Raimon Panikkar

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6. Raimon Panikkar: Writing as a Life-style

Panikkar’s numerous writings were published both in periodicals and books. His wealth of knowledge and depth of thought, together with his good literary background and a suggestive style, creative and precise —even obsessed with linguistic precision— can be appreciated in his many writings: almost 60 books published, with translations into many languages and about 1.500 articles in journals and other periodicals.

Panikkar was one of the founders of Arbor (CSIC, Madrid) and has been on the board of many other publications, including Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Philadelphia, USA), Jeevadhara (Kottayam, India), The Journal of Dharma (Bangalore, India), Classics of Western Spirituality (New York, USA), etc. Raimon Panikkar cares deeply about the phrasing his reasearch and his thought. He himself has stated that this is a key task in his life, and has explained what he intends with it:

I am not writing about myself; instead, my self is writing… It is this self of mine that I am writing about, and I am writing as one speaking.
I remember an ideal I used to have: each paragraph I wrote, possibly each sentence, was to reflect my whole life and be an expression of my character. One was to be able to recognize my life in a single sentence of mine just as one could reconstruct the complete skeleton of a prehistoric animal by means of a single bone. I was concerned here with the symbolic interrelatedness of all living things. One single word, the logos, expressed the entire universe. Each of my words was to be similarly a symbol of my entire life…
Why am I writing?… Well, instead of “living life having fun” or wanting “to do good” among certain people, I have a more challenging purpose, directed toward finishing some of my writings…
Why, then, I am taking on the hard discipline of writing?… I am not writing in order to influence people, not even in order to cultivate an art —through that might be getting closer to the truth. Writing, to me, is meditation —that is, medicine— and also moderation, order for this world. Writing, to me, is intellectual life, and that in turn is spiritual existence. The climax of life is, in my opinion, to participate in the life of the universe, in both the cosmic and divine symphonies to which even we mortals are invited… Therefore, writing is a religious undertaking to me…
Writing allows me and almost forces me to ponder deeply the mystery of reality… Writing presupposes thinking but also shaping and carving out thoughts; cleaning them, clothing them with colors, smells, and forms… (“Philosophy as Life-style”, A Dwelling Place for Wisdom)

It’s not easy to classify and catalogue Panikkar’s work, given the complex elaboration of his books. Some of his texts had appeared before as journal articles with multiple versions and sometimes with different titles. Panikkar himself has stated that he rewrites his texts “six or more times”, and that he lets them rest for years to eventually rebuild them from new perspectives. As an author he is appealing and creative, sometimes not easy to read and never easy to fit into a system.

*1. An Outstanding Man. Raimon Panikkar’s Fourfold Identity

*2. A Multicultural and Multireligious Origin. From Barcelona to Rome, via Bonn, Madrid and Salamanca (1918-1954)

*3. India. Christian-Hindu-Buddhist symbiosis. Meeting Monchanin and Le Saux (1955-1966)

*4. University teaching in California (1966-1987)

*5. His return to his Catalan roots to complete his vital cycle

*7. Several Panikkars or a continuity within diversity?

*8. Panikkar as a Lecturer

“I started as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without having ceased to be a Christian”