the so-called "double-truth"

Wed Dec 27 09:08:07 UTC 2000

> Let's illustrate it in action in one of its many early forms
> outside of India: Think of the case (e.g.) of a Master Hebrew
> Exegete who has just revealed to his disciples the secret truth
> that YHWH is formless, transcendent, a deus absconditus, etc.


While there is much in what you say in certain circumstances, would you
claim that interpretations of the Dancing Shiva image, or of Krishna as
Arjuna's charioteer, or of the dismemberment of Osiris, or of God making man
composite of clay and his own breath are just trivial "accommodation" of the
sort you describe? Surely we must allow for the fact that all early religion
is symbolic. People were used to "thinking in pictures", the abstract
philosophic vocabulary was usually just not available, and it has always
been the case that illiterate people are generally best taught with stories
anyway. Does it mean that "primitive" stories are NECESSARILY more childish
(and in need of "accommodation") than abstract analysis - or even, for that
matter, necessarily different in meaning? In some ways symbolic stories can
be BETTER for religious purposes than abstract analysis. They can "point"
and stimulate insight, while remaining enigmatic and teasing - like a Zen
Koan, for example.

What you suggest is undoubtedly true sometimes, but it is far from
explaining the idea of levels of truth. How is one to maintain both personal
responsibility and causality?

John Richards

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