So what do Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Raimon Panikkar, Ken Wilber, Bede Griffiths, Ravi Ravindra and Henry Le Saux (aka Swami Abhishiktananda) have in common?
They’ve all done work involving the question of Christian spirituality in conversation with one or more forms of eastern mysticism. Some of them are Christians, some not, and at least one of them seems to have radically blurred the line between the two. For some of these folks, the east-west conversation seems to be the central or major thrust of their work. For others, it’s really just a sidebar to other concerns. But my point is, they’re all doing it. As Arlo Guthrie said when talking about what happens when fifty people are singing Alice’s Restaurant: “Friends, it’s a movement!”
I’m not saying every Christian needs to learn the lotus position or that every Vedantist needs to study the Bible. But I do think as our world gets smaller and smaller, we all need to be learning as much as we can about each other. And let us not forget that this party doesn’t just involve Christians, Buddhists and Hindus: Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Pagans and countless others are invited to the dance as well.
I’m just sorry that I don’t know of any women to add to my list. Can anyone enlighten me about women — either Christian or non-Christian — who are directly engaged in the east-west conversation?