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English Greek translation Meaning "lost for the fingertips" by Spiros Doikas Free Dictionaries and Machine Translation  

A letter to the Athens News regarding religious tolerance
and the true meaning of spirituality.
Sunday, 10 October 1999

Dear Sir,

It is refreshing to see such a level of scholarship in the pages of the ATHENS NEWS. Tim Wilson's reply to the Mallinson letter is astonishing in length and content. While I am not certain that I agree with everything he writes, he makes intelligent reading and begs the question who in fact lays better claim to the title ‘Professor’! I would like to recommend that readers of the paper who wish to follow up this debate should read the two books by Timothy, Bishop Kallistos Ware, published both in Greek and English. ‘The Orthodox Church’ gives a Western perspective of the History and Theology of Orthodoxy and was recently revised to take account of developments in the Russian Church following the collapse of the USSR, and ‘The Orthodox Way’ compares Orthodox thought to Western. The Bishop gives more details to the question of East / West relations but does not, I think, examine a few questions that Mr Wilson raises, in particular that of the reception of Catholic converts to Orthodoxy, and I wonder if Mr Wilson has checked his own facts on this matter! I am interested to know what he believes should be an Orthodox attitude to non-Christian religions. He raises the point (Sept 12) that the Holy Synod should not make recommendations about the building -or otherwise- of Mosques, but he does not say what his ‘preferred position’ is to non-Christians. How, for example should we deal with mixed marriage between a Buddhist and an Orthodox? Is he a crypto-dogmatist himself who only wants to be "friendly" or does he actually promote greater dialogue, and if so, to what ends?

And with respect to the Papal visit I feel that the heated polemics are not only beside the point but also indicative of the predicament of the so-called ‘religious’ institutions, their earthly delegates, their sects and their ‘sectarianisms’ (1): the fact that they are closer to being political organisations with egocentric and self-perpetuating intentions rather than spiritual communities whose main aim is the alleviation of the suffering of mankind. Indeed, if we meet a person who by his or her actions, character, spiritual maturity and integrity strikes us as the embodiment of altruistic love would it not be foolish to refuse recognition to such a person because he or she uses a terminology different than ours? (viz. ‘filioque’)

The greatest danger threatening religions (apart from their own ‘entropy’ - to use a rather benign expression) is the dogmaticism of small sects which imagine themselves to be the sole proprietors of the ‘pure doctrine’ and who believe their way is the only way. ‘Love’, not only ‘casts away fear,’ but it also casts away arrogance so that if there is spiritual ignorance, then at least it cannot be harmful to self or others.

And to round off this letter allow me to quote from the Lankavatara Sutra (recently translated in Greek by Dr F. Rossis and published by Pirinos Kosmos Publications):

‘May every disciple take care not to cling to words, as if they were a perfect expression of the meaning; because truth is not in the letters. When a man points to something with the finger, the tip of the finger may be mistaken for the thing pointed at. In the same way the ignorant and simple-minded are like children, incapable of giving up the idea that in the finger-tip of words the actual meaning is contained’.

  (1) ‘Let sects multiply; but sectarianism must go. Narrowly conceived ideas have done as much harm in religion as they have done in politics’. Vivekananda

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