Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.
As said before, when in pursuit of any improvement in our education, whether it be secular or spiritual, there is a need to look to those who have laid down the path for us and who are renowned for their teaching and examples set. There are many 'lights' to which we can turn. In this blog we are of course dealing with the purely philosophical and spiritual aspects of life. Not all who might be portrayed as role models are necessarily of religious background. Those who are, we refer to as 'saints'. Those who are not yet still have profound wisdom, we term as 'sage'.
A personal favourite here would have to be Saint Hildegard von Bingen. Many of course know this woman for her stunning and soul-stirring music. She was very much more than a composer, however. Indeed, polymath would be an appropriate description. This is recognised by her having been honoured with the title 'Doctor of the Church', such was her legacy.
You would not have to search far in your ether-engines to locate information on the life of this saint. There is little point in it being regurgitated here. What might be more interesting for this post is the following talk, given by a lady who, herself, leaves a strong impression. As she puts on the mantle of Hildegard for the first part of the talk, one is transported. It is worth noting, as you listen, to consider Hildegard's being out-boarded to Jutta von Sponheim, an anchoress who undertook extreme austerity (तपः /tapas, in Sanskrit). This closely resembles the tradition in India of shishya finding place with an ascetic teacher. In many ways, Hildegard reminds one of a certain guru who, in the 20th century and like his female Western counterpart in history, whilst understanding the place of such severe practices in spiritual pursuit, also understood that for the average person these were impossible and sought to reach out not just to individuals but also to the community with practical measures for spiritual devotion.
Later in the talk, we are given a contextual description of Hildegard's theology; what strikes one is that in following an intellectual route combined with charismatic experience, this saint had some similar understandings of God/Truth as is presented through vedanta. The discussion on the Trinity and how it has devolved in Western understanding is very interesting. The Q&As, revealing.
If you are interested to read Prof. June Boyce-Tillman's book on Hildegard, you can obtain it from here.
To read the apostolic letter from Pope Benedict XVI on the investiture of Doctor of the Universal church (a good read!), use this link.
Do please enjoy this and leave your impressions in the comments box.