– that it be relevant to both partners in the dialogue (i.e., Alberionian Christology and the Asian spiritual master tradition); – that it be conceptually valid but praxis-oriented, rooted in experience, not merely abstract, in keeping with the formative or educational goal of this study; – that it help to focus the treatment of the subject, but that it be at the same time open to wider themes within the context of the Christological question and interreligious dialogue as a whole.
The guiding perspective is the theme of “power in powerlessness.” Its importance for the project is such that it has been chosen as the title of the study. The project has to be situated in the context of the different types of power. In regard to the first criterion, the figure of the spiritual master is, in any tradition, a power figure, though his or her power may be envisioned in different ways, some of which, like “power in powerlessness,” are paradoxical. Similarities among the various traditions will be noted when the above guiding perspective is used for analysis; at the same time, significant differences also emerge. The study will attempt to show how crosscultural religious dialogue in Asia can be most fruitful in the area of formation precisely when these paradoxical differences are explored. The requirement of the second criterion is met in the choice of power as a concept, which is not the fruit primarily of an intellectual exercise but which flows from the concrete experience of power rooted in the human heart and expressed in human behavior particularly in interpersonal relationships. The formative exercise of power is of particular relevance to a religious congregation that honors Christ as Master, as the one who incarnates a type of power that offers an alternative to power as domination and control. That the guiding perspective focuses the unfolding of the subject, as required by the third criterion, will be clear in the development of the succeeding chapters. At the same time, this perspective opens up to related and broader themes which, though they are barely hinted at and not explored directly in this study, reveal the significance of this perspective not only for the “Jesus question” but for the “God question” and for interreligious dialogue as a whole. One final point must be taken into consideration: the choice of the guiding perspective and the manner in which it is developed here is the most original element of the whole study. In the entire body of Pauline congregational research, no systematic studies exist regarding Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life from this point of view of power. Although this could be interpreted as a limitation of the study, it may also become a stimulus for further studies to be made along the same lines.
Method The basic method employed by this study is that of comparative analysis. Essential elements of both Alberionian Christology and the Hindu and Buddhist spiritual master traditions (with special emphasis on the Hindu guru tradition, and on guru Christology) will be indicated and compared in order to point out similarities and differences. The key to the choice of elements and their comparison is, as mentioned above, the paradox of power in powerlessness. The spirit with which this analysis is undertaken will be that of respectful and open dialogue with a view to mutual understanding and enrichment.
Dialogue between Alberione and Asian Traditions of the Spiritual Masters.