Learning Our Way
Learning Our Way
Some Catholic Reflections on the Catholic-Hindu Encounter
This chapter provides an overview of the encounter between Catholicism and Hinduism. Following a personal introduction, the chapter gives a ten-point description of Hinduism that makes it difficult to reduce it simply to a key idea, single culture or period of history, or a neat theological system. After outlining ten key Hindu teachings, the chapter warns that one must not let these teachings float in a timeless space; they need to be put back into their historical contexts. The task, then, is one of respecting the complexity of Hinduism in history and on the ground. The chpater favors a comparative approach. Instead of trying to understand Hinduism in terms of Catholicism, which to some extent is impossible not to do, the chapter shows how a careful and prayerful effort to understand Hindu prayers, for example, opens up rich avenues for understanding religious practices. Visiting a Hindu temple, and looking at Hindu images provide still another rich way of entering into the religious world of Hindus. It is best, the chapter advises, to enter areas of theological and ethical disagreement, which it lists, only after acquiring a rich appreciation of some similarities. It concludes by affirming that while there needs to be “honest recognition of both theologically stated goals and on-the-street realities,” the Catholic-Hindu dialogue enriches its participants in ways that are good in themselves.
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