January 28, 2006

Cosmic Solidarity: Divergence and Reconciliation

As our two world-historical streams--the Abrahamic and Brahmanic--meandered and ramified, they took very different courses before arriving at oddly similar conclusions. In the West, science pursued the material world down to the atom, eventually smashing it to discover a realm of unbroken wholeness flowing beneath our misleading perceptions of duration and solidity. Vedanta proceeded in the opposite direction, tracing the ego back to its source, and then smashing it to discover another vast realm of unbroken wholeness and unity beneath our illusory individual egoic identities.
In the West, Kant and later Schopenhaur took metaphysics as far as the Western dualistic paradigm would allow, to the threshold of the noumena, the unknowable ultimate reality that lay hidden behind our perceptions. That is, they maintained that we could only know the phenomenal world, the one revealed by our senses and categories of thought. Whatever lay outside those categories was utterly unknown and unknowable to us. Schopenhaur went a little further than Kant, in that he felt that the noumenon could be revealed to us in moments of aesthetic exaltation, especially through music. But Schopenhaur never imagined that we could ever actually break through the walls of the ego and know the noumenon directly. That is, until he discovered the Upanishads.
Dr. Reddy, like me a student of the Indian sage and mystic Sri Aurobindo, writes that "Mankind has benefitted broadly by the two central spiritual streams which were complementary to each other. The one that watered the West has been essentially the aspiration for the salvation of the world, the emancipation of humanity [through] the descent of God's grace.... The [stream] that was perfected in the East and especially in India was the liberation of the individual through his ascent into the Divine himself. An exclusive stress on the first results in preoccupation with the material world, whereas the all too exclusive preoccupation with individual liberation leads to complete disregard of the world of humanity. An integration of these two ways, a wider and luminous fusion of their insights, will provide a tangible and enduring basis of spiritual life on the earth." posted by Gagdad Bob Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 8:15 AM

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