08 octobre 2016

Marco Pallis, On Crossing Religious Frontiers (note de lectura)

In previous ages, contacts between different religions partook of an “accidental” character.

The attitude of the religions that have sprung from the Semitic stem is to exclude the possibility of others spirituality. For the Indian traditions, a plurality of spiritual paths is taken for granted.

The Eastern openness of mind does not indicate any kind of doctrinal laxity. This attitude of practical tolerance is an expression of traditional orthodoxy, not of its absence.

For the modern man, the idea of religious toleration goes hand in hand with a religious indifference, which is not a gain.

There is a relationship uniting form as such to the formless Truth.

“ [...] the arts have everywhere served as a vehicle for a spiritual message according to one or other traditional pattern, and the internal consistency of the artistic language, wherever an authentically traditional life prevails, goes together with an extreme differentiation versus other forms, the power to convey universal truth being in fact proportional to formal strictness as regards the means of expression.” (p. 4)

The new idea is what might be termed “inter-traditional co-operation” between representatives of different religions => at least a partial recognition of a common spiritual factor underlying all the forms concerned and escaping their formal limitations.

Heresy has always tended to be vociferous where true knowledge is content to lie low and bide its time.

Pope Pius XI when dispatching his Apostolic Delegate to Libya: “Do not think you are going among infidels. Muslims attain to Salvation. The ways of Providence are infinite.” (Quotation is from l’Ultima, Anno VIII, Florence 1954)

In their formal aspects the oppositions between the various religions are not without some justification. Though it is important to remember that no opposition can be regarded as irreducible in an absolute sense.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the great Bengali teacher of the 19th century, lived both Islam and Christianity during certain periods of his life and thus was able the “verify” their essential agreement with his own Hinduism.

The term “secular” suffers from an inherently blasphemous flavor that no one can disguise.

When reliance upon formal elements is pronounced, bridging the gap to another form becomes correspondingly hard.

The mind of Western man shows the impress of its Christian formation even when believing itself to have shaken loose from its effects.

In times of crisis, the use of “dogmatic” definitions in the service of a religious orthodoxy can amount to a solid protection, at least for the generality, though at the same time it will always remain something of a two-edged weapon.

For the Christians, the danger is their dogmatism. For the Orientals, the danger is their open-mindedness. In both cases, the danger is in the very quality of the particular tradition.

The goodwill is not enough to ensure the success in any form of cooperation between humans. It is a great and common error to suppose that Charity is something that can function unintelligently, for true Charity is grounded less upon kind feeling than upon the nature of things: fundamentally it demands a spiritual attitude, not simply a moral one. Charity is in fact intensely realistic and “practical”. Charity rests upon the disappearance of ego-separativity in the face of God, with its accompanying abolition of all sense of otherness toward one’s fellow beings, and this is only realizable in terms of both knowledge and love.

In the spiritual field, differences of expression often mask an identity of content, while verbal resemblances may accompany essential differences.

“the gift of tongues,” the ability, that is to say, both to speak and understand the various dialects through which the Spirit has chosen to communicate itself to men in their diversity and therefore, in

practice, also the ability to communicate clearly with one’s fellows across the religious frontiers. In other words it exemplifies the power to penetrate all traditional forms as well as to render them mutually intelligible for the sake of those who, not by evading but rather by faithfully observing the claims of form where they properly belong, will make of this obedience not a shuttered but an open window, one through which light and air are able to penetrate and from which the imprisoned bird can start forth on an unhindered flight.

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