Prologue: A City “Beyond” Religion

January 30, 2013

Ironically for a trip that was meant to focus on the interaction of various religions with one another, particularly Hinduism and Catholicism, the first place we visited was a small city/state called Auroville and had little to do with religion or Hinduism.  Ironically, because Auroville claims to be a spiritual community that lives “beyond” religion.  It is the Disney World of “spiritual but not religious.”  We were taken around the place by a woman named Lisa, a woman of German descent (with blonde hair in the picture) who had been born in the Auroville community. 

310006_4344429054158_55847313_nYou can read all about Auroville, its founding by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, its split with the Aurobindo Ashram and the technicalities of its functioning all online. What I would like to reflect on is this claim of being a community beyond religion.  In essence what this means for the community of 2000 plus who live in the city – a city that is under construction for 50,000 – is that no religion in particular is taught in any of the classes.  Children can opt to go to workshops about religions, but none of them are mandatory.  There are no rituals.  Everyone experiences the Feminine Spirit in whatever way that they feel free doing.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Prayer for Discernment

January 24, 2013

Over the next several weeks, I would like to share with you all some of my reflections on the three weeks that I recently spent in India on a theological immersion into Hinduism.  These reflections are both spiritual and theological, personal and social.  The purpose is to clarify my own very undeveloped thoughts on many of these matters, so I wholeheartedly welcome comments and dialogue for clarification.

I applied for this course along with the trip to India for one reason: to reflect academically and spiritually on the presence of God, on the “rays of truth” as Nostra Aetate puts it, that are to be found in the Hindu religion.  I went to India convinced that discernment of those rays is no mere academic exercise.  Unless one is willing to pray with those of other religions, one will never be able to discover the presence of God within them.

And yet I went with some trepidation as well.  Although I have studied Islam briefly previously, I really have very little experience of other religions.  And while Islam worships the historical God of Abraham, Allah, to whom I’ve never had any trouble praying, the Hindu pantheon of gods presents to me a greater challenge.  What I needed was wisdom and discernment, and for this throughout the trip I prayed.  Read the rest of this entry »