06. The need to quit “westerness” to understand Hinduism (1)

While many westerners who are Hindus insist on maintaining their western identity finding no obstacle in doing so, my view is different. Western identity is a mental framework. And my view is that the complexity of the hindu philosopies cannot be grasped in a minimum certain dept in a pure western mind. And it is not only for the way the western mind works, but for the amount of brainwashing that has received since their upcoming into this life, what makes it work like it does. If this mental framework is not left behind, the understanding of Hinduism may make of it something different, it would become another dogmatic religion.

I acknowledge that shifting from western to indian framework for a more profound understanding of Hinduism is a lifelong journey, rather a many lives long journey. In most of the cases including me it is very likely that it will remain some (or much) of the negative part of the western mindset, but at least I have clear in which direction I have to work, according to my experience.

Although it is difficult to explain, I will touch some points that support my affirmation:

Western mind moves comfortably between the two poles of the duality. Initially, it cannot conceive the existence of anything beyond that duality, unless a separate far away concept of God that still moves within the same framework: it is imbibed of all the positive qualities. The other side is the Devil, that embodies all the bad qualities. So the goal of transcending the pleasure-pain, heat-cold, that plays a major role for progressing spiritually in Hinduism, is not only not very conceivable for a western mind; it is undesirable, because it wrongly represents to this mind a sort of a mysterious scary abyss, besides a wrongly understood lack of commitment to life.

This binary view of life has terrible consequences when it is brought in questions of spirituality: when a westerner starts developing interest for “spirituality”, he faces many difficulties in integrating it to the daily life. The moment of the day that one is devoted to yoga/meditation or other spiritual practices is considered as a “other worldly” moment. They can easily spend their whole lives split into two: the worldly affairs and the time for the spiritual practises. I would like to tell them that there is nothing to integrate: it is already integrated: “matter” and “spirit” are interwoven in their own natural fabric. The problem arises at the moment when the western mind thinks of itself together with the body as an entity that contains a “soul”. When you realise that “You Are That”, that you are the same Divine Nature that pervades the whole Universe, “encapsulated” temporarily in this body, everything flows as it has to do. But even accepting this idea is a blessing from Bhagavan, what to say of the difficult realisation and experience of it by oneself!:

Īśvara’s grace is manifest even when you are seeking to know the identity between the jīva and Īśvara. To merely accept the possibility of non-duality requires Īśvara’s grace, Īśvara anugrahāt eva puṁsām advaita vāsana. Even to discern that non-duality is the solution to the problem of saṁsāra and to get the right person to help you requires grace because this ocean of saṁsāra is vast.

– Pujya Swamiji (Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji)

Source: From the book Bhagavad Gītā Home Study 12-6, 12-7


For a standarised western mind is very difficult to understand detachment, too.  From this mindset it comes the blame that some westerners put on Hinduism as if it made the Hindus to lack on efforts for struggling. But well understood, detachment is not lack of effort or lack of involvement in the worldly affairs; it is involvement with an equipoised attention and attitude, like Bhagavan Krishna said, not hurt by the insults neither inflating the ego with the praises, but understanding that life brings both and that we have to do our best and leave the results of our efforts to Ishwara. Knowing that, truly speaking, “we” don´t do anything.

Something else: the western mouths are full of the words “my rights”…and what about “your duties”? In this question, duality is not much developed! 🙂

Another point that I may cite: the role of the Guru is highly misunderstood by the westerners. Either this mind is too proud to bow in front of “another human being”, or it makes of the figure of the Guru a highly idealised kind of magician that gives shelter to unstructured imbalanced westerners who become insane at Guru´s feet and renounce to themselves and their own critical thinking in front of the (pseudo) Guru. In general, they don´t seem to understand very much that the real Guru is there to point to yourself instead of increasing the dependence on him/her.

I came across a situation that is a very clear example of many westerners in the relation with the Gurus (if any): it was in a group of disciples of Amma, the Hugging Saint. I was talking to a lady disciple about Amma and Hinduism,. Suddenly she said “Ah no, I am only a disciple of Amma. I would give my life for her, but I don´t want to know anything about Hinduism!”. I didn´t know whether to laugh or to cry at that very moment, such absurd situation in which a person is so blind as for not recognising that, whatever she appreciates so much of Amma´s teaching is nothing but pure hindu teachings!

To be continued


2 thoughts on “06. The need to quit “westerness” to understand Hinduism (1)

  1. Very nicely done Mariaji!

    The line ““Ah no, I am only a disciple of Amma. I would give my life for her, but I don´t want to know anything about Hinduism!”.” was a belter.

    IMHO the biggest pitfall of western minds is the parochial and neo-selective view which is non inclusive to say the least.

    And like you said..I shall ask for my rights and duties *IF* I might shall come later! The the bane and source of majority of problems.

    That I believe is a self centered “ME & MYSELF” approach. Needs to be more based on “US”.

    Though I have lot to learn about it and thanks to you, I shall learn more and more and more..!

    Jai Siya Ram!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s