Francis X. Clooney, SJ responds to a question posed following an interfaith event in which he shared his experiences within Hinduism: “Is enlightenment compatible with Christian faith?”
I think there were two components to the question I was asked: First, is it compatible with Christian faith that someone have a sudden, radical change in life, a single mind- and life-altering experience, insight? Second, can a Christian who experiences enlightenment have that irreversible unitive experience, realizing all reality to be simply, entirely one?
The question of enlightenment turns out to be timely, in light of this Sunday’s Gospel, the call of the first apostles in Mark 1.14-20. For is it not a kind of enlightenment scene? Consider what we hear: Continue reading
Throughout our Feminist Ethics class, I have been thinking about Mary Daly’s concept of “Goddess” in her Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. I don’t believe that there is any sound theological argument that the term “God” itself represents patriarchy. Theologically speaking, if we study the Bible systematically, particularly Genesis 1:27, it is unquestionable that God is associated with both feminine and masculine imagery. God is imaged as both mother and father. In contrast to this nature, Mary Daly does not merely seek to erase masculine imagery from the term “God,” but the word “God” itself. However, “Goddess” without the masculine imagery can no longer be the Perfect Goddess, just as “God” without the image of the feminine also remains imperfect.
As I see it, the problem lies not with using the term “God” itself, but how we understand and interpret God with our knowledge and languages. In short, we need not eliminate the word “God”—we need only change our traditional understanding of God.
One of the holistic personal growth disciplines I practice is Yoga. The connection of body and breath and the clarity of mind brought on by the stretching of the body bring enormous psychological refreshment, and the flowing movements and stretching itself if of considerable physical benefit.
In the past few months, I have also been studying Yoga philosophy, of which there is a considerable body of work, though it is only now beginning to become widely available and easily accessible in the West. One neatly packaged summary of both Yoga philosophy and Yoga practice (and many yogis would no doubt balk at that dichotomy) is Yoga for Depression, by Amy Weintraub (Broadway Books, 2004). Weitraub, a Yoga teacher and fellow at the Kripalu Yoga center literally cured her own depression through Yoga practice. I have not finished the book, and cannot yet comment on its merits, though so far it seems promising.
However, one comment early in the book caught by attention. Speaking of Yoga philosophy, Weintraub writes, “There is no original sin in the system of Yoga. There is only wholeness and separation.” Weintraub is suggesting that we are separated from our identity, our unity with the rest of the universe, and this is the source of suffering and one of the causes of depression.
I think Weintraub is right. We do not know who we are as human beings. We do not recognize the fingerprints of the Divine Creator in us and on us. We forget what glorious beings we were created to be. Continue reading
Imagine if you had several hours to sit with someone and listen to their story, while re-assuring them with your touch and sharing with them spiritually transforming concepts in the casual tone that defies barriers. Imagine if that person whom you have shared with would be able to have tangible reminders of your conversation–and how much you care–to reflect back upon during the following weeks. Imagine if she was also compelled to tell her friends about your conversation and the spirituality you had shared one afternoon.
Imagine if that storytelling were done in such a beautiful and creative way that it adorned that woman as exemplar as a child of God.
In South Asia, there is a project to use henna art and storytelling to tell stories from the Bible and the gospel message. Continue reading