Friday, September 11, 2009

Shantivanam

Shantivanam truly served for me as a bridge into hindu ritual. It is one thing to learn about the "other" and it is another thing to learn to pray as the other. My own first exprience at the temple was one of distance and of discomfort. I knew of coursed that this was soemthing deeply important for the poeple there, but I couldn't help but feel ill at ease.
later, as i gained more exposure to the temple, mostly by way of tourism, i moved from a mild revulsoion to amusement. It was almost as paul writes: we know that the idols aren't real, so we can eat their food in good consicence, I knew that I could redirect my prayer from the idols to my own sense of the divine, making the symbolic rituals of the hindu, but reserving always my interiority apart from the ritual..

Sunset on the cavery river.

At shantivanam, i was able, evn if only on a superficial level, to learn how to rpay as the hindus do, to see the deep symbilic significance behind the arachi, the bindi, the sandal wood, etc, and to know it not merely on an intellectuak level, but to pray it. I lived and experienced how inculturation and interreligious dialogue are related, because it was through inculutration, through finding the other within my own tradition, that I began to develop a deeper love for the tradition of the other. knowledge born out of love is of far more value relationally than knowledge born out of books.

Sunrise hiding the river destroyed by dredging below it. Nature can make every human tragedy into a place of beauty.
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