CHAPTER FOUR THE POWER PERSPECTIVE
The first three chapters of this doctoral project have provided elements of the Alberionian Christological tradition which refers to Christ as Master, Way, Truth and Life, as well as of some Asian spiritual master traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism, with a view to indicating contact points for dialogue between these two traditions, that is, the Alberionian and the Asian traditions.1 The dialogue has a formative intention: to foster in Asian formands of the Daughters of St. Paul the inculturation and assimilation of the Congregation’s spirituality centered on Christ as Master, Way, Truth and Life. The doctoral project utilizes an organizing principle for the selection of those elements on which to construct the formative dialogue. That key principle is power, intrinsic to the figure of a spiritual master in any tradition. It reveals the similarities between the traditions of master under consideration, functioning as an integrating thread that allows for intercultural and interreligious connections. By this the Asian formand is helped to see that the Christological spirituality she is asked to assume as a Daughter of St. Paul is relevant to the religious and cultural traditions in which her life has been embedded and shaped. At the same time, the perspective of power brings to light basic differences in the two traditions. Ultimately, these differences point to radically diverse world views, as well as philosophical and theological foundational principles which may well be irreconcilable. The challenge is not to allow the dialogue to come to a halt at this point, but to explore these differences with openness, sensitivity and respect. Further exploration will permit a more enlightened understanding of one’s chosen belief system with its traditions, and an increased ability to share its riches with others. At the same time, one grows in the understanding and appreciation of the riches that are present in the other traditions, which have shaped the Asian formand’s personal experience of the Sacred in a predominantly non-Christian culture2 and are still formatively active in one’s life.
Meanings and Applications of Power Making use of power as the perspective by which to compare and contrast the Asian with the Alberionian (and therefore Christian) traditions of the spiritual master will require a clarification of what power means and what are the ways it is practiced and experienced. There is need first of all to distinguish between power and authority. These terms are often used as synonyms for each other. However, Webster’s Dictionary3 defines power as “an ability to do, a capacity to act,” with the connotation of force, vigor, strength, while authority is “the power or a right to command, act, enforce obedience, or make final decisions” and further, “the power derived from opinion, respect, or esteem; influence of character or office” (emphasis added). Power is inherent in a person’s being; authority on the other hand is conferred on the person and is largely dependent upon cultural and societal legitimization, even in cases where such legitimization is obtained by force. Having been given or having seized authority, a person acquires the power to impose his will on others. On the other hand, having a particular
Dialogue between Alberione and Asian Traditions of the Spiritual Masters.