The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

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JKhedrup
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:12 am

Excellent post Malcolm! I think that the point of mono-history is quite an important one. Here in India one definitely sees all different types of philosophies/cultural practices existing side by side, although at times they may seem at odds with each other. So Hinduism is actually the Western umbrella term for a wide variety of practices that range from monastic-like Vaishnavism to the tantric rites seen in the Shakti sects to the ash-covered yogis meditating on Shiva by the Ganges. We have dualistic, devotion centered movements like those of Bengali bhakti saint Chaitanya, existing along with Monistic movements like Shaiva Siddhanta that is prevalent in Tamil Nadu.
The interesting thing to note is that these home-grown traditions existed by and large side by side peacefully for years on the Indian sub-continent. It was the monotheistic faiths (Christianity, Islam) coming from abroad that fed most of the more serious Indian religious conflicts.
The broadness of the Indian outlook, its emphasis on practice rather than whether an approach is "by the book" or not has led to an environment where spiritual philosophies can evolve and mature. In many places of the world religious conflicts are fought "by the sword" as it were, but historically for the most part in India they were fought "on the debate ground", with both sides often claiming victory but no blood spilt. (Unfortunately, this is changing).
Although much is made of the "Encounter of Buddhism and the West", I would argue that Western countries to not offer nearly as fertile a soil for the development and evolution of spiritual practice as India did, with perhaps an exception in terms of the dialogue between Buddhism and science.
Malhotra expressed that most of the "Interfaith Gatherings" in fact stress mere "tolerance" of others beliefs. The Abrahmic religions, who by and large share a common set of basic beliefs, cannot get along very well even among themsleves. Therefore, in terms of the Dharmic religions the most they can offer mere tolerance, but not a genuine respect.
I was not so surprised to hear that Malhotra's book was not a big seller or widely available in the West. Here in India you see it in every book shop, but I guess that is natural since it is complementary or Indian culture. It is even selling at the airport in Delhi. (I'm very sad to be leaving India in 10 days).

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viniketa
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby viniketa » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:23 am

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Osho
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Osho » Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:57 am

Remember that riff in Monty Python Life of Bryan?
What have the Romans ever done for us?
Are we missing the irony of the fact that Malhotra,there being nothing that will do the trick in or of the Eastern canon; of necessity employs Western engendered philosophical approaches to make his points? Without the PoMo Malhotra has nothing beyond the India-best rather chauvinistic approach one could hear from middle class young professionals lunching in any Indian cafe.
Might there be some small element of European self loathing here colleagues?
If so that could perhaps explain the respective sales of the work in different markets with any consequent European-ethnoheritage discussion limited to fora such as this one.
Stephen Whitehead's 'Masculinities' works are far more insightful and, could one say; honest in locating groundings. The fact that Whitehead latterly became a Buddhist monk adds to rather than detracts from his entirely original academic work.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).

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treehuggingoctopus
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:14 am

A mighty interesting thread, this one's become.
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

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tobes
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby tobes » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:20 am


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Osho
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Osho » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:28 am

More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).

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Osho
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Osho » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:49 am

If one accepts 'linear historicity' as if-this-then-that causal temporality then it surely must be taken as underpinning later western empiricist philosophies,all of them including Malhotra who has both feet rooted firmly within the western methodological approach albeit the PoMo subaltern. The elightenment project did not spring fully formed from the void and the subaltern is its child not its live in domestic help.
Dawkins is,after all; an evangelist as were those of his predecessors cited above.
Malhotra is non different.
More about Mindfulness here
http://bemindful.co.uk/

" A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."
(Dogen).

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Malcolm
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:58 pm





འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

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Malcolm
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:06 pm





འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

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viniketa
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby viniketa » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:08 pm

Last edited by viniketa on Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JKhedrup
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:10 pm

For me this is precisely what makes Malhotra interesting, his passion for and aknowledged bias towards the Dharmic traditions. I could continue the impossible task of trying to find an unbiased, analytical narrative of Indian spiritual philosophy, or, I could read someone like Malhotra, whose view is an impassioned counter-perspective to what I learned in most of my history classes at Uoft, with the exception of that of Ritu Birla. (Admittedly, this was as a mere undergrad and I never went further than my BA in Western academia.)

As a Buddhist, Malhotra's view is one that I seldom get to hear in Western scholarship, and therefore one that I appreciate. He openly declares his biases in the first part of the book, so no one is being swindled here. But he is also a strong voice that refuses to be polite regarding the obvious Abrahamic bias that pervades much of what is labeled as "interfaith dialogue". It is good for the status quo to be challenged from time-to-time, rather than being politely ignored.

If undergraduate Indian are reading this book and holding some of these views, I actually think that is fantastic. I am glad that many Indians can accept aspects of Western capitalism and still have a strong wish to hold onto their cultural and spiritual traditions. The other option seems to be that which is popular in places like Singapore and Hong Kong, where increasingly Western values are connected to an en-masse conversion to Christianity. This, I feel, would be deeply unfortunate as the Indian traditions offer a very rich exploration of the spiritual realm.

I only wish that Buddhist countries like Singapore had a Buddhist voice similar to Malhotra's in order to challenge the shift in culture that is leading to a youth uninterested in the teachings of the Buddha.

I am about halfway through the book, more later :)

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Malcolm
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:18 pm





འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

JKhedrup
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:23 pm

:good: Agreed, "how" is a question for another thread.

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Malcolm
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:28 pm





འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

JKhedrup
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am

Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:32 pm

My appreciation for Vedic culture arose after my arrival in India. Though I'm a Buddhist monk with firm refuge in the triple gem, I wanted to understand the broader culture from which the dharma arose.
This led me to travel to various Hindu and Jain holy sites on the subcontinent such as Vrindavan, Varanasi and several ashrams. Though the Buddhist teachings are definitely "for me", the thread that runs through these dharmic traditions is one of mutual reciprocity and development. Some developments in Buddhism closely mirror those of Hinduism during a certain time period and vice versa.

As an aside, does anyone know what philosophy of "Hinduism" was held by the family of Siddhartha Gautama, Lord Buddha? What would the practice of his family have been like?

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Malcolm
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:41 pm





འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

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viniketa
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby viniketa » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:58 pm

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Malcolm
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Malcolm » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:42 pm





འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

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Indrajala
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby Indrajala » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:16 pm

tad etat sarvajñānaṃ karuṇāmūlaṃ bodhicittahetukam upāyaparyavasānam iti |

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viniketa
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Re: The Pitfalls of Western analysis of "Dharmic Traditions"

Postby viniketa » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:46 pm

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