JESUSIAN ADVAITA SERIES } Recently, Richard Rohr entered my life. I was digging up the state of contemporary contemplative practices. Then, this Franciscan friar popped up. He’s quite a surprise. Almost a bull in a china shop, if you compare him with the traditional Catholic tutors. 😉
In his rewarding tome Yes, and.. Daily Meditations Rohr points out the authority of sadhana (practice) in the Western Christian tradition. Catholics and the Orthodox rely on tradition. Protestants live on scriptures. Rohr suggests to add what he calls as the third principle of ‘God Experience’ to form a trilateral foundation in sadhana.
I was amused to see this.
Traditionally, exchange of Indian vedantic wisdom also happens based on a three-forked strategy.
Sruti is its first foundation. Śruti [ʃrut̪i]) is a Sanskrit word for “that which is heard”. It refers to the body of authoritative texts per se the four Vedas including their latter part, the Upanishads. That’s scriptures as a foundation. The eminent Protestant choice 🙂
Then, they rely on the authority of guru, based on a proven sampradaya (tradition). The Vedas themselves ask a novice to be sent to an acharya to teach the pupil the scriptures. The guru himself would be part of a strong sampradaya, a succession of masters and disciples, who serve as a spiritual channel for him. That’s tradition, a Catholic source of authority 🙂
Now, let’s come to Rohr’s personal addition of ‘God Experience’. In vedantic studies, the foundational authority of the guru had to come from his Brahmanişţha. Which figuratively means he had to be “established in Brahman”. That he had to have a full realisation of oneness of Brahman in everything and in himself. Isn’t that the very God Experience recommended by Rohr?
See the esoteric study in India has had these trilateral foundations from a long time ago. Because seeking wisdom was a serious business once in India. It’s no longer the case. So all the more delighted that such fervent investigations are happening in the Catholic fold in the West. Some of the Eastern contemplative practices are now adopted by such progressive theologians in the US. A hearty namastey to those brothers 😉
We’ll keep on looking at parallels like these that connect both Western and Eastern esoteric studies in the coming weeks.
Let me part with one of my favourite lines from Ephesians (5:13) “Everything exposed to the light itself becomes light” [ Through Rohr’s book; though standard versions put the line slightly differently]
May the light turn everything into the same light of love.