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Center for Action and Contemplation

Pointing in the Same Direction

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hinduism: Week 1

Pointing in the Same Direction
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I was only slowly introduced to Hinduism’s profound mystical depths through two very special authors, and I admit that I first trusted them because they were both Catholic priests, scholars, and even mystics themselves. One was Dom Bede Griffiths (1906-1994), an English Benedictine who in the pivotal year of 1968 founded an ashram in India to combine Western and Eastern spirituality. Griffith’s writings are still monumental and important. He built a huge and holy bridge, which many have now walked over with great effect.

The other author who led me deeper in Hinduism was a son of a Spanish mother and a Hindu father, Raimundo Panikkar (1918-2010). Panikkar’s intellect and spirit astounded all who heard him or read his words. Some of his over 40 books—such as The Silence of God, Christophany, A Dwelling Place for Wisdom, and The Experience of God—had a twofold and seemingly opposite effect on many readers.  They simultaneously felt that they were in the earliest stages of spiritual understanding compared to Panikkar, but they equally felt invited, enlightened, and included inside of something that was universal and available to all.

Somehow Panikkar’s ancient roots, stellar mind, and his Christian love all came through. He saw the Christ as the fully adequate Christian symbol for the whole of Reality. I never felt Panikkar compromised his Christian belief even though he was quite able and willing to use metaphors for the same experience from Hinduism and Buddhism. In fact, it was his Hinduism that often led Panikkar to the depths and the full believability of his Christian experience. I would say the same for Bede Griffiths.

The great mystics tend to recognize that Whoever God Is, he or she does not need our protection or perfect understanding. All of our words, dogmas, and rituals are like children playing in a sandbox before Infinite Mystery and Wonderment. If anything is true, then it has always been true; and people who sincerely search will touch upon the same truth in every age and culture, while using different language, symbols, and rituals to point us in the same direction. The direction is always toward more love and union—and in ever widening circles.

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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