July 19, 2008

Sophisticated Westerners need to get over their inferiority complex

On Participating Joyfully in the Sorrows of the World: Isn't it Great to Love This Much?
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob (Author of One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind & Spirit)

I suppose the question is, how do we truly reconcile Eastern and Western approaches without artificially reducing Christianity to Vedanta? Perhaps sophisticated Westerners need to get over their inferiority complex, and say that it is incumbent upon the Eastern religions to get a clue and to reconcile themselves with the Judeo-Christian values of America. Can it be done? Oh, I think so.

It is surely no coincidence that Sri Aurobindo was educated in the Christian West from a very early age. He eventually graduated with honors from Cambridge, and it was only then, at the age of 21 or so, that he returned to India. At the time, he knew nothing about Indian philosophy, and only later developed his own version of it, still rooted in tradition but adding some clearly Western concepts.

Quoting from the wiki article, it states that

"One of Sri Aurobindo's main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought.... Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former."

But perhaps most importantly,

"Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive the truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light" (emphasis mine).

Bingo! The Way of the Raccoon, whatever your religion. Elsewhere Aurobindo wrote that such an approach necessarily altered "our whole normal view of things; even in preserving all the aims of human life, it will give them a different sense and direction."

Isn't it great to love so much?

"The first victory is to create an individuality. And then later, the second victory is to give this individuality to the Divine. And the third victory is that the Divine changes your individuality into a divine being. There are three stages:

  • the first is to become an individual;
  • the second is to consecrate the individual, that he may surrender entirely to the Divine and be identified with Him;
  • and the third is that the Divine takes possession of this individual and changes him into a being in His own image, that is, he too becomes divine." -- The Mother

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