Panikkar's Cosmotheandric Vision

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John O'neill:

"The overall thesis of his book is his gradual exposition of his cosmotheandric intuition, that the Divine, the Human and the Cosmic are interconnected in an inter-in-dependent way.

This for him is the Rhythm of Being, which cannot be grasped by reason but only through an advaitic (non-dual) experience using the third eye of spirit. He sees that human beings have the freedom and responsibility to play our roles in the destiny of Being, along with the Divine and the Cosmic ( Panikkar, 247).He speaks of the three eyes of sense, reason and spirit. Only a mutual and harmonious interplay between these three will yield a satisfying experience of reality .Man is a triad of senses, reason and spirit, which correlate with matter, thought and freedom.. He takes mysticism to be the immediate experience of (ultimate) reality that can be awakened to a greater or lesser extent in any human being by means of the third eye, which is the seat of the mystical. It needs its own language, for the referent is elusive, silent, transparent, hidden and immanent and only the third eye detects it. He also understands mysticism as the experiential awareness of the whole and/or the study thereof. He further sees it as touching the deepest stratum of the real without the medium of consciousness. The mystical is ineffable, due not to the imperfection of the human intellect but to the nature of reality itself. Reality is ineffable because it is beyond thinking, which is the normal origin of language. He describes the locus of the mystical as the field of emptiness, rather than knowledge, even that of Being. ( Panikkar, 246-247)He is clear that the mystical is open to the fragility of being human He still sees avital role for the demands of the mind or reason and the testimony of the senses. While there is no internal criterion to mystical language there are a number of external criteria by which we can discern whether the experience is authentic and its fruits are good or bad. For him all three eyes are indispensable, along with supports such as a tradition, a teacher and a community. It is important to hear the affirmations of many traditions and to be open to understanding the testimony of so many people to the most intimate personal experience of humanity in the face of the groundless abyss (Panikkar, 251-253).He characterises the symbol of the Divine as having three features: emptiness, freedom, infinitude. He suggests that this also corresponds to the Trinitarian paradigm of Father or Silence, Son or Logos, and Spirit or Love, reflecting a real inter-in-dependence (Panikkar,311-318).

He asserts that

“God can not be experienced in words or even by thinking or doing, but mainly by silence, by being, because Being is silent. If we are able to perceive the silent dimension of things we shall be able to become aware of the Divine, not only because the Divine is hidden in silence, but because the Divine is Silence. Silence is not the negation of Being; it is not Non-Being. It is the absence of everything and ultimately the absence of Being. It is prior to Being. To become aware of the silence of Being and the silence of the word is close to discovering the divine dimension. He is concerned about the human ways of opening up to that experience eg through the practice of the presence of God. This is for him is a discovery of the divine dimension in the act in which we are engaged, God’s transcendence visible in the immanent” (Panikkar, 324-325).

For Panikkar, our only adequate approach to the mystery of the Divine is the silence of all our faculties, body, mind and will, in an experience of the Emptiness of the Divine. We cannot say anything about it because it is ineffable (Panikkar, 325-336).

However, there is an awareness of the Divine which allows us to “speak” of it when our logos is not separated from the pneuma (or spirit)The apophatic approach to the Divine take the Absolute absolutely, by dissolving all its kataphatic, affirmative assertions in utter silence and discovering the very Emptiness of the Absolute. He sees the necessity for combining the apophatic with the kataphatic approaches to the Divine, as neither on its own is convincing. Apophatic mystics write and certainly speak. Kataphatic thinkers contradict each other and their own affirmations become obsolete or are even proved to be wrong over time. There is a co-experience and positive symbiosis between the two which relativises both. There is always a silence behind any affirmation that makes room for other possible formulations. There is always an implicit word behind any silence that does not permit either nihilism or indifference. He sees the relation between the two as non-dualistic rather than as a problematic dialectic. They are neither one nor two but it is not enough to keep silent in order to be in the truth, and to use words does not necessarily mean to fall into error. He sees monotheism not as an absolute truth but as a human reaction in the face of the Divine mystery. He sees the Trinity as a way out of this apparent aporia in that there is the silence or emptiness of the Father and the love or activity of the Spirit, which if they speak at all, do so through the Logos (Panikkar,249)

Panikkar takes a survey through many religious and philosophical traditions to produce evidence that reality as a whole has a trinitarian structure. Panikkar extends the notion of the Divine Trinity to include the whole of reality . For him the entire universe is Father, Christ and Holy Spirit. The entire destiny of reality is a christic adventure. He sees that this broader idea of the Trinity may open the door to a fuller Christianity in the third millennium as well as assist in the encounter between Christianity and other religions and cultures. The Divine, the Human and the Cosmic are correlated as interconnected but each is independent in an inter-in- dependent way. The Cosmos and God have their role to play, but we also have our freedom and our responsibility. Christ is the Christian symbol for the whole of Reality, as God, Humanity and Cosmos

.. Panikkar also calls him the cosmotheandric Christ, in and through whom the whole universe is called to share the Trinitarian perichoresis. Sharing in the experience of Christ through contemplation, can be a mystical and cosmotheandric experience. It leads into the silence of the Mystery of the Father, into solidarity with others in the human community and into an expansive awareness of embodiment in the cosmos. Humanity is the meeting point of the three dimensions – the spiritual, the intellectual and the material. The Christian tradition has seen in Humanity represented in Christ as the head of the entire “mystical body” , the icon of the entire reality (Panikkar,349). Panikkar emphasises three elements of a cosmotheandric spirituality: Humanity’s task of transforming the cosmos through co-operation with the Divine, which includes care of the earth and a radical political transformation. (Panikkar, 349)He speaks of contemplation as an essential element in all religions because it corresponds to a fundamental trait of Man. It is not just praying to God but it unifies one’s life by bringing together praxis and theory, action and knowledge, immediate action and effective non-attachment. Panikkar uses the word Kosmology to mean the science about a holistic sense of the kosmos. It deals with how Man envisions the universe, with how kosmos displays itself to Man and with the experience that Man has of the universe in which we participate (Panikkar, 349).He challenges the prevailing scientific, technocratic and rationalistic mythos of our times He calls for, sees signs of and , proposes fragments of a new kosmology, story and mythos based on the cosmotheandric insight which situates humanity within its proper place in reality, with its unique role and dignity along with God and the Kosmos, which contains the treasures from human traditions as well as being adynamic force which weaves together old and new into something we cannot foresee.

It sees the Divine, the Human and the Cosmic as essential dimensions of a holistic view of reality, in which “everything is related to everything but without monistic identity or dualistic separation” (Panikkar, 404)."