Saturday, 7 September 2013

Gispert-Sauch and Dupuis on Abhishiktananda

Just dipped randomly into an article by Gispert-Sauch about Abhishiktananda, and found some precious insights, which G-S takes, I think, from Dupuis: three questions, actually, for the Swamiji, and an appreciation:

1. Are not experience and expression related? Is not all experience related to nama-rupa, name and form? Is it true that names and forms are totally unable to disclose the Absolute? G-S answers: Sankara at any rate believed that they are able to do so, and notes that Sankara developed a philosophy of laksanartha. (This is nice! G-S is probably echoing / drawing upon De Smet here.) The Upanisads themselves offer a more positive relationship between experience and expression. (123-24)

2. Can the experience of Jesus be reduced to the Upanisadic Aham Brahma asmi? Is not the filial relationship inserted into Jesus' very experience of 'I am'? (124-25)

3. Has not the dialectical opposition between vyavaharika and paramarthika been overcome by the Easter experience of Jesus and the apostles? G-S calls this "an astonishing and metaphysically subversive" news. (125-26)

He ends with an appreciation of Dupuis that I find wonderful, because of the way it appreciates the Swamiji's 'living with tensions' or 'holding tensions together', something that Stephanie Saldana hinted at in her sharing at the recently concluded ILW4 at Jerusalem:
Abhishiktananda was unable to transcend these antinomies (between advaita and Christianity) theologically. It was not his calling to construct their synthesis, and he left this responsibility to other. His greatness is elsewhere: It consists in having lived within himself the symbiosis of two traditions, Hindu and Christian, in so real a way that both became part of himself, without his ever being able to reject or disown either. His stubborn fidelity to his two faiths - or better, as he wrote one day, to the 'two forms of a single "faith"' - make of him a prophetic figure in a time when the 'marriage of East and West', especially the encounter between the Christian mystery and Hindu mysticism - in full respect for their differences and without lurking ambiguity - is felt as an urgent need. His experience opens an important avenue towards a Christian theology of religious traditions that would be based on an existential encounter with these traditions in inter-religious dialogue. (J. Dupuis, Jesus Christ and the Encounter of World Religions [Maryknoll: Orbis, 1991] 90) [See G-S 126-27.]
G. Gispert-Sauch, "Christ and the Indian Mystical Tradition - Swami Abhishiktananda," Blossoms from the East: Contribution of the Indian Church to World Mission, ed. Joseph Mattam and Krickwin C. Marak, Fellowship of Indian Missiologists (FOIM) n. 6 (Mumbai: St Pauls, 1999) 123-127.

I am excited because Dupuis and G-S put very charitably something that I have heard and read De Smet saying about the Swamiji. 

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