The story of my experiments with truth

Greg Goode goode at DPW.COM
Wed Dec 3 12:32:07 CST 1997

At 12:26 AM 12/3/97 -0500, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:
>Once again, I must apologize for droppig the ball in this conversation.
>On Sun, 16 Nov 1997, Greg Goode wrote:
>> This means either that according to a Vedantin, either (a) there are no
>> duties in non-Vedic cultures, or (b) all proper duties in all cultures have
>> their source in the Vedas.  Do you mean something like (a) or (b)?
>Like I said mostly the question was ignored.  But for those who thought
>about it, the answer is nearer to b though they did not consider a
>non-Vedic culture a culture at all.  Instead they would say all people
>are bound to obey the sadharana dharmas or common duties and foreigners
>don't because they are incorrigible barbarians.

The ancient Greeks were the same way.  'Barbarian' in Greek meant 'not us'.

>> Yes, we are modern people, using a modern means of communication,
>> discussing the relevance of ancient ideas to our modern lives.  We are
>> using modern languages and dialectic.  (Ghandiji was a modern man too.)
>One can use the tools of modernism without neceessarily believing in its
>cultural underpinnings.

I agree there!!

>Naturally, noone knows for sure what the future will hold but perhaps we
>can extrapolate.  Modern Hinduism is typically said to begin with Rammohan
>Roy.  (Also incidentally the first ideologue of modern Vedanta.)  Today
>his philosophy is practically forgotten.

What are his dates?

>Or what about the RK mission?  Vivekananda is quoted by a bewildering
>variety of people to promote all sorts of things nowadays but as an
>institution, the RK mission is moribund.

I agree about the RK mission, but is that about modernism?   I used to
attend services at two of their centers, and have my own ideas about why
they are not more popular.  Don't think it has too much to do with
modernism vs. traditionalism.  Or do you mean the RK mission in India?

>Whether or not tradition can escape the weeds that have grown around it
>depends on education.  If I seem vehemant in my denunciation of certain
>trends it's because I don't want to see innocent people hoodwinked by them
>before they've had a chance to see what Dharma is really about.  I may be
>wrong but I'm pretty optimistic that i'm not.

Wrong about what?  Most people would love it if other people were not
deluded.  How do you know that other traditions, paths, trends, etc., are
false.  Not all non-Vedanta trends are hoodwinking.  You argue for the
cultural purity/integrity of Advaita Vedanta.  This is not a path for
everyone, especially people from other cultures.  This is why there are a
multiplicity of paths.  This prompts me to ask you:  what is your personal
opinion of people like me, an American, strongly drawn to Vedanta?  I'm
drawn both to the orthodox kind, the kind with the long, continuous
guru-disciple tradition, AS WELL as the non-orthodox kind taught by Ramana
Maharshi, Nisargadatta, Ramesh Balsekar (who you mention below), and
others.  You might say that my intereset in the non-orthodox kind is that
I'm being hoodwinked.  But if I am culturally not Indian and don't see
things through the same historical/cultural filter that an orthodox Indian
Vedantist does, then how did my interest happen??  Am I doomed?   I
remember hearing once on another mail-list that the best hope for an
American according to one orthodox writer was to be reborn in India!

Or is what you are saying that you don't like other trends masquerading as
Vedanta when they're not Vedanta?  I can agree with you there.  A friend of
mine made a quip about Advaita being as trendy as "Tao" was a few years
ago.  We'll see books on "The Advaita of Business," "The Advaita of
Relationships," "The Advaita of Getting What you Want," etc.

>> Cultural relativism IS a modern notion, so?
>So anyone who seriously claims to practice Vedanta must value the truth
>above all else.  The intention is not to replace one illusion by another
>but to get rid of them all.  The ideology of the Gita and those who have
>followed its teaching through the centuries wasn't modern and to claim
>otherwise is a lie.  Simple as that.

Agree, agree.  The Truth is eternal, permanent, infinite.

>I was born in England and have lived all my life in the West.  My parents
>immigrated in their 20's too but I've never felt the need to bother much
>with any of these modernists at all.  I hadn't heard of Ramana before I
>joined this list and I still don't accept Nisargadatta, Balshekhar etc as
>Advaitins at all.

Interesting.  Have you read them?

>You see, for me this is not a matter of theory or
>book-learning but part of a vibrant living tradition.

I know what you are talking about, and Ramana, Nisargadatta are NOT part of
this tradition.  I had looked for instances of this tradition in the U.S.,
and it's sort of hard to find.  Swamis Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda do
have a presence on the East coast.  Are they part of this tradition?

>Speaking as a corporate warrior myself, I'd be wary of applying any of the
>tenets of Vedanta to my life.  (Not that "Karma Yoga" has much to do with
>Vedanta at all.)  Vedanta is not just about getting beyond dukha but sukha
>as well.

Could you give an example here of how Vedanta doesn't apply to your
corporate life?  Is mentally chanting OM not applying Vedanta?  Cannot this
be done during a business meeting?

>> >Maybe.  But your culturally translated Gita is different from _the_ Gita.
>> Precisely!  You see, the very fact that it withstands cultural, temporal
>> and linguistic translation is even more evidence of its profundity and
>> greatness for all.
>Again, if you say so.  But if this profundity is wholly your own product,
>why bother with the Gita at all?  That's the part I'm having difficulty
>understanding.  You could just call your beliefs Goodism and include
>whatever you like in them.

You are arguing here something like both A and B:

A: Greg says (a) that the Gita is profound and transcends culture.  This
view, (a), is probably Greg's personal creation.

B: Jaldhar says (b) that the Gita must be understood only in the same way
it was at the time and in the culture in which it was written.  This view,
(b), is not Jaldhar's personal creation, but something more absolute.

Propositions (A) and (B) don't really go together.  Of course everything
that appears, any view, all nama-rupa is an appearance in consciousness and
ultimately not a personal thing at all.  But even speaking from within the
world of maya and relativity, it is known that literary, religious,
aesthetic views are influenced by one's time, place, background,
conditioning, education, etc.  If you agree to this, then views (a) and (b)
are also both influenced by these same factors!


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