UCAN Spirituality Catholic Church News

The Idea of the Holy

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Rudolf Otto

The holy is a category of interpretation and valuation peculiar to the sphere of religion, and which remains inexpressible or ineffable in the sense that it completely eludes apprehension in terms of concepts..

It will be our endeavour to suggest this unnamed Something to the reader as far as we may, so that he may himself feel it. There is no religion in which it does not live as the real innermost core, and without it no religion would be worthy of the name. It is pre-eminently a living force in the Semitic religions, and of these again in none has it such vigour as in that of the Bible.

A characteristic common to all types of Mysticism is the Identification, in different degrees of completeness, of the personal self with the transcendent Reality. This identification has a source of its own, with which we are not here concerned, and springs from moments of religious experience which would require separate treatment. Identification alone, however, is not enough for Mysticism; it must be Identification with the Something that is at once absolutely supreme in power and reality and wholly non-rational. And it is among the mystics that we most encounter this element of religious consciousness.


Daniel Acharuparambil

It is a well known fact that Hindu tradition has produced, from the time of its remotest history to the present day, almost in every generation and in every part of India, numerous sages, mystics and yogis, – men who dedicated the best of their energies in tenacious pursuit of the Divine. Such men make an enormous appeal to the Indian mind even in this secularized world.

The difficult path they traversed and the supreme goal they realized were all utilized to enlighten the lives of other seekers of the Divine. The various disciplines of yoga, which have become the typical dimension of Indian spirituality and mysticism, are nothing but the crystallization of the different means and methods adopted by the sages and saints of India in their relentless search for the Absolute. The institution of guru-sisya relationship ensures that these disciplines do not remain merely objects of theoretical investigation, but are kept alive through practical experience. That is why India still attracts people from the world over as a haven of spiritual illumination….

With regard to the attitude a Hindu holy man fosters towards the world around him, the following deserve special mention: the sense of the sacred and the virtue of ahimsa or universal love….

A Hindu holy man lives an austere, detached, serene and peaceful life; conscious of the divine presence in everything and in everyone, he lives in harmony with the world around him and treats all living beings with respect.

Holiness … is an intimate, personal experience of the Divine and the proper means of arriving at it is prayer and contemplation….  Above all, having realized in the depths of his being an abiding experience of the Divine, he is in a position to communicate to others the way of holiness with the irresistible authority of the one who has personally seen and heard and watched and touched the Transcendent Truth.