Raimon Panikkar

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

URL = https://www.raimon-panikkar.org

Contextual Quote

"By going from Raimundo Pániker to Raimon Panikkar, he was Catalanizing his first name and Indianizing his last, and both steps are quite significant. Panikkar always identified as a thinker with a Catalan and Indian background. His intercultural proposal, summarized in his interreligious mantra “I left a Christian, found myself to be Hindu and became a Buddhist, all without ever ceasing to be a Christian”, is inspired by this double background. It’s as if he was genetically destined to embrace multiple cultures and religions."

- Ignasi Moreta [1]


1. From the Wikipedia:

"Raimon Panikkar Alemany, also known as Raimundo Panikkar and Raymond Panikkar (November 2, 1918 – August 26, 2010), was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest and a proponent of Interfaith dialogue. As a scholar, he specialized in comparative religion.


In 1946 he was ordained a Catholic priest and became a professor of philosophy at the University of Madrid.

He made his first trip to India in 1954 where he studied Indian philosophy and religion at the University of Mysore and Banaras Hindu University, where he met several Western monks seeking Eastern forms for the expression of their Christian beliefs. "I left Europe [for India] as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without ever having ceased to be Christian", he later wrote.

While in Jerusalem during 1962, he was summoned to Rome by the Opus Dei founder and director, Josemaría Escrivá, who expelled him after a brief trial where he was charged with disobedience to the organization.

In 1966 he became a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School and a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1972, and for many years he taught in the spring and spent the rest of the year doing research in India. Where the typical approach to cross-cultural religious studies, especially in a secular university, was to hold two or more traditions at arm's length and draw lines of comparison between them, Panikkar's approach was to view issues in the real world through the eyes of two or more traditions.

In 1987 he moved to Tavertet in Catalonia, in the hills north of Barcelona, where he founded the Raimon Panikkar Vivarium Foundation, a center for intercultural studies.[3] In 2005 he created Arbor, for the realization of his principle of interreligious collaboration for the relief of poverty in thousands of villages of India.

Panikkar authored more than 40 books and 900 articles. His complete works are being published in Italian. His 1989 Gifford Lectures were published in English by Orbis in 2009 under the title The Rhythm of Being."


2. Ignasi Moreta:

"What can be said about the life and the praxis that inspired the work by Raimon Panikkar? We know a good deal about it thanks to the controversial biography written by Maciej Bielawski (Fragmenta, 2014).

Panikkar was born in Barcelona in 1918 on the corner of Carrer Rector Ubach and Carrer Santaló. He studied at the Jesuit school in Sarrià. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he and his mother were persecuted for their dedication to Catholicism. He took refuge in Germany, where he studied chemistry. After the war, he returned to Barcelona by bicycle. In 1939 he met Escrivà de Balaguer, and the following year he joined Opus Dei. He studied science, philosophy and theology. In 1946 he obtained his doctorate in philosophy and was ordained as a priest. He lived first in Madrid, then in Salamanca and finally in Rome; these movements had to do with conflicts within Opus Dei. In 1954, with the death of his father, Panikkar decided to honour his memory by travelling to India for the first time. He initially stayed there for four years. In 1958, he obtained his doctorate in science in Madrid, and in 1961 he got his doctorate in theology in Rome, giving him a total of three doctorate degrees: in science, philosophy and theology. Years later, Panikkar would write abundantly on what he called cosmotheandric intuition, according to which reality consists of three interdependent realities: nature (kosmos), man (anthropos, Andros) and God (Theos). Xavier Melloni has noted that Panikkar’s three doctorates correspond with these three dimensions: his science degree involves the study of the kosmos, his philosophy degree explores the anthropos and the theology degree has to do with the Theos. Life and thought are connected once again.

In 1966 Panikkar came into conflict with Opus Dei, which expelled him after a canonical process we are gradually coming to understand more and more. He then moved to India and was incardinated as a priest in Varanasi. From 1967-1972, he taught at Harvard University. In 1972, he became a professor of compared philosophy of religions at the University of California, Santa Barbara. During his tenure at UCSB, he divided his time between India and the United States.

In the mid-eighties, Panikkar retired and took up residence in Tavertet, where he created Vivarium, Centre of Intercultural Studies (today the Vivarium Raimon Panikkar Foundation). The final years of his life were spent mostly in this town in the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees. His home became a place of pilgrimage for disciples and friends, eager to hear the words of the man they considered a master. However, Panikkar never ceased to travel the world, giving conferences and participating in all manner of academic events.

In 2008 Panikkar began to publish his complete works, the result of seventy years of intense dedication to writing: “I haven’t lived to write, but I have written to live in a more conscious manner and to help my brothers with thoughts that have sprung not really from my mind, but rather from a higher source we might call Spirit.” In fact, for seventy years Panikkar continued to produce without interruption: some sixty books, hundreds of articles, innumerable public talks, no end of participations in the media… Panikkar didn’t flee contact with the public, and was eager for his intellectual and spiritual ideas to help to forge a different world, more respectful of diverse cultures and traditions and more critical of the techno-scientific empire."



John O'Neill:

(In “Rhythm of Being”)

"Panikkar has taken as his topic the meaning of reality to elaborate an overall holistic vision of reality, a vision of the whole. He does this fully aware of his context, the political, economic, social and ecological predicaments of the earth. His aim is to provide a possible orientation in and through this situation.

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."


Raimon Panikkar's conception of the Trinity

"The concept of the radical Trinity is the cornerstone of the theology of Raimon Panikkar: a Trinity that is not only the Father-Son-Spirit of the Christian tradition, but also God-Man-World; all of Reality as Being-Consciousness-Beatitude (sat, cit, ananda in Hindu thought) which he expresses with his cosmotheandric intuition. The radical Trinity is all Reality in which the Divine, the Human, and the Cosmic are united. This Trinity represents the overcoming of both the temptation of monism (all is one, without distinction), and the temptation of dualism (God and the world are separated by the radical transcendence of God); Panikkar, therefore, resists monism, dualism, and pantheism.

The adjective in radical Trinity is indispensable, because for RP “the Trinity is not the prerogative of a God (Substance, Supreme Being), but rather the defining characteristic of the Real” (“Dios en las religiones”, Misión Abierta, Madrid, 5-6, 1985). It is all Reality that has a trinitarian structure in which everything is intimately related. It is not only God the Father-God the Son-God the Holy Spirit that are in constitutive relationship, but also God-Man-Cosmos, Heaven-Earth-Man (A Self-Critical Dialogue”). The radical Trinity would be a “complement” to the Christian trinitarian insight which RP has no desire to abandon. Father-Son-Spirit would correspond to what Christian theology calls immanent Trinity, divine interiority; God-Man-Cosmos would correspond to what that theology calls economic Trinity, the relationship of God with the world and with man (The Fullness of Man).

Radical Trinity means, therefore, that all Reality is trinitarian relationship. The trinitarian conception is not left to a divine reality situated outside the world in an insurmountable dualism, but rather embraces all existing reality, which comes to be a cosmotheandric reality.

“God, Man, and World are not one, nor two, nor three. There are not three things nor is there only one. There is a radical relativity, an unbreakable interconnection between the Source of what is, what Is, and its own Dynamism; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Divine, the Human, and the Cosmic; Freedom, Consciousness, and Matter … Reality is trinitarian, not dualistic. We can approach it consciously only by denying duality (advaita) without falling into unity. (The experience of God).

It is not a matter of pantheism, since the distance between the I and Thou, the Father and the Son, and between these and the Holy Spirit is infinite … just as is the distance that exists between man and the cosmos. “Nothing is finite in the Trinity, in Reality” … Thus, for Christians this Trinity manifests itself in Jesus Christ: “The radical Trinity, as it manifests itself in Christ, presents us with the adualistic unity between the divine and the human” (La plentitud del hombre).

For R. Panikkar, the tripartite intuition of the Trinity is a “human invariant”, as the expression of a triadic vision of all reality: the divine, the human and the cosmic harmoniously interrelated as they are in the body-soul-spirit human being, and in the space-time-matter world.

The radical Trinity is the fruit of a theanthropocosmic or cosmotheandric experience. There are not three realities (God, Man, and World), but neither is there only one (be it God, or Man, or World), reality is cosmotheandric: “The integration of the trinitarian adventure of all Reality diminishes neither divine transcendence nor the difference between God and World, just as analogously, the trinitarian unity does not eliminate the difference among the divine persons” (The Trinity)."


Raimon Panikkar on Why Relativity Is not the Same as Relativism

Raimon Panikkar:

"Facing the predominant absolutism of a certain aspect of reality, RP proposes a radical relativity, a total reciprocity, relationship. As he constantly repeats, however, relativity is not the same as relativism; each part of the whole has its particular value: “The dilemma is not relativism or absolutism, but rather the recognition of the radical relativity of all of Reality” (The Trinity. Una experiencia humana primordial). This concept, which has an equivalent in the Buddhist Pratītyasamutpāda , should be applied to our human relationship, to our relationship with the world to the relationship of God with that world, and even to the divine reality itself. Panikkar makes this radical relativity, total reciprocity or relationship into something constitutive of all of reality, including Divinity itself: “Everything is related to everything”, he affirms following a maxim of Shivaism. Therefore, he comes to affirm that God is pure relation: “genitive relation constitutive of reality", “the genitive constitutive and engendering of all things" (Ibid)."


More information


  1. Raimon Panikkar on Individuality vs Personhood
  2. Raimon Panikkar on the Relation between Mythos and Logos
  3. Raimon Panikkar on History as a Myth and the Myth of History
  4. Raimon Panikkar on Religion
  5. Raimon Panikkar on the Inner Harmony That Should Exist Between Different Religions and Cultures


  1. Cosmotheandric Experience
  2. Ecosophy
  3. Katachronism
  4. Orthopraxis
  5. Sacred Secularity
  6. Tempiternity
  7. Theophysics


How to Read Raimon Panikkar

John O'Neill:

"I would say that the first book which comes to mind as relevant to your project is The Cosmotheandric Experience, which is a standalone book, as well as being included in Volume VIII of his Opera Omnia ( his 17 book All Works) , along with a book on The Trinity and World Religions.

Of special interest would be his chapters on The Three Kairological Moments of Consciousness, as well as his ones on The Threefold Structure of Human Time- Consciousness. His Cosmotheandric Intuition and Experience are of course central to and provide hermeneutical keys to all his work.

The next two books would be the ones on Cultures and Religions in Dialogue, Volume VI. They are, respectively , on Pluralism and Interculturality, and on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue. There is much good stuff here on pluralism and dialogical dialogue, much needed in these times.

His Volume IX, again with 2 books, on Mystery and Hermeneutics is very good, especially the first book, which includes stuff on Myth , Symbol and on Sacred Secularity and Ritual His Volume II, on Religion and Religions, is also very good on those topics.

For the more mystically and spiritually minded, his first volume, on Mysticism and Spirituality, again with 2 books, is also incredibly rich and profound.

Of course , he has several books on individual religions, including a couple on Christianity, including Christophany, the best book on Christ, which I have ever read. His survey of Hinduism , including a huge book, translating, with interpretative commentary, the Vedas, is magnificent. He obviously knew and lived his Hindu religion deeply, from within the tradition.

He also has a very wise one on Buddhism, showing his depth of understanding of that tradition .

His magnum opus, his great work, the last one published while he was alive, is his Rhythm of Being, which started out as the 1989 Gifford Lectures , took 20 years to write and is really his last philosophical will and testament, summarizing all his work , with an emphasis on a new understanding of the Mystery, the Divine and sacred secularity, with a need for a civilizational new mythos. The last part of the book speaks more about our current predicament, ecosophy, a new Kosmology, the need for transformation , etc., He died in 2010, 9 months after this came out.

I am coming more and more to see and appreciate him as a great integral philosopher, whose work is becoming more relevant to our times.

There are advantages, for those who have the passion, the patience, the time and the commitment, to read his Opera Omnia through , in the order in which he has deliberately and pedagogically laid the books out, with the series in that form mostly rolled out after his death. He has an introduction to each volume and has chosen the books, the articles and their order, himself. That is clearly how he wants his books to be studied and understood. It is a big undertaking, though, which is keeping me going over a period of years.

I am currently reading his latest one to come out , Volume X, Part Two, on Philosophical and Theological Thought.

The last two books in the series, one on Sacred Secularity and one on Space, Time and Science , are due to be published in English in December 2022. I am eagerly waiting for those to come out.

These are not all his books and papers by any means but are the ones he considered most important and representative."