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The Way of the Hermit

Interfaith Encounters in Silence and Prayer
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At first sight the lives of hermits, living in solitude and committed to a life of prayer and contemplation seems to be a world apart of the active practice of interfaith dialogue. Yet, there is a long tradition of seeking the divine together and thus making a contribution to better mutual understanding and an active contribution to peace between Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism in India.

Drawing on his experience of travelling to some of India's holy places, the life and work of writers like Thomas Merton, Charles de Foucauld and Abishaktanda and being himself a Benedictine hermit and Professor of Divinity at the University of St Andrews, Mario Aguilar opens up new possibilities for dialogue between three of the world's major religions in today's world. He shows how his own experience of an eremitic life has brought him into deep communion with pilgrims of other faiths, be it through shared silence or listening to each other's experience, through reading sacred scriptures together, through poetry or interfaith worship that draws on practices and texts from Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity.

This is a book for all engaged in interfaith dialogue and seeking to explore how spiritualities of silence, contemplation and prayer can make a contribution to peace and harmony in the world today.
  • Published: Mar 21 2017
  • Pages: 208
  • 229 x 164mm
  • ISBN: 9781785920899
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Press Reviews

  • Right Reverend Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

    In a culture characterised by incessant noise, Mario Aguilar's celebration of the sound of silence could not be more welcome. This book will not only engage your mind with its thoughtful insights - its prayerfulness and beauty will touch your soul.
  • Professor Gavin Flood FBA, Senior Research Fellow, Campion Hall, Oxford University

    In this heartfelt and personal account, Professor Aguilar takes the reader on a journey into the practice and ideas of the hermit across traditions and his or her understanding of life as a journey to a fulfillment in a higher reality. This is an engaging and highly readable account.
  • Paul Hedges, Associate Professor of Interreligious Studies at RSIS, NTU, Singapore and author of Towards Better Disagreement: Religion and Atheism in Dialogue

    Professor Aguilar's book moves across continents and religious traditions with the ease and grace that comes from the depth and empathy of a lifetime's familiarity and study. Whether meeting Buddhists in Chile, Sikhs in India, or Hindus in Scotland we feel the personal friendships and experiences which have inspired him. However, its particular strength and uniqueness is the way he explores the places of the hermit's life as a site of meaning and sacred connectedness. Both those fresh to interreligious dialogue and lifelong practitioners and scholars in the discipline will find fresh insights and perspectives in the pages of this work.
  • Professor Douglas Pratt, University of Waikato & University of Bern

    In a world awash with chatter and superficial talk-fests, the choice of solitude and silence is spiritually challenging. Memory lives in silence. God is found there. With a deep and movingly autobiographical thread, The Way of the Hermit creatively probes the contribution of the eremitic life to Christian interfaith encounter.
  • The Reverend Dr Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, Programme Executive, Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, World Council of Churches, Switzerland

    Digging deep and drawing generously from the wells of experience and expertise, Professor Aguilar throws open the richness of dialogue that happens in the depths of silence and solitude that characterise a life of hermitage. Theologically imaginative and spiritually inspiring, the book recovers the potential of presence, poetry and prayer for dialogue in fresh and fascinating ways.
  • Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Director, Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University

    Mario Aguilar's personal homage to silence is eloquent, lucid, and simple. Not so much an argument for silence or against words which remain fundamental in every tradition, his meditations witness to his own instinct for silence and his growing solitude as a hermit in the world. The story of a soul, The Way of the Hermit joins the canon of spiritual autobiographies, akin to the monastic journeys of Thomas Merton, Henri Le Saux, and Bede Griffiths. It mirrors the broad interreligious wisdom of Raimon Panikkar, and stands in harmony with a multitude of Hindu and Buddhist experiences in today's world. A contemplative gift, The Way of the Hermit aids us in recovering quiet in today's noisy world.
  • Dr Maureen Sier, Director of Interfaith Scotland

    'How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain!' ~ Baha'u'llah Dialogue in silence; speaking without words; this complex book explores the possibility of connection between faiths in the sacred space that silence allows and is a useful addition to the growing literature on interfaith dialogue.
  • Angela Del Greco, a lay consecrated hermit in the Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud and an Oblate of Saint Benedict

    Monastic Interreligious Dialogue
    This is Aguilar's first book on the eremitic life and how it relates to/enhances his own interfaith encounters, be they virtual or in situ. The broad range of topics he addresses and the variety of literary styles he uses-at times reflective, at times descriptive-can demand patience of the reader, but a patience that is well worth the effort. ..I found his work to be enlightening, informative, reflective, and provocative. He is a true seeker and peacemaker.
  • Kevin Tingay

    The Christian Parapsychologist
    The reader who has had experience of interfaith encounter will delight in this book. The reader whose experience of other traditions is more limited would find it a valuable introduction. Those of us who may feel oppressed by the noise and tumult of the world will find an invitation to an inner silence and an opportunity to explore our own cave of the heart, and the God who dwells therein. In this most valuable volume we may discover clues to intimacy with All in solitariness and the Voice of God in silence.