January 17, 2009

It masquarades as pluralism. But in the end it is about dominance & subordination of other tradition

On Inclusivism
Posted on Jan 16th, 2009 by kelamuni

Wilber's system(s), including his most recent version of "integralism," can be understood, I would contend, as kinds of inclusivism. Among Wilber's influences here include Hegel and his concept of Aufhebung ("transcend and include"), and Aurobindo's own "integralism," his "synthesis of yoga." There is also no question that Wilber's models rely heavily on Da's own schemas, such the "seven stages," to which Da attempts to reduce the entire Indian tradition. In a note at the end of Eye of Spirit, Wilber refers to "the gross path or the yogis," "subtle path of the sants," "causal path of the sages," and "non-dual path of the siddhas," an ascending hierarchy of "paths" that clearly not only draws on Da's models but reveals both Wilber's and Da's allegiance to Tantrism. Da himself draws upon the synthesis of Tantrism accomplished by the great Kashmiri Shaiva, Abhinavagupta, in particular Abhinava's idea of the four upayas, which correspond quite neatly with Da's final four stages. Da was also influenced by the rhetorical schematizing of Neo-Vedantins like Vivekananada and Yogananda, personages whom he wished to emulate.

The inclusivism of the Neo-Vedantins is basically an extention of the inclusivism of the Advaita doxographers who follow the 15th century, authors such as Madhava, author of the Sarva-darshana-samgraha, "Compendium of All Teachings." These doxographers present the Indian tradition in terms of a hierarchy of schools: materialists at the bottom, followed by the heterodox Buddhists and Jains, then the logicians Nyaya-Vaishesika, followed by the Samkhya and Yoga, followed by the dualist and qualified non-dualist schools of Vedanta, and capped off with, no less, the teaching of Advaita Vedanta. Standard textbooks of Indian philosophy still use this format. What the Neo-Vedantins do is universalize this tendency so as to include all the world traditions. Hence Radhakrishnan can say: "All true religion is Vedanta." Indeed, all forms of perennialism reveal the inclusivist tendency. It appears as, or masquarades as, a kind of pluralism. But in the end it is about the dominance of some tradition -- Advaita Vedanta, Tantra, whatever -- and the subordination of other traditions to the dominant tradition.

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