Spirituality and Emptiness: The Dynamics of Spiritual Life in Buddhism and Christianity

Spirituality and Emptiness: The Dynamics of Spiritual Life in Buddhism and Christianity

Spirituality and Emptiness: The Dynamics of Spiritual Life in Buddhism and Christianity

Spirituality and Emptiness: The Dynamics of Spiritual Life in Buddhism and Christianity

Synopsis

Juxtaposes the views of Japanese Buddhists of the Kyoto School with those of traditional Christian spirituality by focusing on the Buddhist concept of Emptiness and the key theological issue of Kenosis, the process of self-emptying.

Excerpt

When I first read The Seven Storey Mountain, I was too young to realize how important was Thomas Merton's interest in Eastern religions. Merton's later writings fleshed out that interest and reaffirmed his desire to seek wisdom in the East. That the monk from Gethsemani in Kentucky died in the Far East is symbolism that would not have been lost on him. Merton prepared many for the call to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue issued by Vatican ii. For me the next step on this journey was an invitation by Dr. Egon Gerdes to participate in a Protestant—Catholic dialogue that lasted a decade but which has profoundly affected my vision of spirituality and has convinced me that Catholic spirituality must be in dialogue with other traditions if it is to escape insularity. Work on the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the archdiocese of Milwaukee at the request of Sister Maureen Hopkins and under the leadership of Archbishop Rembert Weakland made it possible for me to be involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue at the grassroots. Dialogues must flourish at this level if they are to be anything more than mere fancy talk among theorists.

Now Professor Mitchell's Spirituality and Emptiness brings the initiation to dialogical religion, inspired by Merton many years ago, full circle. More than ever this book demonstrates the crucial importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Christian spirituality is doomed to parochialism unless it has the daring to see the goodness, truth and beauty of the spiritualities of world religions. Spirituality and Emptiness is everything that one expects of this philosopher of religion with uncommon intellectual and religious integrity. Don Mitchell has studied the archetypal theme of emptiness from the perspectives of deeply held commitments inside the Buddhist and Christian traditions. His knowledge and respect for these traditions provide sure guidance to a reader moving back and forth with him in a dialectical effort to bring Buddhist and Christian spiritualities into creative tension over the theme of empti-

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