Dilatato Corde 5:2
July - December, 2015
Silence, Pilgrimage, and a Christian-Hindu Dialogue
Abstract.- This paper explores some of Panikkar’s writings on monasticism and silence. As a theologian brought up in two religious traditions, Christianity and Hinduism, Panikkar devoted the majority of his life to the expansion of a cosmological theological reflection the experience of the Absolute within common human experience. Within this search, the monk—and Panikkar considered himself to be one—became for him an archetype of a common search for the Absolute. This paper argues that Panikkar’s insights become central to a contemporary Christian-Hindu dialogue, and that monasticism is a seminal place for interreligious dialogue based on silence and our common humanity.
Précis.- Cet article explore certains des écrits de Panikkar sur le monachisme et le silence. En tant que théologien élevé dans deux traditions religieuses, christianisme et hindouisme, Panikkar consacra la majeure partie de sa vie à l'expansion d'une réflexion théologique et cosmologique sur l'expérience de l'Absolu dans l’histoire humaine commune. Dans cette réflexion, le moine—et Panikkar se considérait un moine—devint pour lui un archétype d'une recherche commune de l'Absolu. Cet article soutient que les idées de Panikkar deviennent importantes pour un dialogue contemporain entre chrétiens et hindous, et que le monachisme est un endroit séminal pour le dialogue interreligieux basé sur le silence et sur notre humanité commune.
The Rule of Saint Benedict opens with the following instruction: “Listen, my son, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart.”[1] Through the command to “listen,” the Western monk finds the opening to a way of life in which “the disciple’s part is to be silent and to listen.”[2] It was within that tradition of silence in twentieth-century European monasticism that a number of Catholic contemplatives moved to India, firstly in order to learn about the rich civilizations of India and secondly in order to bring the richness of Western monasticism into a country in which it was not yet present. Slowly they settled into a Hindu ambience of prayer and contemplation by undergoing a process of listening that became Indian rather than European. Thus, contemplatives such as Abbé Jules Monchanin (Swami Paramārūnyānada, 1895-1957), Dom Henri Le Saux (Swami Abhishiktananda, 1910-1973), and Dom Bede Griffiths (Swami Dayananda, 1906-1993) were transformed by their Indian experience of God.[3] Through the practice of silence and meditation they found their togetherness with Hindu practitioners, sadhus, and yogis; they lived in an ashram, a place of prayer and teaching] where they tried very successfully to adopt an Indian spirituality of silence within an Asian tradition of Hindu monasticism and contemplation.[4] They described the intensity of their spiritual experience in books, letters, and reflections; however, their way of life was to practice contemplation and meditation by becoming itinerant hermits who not only observed the rhythm of silence in ashrams but also followed the Hindu custom of going on pilgrimages and attending teachings by other swamis.[5] Other Catholic priests and monks who did not consecrate themselves as sanyasi by renouncing their possessions and living on alms also arrived in India. Among those was Francis Mahieu, who started a Christian monastic foundation in which there was a certain inculturation of Hindu rites with Eastern rituals of the Syro-Malabar rite.[6] In all those cases, the reason for living in an ashram was to share the search for the Absolute.
There was also a constant flow of Catholic priests who, after the independence of India, visited the country for some periods of time in order to teach in seminaries and universities as well as to explore Indian spirituality, inculturation, and the contribution of the Church in India to a wider Catholic Church. Their arrival in India coincided with global preparations for Vatican II (1962-1965). One of those priests was Raimon Panikkar (1918-2010), a Catalan-Indian theologian, who, having been born of a Hindu father and a Catholic Catalan mother, lived in India for part of his life and who, from his first writings, was interested in the relation between Christianity and Hinduism.[7] Panikkar later also embraced Buddhism and became a contemplative writer as well as a challenging theologian of inter-faith dialogue. Throughout his life Panikkar considered himself a monk and spent the morning period of the day until lunchtime in silence, contemplation, and meditation. While his most well-known writings dealt with the theology of dialogue and the foundations for a philosophical common understanding between Christian and Hindu philosophies, his lectures and reflections on monasticism showed a relocation of the place of monasticism within the unity of different religious traditions. A close friend of Swami Abhishiktananda, Panikkar spoke of his conviction of the human non-duality of body and soul. He elaborated in a systematic manner the centrality of silence for a Christian-Hindu encounter and discussed these theological and mystical developments with those who had embraced Hindu philosophies of non-duality, particularly with his close friend Abhishiktananda.[8]
This paper explores some of Panikkar’s writings on monasticism and silence. Panikkar regarded silence as a way of being and as an option central to the understanding of other religions. Silence within Eastern monasticism became for Panikkar a central human endeavour that could expand the non-Cartesian duality of the person within the Christian tradition as well as a central and experiential paradigm for the encounter between different religious traditions and faiths.
The Window of Silence
Panikkar used the metaphor of a window in order to describe the absolute necessity of realizing that one’s religious experience is limited.[9] He spoke of the person’s perception of reality as the act of looking through a window; reality is out there, and the perceptions of one person are different from those of another. The experience of looking through a window becomes humbling as one realizes that not everything can be seen through a window. Moreover, one has to rely on the possible explanations of another person. Thus, the basis of human life is silence: one listens to the experience of others, one is enriched by others, and at the same time one enriches others through one’s experience. However, in listening to others’ religious experiences, one also comes to the realization that the knowledge attained solely through the intellect is to be situated in a secondary place.
In his writings Panikkar dwells extensively on the vocation of the monk. He struggles at times with the etymology and history of the word, but he assumes that he is himself a monk.[10] The basis of his understanding that “perfection” can be acquired through many different vocations is the assumption that the vocation of a monk stands as an archetype of the “humanum” who in turn wants to transcend the materiality of life. Thus, for Panikkar “inasmuch as we try to unify our lives around the centre, all of us have something of the monk in us.”[11] The spiritual aims of a monk are those of all humanity, and therefore monasticism transcends a specific vocation or activity within a particular world religion, or even within the life of an atheist. This vocation “is basically human and primordially [a] religious one.”[12] Panikkar’s thought on monastic interfaith dialogue can be summarized in the following citation:
To speak of a Buddhist monk or a Hindu monk or a Jaina monk or a Christian monk does violence to the words. The Christian, the Buddhist, the Jaina . . . are only qualifications of the search for that centre, for that core that any monk seeks.[13]
In the 1960s Panikkar was somewhat critical of a structured monastic life of silence because he had been heavily influenced by his experience of Hinduism in which silence and pilgrimage, rather than silence and stability, become the norm.[14] The Hindu practitioner is always on the move in search of ritual moments and experiences of the divine.[15] Thus, he wrote,
The silence of Life is not the same as a life of silence, the silent life of the monks, of a hermitage [but] the silence of Life is the art of making silent the activities of life (that are not Life), in order to reach the pure experience of Life.”[16]
For Panikkar, a historical investigation of a universal archetype of monkhood did not help because it addressed examples from the past rather than the challenges of the present.[17] If, according to Panikkar, monasticism continues to be an archetype of human life, and not a copy of the past, that is because he takes “the monastic ideal as the human archetype who has always wanted to overcome banality, insisting particularly on the vertical dimension of life (zōē, rather than bios), as an antidote to a superficial existence.”[18] Instead, he develops his thesis with what he calls a nine-aphorism rebuilding of the whole human being using “ancient forms of wisdom” that Panikkar cites and then comments on in contemporary terms.[19] The complexity of the aphorisms comes from the fact that Panikkar uses different traditions within and outside the Judeo-Christian tradition and that his “bridge-head” of rationality, using Robin Horton’s sense of a cross-cultural understanding, suggests a common humanity rather than the traditional Christian notion that the fulfilment and ideal of humanity is the Christian Christ.[20] For Panikkar, the Christ of the cosmos is the foundation for a theological anthropology in which the pantokrator, the Christ of all that is created, is henceforth represented in all religions showing that “God is at work in all religions: the Christian kerygma does not proclaim a new God, but the mirabilia of God, of which the mystery of Christ hidden in God is the alpha and omega.”[21] Divine revelation is received in the context of human limitations (quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur).[22]
The first aphorism proposed by Panikkar, and relevant to our discussion, is “to rediscover the value, or better, the centrality of silence.”[23] Such an aphorism becomes central in the recreation of a better humanity symbolized by the monk as archetype and symbol (not model) of silence, and therefore of Life. For Panikkar, many societies in Africa, Asia, and Europe describe silence as a spatiotemporal condition at the beginning of time. Therefore, for Panikkar, the expression “In the beginning was the Word” is not a claim that the Word is the beginning. Rather, “the Beginning is Silence, the Void, Non-Being, the Abyss, Darkness, or other symbols in many other traditions.”[24] The Word is not silent and it is not silence, Panikkar argues, but “the true word emerges from the silence, ‘shattering' it, going beyond it, overcoming it” so that "silence doesn’t speak, it says nothing, but it makes the saying possible; Silence inspires it, since it dwells there.”[25] It is Panikkar’s assumption that the person who has not experienced silence is not able to accommodate others because in non-silence such a person experiences the world and reality in a single way that becomes sectarian and non-inclusive.
In writing and speaking about the potential new monk who is tainted by secularism and also by noise, Panikkar returned to the Indian tradition and focused on the possible rules for a disciple rather than those for a master, because the disciple is the one who asks questions about the experience of monastic and contemplative life rather than the master. Panikkar proposed nine sutras:[26] the breakthrough of the primordial aspiration; the primacy of being over doing and having; silence over the Word; Mother Earth prior to Human Fellowship; overcoming spatiotemporal parameters; transitional consciousness above historical concern; the fullness of the person, rather than of the individual; the primacy of the holy; and the memory of the ultimate and of his constant presence.[27]
Silence over the Word
Panikkar outlines the primacy of silence over the Word by arguing that it is in silence that reality is united because ‘silence is one, words are many.”[28] His Indian experience suggests that “those who listen to the silence out of which the word emerges often have no need of words, and from those who have not discovered this silence the very word will conceal it” so that “the three yogas, mind, speech, and body, progressively disappear.”[29] It is this silence that becomes the central core of unity in the search for human fulfilment and divine encounter and that unites not only the life of a Christian monk but the commonality of a search and actualization of transcendence by monks in the different traditions, particularly in Hinduism.
Panikkar in his writings on Hindu monks points to the wisdom of the Bhagavad-Gītā when in his Le moine selon les écritures saintes de l”hindouisme he points to the following passage of the Gītā:
 Inspired sages called samnyāsa
The actual abandonment of interested actions
Erudite people define “renunciation” [tyāga]
The abandonment of the fruits of any type of action [Bhagavad-Gītā XVIII.2].[30]
Within the conception of the Hindu monk, at the start of a monk’s life, “renunciation is the pinnacle of sacrifice.” However, sacrifice and renunciation cease to be so as the monk remains in the silence of the self because his personality, his “I,” slowly ceases to exist so that “not only does he renounce everything, but also his own I and the renunciation itself.”[31] Panikkar further reminds us that in India the ascetic does not represent renunciation but “he is rather an example of a pure life stripped of everything.”[32] He represents the centrality of a philosophy of life that is accessible to every person. Thus, the ancient āsramic tradition, according to Panikkar, allowed husbands, and sometimes wives, to withdraw into the forest after having performed their duties within society; “they dedicated themselves to a life of renunciation in search of the Absolute.”[33] However, there were some who took a more direct path in order to immerse themselves in the Absolute and renounced everything at once. Those who renounce everything cease to be preoccupied about their bodies, and they search for a total liberation from space and time.
Panikkar breaks with the traditional understanding of the monk as a Perfect Human Being by adding another characteristic, that of social disruption and madness. The monk rebels against the social norms that dictate an engagement with space and time and becomes a mad person who transcends norms, orders, and spatial-temporal categories. Thus, Panikkar writes,
His [the monk’s] function consists in collaborating directly with the Gods: he is their partner. His outward appearance reveals his vocation and the sincerity of his life. He lives anywhere, he feels at home in the East and the West, he is a universal man; but the price of all of this is that he probably ceases to be a normal person.[34]
The prophetic signs offered by Hindu monks relate then to their challenge to lead a life in which the philosophical principle that shapes Hindu life—that of the renunciation founded in knowledge—brings the discovery that materiality is only a pseudo-value and that Life with a capital letter “L” is the discovery of an everyday renunciation. The three periods of Hindu Scriptures, that is, the Vedic period, the further elaboration in the Upanishads, and the ritual and symbolic explanations given by the Bhagavad-Gītā, correspond to the historical and textual development of asceticism. Within the Vedic period, asceticism was absent from the centrality of Hindu practices and was tolerated. During the period of the Upanishads, renunciation became “a means, a way therefore to reach the supreme goal, not for evasion or for escape, but for internalization and passing beyond.”[35] This means that the reason and ultimate object of love lies beyond the appearance of things. During the third period of understanding of Vedic renunciation, according to Panikkar, there are two ways of understanding renunciation: the abandonment of one value in favour of another value that is deemed higher or the abandonment of such value because the person discovers that there is no value in such value. The development of an interior world that embraces the worries of an exterior and material world develops from the Upanishads. However, it is clear that the interior perception of the monk also acquires two different possibilities: to embrace a Life that becomes the truth or to embrace life through the appearance of things. Life for Pannikar is a higher ideal than life as a moral value. Thus, the samnyāsin, the one who has renounced everything, the one who does not live within a material cosmos, could be perceived either as the morally perfect person who tells the truth because he controls his passions and desires and is full of compassion and love, or the sadhu, a person who by acquiring the goal of renunciation finds himself beyond all human limits, be they moral, social, physical or intellectual.[36]
However, there is still an imbalance between pure inaction and action in the world, an imbalance that finds an equilibrium in the Bhagavad-Gītā, which expressed the notion that “the authentic yogin, the complete Man, is not the acosmic monk who tends to be an ideal of inaction and ‘un-tie,’ which proves absolutely impossible.”[37] The final understandings that have affected and effected the contemporary Hindu monk, according to Panikkar, suggest that “the complete Man is simultaneously yukta, connected to entire reality, committed in the network of human relationships, and vimukta, free, freed of everything.”[38]
Christian-Hindu Dialogue
The following reflections arise from Panikkar’s contribution to the understanding of a dialogue that has an initial point of departure in the shared premises of the monk. In them I concentrate on a post-textual reflection on Christian-Hindu dialogue. Taking the foundations of dialogue proposed by Panikkar, I offer my own reading of some textual instances in which silence becomes a way and a possibility of encounter. These arguments for silence within a wider inter-faith dialogue can also be applied to the textual richness of Buddhism, a task to be expanded elsewhere and that I have initiated somewhere else in text and in loco.[39] It is important to note that Panikkar’s life-project was not a European theological one based on reason, but an Eastern mystical one based on experience.[40] Thus, reflections on silence, monks, and renunciation follow mysticism in that mysticism “seems to go in a direction contrary to that of thought: not toward Being (as though we were dealing with a rediscovery or a redemption of Being) but starting from Being, as if it were a dissipation (or a sacrifice) of Being.”[41] As previously stated, Panikkar emphasizes that the Word is at the beginning as a premise for speaking. It that comes after the silence, so for him “all mysticism is nothing other than a pro-logos: something that comes before the logos.”[42]
Renunciation and asceticism as developed from the Vedas to the Bhagavad-Gītā provided a social understanding of social exclusion (in the Vedas) and one of personal choice and inclusion (in the Gītā). Within those developments it is worth mentioning that the Hindu Scriptures are non-canonical. Hinduism as such does not have one stream of practice or one stream of theoretical understanding but many. The multiplicity of practices and understanding are related to the many gods who express the absoluteness of Brahman. The Gītā, as a dialogue between the Lord Krishna and Arjuna that takes place on a battlefield, initiates a project of self-realization, of self-mastery, that brings with it the right action, a subsequent action that comes out of a choice and that benefits others. It is a mental discipline. In the explanation provided by Eknath Easwaran, “work hard in the world without any selfish attachment, the Gita counsels, and you will purify your consciousness of self-will.”[43]
The questions of the Gītā could be considered common to all humanity because the challenges faced by Arjuna towards his kin and family are the common challenges faced by all who are asked to perform duty before renunciation. The socio-temporal difficulties faced by Arjuna are the same faced by those who encounter practitioners of other religions. How can I be located within one group or another if my sense of duty and allegiance to the Absolute makes me want to be with both of them, three of them or many of them? And so Krishna instructs Arjuna, “The impermanent has no reality; reality lies in the eternal. Those who have seen the boundary between these two have attained the end of all knowledge.”[44] And, “As one abandons worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within.”[45] Therefore, Krishna continues, “the self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire. . . . it is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.”[46] Those foundations are described as mysticism in contemplation: “not deluded by pride, free from selfish attachment and selfish desire, beyond the duality of pleasure and pain, ever aware of the Self, the wise go forward to that eternal goal.”[47] Thus, with regard to renunciation, the body acts as a vehicle of encounter so that “as long as one has a body, one cannot renounce action altogether. True renunciation is giving up all desire for personal reward.”[48]
I would argue that Panikkar’s thought is so widely comprehensive of East and West that his contribution to inter-faith dialogue creates two large axes of encounter and ongoing hermeneutical lineamenta that need to be expanded in a larger work. On the one hand, Panikkar associates a rational theology and the Word with a self-contained European context, and on the other he considers mysticism [with silence included] and silence as a divine attribute, as components of the East.[49] If the first axis corresponds to the dual qualities of experience/mysticism, reality/nothingness and needs to be mediated by the inter-cultural experience of the other (East/West), the second axis of inter-faith dialogue arises out of mysticism rather than theology. Thus, mysticism is an activity of silence open to all human beings In Panikkar’s words, “Mysticism should not be seen as the special province of the few but rather as one essential dimension of humankind.”[50] The other realities of faith that are seen across a river can only be accessed by a vision of contemplation in which the body is left behind, reason and knowledge disappear, and contemplation alone provides the ultimate encounter with the Other, because both are in a deep encounter with the Absolute.
The central role of experience becomes a common human experience in which all humanity is capable of meeting in contemplation before uttering words of understanding. The monk, as the universal referent of inter-faith, relates such contemplative experience not by actions or teachings but by dwelling in the fields of the Absolute which in their absolute negation of reason and understanding provide the means for the encounter. It is not difficult to understand the easy dialogue with Hindus that took place when Panikkar and Abhishiktananda contemplated the rising of the sun beside the river as they chanted the Upanishads or when Abhishiktananda met a sādhu beside the river and both smiled in silence at each other waving their hands in the joy of the mystical encounter of a common purpose that had no purpose but to experience the Absolute [the Lord].
One may ask, Why words then? There are truly silent munis in Indian tradition, vowed to mauna (silence). With Panikkar I argue that insights into monastic interchange seem rightly to recognize that words arising from silence are quite powerful. Silence becomes the essence of being; however, silence provides a creative utterance of words in a non-literal sense, words that come out of the symbolic speaking of a body located within a landscape, within a presence, a bodily presence of the Absolute. So that for Panikkar “the human tongue must remain silent; every logos is insufficient by itself,” and further, “in order to grasp the living reality of symbols, we need the third eye’[51]” It is that bodily presence in silence that united the universal monk-ness of Panikkar, Abhishiktananda, and Bede Griffiths. Panikkar ended his days as a monk-theologian reflecting on a variety of common and diverse experiences. Abhishiktananda developed as a monk-ascetic void of community and void of an ashram. Griffiths lived the same monastic silence with disciples and visitors, doing so within the experience of an ashram in which silence and words provided a creative communal tension.
The writings of Panikkar call attention to the ways that the mystical experience of the Absolute has been shaped within Christianity and Hinduism. His analysis has challenging implications for the dialogue between East and West, and particularly the monastic dialogue. The shaping of mystical experiences does not exist because the mystic is completely taken by methods or ways of doing things, but by the power of the Spirit, the illumination of a fire that, as in the case of Abhishiktananda, takes the human body, empties it, and opens the heart and the soul to a non-duality, to the reality of what Panikkar has called Life.[52]
Panikkar’s writings and his own contemplative life challenged the Christian and the Hindu to come together in those moments when, though separated corporeally, sitting together in meditation united the possibility of renouncing a material Word in order to share the emptiness and fullness of silence. Panikkar’s notion of the primacy of contemplation brings the possibility and the ultimate “danger” that in dialoguing with one another (Christian-Hindu), we could become transformed into a different person by insights and contemplative ways known to Christianity as well as to Hinduism. The reason self-realization is so central to Panikkar’s own selfhood may be that he was raised within both traditions. What is obvious for him becomes a challenge to others. However, for those of us who have followed this path of renunciation and contemplation, embracing a mystical, philosophical, and spiritual challenge becomes the central paradigm of a possible inter-faith dialogue from within. Panikkar wrote about this possible self-understanding through another religious tradition in terms of reaching the realm of true contemplation:
In order to understand others as they understand themselves, I have to become the other–that is, share in their experience, participate in their particular world, be converted to their way of life. How can a Christian understand a Hindu if he does not become a Hindu? A Christian may perhaps understand a kind of objectified Hinduism, but this does not tally with what the Hindu accepts and believes as his Hinduism. Living Hinduism is constitutively linked with the Hindu understanding of it, which includes the Hindu’s self-understanding.”[53]
It is within this option of becoming the other that sacred texts within Hinduism shape the possibility of many Hinduisms across time and space.[54] If the Vedas brought the possibility of systematic ordering of the Hindu way of life and the Bhagavad-Gītā assumed human choices within self-realization, it is within the many Upanishads that a general Hindu self-understanding developed within what the West has called a Hindu philosophy. If, as Clooney argues, reason has been used to provide a bridge of understanding between Christian and Hindu theology, I would suggest that the praying and meditation of the Upanishads, as well as the use of reason, becomes a possible way of journeying together in inter-faith dialogue.[55] For example: “Behold the universe in the glory of God: and all that lives and moves on earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal: set not your heart on another’s possession.”[56] And, “the pure eternal Spirit dwells in the castle of eleven gates of the body. By ruling this castle, man is free from sorrows and, free from all bondage, attains liberation.”[57]
Conclusions: The Pro-Logos and (Monastic) Inter-Faith Practice
In his Gifford Lectures, Panikkar outlined the possibility of a mediation between “Being” in Greek philosophy and Eastern practices through an advaitic mediation. Such mediation of a non-duality mirrored the life of the Trinity, in which one Absolute assumes three personhoods and manifestations. However, for Panikkar the Trinity refers to a “triadic structure of reality,” to “the radical relativity of the Divine, the Cosmic, and the Human,” “the cosmotheantric trinity.”[58] Within this integrating philosophy Panikkar brings the possibility of rethinking the person, the Individual Being, within a larger cosmology of Trinitarian proportions “that brings together without confusion the transcendent character of the Deity with its equally immanent aspect.”[59] It is this suggestion, I would argue, that provides the foundations for an ongoing Christian-Hindu dialogue.
The dialogue within the three so-called religions of the Book, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is based on principles of textual common understanding in which certain parts of a history of salvation unite followers of norms inherent within texts. In order to enter into dialogue with Hinduism from within the person, the centrality of a way of life and Life itself as a philosophical wisdom of non-duality becomes central. I cannot change the material aspects of myself and I cannot change the material co-creations (societies) in which I live, but I can join Hindus on a journey that instead of going somewhere physical goes within, to the Self. However, this journey inwards is not undertaken in order to acquire merit, but for others and one’s self (the monk in Hinduism and Christianity, the Boddhisatva in Buddhism). The journey into the self (beyond wisdom and action) provides the possibility of the relocation of the Absolute in order to be in relation with a commonality of religious beings that belong to different religious systems. Thus, the Absolute as pro-logos (or pro-Logos for Christians) provides the necessary communion with Hindus in order to assert together the centrality of the metaphysical as the essential component of the human and the Divine. Moreover, the monk and the “monkness” in all of us provides an archetype of the essential and the truthful. This inter-faith move from the Self and in the Absolute is central not only in Christian monasticism that looks to the East but also within inclusivist Hindus relating to other religious beings because “Hindu inclusivism can be expressed as the view that the other religions of the world are, more or less, forms of Hinduism.”[60]
What unites monks of different traditions is the contemplation of a world void of materiality in an ongoing meditation that is focused on cause and effect, explanation, and imminence, for Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. First, one looks at an object, then one does not see the object but light/darkness; on a further stage one sees nothingness. This is the challenge of a Christian-Hindu dialogue: to dialogue and to journey knowing that the further we go, the less we will need to understand. Thus, Panikkar in his epilogue to the published volume of the Gifford Lectures made the following personal admission: “I have touched the limits of my understanding and must stop here. The Tree of Knowledge again and again tempts one at the cost of neglecting the more important tree, the Tree of Life.”[61] It is at the end of those limits of understanding that dialogue can truly begin within the language of silence, experience, and mystical contemplation.
[1] The Rule of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2001, ‘Preface’.
[2] The Rule of Saint Benedict, chapter 6, “On the Spirit of Silence.”
[3] J.C. Weber, In Quest of the Absolute: The Life and Work of Jules Monchanin, Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1977; Shirley Du Boulay, The Cave of the Heart: The Life of Swami Abhishiktanada, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2005, and Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths, Winchester and New York: O Books, 2003.
[4] Abbé Jules Monchanin and Dom Henri Le Saux, A Benedictine Ashram, Isle of Man: Times Press, 1964; and Jules Monchanin (1895-1957) as seen from East and West, Acts of the Colloquium held in Lyon-Fleurie, France, and in Shantivanam-Tannirpalli, India, (April-July 1995), 2 vols. Delhi: ISPCK and Saccidananda Ashram, 2001.
[5] The intensity of Abhishiktananda’s spiritual search and of his experience of Hinduism can be felt in his writings, for example, Saccidananda: A Christian Approach to Advaitic Experience, Delhi: ISPCK, 1977, Hindu-Christian Meeting Point: Within the Cave of the Heart, Delhi: ISPCK, 1983, and Initiation à la Spiritualité des Upanishads: ‘Vers l’autre rive,’ Sisteron: Editions Présence, 1979.
[6] See Marthe Mahíeu-De Praetere, Kurisumala: Francis Mahieu Acharya – A Pioneer of Christian Monasticism in India, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 2007.
[7] Raimundo Panikkar, The Unknown Christ of Hinduism: Towards an Ecumenical Christophany, revised and enlarged edition. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1981.
[8] See for example, Raimon Panikkar, “Letter to Abhisiktānanda on Eastern and Western Monasticism”, in Raimon Panikkar, Mysticism and Spirituality, Part Two: Spirituality, the Way of Life, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, edited by Milena Carrara Pavan, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2014, section II: The Path of the Monk, chapter 12, pp. 253-277.
[9] J. Abraham Vélez de Cea, “Raimon Panikkar (1918-2010): Life and Legacy,” Buddhist-Christian Studies 31, 2011, pp. 215-219.
[10] Raimundo Panikkar, Blessed Simplicity: The Monk as Universal Archetype. New York: Seabury Press, 1982.
[11] Raimon Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II: The Path of the Monk, chapter 7: The Archetype of the Monk, pp. 133-144 at p. 137.
[12] Raimon Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, p. 137.
[13] Raimon Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, p. 137.
[14] Panikkar writes “I am not against institutions … but I would like to make the distinction between institutions and institutionalism,” in Raimon Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, p. 140, and “the monastery, then, would not be the ‘establishment’ of the monks, but the schola Domini, the school where that human dimension is cultivated and transmitted.” In Raimon Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, p. 141.
[15] Even before his Indian experience, Bede Griffiths had challenged the position that monastic activities were not contemplative because they involved movement and sound, arguing that “contemplation is a habit of mind which enables the soul to keep in a state of recollection in the presence of God whatever may be the work with which we are occupied.” In Bede Griffiths, The Golden String: An Autobiography, Tucson, AZ: Medio Media Publishing, 2003, p. 143.
[16] Raimon Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, p. 13.
[17] Panikkar’s reflections were triggered by an invitation to chair a conference in 1980 in the United States organized by the North American Board for East-West Dialogue, a sub-commission of A.I.M. (Aide Inter-Monastères). See Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II: The Path of the Monk, Part One: Blessed Simplicity: The Challenge of Being a Monk, “Introduction,” pp. 121-127.
[18] Bios, Greek for existence, biological life, length of life. Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, Part One, “Introduction,” p. 122.
[19] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, Part One, “Introduction,” p. 122.
[20] For some helpful notes on Panikkar’s hermeneutical method see Fabrice Blée, “La relation comme clef herméneutique dans l’ouevre de Raimon Panikkar,” Dilatato Corde IV/2, June-December 2014.
[21] Eph. 3:9; Rom. 16:25 in Raimundo Panikkar, The Unknown Christ of Hinduism, p. 168.
[22] Raimon Panikkar, Christophany: The Fullness of Man, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2004, p. 3.
[23] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, Part One, ‘Introduction’, p. 122.
[24] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, Part One, ‘Introduction’, p. 122.
[25] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, Part One, ‘Introduction’, p. 122.
[26] Sanskrit – “yarn, thread of a fabric” short aphorism requiring an explanation and that can be easily memorized.
[27] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8: ‘The Canon of the Disciple’, pp. 156-198.
[28] I am referring here in my commentary to ‘Sūtra 3: Silence over the Word’, in Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8: ‘The Canon of the Disciple’, pp. 163-166.
[29] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8: ‘The Canon of the Disciple’, p. 163.
[30] Raimon Panikkar, “Le moine selon les écritures saintes de l’hindouisme.” In Les Moines chrétiens face aux religions d’Asia, Bangalore: AMC, 1973, pp. 80-91, reproduced in Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8: The Monk According to Hindū Scriptures, pp. 233-244.
[31] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 233.
[32] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 234.
[33] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 234, cf. the third āsrama: the vānaprastha, or state of the forest-dweller in Mānava-dharmasāstra VI.2.
[34] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 236.
[35] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 235.
[36] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, pp. 238-239.
[37] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 242.
[38] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.2, section II, chapter 8, p. 243.
[39] See Mario I Aguilar, Church, Liberation and World Religions: Towards a Christian-Buddhist Dialogue, Ecclesiological Investigations vol. 14, London, New Delhi, New York and Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2012.
[40] For inter-textual dialogue between Christianity and Hinduism based on reason see Francis X. Clooney S.J., Hindu God-Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. For Clooney, the book “focuses rather narrowly on how Christian and Hindu theologians reason theologically, discern, assert, and defend the truth, and aim to persuade both insiders and outsiders of that truth”, p. 13.
[41] Panikkar, Mysticism and Spirituality: Part One – Mysticism, Fullness of Life, Opera Omnia vol. I.1, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2014, section II, chapter 5: ‘Meditation without Object’, pp. 69-74 at p. 69.
[42] Thus, for Panikkar, false mysticism “arises when it becomes a ‘pro-logos’ where the logos should be, and taking the place of the logos.” See Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.1, “A Prologue Instead of An Epilogue,” pp. xxi-xxv, at p. xxi.
[43] Eknath Easwaran, ‘Introduction’ to The Bhagavad Gita, Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press, 2007, pp. 13-67 at pp. 52-53.
[44] Bhagavad-Gītā II.16.
[45] Bhagavad-Gītā II.22.
[46] Bhagavad-Gītā II. 23-24.
[47] Bhagavad-Gītā XV.5.
[48] Bhagavad-Gītā XVIII.11.
[49] “The ‘fatigue [tension] of concept’ needs to be overcome in the Spirit in order to clear up the numerous misunderstandings and to promote cross-fertilization between these two great traditions of humanity.” See Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.1, Section II: Contemplation, chapter 6: ‘The Origin: Silence’, pp. 75-91 at p. 77.
[50] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.1, Section III: The Mystical Experience, Part One: The Experience of Life: Mysticism, chapter 8: “The Integral Human Experience,” pp. 113-126 at p. 114.
[51] Raimon Panikkar, ‘The Mystical Experience of Jesus Christ’, in Christophany, pp. 135-140 at p. 140.
[52] Abhishiktananda wrote, “This is the unique experience of kevala, of the Absolute, of Alone-ness, the experience of the infinite Alone-ness of God; not of alone-ness with God, nor alone-ness in God, but of the Alone infinitely and essentially Alone, the alone-ness that is the Alone-ness of God.” In Swami Abhishiktananda: Essential Writings, Shirley Du Boulay, ed, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2006, p. 149.
[53] Panikkar, Opera Omnia vol. I.1, Section I: The New Innocence, chapter 4: “Action and Contemplation as Categories of Religious Understanding,’’ p. 52.
[54] Jeffery D. Long has acknowledged the wide spectrum of Hinduism in relation to the religious Other, some exclusivists advocating exclusion and violence, others advocating inclusion and harmony. See Jeffery D. Long, “Hinduism and the Religious Other,” in David Cheetham, Douglas Pratt and David Thomas, eds. Understanding Interreligious Relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 37-63.
[55] For the use of reason to provide a bridge of understanding between Christianity and Hinduism see Francis X. Clooney S.J., Hindu God-Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001 and his related volume Divine Mother, Blessed Mother: Hindu Goddesses and the Virgin Mary, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
[56] Isa Upanishad.
[57] Katha Upanishad V.
[58] Raimon Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being: The Unbroken Trinity, The Gifford Lectures at Edinburgh University, Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2010, p. 55; cf. Panikkar, “Antropofanía intercultural: Identidad humana y fin de milenio,” Thémata: Revista de Filosofía (Facultad de Filosofía y CCEE de la Universidad de Sevilla, 23, pp. 19-29.
[59] Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being: The Unbroken Trinity, p. 56.
[60] Jeffery D. Long, ‘Hinduism and the Religious Other’, p. 62.
[61]Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being: The Unbroken Trinity, ‘Epilogue’, p. 405.
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