<i>Mysticism East and West</i> as Christian Apologeti

Hugh Nicholson

in Comparative Theology and the Problem of Religious Rivalry

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199772865
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897315 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series

Mysticism East and West as Christian Apologeti

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This chapter and those that follow critically examine a particular “East versus West” apologetic contrast that has been constitutive of modern Christian self-understanding: namely, the contrast between the ethical, world-affirming nature of Christianity and the allegedly quietistic, world-negating nature of Eastern spirituality, as epitomized by the Advaita Vedanta doctrine of maya. The present chapter undertakes a genealogical analysis of a work that brings this apologetic discourse into a convenient focus, Rudolf Otto's comparison of Meister Eckhart and Śhaṅkara in his classic Mysticism East and West. Otto, it is argued, uses Śhaṅkara as a foil to Eckhart in an effort to vindicate the latter of the charges of pantheism, acosmicism, and quietism. At the same time, however, Otto's study breaks from “orientalist” paradigm in several interesting ways that will be developed in the following chapters.

Keywords: Christianity; Eastern spirituality; maya; Rudolf Otto; Meister Eckhart; Śhaṅkara; Mysticism East and West; pantheism; acosmicism; quietism

Chapter.  8662 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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