hinduism-II-text.doc - HINDU-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE(From...

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HINDU-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE (From Leonard Swidler, After the Absolute , 1990) a. Potential Dialogue Partners As deep as the differences are among Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in some ways they are much more profound between the three of them on the one hand and the religions of the Orient, those stemming from India and China, on the other. Even the modern secular ideologies or "explanations of the meaning of life and how to live accordingly" of the West, such as humanism and Marxism, are essentially derivative from the Judeo-Christian tradition and are thus closer to their Semitic-Hellenic roots than are the religions sprung from Asian cultures. There are also the religions of Africa and the Americas, which again are very different from the rest in that they tend to be much more oral than the others. That fact alone places definite limitations on the accumulation of religious reflection that occurs in those religions as compared to the so-called major world religions. Of course, as seen above, once the view of the religious thinker has turned outward from a self-centeredness, dialogue with one's neighbors is a logical step. For Jews, Christians and Muslims their closest neighbors are each other. But the logic of dialogue does not stop here, especially in a world that has so shrunk in size. In the relationship between these three Semitic religions and the Asian religions a converse logic takes over: because the Asian religions are so different, because their perspective on reality is so other, they therefore can contribute many new insights into reality which the Semitic religions would not of themselves attain--and vice versa. Hence dialogue with them also becomes imperative. I am not going to attempt to spell out the problems and promises of the dialogue of the West with all the religions of the world, nor even with all the major ones. Rather, I will limit myself to the major religions of Asia, those arising in the ancient centers of civilization, outside of the Near East and Southeastern Europe, namely, India and China, and will restrict myself even further within the framework of the four major religions of India and China (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism) that is, to Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Even then, I will content myself with raising only a very few major points. That, however, ought to be enough to provide the glimmerings of a horizon within which the dialogues can fruitfully take place. Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism have developed many highly articulate spokespersons in the modern Western world, which Taoism has not in the same way--nor indeed, have any of the other even populous religions of Asia, Africa or the Americas. Hence, outside the Semitic religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism are the major--though not the only--logical interreligious dialogue partners for the West, for Jews, Christians--and Muslims too.
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