Abstract
Dialogue and Fellowship in Religious Experience (FIRE) to Promote Harmony of Religions and Welfare of All

Rev. Jose Nandhikkara CMI

Director, Carmelites of Mary Immaculate

Rev. Jose Nandhikkara CMI, a Carmelite Priest, is the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram and Head of the Department of Philosophy at Christ University, Bangalore. He also serves as Director of the Centre for the Study of World Religions and Chief Editor of the Journal of Dharma. He also works in the fields of Comparative Religion and Religious Experience and promotes Faiths Seeking Harmony of Life and Fellowship in Religious Experience, through visits, workshops, lectures and conferences. In his interreligious work he is guided by the Vedic vision, “Let noble thoughts come from all sides” (Rgveda 1.89.1) and the motto, fides querens harmonium vitae – faith seeking harmony of life. He has an excellent academic record, with three Bachelor degrees in Philosophy, Geology, and Theology and an MA in Philosophy and Theology from Oxford University, as well as a Licentiate in Philosophy from Gregorian University, Rome. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from Warwick University, UK. His doctoral dissertation is titled Being Human from a Religious Point of View, after Wittgenstein. Rev Nandhikkara has authored a book, Being Human after Wittgenstein: A Philosophical Anthropology and edited the compilation, Ethical Interface: Literature, Economics, Politics, Religion. He has also published twenty research articles in a number of national and international journals and edited compilations. He has attended various national and international conferences where he presented research papers on Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Abstract

Dialogue and Fellowship in Religious Experience (FIRE) to Promote Harmony of Religions and Welfare of All

Dialogue and Fellowship in Religious Experience (FIRE) refers to words, deeds, and events that promote mutual understanding and enrichment among members of different religious believers. It is observed that a dialogue words and scholars, however sophisticated and necessary it may be, is of no significance if it is not part of dialogue of action and dialogue of life. Dialogue partners should meet as pilgrims who have set out to search for harmony of religions promoting welfare of all. Though as human beings we have our unique identity, we form part of the universe with the rest of the world, who are not strangers or enemies but neighbours and partners without whom human life is impossible. Religion is not primarily an intellectual enterprise, though not without cognitive content; it is a way of life involving nature, nurture and grace. Plurality of religions is not just something that is to be tolerated, but something precious that is to be celebrated. Conversation and collaboration among members of various religions promote social integration and harmony of life.

Wittgenstein, the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century, provides tools for conceptual clarity and effective dialogue among religions and cultures. His key concepts of language game, family resemblance, and stream of life could be effectively used to promote authentic dialogue among religions and cultures and make dialogue a way of life. In this paper, after preliminary investigations on dialogue, I will critically and creatively analyse Wittgenstein’s key concepts of “language game,” “family resemblance” and “form of life” in order to throw light on the process and project of dialogue and fellowship in religious experience. Learning from Wittgenstein, I will show the importance of co-reflection, conversation and collaboration among religions to avoid clash of civilizations and to promote peace and harmony.

    Fellowship In Religious Experience (FIRE) is a project devoted to inter-religious dialogue, through a participative approach to the study of religion – lectures by scholars, discourses by believers, visits to places of religious importance, meals, observation of rituals, and participation in festivals – showing the uniqueness of each religion with similarities and differences with other traditions. The main objective of the programme is promoting learning to live together in peace and harmony and to train the participants to be promoters of peace and harmony in society. The aims of FIRE are: to increase the religious literacy of the participants to know themselves and their neighbours so that they live together in harmony and become agents of peace and harmony in the society; to foster interest and understanding in the religious dimensions of societies and peoples, to enable the participants to understand and interpret the diverse religious beliefs and practices around them, and foster understanding between religions, and to provide theoretical and practical knowledge on various religious traditions to teachers, police, and Government officials, political and religious leaders.