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Home > Author > John Kunnathu
 
John Kunnathu

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Member Since: Apr, 2010

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  John Kunnathu

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Author of "An Orientation to our Life". Living currently in TX in US. Committed to helping young people build up their individual and social lives on a firm foundation.


Background Information

I was born and brought up in South India as the eighth child of my parents. My father was a school teacher, and my mother stayed home taking care of our home. Church was central to our way of life. After completing my college education, I went to Ethiopia as a school teacher. After being there for eight years, I came to the United States. After being a student for a while, I became a school teacher here. Now I am in Houston, Texas with my wife, Lissy.

My View of Life

There has been a burning quest for truth within me from my childhood. As I grew up I internalized from my community my native language, its traditional worldview, and a way of life based on it. Soon I came in contact with other communities with their own worldviews and ways of life. The western secular worldview that I came in contact with in my school and college life often contradicted with the traditional worldview which I grew up with. I had the option to blindly stay with the worldview I grew up with and reject all the others as false. But I realized that it would be a very dishonest approach. If all people stick with their own worldviews and judge all the others false, the world would be a terrible place to live.

So I chose to take a viewpoint outside my community to continue my quest so that I could be as impartial and objective as possible. This is similar to the approach of a scientist. Instead of measuring all the other worldviews using my own worldview as a scale, I try to see them all including mine at an equal distance from me.

This does not mean that I am not a part of my community any more. I am a part of my community just like any other member of my community, and I love my community. I live my life based on the worldview of my community. But for the sake of seeking the truth, I am stepping outside in my imagination so that I can have an objective perspective.

The basic assumptions I work with may be summarized as follows:

How do we know?

  1. God alone knows the ultimate truth as it is, and therefore no one else can claim to know the ultimate truth. Even if we assume that the ultimate truth is fully revealed in a document or a book, no one has the ability to comprehend the truth as revealed in it. Therefore, no one person or community can claim the custody of the ultimate truth. Those who claim to have absolute knowledge are placing themselves on the seat of God.
  2. We can only grow in our knowledge in relation to what we already know. This is relative knowledge, as opposed to the ultimate knowledge that God alone knows. Relative knowledge varies from person to person and from time to time.
  3. The only way to grow in our knowledge is to approach God with humility, admitting that whatever we know might be false. If we hold on to a view of life as absolute, it will hinder our growth in knowledge.
  4. We have to consciously prepare our mind for knowledge to grow by creating a positive environment and by getting rid of any negative feelings or thoughts such as worries, guilt feelings, hatred, and jealousy. This is probably what Jesus tried to explain in the parable of the sower.
  5. It is possible to learn from the experience of others. I believe that all the religious, literary, and philosophical traditions in the world belong to the common inheritance of humankind. Bible, Koran, and Vedas are ours. They are there for us to read and learn if and as we want. They are immense reservoirs of wisdom we may tap into when we want to. They contain the accumulated wisdom gained by generations of our wise ancestors. But if we claim that any one of them contains the ultimate truth and fight over it, we would be making ourselves fools. Even if the ultimate truth were hidden in them, we wouldn’t have the ability to comprehend it.

What do we know?

We cannot perceive or comprehend what really exists because what appears to us differs from what really exists. However we can comprehend certain things to a certain extent.

  1. The world exists in the limits of time and space—the finite. Therefore it must depend upon something that is not limited by time and space—the infinite.
  2. Although the infinite appears to be a separate entity from the view of the finite, such a separation doesn’t exist from the view of the infinite. The world is nothing but the infinite expressing itself in the space-time limits.
  3. Thus all that exists is one whole. Although what really exists appears to us in diverse forms, ultimately it is one without any division. This idea is reflected in the Christian doctrine of Trinity and in the Hindu Advaita philosophy.
  4. The world is structured in such a way that smaller units combine to form bigger ones. Humanity exists as a part of the world, and my community exists as a part of the humanity. One's allegiance to the whole must have precedence to his/her allegiance to a part of it. Hence my allegiance to my community should be subsidiary to my allegiance to the humanity. Neither should I seek the wellbeing of my community in opposition to the wellbeing of the humanity.

In conclusion, I am a learner, willing to learn from anywhere and anyone. I am seeking the truth of what we believe about God, about the world, and about ourselves. I do not have any absolute knowledge of anything. Also I distrust any claim of absolute knowledge. Although I am a part of my community, I do not share any of its claims to absolute knowledge. I earnestly wish and hope that my own community and all other human communities turn to God in humility, willing to learn and grow.

Birth Place
Kollam, Kerala,  India




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