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Mystery and Multiplicity

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hinduism: Week 1

Mystery and Multiplicity
Sunday, September 13, 2015

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church issued its historic conclusions that still stand as inspired and authoritative for many Christians. In the Council’s document Nostra Aetate, it specifically addressed other world religions, seeing what was good and eternal in each of them:

From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a “Father.” This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.

Thus in Hinduism, [humans] contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices, or profound meditation, or a flight to God with love and trust.

Hinduism prescribes eternal duties such as honesty, refraining from injuring all living beings (non-violence), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, tolerance, and compassion. The Hindu texts are very non-dualistic and poetic, opening the spiritual imagination. The Sanskrit language itself seems to allow non-dual thinking, much more than the Western languages which are often based on the Greek and Latin languages. In Greek and Latin, reality comes across as logical contraries or distinctions, with less room for nuanced and various interpretations. The ancient and native languages tend to be more subtle, descriptive, poetic, and non-dualistic than most Western languages which pride themselves on being clear, definitive, and final.

Hinduism has been described as the most tolerant of the world religions perhaps in part because it honors many gods. This allows many differing worldviews and does not require having one official scripture. Because of these qualities, Hinduism and its many children are able to be much more patient with mystery and multiplicity.

Gateway to Silence:
Moving toward love and union

Image credit: Mariko Bhakti Hirakawa at Veerupaksha Temple, India; photo by Ramnath Bhat
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