Those who make the charge of
idolatry against such use of images only demonstrate their ignorance
of symbolic language and mythology. Not surprisingly, strongly
aniconic traditions are usually opposed to mysticism altogether, and
have stifled art as well.
Such a worshipper of images
was Paramahansa Ramakrishna, whom many Westerners have been inspired
by. Ramakrishna was a priest at a Hindu temple and worshipped the
Divine Mother in the form of Kali, who has a terrible form replete
with fangs and a garland of skulls. Let those who are opposed to the
use of images show among their members a being of such spiritual
realization of Ramakrishna.
We should note that
religions that use images have not historically been more violent or
sensual than those who deny them. Hindu and Buddhist communities
contain a strong ascetic tradition, as well as an emphasis on
non-violence, even though these traditions use images.
Image-denying religions, on
the other hand, have been guilty of violence and destruction
perpetuated in the name of destroying idols and converting heathens
and infidels through various crusades and holy wars. The non-use of
images has obviously not increased our human sensitivity or respect
for other cultures.