I continue some explanations about why in my experience it is absolutely necessary to leave the western mindset as much as possible to understand Hinduism.
Here I have to mention an idea that I had earlier, but has been so well explained by Shri Rajiv Malhotra regarding the “synthetic unity”of the abrahamic/western religions versus the “integral unity” of the dharmic traditions. It responds to a whole mindset, worldview and guides every step in life for both worlds. In the whole western world there is a struggle for instance for instilling the concept of “solidarity” among people (only), as a modernization of the reviled term “charity”. And the struggle goes on because the mindset is as to consider oneself a separate entity from the rest of the world, and whatever maneuver is done to make one “connect to the other” is an artificial (synthetic in Rajivji´s words) unity, superficial and shortlasting: the low tendencies towards selfishness, so much triggered by the extolling individuality in the West, soon arise in the individual and solidarity is forgotten. We need an indian mind to understand and experience the sacred interconnectedness among all and everything in this Universe, the pervadeness of Parabrahman makes naturally an integral unity among all.
Something else I have discovered in my personal journey is another grave side effect of the dual view of the world: unless one overcomes this dual worldview, or at least accepts the possibility of “life beyond duality” :-), the shastras and the philosopical assertions of the different darshanas of sanathan dharma will be seen full of contradictions. One has to leave westerness in the mindset to understand certain truths, because for a western/westernised mind, things are either black or white, and there are no more options. It would have real problems of understanding the truths contained in the shastras, that I would put as:
a) – parallel horizontal truths that seem to contradict each other: such as “it is, but it is not at the same time”: Baghavad Gita affirming somewhere that jnana is superior to any other marga, while in some other part of the Gita bhakti seems to be superior to any other marga, and somewhere else it is karma what seems to be preferred. Or when He seems to be praising more the household life when in another part he says the renouncing of the world is the best.
b) – vertical truths that are just layers of truths to be understood according to the spiritual evolution of the jiva at each moment of his journey.Devotee and Object of Devotion are true, relatively true till the Oneness of Tat Tvam Asi (You Are That) is got.
a) Parallel horizontal truths
This of the Gita is only an example of the many that one can find when studying or reflecting on Hinduism that may be confusing. One has to see the richness of the Plenitude of Bhagavan (Jai Shri Krishna!) when He expresses Himself through the Gita as a sacred round Lotus and he gives us the many possibilities as the lotus petals equally valid to get to His center, that it is your own Center! We can pick one that suits our personality more, or two, or the whole, and we will realise that picking one not only takes us closer to the center, but closer to all the other petals.
b) Vertical truths as layers of understanding:
So there are different approaches to the Ultimate Truth. But it seems to me that even when the Oneness is realised, sometimes the swinging devotee-object of devotion remains as true. Which brings us back to a) (they become paralell truths), to conclude that the complex of the approaches to the Truth are only different ladders of more or less steps that carry us upwards to the Highest of OneSelf. And NOT contradictions.
If I knew painting I would like to paint….The Sanathan Dharma should be painted…I am yet to understand the depths of the yantras, but I am quite sure it has something to do with everything intertwined to form the One….
In my view, one has to have lived (in this or in previous lives) in the hindu culture to grasp its profoundity. Otherwise there is the very human tendency to bring everything under the most known umbrella, and there are two different umbrellas in this case, the western and the indian. I prefer the colourful umbrella with so many nuances, than the black and white. Honestly!. Because in the colourful one, the black and white is included. But not the other way ´round…
Still in the process….