Sunday, July 24, 2011


by Scott Bradley

"For the Buddha, true faith is in the transcendent, in the unconditional, in that which in no way 'is'. Either we admit to a bridge between the absolute and the relative . . . and then the very bridge contaminates absolute transcendence . . . or else the abyss is real and unbridgeable, and then there is no way to reach it but through the destruction of all ways, all paths." -- Raimundo Panikkar (The Silence of God: The Answer of Buddha)

At the risk of becoming tiresome in my disclaimers, I nonetheless feel I must make one again now, before I begin. My knowledge is shallow, my understanding severely limited. Panikkar, in contrast, had a seemingly encyclopedic grasp of things religious and the ability to discuss them in numerous languages living and dead. Nevertheless, I trust to my own heart and recognize no authority, Master or sage. It is not by knowledge or understanding or brilliance of mind, either our own or that of another, that we find our own way, but by unfolding of our own unique experience in the pilgrimage that is life.

I have often said that Reality is what Is, whatever that is. And this is the path I take. Though I aspire to transcendence and believe in the same, I recognize no abyss between the transcendent and mundane. Unity is and does not need to be attained. There is no salvation necessary because nothing is lost.

Panikkar would say I have slipped into pantheism, one of the "sixty-four heresies" (for which, alas, a price must be paid), and to this I'd reply, away with your words, your categories and your boxes. And this I know he could most readily do, for he already does it when his own thought meets its logical end.

Panikkar makes mention elsewhere that Buddhism refuses to involve itself with the speculative distinction between Being and Non-Being. I would suggest we do the same with the distinctions between the transcendent and mundane, the absolute and the relative, the temporal and eternal, conditioned and unconditioned, and all the other speculative profundities which so occupy our minds. Buddhism is said to adopt a neither/nor attitude to the extremes; I would suggest that we do the same with all such speculations, throw in both/and for good measure, and then leave Mystery a sacred, fallow ground.

Those that are enamored of Buddhism point to the profundities of its thought. This, for me, is no recommendation at all.

Panikkar also observes: "The basic presupposition of this conception [that there is an unbridgeable abyss between the transcendent and mundane] is that all things are made." And this, I think, helps to explain our parting of ways. What is made has a Maker and thus there is not One but two. And though nirvana is the re-union of both, the abyss is unbridgeable from this side of the river except through the extinction of Is.

For me, 'God' is not holy, separate and Other, for It is just you and me, the rocks and the trees, the galaxies and universes — and whatever else there might Be or Not-Be, or Neither and Both....If all is indeed Mystery, I would honor it as such.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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