Isabella Price is a seeker. It has always been this way. She was raised in a traditional Christian household and the Vatican was seen as law, but for some reason this didn’t quite sit right with her.
“My mother being Roman Catholic, it was like whatever Rome says is infallible,” Isabella says wryly. “The dogmatic beliefs of the religion of my upbringing didn’t make much sense to me, even at an early age.”
Isabella was born and raised in Switzerland, a culture that is more secular than religious. This undoubtedly contributed to her distrust of the rigid set of values characteristic of most of institutionalized Christianity. Yet despite her differences with the Roman-Catholic belief system, she was struck by the somber beauty of the images prevalent throughout the religion, and drawn to their deeper meaning.
“As a little girl, I would sometimes pray to the statues of Mother Mary in the churches,” says Isabella. “There was something so beautiful and sublime about the Madonna.”
She would go on to graduate from the University of Zurich with an MA in the humanities. During her six years of studies and beyond, she worked as a freelance journalist writing cultural essays on her extensive international travels as well as teaching classes on global history and comparative religion at various institutions for higher education in Zurich. There had always been whispers of a reality beyond the material world. Isabella could discern them but didn’t fully grasp their truth until she left her native Switzerland.
“I could feel that there is something beyond the material world, but I can’t necessarily say I was consciously on a spiritual path,” she admits. “Religion does not have the same importance in Europe that it has here in the United States.”
It was love that eventually brought her over the water to America. She and her then boyfriend (and current husband), a fourth generation Californian, had been in a long distance relationship for some time; but the long periods of separation had become too much to bear.
“We dated back and forth over the pond for a year,” Isabella says. “I had a good job in higher ed back in Switzerland, but the distance is such that you just can’t sustain that for several years. I had to make a decision. He couldn’t move his job to Switzerland, but I was more flexible with higher ed, so I decided to settle down in the Bay Area and never regretted it.”
It was this move that would prove pivotal to Isabella’s spiritual progression and also opened the door to new teaching opportunities. In 2002, she began teaching “world cultures” courses at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in Oakland. This experience led to fascinating new encounters with renowned artists and visionaries. It also inspired Isabella to explore the world’s wisdom traditions more extensively.
Isabella credits her first spiritual teacher in California, Shifu Jian Hu, with shaping her sense of the inner unity of all religions by inviting her to examine the scriptures of Christian Gnosticism and the Christian contemplative tradition in the context of Buddhist teachings. The study and practice of Chinese Zen was followed by a deeply transformative journey to some of the most sacred sites in India in late 2003. These experiences culminated in a profoundly moving encounter with Ammachi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, at her ashram in San Ramon, California in 2004. Eventually, Isabella ended up teaching Ammachi’s Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique (IAM) to veterans suffering from PTSD and other community members.
Over the years, Isabella has participated in numerous celebrations and rituals from many wisdom traditions. She has also sought out other teachers at the leading edge of religion and spirituality. New insights gleaned from these teachings and experiences prompted Isabella to create a new course at CCA titled “Religion, Symbols, Myths: A Cross-Cultural Comparative Journey.”
Isabella recalls, “Some of my students at CCA would say ‘You know, this is a really interesting course that you’ve been putting together. Why don’t you write a book about that?’ I hadn’t really thought about [a] book, but it planted a seed.”
What started as an idea eventually grew into an entire series of books over the course of many years. Covering a myriad of topics, her One Truth, Many Paths book series seeks to demonstrate how personal inspiration and truth can be equally found in all religions.
“I have a hard time drawing a line between religions,” Isabella comments. “It just doesn’t make sense anymore. I acknowledge the beauty and truth in all.”
Isabella now shares some of the beautiful essence of the wisdom traditions with her students at JFKU. As a part of the institution’s unique Consciousness & Transformative Studies degree program, her “World Spirituality” course draws on her extensive knowledge to help awaken students to the core truths present in every major religion while also examining the traditions from an evolutionary leading-edge perspective.
“I truly hope that people will be able to move beyond all the divisions we have witnessed again in the aftermath of 9/11 and transcend a strictly dogmatic understanding of religion,” Isabella says earnestly. “Only if humanity awakens to a more universal spirituality will we be able to co-create a collective shift in consciousness on the planet. If we dare to delve deeply into the spiritual core of each tradition, we will eventually realize the commonality that unites us in our basic humanness.”