ram Dass, Rev. MacPhail has come to appreciate how hearing the same message told a new way can open you up inside.

“Sometimes, it’s not so much what is being said, but how it is being said.”

Incarnation (16:25) – Rev. MacPhail discusses the interpretation of incarnation in Christianity and how similar it is to others. He also describes an important transitional moment in his life. Rev. MacPhail was experiencing a spiritual crisis. He began seeking in earnest many spiritual perspectives, which renewed his spirit and connection to Christ.

Meditation (20:10) – Rev. MacPhail talks about his studies in Theravada Buddhism. The word prayer was previously used to describe what we now call Meditation.

Despite some confusion in the West, Buddhism is a practice that in no way interferes with any spiritual practice.

“The thing about Buddhism that is so good, is how quickly it identifies the things that draw us aside. The fact that it is not a theistic religion is what allows someone to be informed by the Buddhist tradition and still be solidly a Christian, and within the Christian tradition. There is nothing there that is going to draw you aside from loving and serving Jesus Christ if you are also reading the Buddhist literature.” – Rev. MacPhail

Being Here Now (26:30) – How does Rev. MacPhail see being present and in the moment as a way of informing our lives?

Reverend MacPhail describes how he helps his congregation understand how to be present and mindful of their reactions and patterns.

Interconnection (35:25) – Rev. MacPhail describes the similarities between the Bhakti yoga, the worship of God in the unconditioned, and the worship of God in the person of Christ. He and Raghu discuss these similarities and how people of all faiths can find a resonance with these practices.

Oneness and Connection (48:00) – Raghu talks about a more recent experience and the oneness of things.

“If we are not manifesting our generosity then what good is any of it?” – Raghu Markus

Rev. MacPhail expresses the importance of hearing the word in many ways so that it deepens your connection to God.

To contact Rev. MacPhail please visit him at christroanoke.org

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