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The Cave of the Heart: The Life of Swami Abhishiktananda [Paperback]

By Shirley Du Boulay (Author) & Raimon Panikkar (Foreword by)
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Item description for The Cave of the Heart: The Life of Swami Abhishiktananda by Shirley Du Boulay & Raimon Panikkar...

Swami Abhishiktananda (1910-1973), the name adopted by Fr. Henri le Saux after his move to India in 1948, pioneered an integration of Christian and Hindu spirituality that forged a unique spiritual path and made a strong impact on interreligious dialogue.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Orbis Books
Pages   276
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.96 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2005
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  1570756104  
ISBN13  9781570756108  

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1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Travel
5Books > Subjects > Travel > Asia > India > General

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Books > General Interest > Other Religion > Comparative Religions

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A Needed Biography of a Pioneer of Christian Vedanta   Nov 9, 2005
In the years following World War II, a small group of Catholic monks quietly left Europe to immerse themselves in the culture and wisdom of India. Perhaps intuitively sensing a malaise in Western culture whose external expression had been a half-century of war and economic upheaval, these pioneers were less missionaries than seekers of truth, intent on re-examining their own Catholic faith in light of insights gleaned from the religions and philosophies of India.

To their critics, these men would be scorned as apostates or near-apostates who had simply "gone native" as a result of being too far from home for too long. To their admirers, however, they were viewed as prophets of a new Christianity and a new Catholicism, a faith invigorated by contact with the great traditions of the East.

Perhaps the most radical of these explorers of the spirit was Fr. Henri Le Saux, a French Benedictine who left his beloved Brittany in 1948, never to return. This book is his story.

A contemplative - indeed a mystic - in whom the missionary impulse was never very strong, Le Saux dedicated himself to a pursuit of the true Self, the experience of Advaita (non-dualism), the unity of man and God, the core experience upon which Hinduism is ultimately based. As time went by, Le Saux became totally committed to the life of hermit and sanyassin, eventually adopting the Hindu name Swami Abhishiktananda.

Moreso than any of his companions, Le Saux had enormous difficulty reconciling his Hinduism with his Catholicism, and often seemed on the verge of abandoning Catholicism altogether. This was because Le Saux penetrated further into the experience of Hinduism than any of the rest, including Fr. Bede Griffiths, the English Benedictine who came to India a few years after Le Saux and who assumed leadership of Le Saux's ashram at Shantivanam following Le Saux's death in 1973. (By the way, Thomas Merton, the American Trappist monk who gained fame for his autobiography, "The Seven Storey Mountain," and who in his later years also became very interested in Eastern religion, was never involved with Le Saux's group, and - somewhat surprisingly - is never even mentioned in this book.)

Le Saux lived truly on the edge, and this sometimes caused conflict with his more cautious companions - notably Fr. Jules Monchanin - who were generally of a more bookish, philosophical nature, and of more moderate temperament. But Le Saux was a man of action - spiritual action - who spent days and weeks in solitary meditation, and who made frequent pilgrimages to Hindu holy sites. And, alone among his small group of expatriate Christians, Le Saux actually spent time studying under the direct supervision of an Indian guru.

There are signs that, in the end, Le Saux found what he was looking for - an experience of Unity, a Divine Fire - that permanently burned itself into his consciousness and left him without fear of life or death. And it was in this experience that Le Saux ultimately came to terms with the Catholicism of his early days: the experience of the "I Am" of the Gospel of John, of a Jesus who is indeed Divine, not uniquely Divine as a human being, but only in the Self, the One Self.

So the story has a happy ending, despite the dark times and the dark notes, the details of which are left to the reader.

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