Original Research - Special Collection: Applied subjects, Practical Theology and Science of Religion

Suffering in the mystical traditions of Buddhism and Christianity

Jakub Urbaniak
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2117 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2117 | © 2014 Jakub Urbaniak | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 December 2013 | Published: 21 August 2014

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Jakub Urbaniak, Department of Church History and Church Polity, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This article seeks to explore the mystical approaches to suffering characteristic of both Buddhism and Christianity. Through the analysis of the meanings, the two traditions in question ascribe to suffering as a ‘component’ of mystical experience; it challenges the somewhat oversimplified understanding of the dichotomy ’sage-the-robot versus saint-the-sufferer’. Thus it contributes to the ongoing discussion on the theological–spiritual dimensions of the human predicament, as interpreted by various religious traditions. It also illustrates (though only implicitly) in what sense – to use the Kantian distinction – the mystical experience offers boundaries (Schranken) without imposing limits (Grenzen) to interfaith encounter and dialogue.

Man [sic] is ready and willing to shoulder any suffering, as soon and as long as he can see a meaning in it. (Frankl 1967:56)

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