Heretical Imperatives in Hindu Tradition and Mine


World religion scholars Esposito, Fasching, and Lewis suggest a diaspora model of religion where we live in a community where our religion is no longer the dominant, but one of many (96-7). Heretic is used in a positive sense as we choose the paths our religion takes us, co-existing with other religions that will help us see deeper paths in our own (33). This definition of heresy is close to what Catholics call tradition. For example, the meaning of the Trinity is found in scripture and in all the future interpretations of scripture that the Church Teaching Community approves of. This paper will study how Hinduism added on beliefs to adapt to history in premodern, modern, and postmodern situations. How Hindus added to their tradition will give me insight in how Catholics view the concept. Tradition is happening right now. How I look at God affects how I act. Is God a creator of a perfect world that humans are trying to get back to, or a creator of an evolving world that we must help realize?

            Esposito traces the origins of Hinduism to the Vedas, collections of hymns of praise and requests to deity that were introduced  by Aryan invaders prior to 1500 BCE (279). India’s culture is a mixture of European and Asian influences. The practice of worshiping and sacrificing to the gods (mostly masculine), asking them to keep the world running smooth is a basic tenet of Hindu religion. Sacrifice and worship are a way of life. The pay off to this sacrifice will be admission to a higher life (281-2).

The Upanishads were additions to the Vedas around 1000BCE. The Hindu religion becomes more ascetic with retreat and meditation as ways to increase religious life. Upanishad means “sitting near devotedly.” Believers sit near their guru, who teaches them how to achieve a higher mental state through the art of yoga, through which they get in touch with their karma, their way of living and thinking to advance to higher spiritual stages. This life is a prison (samsara). The guru will teach how to break free from this world and enter into the life of their soul or atman (282). Hinduism is turning from the idea of many gods in the original Vedas to one central God, Braham.

            Mainstream Hinduism (Classical, 600BCE) arose from additional Sanscrit texts, purâna, that focused on stories of deities helping humans achieve the samsara-karma-moshka cycle (289-91). Samsura is the everyday world above which one must arise (moshka) to the world of the soul.  The idea of bhakti, devotional faith, develops and is added, or developed more (icons, darshan, etc.) to the concept of karma. We also see the idea of reincarnation develop, especially in the “purana/add-on” of Vishnu and his avataras. Vishnu reincarnates or appears in human descendants (avataras) who battle evil forces. Hinduism is ecumenical. Many sects can claim to be descendants of Vishnu and other deity (295). This multi-god system can help people find their own karma by studying qualities of respective gods.

            Post classical Hinduism through to the Islamic era also has its share of add-ons.

Many saints help keep Hindu continuity in the face of the Islam threat. Tantric Hinduism advocated new forms of spiritual exercises. Tantric means “weaving,” and the tantric gurus teach how to weave Hinduism with new religious ideas(303). Also, in this era, the nirgunasants,” with their “impersonal Brahman, cried out against the social injustice of the caste system. The saguna Hindus believed in a personal form of the high deity. They would be in favor of the caste system since they saw themselves as being not mere avataras of Vishnu, but the real lords themselves (305, 311). The Sikh movement is a Moslem “add-on” to Hinduism. Sikh theology deals more with real life (earning an honest living, giving alms), and less on asceticism and caste values. Sikhs still join Hindus in major Hindu festivals (311).

            More add-ons happened in the modern era. The Brahmin class rebelled against British colonization by reforming their own religion. Râmakrishna globalized Hindu religion by seeing Hindu deity compatible with other religions’ deity (315). Ghandi’s  notion of  ahimsâ, or non-violent rebellion, lead the way to a more powerful political rebellion. The spinning wheel metaphor (317) tells Indians not just to make their own cotton, but to make your own ideas through reading.

            The Postmodern age sees a new add-on in the BJP, a political party returning to fundamentalism against the Ghandi founded secular people’s party. Postmodernism’s reaction to the “sins of science and modernity” can go in the direction of fundamentalism,  or it can go to new interpretations of the sacred truths. Questions arise as to whether Hindus affect their next reincarnation or whether their Karma indicates the direction they are going (323). Ritual acts push and encourage them in the right moral direction. There is still more emphasis on ritual actions and icons than beliefs, but there is also a questioning of what is and is not real Hinduism. The “guru-busters” hunt the false teachers (336).  Interpretation is growing more and more important (322-23). 

We all have better tools to interpret our religion now. Maybe our creator God is in the future and it is up to us to realize the better world. Living beside Hindus may help us concretize important actions. Our puja offerings will be real payments of charity to fix the broken parts of the world. Our prasad (the remains of Hindu sacrifices used by the family for future reincarnations) will be charity and friendship poured back on itself allowing us to keep adding on to our tradition.


                                                Work cited

Esposito, John L., Fasching, Darrell J., and Lewis, Todd. World Religions Today.  New

York: Oxford UP, 2002.


Pantheon Building and Going Fishing: Daoism/Confucianism


            In Sophocles’ Antigone, Creon’s edict refusing burial to a treacherous brother promotes national unity, but the people of Thebes are still uneasy about a divine law that calls for respect of the dead. Even Jean Anouilh’s 20th Century atheistic Antigone dies defending her brother’s right to burial. We confront ultimate reality in death and funerals. Burial rites are a major part of East Asia’s history and culture. The burial rites, tombs, and places are sacred times and spaces where East Asians are connected to the  eternal. East Asia has a diffused religious tradition where Confucianism has flowed into Daoism, Buddhism, and other religions adapting to history. Like the Dao image of water, when religion is pouring out in a passive watery way, religion adapts to the changing culture.[i]  Esposito uses the word “pantheon” (all gods) when referring to the community of gods of each major religion. Usually it is a metaphorical place. France’s Pantheon is a place where their famous dead are buried, and/or honored. East Asia’s history is one where families honor their ancestors. The ancestors are promoted to the status of worship (484). They too construct their personal pantheons where they honor their dead. This paper will trace East Asian history around the theme of ancestor burial and worship.

            In the Shang era of Chinese history (1575-1050 BCE) there was reciprocity between the living and dead. Food and honor were bestowed on the dead at elaborate burial sites. In return, the dead showered blessings on the living (439). By the Han era ( 1027 BCE – 220 CE), there was a belief that proper tombs facilitated exchanges between the living and the dead (441).

            Confucius, 551-479 BCE, taught members of society how to become fully human (ren) through li, which consisted of ethical propriety, good manners, and the cultivation of ritual performances, and ancestor veneration (441-2). The focus of li was on filial conduct (hsaio) and brotherly love (t’i). Through a series of hierarchal relationships, we are bonded to our husbands and wives, to our elders and younger brothers, to our friends, and to our rulers and ministers. Confucianism is a practical philosophy/religion that expects us to live in harmony in society (443, 444). The family metaphor was extended to the community, state, and heaven. Confucius emphasized proper funeral and ancestor rituals.[ii]

Daoism, developed by Lao Zi in the same era as Confucius, was a major philosophy that encountered Confucianism. Dao is the primal force of creation from which yin yang (heaven/earth) forces emerge in harmonies. To experience the dao we must let go and pursue the path of non-interference (wu-wei), much like water (444). The goal of Daoism is more individualistic than Confucianism. Daoism, and Buddhism, which were to come into China and then Japan from trade routes with India (220-617 CE), also stressed the importance of burial rites and the manipulation of the death passage to everyone’s benefit (448-9). These death rites united their societies not only to their ancestors and gods, but to their own community members. Confucianism  (neo-confucianism) would adapt Daoist practices and form correspondences from the individual to the heavens (455-6). [iii]

            Western colonialism and the age of modernity saw a decline in Confucianism. Western values deemphasize the group in favor of the individual where more innovation is possible (468-9). The Literati Confucianism (strict state control) ended, but Confucianism still was a major factor.[iv] The Jesuits had difficulty in China since they could not accept or understand the deep ancestor worship of the Chinese. Nichiren Buddhism is more lay oriented, and in the 19th Century its offshoot the Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society) fostered social values. The “new religion” it spawned was Reikukai (Spiritual Friends Association). They emphasized social values through ancestor devotion. Only when ancestors find peace and salvation through lay rituals (through Lotus Sutra chants) can the living find spiritual grace (476-7).

            In the Postmodern era, Communism  (Mao and Deng reforms in China (1949-76), saw family devotions as too individualistic and were against lavish funeral practices (473-5, 487-8). But, funeral practices in East Asia still persisted. Mourning practices can be very long. It is important to enable the souls of the departed to get to their proper place. Grave sites and their placing were important. Confucian reciprocity and Dao balance were important (479-81). While some funeral rites bordered on commercial aspects (482-3), there is still a strong sense of finding the right space. Feng Shui (wind water), the school of applied religious Daoism, seeks to maximize human flourishing in man made places. Mapping of the qi, the inherent energy of the place, was important for all living, worshipping and burial sites(489). Esposito says that people still go to the burial shrines even though they might not believe in the deity. They find inner peace (496). Rudoph Otto says that the idea of “holy” is beyond all the rational summing up of religious values in words like goodness and ultimate reality. (Otto 8-10). This feeling of being overwhelmed is still there in East Asia

Good luck icons (fu) still exist in homes of Chinese officials. The state recognizes the need to accept religion as a necessary tradition to keep national solidarity.  Fu yu (literally fishing for good luck) icons are abundant. In Mary Oliver’s poem “Some herons, ” the blue heron is a Chinese preacher and the white heron is a poet. They along with two other beautiful herons fish in a stream trying to capture the silver lines in the dark silk water that are made by the wind or the movement of life below the water.[v] The herons are examples of the diffused East Asian religions where believers search the harmony and depth of their beings. Antigone and the people of Thebes, other beautiful herons, will join them in the fishing outing despite civil laws that attempt to stop them. We can build our pantheons in the streams of our minds.


                                    Works Cited


Esposito, John L., Fasching, Darrell J., and Lewis, Todd.  World Religions Today.  New

York: Oxford UP, 2002.


Otto, Rudolph. The Idea of Holy. Trans. John W. Harvey. New York: Oxford UP, 1950.

Oliver, Mary. Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays. Boston: Beacon, 2003.




Necessary Useless Exiles: Jewish Reading Tradition


            The Jewish are a people loved by God, chosen to live in a promised land if they remain true to the covenant established in the Torah. Interpreting the Torah, including the meaning of “the promised land,” is a major part of their struggled history. Poets, according to French Symbolist poet Stephane Mallarmé, interpret the world. All experiences are destined to end up in the Book. For the Book to last, it has to reach the Stage where the audience will preserve its truth. Mallarmé compares the stage with the Catholic Mass altar where the truth of the Incarnation is preserved by the Faithful. Jewish history is about the struggle of interpreting their book, the Torah, and how it is brought to its stage in Jewish rituals. This paper will look at Judaism as a Book religion. The idea of book and its interpretation will show the importance of Judaism’s history, the conflict between Rabbinic and Hasidic Judaism, modernity’s struggle with Reform Judaism, Orthodox and Secular Judaism, and the interpretation of the sacred space promised to them by God. What it means to be a Jew will make us all question what it means to be what we are.


                                                            Myth and Ritual


            Esposito points out that the theme of exile and return is central to Jewish history. The Exodus, where the covenant of the promise land is made with Moses, and the Babylonian Exile, where the Jews broke the covenant, are two key moments (128-9). Their history or story is not one of unconditional guarantee to David, but a pattern of exiles and returns because of the breaks in the covenant in the Torah by the people, as in the Babylonian exile where the people worshipped the Egyptian, then Babylonian idols, rather than the true God. The destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE was a sign that they broke the covenant again. The Jewish religion is one of memory where Jews, in ritual, remember their wanderings in the desert and exile for reparation of their sins, which are mainly injustice and idol worship (110). As the prophets geared the exiled bound people back to one God over the magic idols of their oppressors, and back to social justice, so too do the Jewish rituals keep contemporary people on the road back from sin. Jews preserve the truth of the Torah in their rituals, like the Catholics in “Mallarmé’sMass. How Jews interpret their book – the Torah is where they have factions.

                                                Rabbinic and Hasidic



            Rabbi teachers interpreted The Torah orally after the second destruction of the Temple until the sixth century CE. The Mishnah is the oral code of ethics of daily living written down by the interpreters of the Torah, the Amoraim ((132). The Gemara is their writing and teaching that make a combined written and oral interpretation of the Torah known as the Talmud, which means “study.” Rabbinic Judaism is a ritual studying of the Torah as a way of life. Hasidic Judaism (151-3), a more mystical approach to Judaism developed in the Enlightenment, is a more devotional, less studious, path to God paralleled to the Hindu bhakti devotional path. The Talmudic path is closer to the Hindu karma and knowledge paths (152). In the Eighteenth Century, the Hasidic (pious one) way responded to pogroms and sadness by showing a way to God through joy. The Tzaddik righteous man served as a model who would lead the congregation in joyful praise. Rabbinic Jews were skeptical of the lack of study. However, there was more joy and enthusiasm and more sense of community in the Hasidic rituals (153, 155). Hasidic and Rabbinic Judaism reconciled somewhat in the 19th Century and paved the way to modern forms of Judaism (155).


                        From Temple to Synagogue to Other Sacred Spaces


            The Talmudic study moved Judaism away from the formal temple and priests to synagogues and private homes of local rabbi teachers. Religion was privatizing and questions arose as to what makes one a Jew (130-2). With the Enlightenment and modernity, Jews were starting to be accepted as citizens. Reformed Judaism answered the needs of Jews who wanted to keep the essence of their religion, but belong to the state as well. They embraced the rational-ethical system of the prophets, but were not insistent on the Talmud as revelation (157). Not tied to a specific land, and thus adaptable to the diaspora, Reformed Jews still insisted on belonging to a religious community (157). The Orthodox movement countered Reform Judaism. Resistant to change it regarded the Torah as the only truth (158). Conservative Judaism was a compromise (160).  Peter Berger’s “heretical imperative” (158) comes positively to play in modernity. You have to “choose” the type of Judaism you want to follow. This choice comes after an important interpretation of your history “book” of what it means to be a Jew.

            Secular movements arose in modernity. Zionism interpreted the Scriptures in a more social way. The Messiah was a militant figure with David and Moses as models of the military leaders Jews would need to get their land back (166). The socialist and Zionist movements made it possible for the State of Israel to come into existence.

            The Holocaust, followed by the establishment of the State of Israel, provided another exile-redemption story (172-3). This time, however, as Elie Weisel claims, God broke the covenant. Jews are no longer required to keep the covenant because of God. Now they must do it on their own free will (173). Maybe an artist like Weisel will be able to “explain” the unity of Jewish experience in a way acceptable to extremist factions. Mallarmé has a swan caught in the ice for not having flown South.* The swan is brilliant, but has a look of scorn in his useless exile, useless because he could have flown South. The swan-poet hopes for a break through in the ice. The hard lake can be the hostile audience or the inability of the poet to break through with the right words.  The metaphor is in exile of ordinary language. We need the right metaphor and the right poet. For the time being, we have to have the courage to stay in exile and search for new entries to Mallarmé’s Book that we all will want to celebrate in worship.

                                                Works Cited

Esposito, John L., Fasching, Darrell J., and Lewis, Todd.  World Religions Today.  New

York: Oxford UP, 2002.


Mallarmé, Stéphane. “Crayonné au théatre.” Oeuvres completes. Paris: Pléiade, 1981.


Smart, Ninian. The Religious Experience.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996.



The virgin, the lively and the beautiful today

Is it going to tear open for us with a blow of its drunken wing

This hard lake that haunts under the ice

The transparent glacier of flights not flown.


A swan of former times remembers that it is he

Magnificent but who without hope gave himself up

For not having sung the region of life

When sterile winter poured out its trouble.


All his neck will shake off this white agony

By space inflicted to the bird who denies it

But not the horror of the ground where his feathers are caught.


Phantom that to this place his pure brilliance assigns him

He immobilizes himself to the cold look of scorn

That wears during his useless exile the swan.

Le vierge le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui

Va-t-il nous déchirer avec un coup d’aile ivre

Ce lac dur que hante sous le givre

Le transparent glacier des vols qui n’ont pas fui.


Un cygne d’autrefois se souvient que c’est lui

Magnifique mais qui sans espoir se délivre

Pour n’avoir pas chanté la région vivre

Quand du stérile hiver a resplendi l’ennui.


Tout son col secouera cette blanche agonie

Par l’espace infligé à l’oiseau qui le nie

Mais non l’horreur du sol le plumage est pris


Fantôme qu’à ce lieu son pur éclat assigne

Il s’immobilise au songe froid de mépris

Que vêt parmi l’exil inutile le cygne.









Hindu Tactics for Liberation: Symbolic Works of Mercy: Lib Theology/Mysticism vs Prophetic


            Hinduism has a connotation of being based on meditation with a liberating desire to be free from this world where there is a complex social caste system from which souls can transmigrate. Usually these qualities would not favor an engaged social liberation theology. By studying political social interpretations, we will be able to get a deeper understanding of the complexities of Hinduism, and get a richer understanding of our own religion. In this paper, I will explore the mystic/prophetic distinctions made by Hans Küng showing how they fit in with the Hindu ways to God. A discussion Rahner’s definition of symbol and sacrament will draw light on the struggle between dualist and non-dualist approaches to God. This will allow us to see how the Advaita Vedanta School can be interpreted as a liberation theology. With symbolism and sacrament as necessary tools to connect to the infinite, this paper will conclude with a look at poetry as a tactic to  penetrate the mystery of religious experience while helping our neighbors.


                                    Mystical and Prophetic Religions


Religion , according to Hans Küng, is a many layered realization of a relationship  that takes in human kind and their world and connects them to an ultimate reality (an absolute like God, Brahman, Nirvana). This reality embraces all things from the first to the last (170). Huston Smith says that religion helps us transcend the smallness of the finite self ((38). Are we seeking relief from our condition as an escape from this world, or as a way to live better in this world?   Hans Küng distinguishes between two types of religion. The mystical is concerned with the religious experience of an immediate intuitive experience of unity that abolishes the subject-object division (169). It is turned inward with a goal of feeling a oneness with the divine, and a loss of self (170, 175). In India, mysticism grew from the interpretations in the Upanishads of oneness through meditation. It was Greek influenced (Küng 175). Prophetic religion grew out of the Middle East when the Mosaic religion of Yahweh, embodied by the prophets of Israel, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad, helped the nomadic Semitic tribes escape to a new land (175). According to Küng, mystical piety turns inward, denying instincts, trying to free the body of desire, so that one can experience ecstasy or nirvana. Prophetic piety turns more to a will to live, struggling with doubt and fears, but trying to make this world a place to reach the divine (175-76). These two directions of religion are seen in Hinduism’s paths to Brahman.

            The jnana yoga is the path or way through knowledge associated with Küng’s mystical religion. Smith says God is like the infinite sea of being under the waves of our finite selves. “The sea typified the all-pervading Self, which is as much within us as without, and with which we should seek to identify. Thus envisioned, God is impersonal, or rather transpersonal, for personalty, being something definite seems to be finite whereas the jnanic godhead is infinite”(33). This knowledge is intuitive. We try to arrive at a knowledge of the true self. We try to discover their atman, the God within (Smith 29-30). We examine all of our selves to arrive at the bigger self. Smith explains it using the rider in the chariot as a metaphor of the total self. The horses are the senses, the landscape life; the reins is the mind controlling the senses and the charioteer is the decision maker. Who is the “total” master? That is what the rider is looking for, using all his rational and spiritual skills (Smith 31).

            The karma and bhakti  paths to God are more in line with Küng’s prophetic religion because they deal more with this life, and with a personal god with whom humans can relate. The karma yoga is the way through work. You become what you do. According to Smith, this way can be “affective” where you lose yourself in your devotion to your husband, or child or cause, or “reflective,” where through duty to work you try to grasp your eternal self (38-40). Smith compares the karma yoga to a diet where you starve your finite self, looking for your essence (41). The bhakti yoga is the way of love and devotion. The god of this way is more personal. God is the “other” whom we must learn to love. We use myths in this yoga. In loving and worshiping God, we too become that love (34). Thus, myths help us establish ideals to aspire to (34). [vi] 

            Ninian Smart sees the essence of Hinduism as a blending of two forms of life: bhakti devotionalism and yoga or contemplation. The blending of these two has given rise to the major schools of Hindu thought (113-14).


                                    Liberation Theology’s Place in the Two Religions


            How you blend the contemplative with the devotion aspects of religion will determine whether you work more for social justice in the world, or prepare yourself for flight from the world to another place. Is my religion with a personal or impersonal god? Is it a prophetic vision or a mystical experience? Does the nirguna concept of an impersonal god promote more action against the injustices of the caste system? Ravidas’s teaching (1450CE) implies that a “formless ultimate” transcends all caste discrimination (Esposito 306). Norman Thomas reasons that Ghandi’s way of being free from desire (meditation) can make you free to help others (159-60). Ghandi’s idea of “no one saved until all are saved” is close to the Catholic concept of the communion of saints. Truth here is more impersonal and helps rise above social discriminations. Huston Smith sees karma as the moral law of Hinduism. We must assume the moral responsibility of our actions (64).  Hans Küng sees the karma way as political and in the “prophetic” line of religion (217) and sees India moving away from mysticism to a more liberation type theology (264). However, he does not make a value judgment over the two types of religion (176). We need the “mystical” to satisfy our needs to transcend this world, but we also need the “prophetic” with some form of a personal god to keep us connected. Catholics call this connection sacramental. It is in the symbol that we might get more insight into the two aspects of religion: the meditative/ascetic and the devotional/practical.


                                                The Sacramental Symbol


            A symbol is sacramental if it places the divine in our world. By studying the sacramental value of the symbols we can arrive at criteria for deciding which symbols to cultivate. Karl Rahner discusses the aspects of symbol to arrive at a clearer idea of the Trinity. A symbol is a greater known that gives access to a lesser known, like the mystery of the Trinity (225). A being comes to itself by expression of how it constitutes itself in the “other” ((230). We can only be  aware of the “I” part of our being when we articulate it as an object.  There is no way out of this reflexive situation, unless you are a complete mystic. We need myths to understand our being. Rahner would call them the derivatives of how each reality makes itself known (230). Each symbol has an eidos, a phantom/idea form and a morphe a material form (231). The essence of the reality of the symbol is what gives rise to it. Rahner explains:

“For how does the figure-forming essence of a being (material to start with) constitute and perfect itself? It does so by really projecting its visible figure outside itself as its – symbol, its appearance, which allows it to be there, which brings it out to existence in the world: and in doing so, it retains it – ‘possessing itself in the other.’ The essence is there for itself and for others precisely because of its appearance…” (231).


The Trinitarian God pours himself out into the symbol of Jesus. God wished to be on the earth and Jesus is what God chose to be in free grace (237-8). Jesus, the son or logos is not God’s musical instrument. He cannot be reversed (238). The symbolic function of the Church is to be the presence of the Incarnation of the Logos (240). Hans Küng says that the sacred text or symbol differs from the fairy tale, which is just for entertainment (199). Symbols become idols when they become their own values (259). Rahner says that the “yes” in marriage is symbolic of the faithfulness and love of the partners. It is not the love itself, but it does cause it in a certain way (240-1). Can we use the “dualism” of symbol and its reality to help us understand the advaita vendanta theory of oneness?


                                    Advaita and Love and Works of Mercy


            Advaita Vedanta, a predominant philosophical school of Hinduism based on Shankara’s interpretation of the Upanishads, believes that the ultimate religious experience is non-duality, the essential oneness of the self (atman) and God (Brahman). The way to salvation and oneness with Brahman is through meditative knowledge (jnana). Norman Thomas’s interpretation of Advaita Vedanta makes it compatible with social work, in spite of the objections that Advaita is too transcendent oriented to be concerned with the everyday world (154-5). The liberated person is free from worldly desire and is the fount of goodness and love, and thus is the ideal guru to help others achieve their liberation (155). Raymond Panikkar, a priest and a Hindu, also interprets the “ideal truth” of Hinduism and Christianity as being relational and connected to service in this world (Tincq 837).  Panikkar finds a place for love (bhakti) in the advaitin experience. A vision of love in the advaitin experience will give a vision of how the Trinity operates (Panikkar 309). Panikkar assumes that love is a necessary characteristic of the ultimate self. The quality of absolute love has to manifest itself in a specific person (302). The Absolute Brahman has to love all creatures and creation. Likewise, human love can become absolute. When someone loves someone, not for selfish desires, but because one sees the absolute in the other, one arrives at an absolute love (306). People with bhakti love look, not at each other, but in the same direction. Their love is not egotistical (egolatry is a word coined by Panikkar). They are not looking for a gift in return. Advaita love is full of personality, not individuality (308). Advaitin love is in the non-dualistic (tri-istic?)Trinity. There are not three individuals. The “I” discovers its non-duality, which is the spirit in the “Thou,” the Son (308). The room for love in the Trinitarian experience is in the advaitin experience. Love has to have an “other” and ultimate truth has to have neighbors. Panikkar advocated social work in the world as a necessary way to salvation, but he also experienced his feeling of oneness with the absolute -- in his case the Advaitin Trinity.

                                    The Personal Ultimate Through Poetic Symbols


            Religious experiences have to be expressed to be understood, and to avoid total egoism. The Hindu poet Tagore was not a non-dualist. He connected us with God through his poetry and writings. Love and works of mercy to others is the key to arriving at his ideal  --  “the personal ultimate.” Donald Tuck explores the religious/social motifs of his poetry. His symbols of love, expressing silence and religious experience turn to social concerns. In a dialogue with the sun, a dewdrop laments that he is too small to take the sun unto himself, and thus his life is all tears. The sun in response yields to the dewdrop. He will become a sparkle of light in the life of the dewdrop, which now will be filled with a laughing art (Tuck 102). The worshipper and the worshipped become lost in each other in the above poem. My tears are the way to a deeper reality in union with others who are crying the same tunes. The mystical experiences of religion are complimented by the myths and symbols of religion in the real world. The Hindu ways of knowledge, love and work help me see the tears of love in my Catholic symbol of God – Jesus Christ.

                                                            Works Cited

Esposito, John L., Fasching, Darrell J., and Lewis, Todd.  World Religions Today.  New

York: Oxford UP, 2002.


Küng, Hans, Van Ess, Josef, Von Steitencron, Heinrich,and Bechert, Heinz. Christianity

and the World Religions: Paths of Dialogue with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Trans. Peter Heinegg. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1986.


Panikkar, Raymond. “Advaita and Bhakti: Love and Identity in a Hindu-Christian

Dialogue.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 7.2 (Spring 1970) 299-309.


Rahner, Karl. Theological Investigations IV: More Recent Writings. Trans. Kevin

Smyth. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1966.


Smart, Ninian. The Religious Experience. 5th Ed. Upper saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall,



Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions.  San Francisco: Harper, 1991


Thomas, Norman E. “Liberation for Life: A Hindu Liberation Philosophy.”  Missiology

16.2 (Apr 1988) 149-160.


Tincq, Henri. “An Irruption of Truth: An Interview with Raimon Panikkar.” Trans.

Joseph Cunneen. Christian Century. 117.23 (8/16/2000) 834-836.


Tuck, Donald R. “The Religious Motif in the Poetry of Rabindranath Tagore.” Numen

21.2 (Aug 1974) 97-104.


[i] When the “water” becomes too active it clashed with cultures and does not work. I was thinking of Religious Daoism, for example which had a more alchemical concrete approach to the divine. When religion becomes too specific about eternity, it is less likely to be adapted by other thinkers from other cultures. The “kitchen god” (485-6) is another example of religious correspondance that is too tight.

[ii] For complete harmony, his disciple Mencius (371-279 BCE) advocated rule by the “Mandate of Heaven.” All of history was watching over rulers. If unjust, rebellion was advocated (443).


[iii] In early Japanese religion, Shintoism, there is a rapport with the creating primordial couple who created the kami, the deity responsible for the sun, the moon and other aspects of nature. The kami deity also engendered humans, with the imperial royal family being first. Thus there is a rapport between the gods and humans in the temples and in the burial places. The Japanese shamans facilitate the rapport between the gods and humans. The shrines of the gods and burial places are where they meet.

[iv] Japan, during the Meiji reforms (1870-80), stressed Japanese loyalty while incorporating Western values. Their filial devotion was Confucian in character (470).

[v]                              Some Herons


A blue preacher                                         The poet’s eyes

flew toward the swamp                                flared, just as a poet’s eyes

in slow motion.                                              are said to do


On the leafy banks,                                        when the poet is awakened

an old Chinese poet,                                      from the deepest meditation.

hunched in the white gown of his wings,   It was summer.


was waiting.                                                    It was only a few moments past the sun’s rising

The water                                                        which meant that the whole long sweet day        

was the kind of dark silk                            lay before them.


that has silver lines                                        They greeted each other,

shot through it                                               rumpling their gowns for an instant,      

when touched by the wind                           and then smoothing them.


or splashed upward,                                      They entered the water,

in a small, quick flower,                                 and instantly two more herons --

by the life beneath it.                                     equally as beautiful --               


The preacher                                                  joined them and stood just beneath them

made his difficult landing,                           in the black, polished water

his skirts up around his knees.                   Where they fished all day.


                                                                                                                Mary Oliver          


[vi] Smith also talks of a fourth way, the raja yoga, which consists of psych-physical exercises to clear the mind and think of God (43-4). This way seems compatible with the other yogas.