Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I note with sadness that one of my favorite Buddhist writers, Robert Aitken, passed away earlier this month, on August 5. His Taking the Path of Zen, his The Mind of Clover, and his The Ground We Share: Everyday Practice, Buddhist and Christian (co-authored with Brother David Steindl-Rast) sit proudly on my shelves. One or two more books of his sit on my 17-page-long Amazon.com wish list.

Another of my mentors-from-afar, Father Raimon Panikkar, passed away only a few days ago. Panikkar, whom I've referred to in discussions of religious pluralism, was uncomfortable with the idea that reality could be squeezed into models and paradigms, preferring to see the metaphysical situation as one of fundamental incommensurability. Imagine shattering two separate panes of glass, then being commanded to gather up and assemble the shards into a single pane. Impossible, right? This was Panikkar's insight: all approaches to reality, scientific, religious, or otherwise, are shards that do not (and perhaps cannot) add up to a coherent whole. I'm best acquainted with Panikkar's The Intrareligious Dialogue, but have also read some of his Myth, Faith, and Hermeneutics. Stephen Kaplan's Different Paths, Different Summits contains many references to Panikkar's work, and Panikkar also makes an appearance in The Myth of Christian Uniqueness, a compilation of pro-pluralistic papers by various scholars.

May both of these gentle people rest in peace.


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