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HTS Theological Studies

Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Abstract

KOURIE, Celia  and  KURIAN, Alex. Abhishiktananda: a Christian advaitin. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2011, vol.67, n.3, pp. 314-322. ISSN 0259-9422.

In our pluralistic society, the diverse religious traditions offer an opportunity for inter-religious dialogue which has as its aim an appreciation of, and respect for, the integrity of individual traditions. Swami Abhishiktananda is a clear example of one who offered an alternative to Christian exclusiveness in his willingness to engage in an inter-spiritual lifestyle in which Eastern and Western mystical traditions are seen to be mutually enriching. By opting to make his own life a crucible to test his beliefs and convictions Abhishiktananda endured lifelong trials and tribulations. His life can broadly be divided into four phases, namely the 'fulfilment' phase, with its typical Western triumphalist missionary mentality, followed by the crisis phase thanks to his encounter with Hindu spirituality. This led him to the third phase in which he dared to relativise all conceptualisations as concretisations of the inexpressible Mystery. During the final two years of his life he entered the fourth and the last phase of liberation or 'explosion' of all previous concepts. Abhishiktananda spoke of an experience, which he called ati-Advaita, or Advaitatita which is an experience of Unity and Trinity. He claimed that the sages of India were correct to say neither one nor many, but just to say, not-two, advaita, and not-one, an-eka.

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