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A Message from the Editor

t has been an axiom of this journal since its founding eight years ago that the study of religion and the practice of religion are mutually reinforcing and complementary. Just as we naturally expect that an accomplished musicologist or music journalist will also be a musician, and that a legal scholar or a journalist specializing in law will have had legal training, it would seem obvious that we should equally expect scholars of religion to have had some personal knowledge of the spiritual life. Without such experience, it will be hard for a student of religion to make any sense of what is going on in the minds of religious people. Granted, blind loyalty to a particular religious tradition may well result in biased or uncritical scholarship. But between the guesswork of the outsider and the bias of the apologist, there is the fruitful middle ground of the scholarpractitioner. One need only think of Ếtienne Lamotte, the Belgian Jesuit and professor of Greek at Louvain; he was a lifelong Catholic practitioner who, during decades of labor in historical scholarship and translation, made important advances in the study of Indian Buddhism. Contemplation, in particular, is by its very nature an inward experience of the mind, and in studying contemplation and the experiences it can lead to, one can hardly avoid some inquiry into the realm of the subjective. But this need for subjective exploration has caused contemplation to be largely banished from the university classroom on the grounds that subjective experience is ipso facto not objective and therefore not admissible as data worthy of study. In a lecture sponsored by the Institute for World Religions, publisher of this journal, and later revised for publication here as our lead article, Professor Harold D. Roth of Brown University delivers a scolding to his fellow scholars of religion for largely ignoring the topic of contemplation in their study and in their teaching. Rejecting the bias against subjective experience as a source of reliable information—a bias he calls “cognitive imperialism”—Roth describes the program in contemplative studies he has helped establish at Brown. In a response to Roth’s lecture, B. Alan Wallace, a leading voice in contemplative studies, joins Roth in taking exception to the stifling influence of what he calls the “Church Scientific” on the study of religion. The subsequent articles in this issue continue the discussion of subjective religious experience by examining spiritual practices and by exploring various accounts of the presence of the divine. We begin with three articles by or about practitioners. First is a transcription of instruction in silent meditation by the late Ven. Master Hsüan Hua, a patriarch in the Wei Yang lineage of the Chan school in China. Next, ISSUE 8, OCTOBER 2008

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William Jackson presents the central ideas of that master practitioner of karma yoga, Mahatma Gandhi. Third, Fausto Gianfreda S.J. gives an account of the spiritual career of the French Benedictine theologian Henri Le Saux (Abhishiktananda), who in his life and in his extensive writings merged his experience of advaita contemplation in the Hindu tradition with his Christian faith. Finally, we offer three articles that compare ideas concerning the immanence of the divine in the world and in the human mind. Mark Hanshaw compares the writings of two religious innovators, the Hindu theologian Rāmānuja and the English theologian John Wesley, on the subject of divine grace. Next, an exploration of the parallels between the Hellenistic and Christian concepts of logos and the Hindu concept of śakti is presented by Lauren Bausch, whom we recently welcomed to the staff of Religion East & West as assistant editor. We conclude with Thomas Cottoi’s comparison of ideas of spiritual embodiment expressed by the Greek theologian Maximos the Confessor and the Tibetan philosopher Tsong kha pa. —David Rounds

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RELIGION EAST & WEST


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