Charles Randall Paul, Ph.D., is one of the most creative leading edge orthodox theologians in the world today. He is board chair, founder, and president of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He has lectured widely and written numerous articles on healthy methods for engaging differences in religions and ideologies, and he is currently completing two books: Fighting about God: Why We Do It and How to Do It Better and Converting the Saints: An American Religious Conflict. He is on the board of editors for the International Journal of Decision Ethics. Charles is also a member of the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality.
Today the Spirit’s Next Move blog features a 25-minute audio conversation between Dr. Charles Randall Paul and Dr. Marc Gafni, director of CWS and scholar-in-residence. In this segment, Gafni establishes the essential contours of Unique Self teaching on enlightenment and Paul asks for clarification regarding its implications for Eastern enlightenment. Gafni says that unattachment is a higher integral embrace of East and West, and its general position is that nobody is entirely wrong. Every great system has its own understanding that is true and partial, he says. The great understanding of the East is that to move beyond suffering, you have to move beyond your identity as a separate self. And Unique Self retains that central insight by incorporating the teaching that separateness is the source of suffering but it is different from uniqueness.
Charles takes issue with Marc at times, as their exchange on the nature of Western enlightenment in the Renaissance shows, along a path towards a greater shared understanding. They agree that the roots of Western individualism can be traced back both to Christianity as well as the Judaism’s teaching of Imago Dei, but neither religion fully escaped ethnocentrism. It was not until the Renaissance, Marc says, that the individual is given dignity qua individual without being located in a particular religious context.
Listen to the audio:
This audio conversation is the first part of a longer dialogue published in the UniqueSelf.com Unique Self Dialogue series. Today’s post will be followed in the weeks ahead with additional clips from great conversations between Charles and Marc on topics including World Spirituality, inter-religious dialogue and religious diplomacy.