Monday, December 25, 2006

The Hindu Upanishads? Excellent. The caste system? Very bad

Monday, October 24, 2005 Cosmic Solidarity, Part One: A River out of Eden
posted by Gagdad Bob at 10/24/2005 07:00:00 PM
The other day over at Shrinkwrapped there was yet another story that falls under the heading, "History is What Happens When the MSM is Chasing Other News." The MSM, in their endless quest to magnify the momentary a thousand times beyond its importance, can always be counted on to miss the world-historical forest for the journalistic trees.

The world-historical development to which I am referring has to do with the Bush administration's efforts to create a new Anglo-Hindu alliance. It is now the policy, or "Grand Strategy of the United States," to assist India in becoming "a major world power in the 21st century."

Shrinkwrapped quotes the website Indus Valley Rising for a perspective on what this suggests geopolitically:

"India and America have long wanted to like each other but, on account of India's Cold War alliance with the former Soviet Union, couldn't. Both have much in common: they were formerly colonized by Britain; both threw off the yoke of Britain, their colonial master (even if India did so 170+ years later than the American colonies); the more educated members of each country speak English; and the people in both countries--to varying degrees--appreciate their British heritage. With the end of the Cold War, the adversarial relationship between America, leader of the West, and India, the cradle of Hindu civilization, has started to thaw.

"With the U.S. State Department's declared policy of helping India become a world power, aid and cooperation between India and America--and thus aid and cooperation between Hindu Civilization and Western Civilization--is beginning to take place at levels which will alter the balance of power in the world. How this alliance will affect each country and each civilization will not be known for some time. What we should know is that the U.S. State Department's declaration of policy toward India is an important event that, in time, will affect the world."


Affect the world, indeed. As I posted on Shrinkwrapped, I believe that this represents a world-historical development of the highest order. I think of a world-historical moment as a point in which vertical energies pour down from above, either helping mankind to evolve to the next phase, or breaking up some kind of evolutionary impasse, in which human beings cannot get beyond themselves. For example, one world-historical moment is known as the "axial age," a period of general spiritual awakening when all of the initial major revelations of mankind were downloaded: the Old Testament prophets, the Greek mystery schools, the Vedic seers of the Upanishads, the Tao te Ching and Confucius in China.
If you are Christian, you probably have no difficulty understanding the incarnation of Jesus as a sort of depth charge dropped down into history from on high. The temporal reverberations from that spiritual shock wave continue to wash ashore over the present. After all, even if you don't believe in Christ, you are nevertheless the benefactor of his presence, say, in the decisive manner in which he affected the thinking of the American founders.

In Hinduism, an "avatar" refers to an incarnation of the divine. Unlike Christianity, they believe there have been many avatars, and yet, this principle is not really at odds with either Christianity or Judaism. That is, you can think of an avatar as something short of a literal manifestation of the one God; many righteous rabbis and saints would qualify as avatars, not necessarily as a literal descent of the divine, but perhaps as embodiments of an ascent to holiness or to the divine.

In my view, there have also clearly been non-religious avatars that have had a singular effect on the general evolution of mankind. The American founders would be prime examples. Other examples would have to include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, and many others, both detected and undetected by history. It is easy to misunderstand this point, so I will post on it in more detail later, but there are certain personages who appear on the historical stage at precisely the right time and place, to either "rescue" mankind or advance it to a new level of moral, political, or aesthetic understanding.
These world-historical characters are often consciously aware of the fact that they have been seized by a higher power in order to accomplish a mission. This can be confused with narcissistic inflation, but it is really quite different. Winston Churchill was clearly aware of this force. As was Abraham Lincoln. When Martin Luther King said that he had been to the mountain top, he wasn't engaging in hyperbole. He had been. Our elites continue to mock Ronald Reagan, but it is obvious to me that he embodied the mythological (in the positive sense of the term) essence of America in a way that transcended his own personality. History will tell if the unlikely figure of George Bush appeared at the right time and place to combat a new incarnation of the dark force that impedes and drags down mankind's progress.


Evolution requires time and experimentation. If you stand back from world history and view it in the widest possible context, you can think of it as a journey out of Africa that began some 60,000 to 75,000 years ago, with various search parties setting out to discover what they could. Various cultures and civilizations may be thought if as the embodiments of the discoveries and solutions these groups came up with, some good, some bad, some perfectly awful. Only now are we in a position to call a new meeting to order and compare and contrast what these different groups found in their world-historical journeys. And I'm not talking abut the U.N., which actually has the opposite function: to justify and maintain the worst in mankind.

What I am advocating represents multiculturalism in a positive sense, because it doesn't mean accepting any and all cultural nonsense as beautiful and helpful, as does the left. Rather, our task is to critically examine what various human groups have discovered or developed, and keep the good and throw out the bad. For example, Chinese Taoism? Good. Chinese food? Even better! Chinese Maoism? Bad. The Hindu Upanishads? Excellent. The caste system? Very bad. The American constitution? Unsurpassed. American materialism? Troubling. Etc.


A primordial fork in the road took place in mankind's evolutionary journey sometime after the 10th century BC, when both the Torah and Upanishads appeared, signifying a split between what might be called the Abrahamic and Brahmanic traditions.

Since we are wading in it, we are pretty familiar with the path the Biblical stream took, winding its way through Jesus, the late Roman Empire, Western Christendom, the scientific revolution, the American founding, etc. Most of my readers probably don't know much about the other stream that began with the Vedas. The reason why this split is so important is because it represented two differing conceptions of ultimate reality, one seeing it as more radically transcendent (the Judeo-Christian stream), the other as immanent in the world (the Vedic stream). (There is actually a bit of both in each, but there is a clear emphasis on one or the other, that is, transcendence vs. immanence.)

The word "veda" simply means knowledge. Each of the four Vedas is divided into two parts: work and knowledge. The former deals with myths, hymns, prayers, and instructions for rites and ceremonies--mantras, incantations, ritual formulas, etc. The second part concerns itself with the highest experiential basis of religious truth. These latter, more metaphysical Vedas are collectively known as the Upanishads.

Vedanta represents the esoteric core of Hinduism. Veda-anta actually means "end of the Vedas," and can be taken both literally and metaphorically. That is, the Upanishads not only appear at the end of the Vedas, but also represent the "end" of relative knowledge--they represent a special kind of knowledge that transcends both ordinary and scriptural knowledge. It is knowledge of the direct experience of ultimate reality.

There are one hundred eight Upanishads, but only ten have come to be known as the principal Upanishads. The literal meaning of Upanishad is something like "sitting near devotedly," but may also be understood as "secret teaching," for this is a kind of special knowledge that may only be handed down from "one who knows," from a guru who has experienced the ultimate reality to an earnest disciple who seeks it. This is a kind of knowledge that is very much bound up with a radical notion of liberty, for it "destroys the bonds of ignorance and leads to the supreme goal of liberation."

The Upanishads are different than the scripture of the Bible, in that they do not record historical events, revelations, or prophecies, but the direct experiences of the Vedic saints and seers. Their main conclusion--or "I-witness" testimony--is that the ultimate reality beyond name and form, or Brahman, the Self of the universe, the eternal I AM, abides deep within each individual, or Atman. Ultimately, Atman and Brahman are One. Well, not exactly. It is perhaps more accurate to say that they are not-two. Importantly, the Atman is not to be confused with our surface ego. Rather, it is the indestructible and changeless Self behind the superficial personality. It is actually located not in the mind but the heart. A Vedantin would consider it the beating heart of the living cosmos.


One of the reasons why the United States represented such an evolutionary advance over past nations is that it was the first to consciously embody Judeo-Christian principles. That is, there had been Christian nations, but never before an explicitly Judeo-Christian one. I won't outline the entire argument here, but an excellent book that summarizes the evidence is "On Two Wings," by Michael Novak. In total contrast to the crude anti-Semitism of Europe (which continues to this day), the American founders were deeply influenced not just by Christianity, but Judaism. For example, John Adams wrote, "I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation." Thomas Jefferson saw the United States as "God's American Israel," leading human beings out af a decadent Europe to a new way of life.

I believe America and the world are at another evolutionary crossroads, or perhaps even impasse. Yes, the modern children of Israel successfully escaped the decadent world of Europe for the new American frontier. That frontier expanded westward, until there was no frontier left, so it expanded upward into space, downward into the oceans, and "beneath" the illusion of solid materiality, into the subatomic world. Where is the new frontier for the American children of Israel?

It is into the only truly infinite frontier-- the inward frontier explored and mapped out by the forgotten little search party with whom we parted ways three thousand years ago: the lost tribe of the "Brahmanic'" peoples. PART TWO TOMORROW One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin

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