Search for Enlightenment in Asian Traditions

obyvatel

The Living Force
The term enlightenment is used a lot in modern spiritual circles. It does not seem like anyone can explain what it is with any degree of clarity. It is my understanding that this term enlightenment was brought to the west from Asian traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism. So here is a brief summary of what the terms were used to denote with a little historical context. The main source material used is Prof Surendranath Dasgupta's voluminous (now out of print) work "The History Of Indian Philosophy".


Vedic Philosophy

[quote author=History Of Indian Philosophy]
The earliest literature of India is the Vedas. These consist mostly of hymns in praise of nature gods, such as fire, wind, etc. Excepting in some of the hymns of the later parts of the work (probably about 1000 B.C.), there is not much philosophy in them in our sense of the term. It is here that we first find intensely interesting philosophical questions of a more or less cosmological character expressed in terms of poetry and imagination. In the later Vedic works called the Brâhmanas and the Âranyakas written mostly in prose, which followed the Vedic hymns, there are two tendencies, viz. one that sought to establish the magical forms of ritualistic worship, and the other which indulged in speculative thinking through crude generalizations. This latter tendency was indeed much feebler than the former, and it might appear that the ritualistic tendency had actually swallowed up what little of philosophy the later parts of the Vedic hymns were trying to express, but there are unmistakable marks that this tendency existed and worked.

Next to this come certain treatises written in prose and verse called the Upanisads, which contain various sorts of philosophical thoughts mostly monistic or singularistic but also some pluralistic and dualistic ones. These are not reasoned statements, but utterances of truths intuitively perceived or felt as unquestionably real and indubitable, and carrying great force, vigour, and persuasiveness with them. It is very probable that many of the earliest parts of this literature are as old as 500 B.C. to 700 B.C. Buddhist philosophy began with the Buddha from some time about 500 B.C. There is reason to believe that Buddhist philosophy continued to develop in India in one or other of its vigorous forms till some time about the tenth or eleventh century A.D.
[/quote]


Much of this early material was passed down the ages by oral transmission. The material was considered holy and there was a reluctance to put this down in writing. The Brahmins or the priestly class was privy to this knowledge and they learned the material by-heart from their preceptors. Once compiled in written form, the Vedic material was composed of four Samhitas (collection of verses) - the Rg Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Sama Veda was largely composed of verses taken from the Rg Veda meant to be sung in certain fixed melodies and were associated with the "soma" sacrifice. The Yajur Veda, in addition to hymns taken from the Rg Veda, contained some prose compositions and were focused on sacrifices. The material in Yajur Veda (yajus - sacrificial formula and prayers) was organized in an order in which the verses were employed in actual sacrifices. This is in contrast with the Rg Veda, where the verses were generally arranged in the order of Gods who were being venerated - like all verses in praise of the fire god would come together. The Gods of Rg Veda were largely an embodiment of the impersonal forces of nature and the naturalistic poets of the age held them in awe and sang praises of them. The Atharva Veda had a distinctively different character compared to the other 3 collections. It was largely a collection of a book of spells and incantations and related more to the demon world and withcraft in contrast with the higher Brahminical gods of the Rg Veda. It is possible that the Atharva Veda contained remnants of more archaic religious figures and customs which were possibly marginalized and demonized by the "official culture" of the day, the Aryan culture.

After the Samhitas, there came the Brahmanas. These were of different literary style. Written in prose, they described the religious significance of different rituals which were described in the Samhitas. Regarding the nature of the Brahmanas, Prof Arthur Macdonell writes

"They reflect the spirit of an age in which all intellectual activity is concentrated on the sacrifice, describing its ceremonies, discussing its value, speculating on its origin and significance."


Prof Dasgupta writes
[quote author=History of Indian Philosophy]

These works are full of dogmatic assertions, fanciful symbolism and speculations of an unbounded imagination in the field of sacrificial details. The sacrificial ceremonials were probably never so elaborate at the time when the early hymns were composed. But when the collections of hymns were being handed down from generation to generation the ceremonials became more and more complicated. Thus there came about the necessity of the distribution of the different sacrificial functions among several distinct classes of priests. We may assume that this was a period when the caste system was becoming established, and when the only thing which could engage wise and religious minds was sacrifice and its elaborate rituals. Free speculative thinking was thus subordinated to the service of the sacrifice, and the result was the production of the most fanciful sacramental and symbolic system, unparalleled anywhere but among the Gnostics. It is now generally believed that the close of the Brâhmana period was not later than 500 B.C.
[/quote]

Regarding the predominant sacrificial culture and performance of rituals, Dasgupta writes
The sacrifice taken as a whole is conceived as Haug notes "to be a kind of machinery in which every piece must tally with the other," the slightest discrepancy in the performance of even a minute ritualistic detail, say in the pouring of the melted butter on the fire, or the proper placing of utensils employed in the sacrifice, or even the misplacing of a mere straw contrary to the injunctions was sufficient to spoil the whole sacrifice with whatsoever earnestness it might be performed. Even if a word was mispronounced the most dreadful results might follow. Thus when Tvastr performed a sacrifice for the production of a demon who would be able to kill his enemy Indra, owing to the mistaken accent of a single word the object was reversed and the demon produced was killed by Indra. But if the sacrifice could be duly performed down to the minutest detail, there was no power which could arrest or delay the fruition of the object. Thus the objects of a sacrifice were fulfilled not by the grace of the gods, but as a natural result of the sacrifice. The performance of the rituals invariably produced certain mystic or magical results by virtue of which the object desired by the sacrificer was fulfilled in due course like the fulfilment of a natural law in the physical world.........
Though in each sacrifice certain gods were invoked and received the offerings, the gods themselves were but instruments in bringing about the sacrifice or incompleting the course of mystical ceremonies composing it. Sacrifice is thus regarded as possessing a mystical potency superior even to the gods, who it is sometimes stated attained to their divine rank by means of sacrifice.

Though not widely popular, this view of the supreme significance of ritual sacrifice has been persisting up to the present times through various schools of magick, some of which has been discussed elsewhere.

Regarding the Aranakyas (or forest treatises), Dasgupta writes

[quote author=History Of Indian Philosophy]

These works were probably composed for old men who had retired into the forest and were thus unable to perform elaborate sacrifices requiring a multitude of accessories and articles which could not be procured in forests. In these, meditations on certain symbols were supposed to be of great merit, and they gradually began to supplant the sacrifices as being of a superior order. It is here that we find that amongst a certain section of intelligent people the ritualistic ideas began to give way, and philosophic speculations about the nature of truth became gradually substituted in their place. To take an illustration from the beginning of the Brhadâranyaka we find that instead of the actual performance of the horse sacrifice (as'vamedha) there are directions for meditating upon the dawn (Usas) as the head of the horse, the sun as the eye of the horse, the air as its life, and so on. This is indeed a distinct advancement of the claims of speculation or meditation over the actual performance of the complicated ceremonials of sacrifice. The growth of the subjective speculation, as being capable of bringing the highest good, gradually resulted in the supersession of Vedic ritualism and the establishment of the claims of philosophic meditation and self-knowledge as the highest goal of life. Thus we find that the Âranyaka age was a period during which free thinking tried gradually to shake off the shackles of ritualism which had fettered it for a long time. It was thus that the Âranyakas could pave the way for the Upanisads, revive the germs of philosophic speculation in the Vedas, and develop them in a manner which made the Upanisads the source of all philosophy that arose in the world of Hindu thought.
[/quote]

The stage is then set for the appearance of a different kind of belief which gave rise to the present day concept of "spiritual enlightenment".

Vedic "philosophy" thus largely consisted of a set of sacrificial rituals which when performed to the letter provided man with the fruits of his desire. The Vedic prescriptions were like commandments since there was no reason given behind why certain acts resulted in certain results. If this period is closest in chronology to the time of a post-catclysmic "fall", it could be possible that vague memories of ancient technologies persisted in human minds but loss of significant knowledge ensured that what could be reconstructed was a a pale shadow of the original practices and the practices were soon completely subverted to the STS dynamic.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Vedantic Philosophy

Upanishads are regarded as the main source materials for Vedantic philosophy. The Upanishads are treated by some scholars as teachings which were to be understood and practiced in secret. Sankara, the high priest of Vedantic philosophy whose writings serve as the most popular interpretation of the Upanishads, held that the Upanishads were for the "superior men" who had risen above worldly concerns and Vedic duties no longer had any appeal for them. This point is important imo since this per my understanding serves as the seed of the enlightenment or liberation concept which subsequently got developed to a much higher degree of complexity. While the Vedic doctrine stressed right action through the observance of proper ritual sacrifices, Vedantic doctrine ultimately placed the Self (Atman) to be at a level of the supreme force Brahman and thus transcended the physical world.

Brahman and Atman


In the post Vedic or Vedantic period, there gradually arose the concept of a supreme being Brahman who was said to be the power behind the Gods. Some Vedic verses showed some monotheistic tendencies where there was an attempt to find a supreme deity (the names Hiranyagarbha, Vishwakarma, Prajapati, Brahma, Purusha have been used in this context) who would be the one to address one's attention to, but such tendencies did not become the dominant theme. In the Vedantic period, this quest to find the supreme force was intensified. Various options were tried - the known Gods representing forces of nature as well as internal functions in man himself, like Prana or the vital breath. When positive methods to identify the Brahman did not yield satisfactory results, negative methods were tried. This gave rise to the very popular method of negation ( neti-neti: not this, not this) which was used in the quest of Brahman. Everything that was impermanent, that could be experienced or expressed was discounted.

The search for this elusive Brahman ended in the Self or Atman.

Dasgupta writes
The fundamental idea which runs through the early Upanisads is that underlying the exterior world of change there is an unchangeable reality which is identical with that which underlies the essence in man.
.................
The sum and substance of the Upanisad teaching is involved in the equation Âtman=Brahman. We have already seen that the word Âtman was used in the Rg-Veda to denote on the one hand the ultimate essence of the universe, and on the other the vital breath in man. Later on in the Upanisads we see that the word Brahman is generally used in the former sense, while the word Âtman is reserved to denote the inmost essence in man, and the Upanisads are emphatic in their declaration that the two are one and the same.
.................

[T]he natural development of the monotheistic position of the Vedas could have grown into some form of developed theism, but not into the doctrine that the self was the only reality and that everything else was far below it. There is no relation here of the worshipper and the worshipped and no prayers are offered to it, but the whole quest is of the highest truth, and the true self of man is discovered as the greatest reality. This change of philosophical position seems to me to be a matter of great interest. This change of the mind from the objective to the subjective does not carry with it in the Upanisads any elaborate philosophical discussions, or subtle analysis of mind. It comes there as a matter of direct perception, and the conviction with which the truth has been grasped cannot fail to impress the readers. That out of the apparently meaningless speculations of the Brâhmanas this doctrine could have developed, might indeed appear to be too improbable to be believed.

The Upanisads exalted the role of meditation which replaced sacrificial rituals as the principal path to enlightenment , the essence of which is captured in Dasgupta's equation "Atman=Brahman". Thus the question was settled - the "how" is not answered adequately. It remains shrouded in mystery, a matter of direct experience following the lines of sages who were said to have visions revealing the nature of reality.

It needs to be clarified that Sankara's monistic exposition on the Upanishads which has become the most popular interpretation was not the only position taken by the unknown authors of the Upanishads. There are dualistic doctrines which gave rise to other schools of thought though they may not have reached the level of popularity as Sankara's "Advaita Vedanta" seems to have reached today, especially in the Western world.

Buddhism

Buddhism technically belongs to the "nastika" school of Indian philosophies which do not accept the infallibility of the Vedas and do not try to establish their own validity through references to Vedic doctrines. Two other schools which belong to this category are Jainism and Charvakism ( a nihilistic and materialistic school which did not enjoy a lot of popularity. One of the famous quotes from Charvaka can be loosely translated as " As long as you live, live in pleasure; drink ghee even if you have to fall in debt). On the other side there is the "astika" schools which are derived from and/or seeks validation from the Vedic doctrines - which include Vedanta and Yoga schools.

It is widely accepted among students of Indian philosophy that the advent of Buddhism stimulated philosophic inquiry in the orthodox schools. When Buddhism came into existence, the Vedas, the Upanishads and Charvakism were the existing schools which had at least some philosophical component attached to them and all of which were stagnated to some extent. So Buddhism played an important role in the development of spiritual and philosophical thought in India and other parts of Asia.

Most of Buddhist literature was compiled after the founder Gautama Buddha passed away. One of the key features of Buddhist philosophy is that what we perceive as reality is largely unsubstantial and has the nature of "dependent origination". This view of reality has found agreement in some discoveries of modern physics which has greatly increased the popularity of Buddhism in the western world. Buddhists did not accept the orthodox view of a permanent, unchanging entity as the cause behind all reality. Practices of Buddhism are geared towards deeply realizing the transitory nature of reality and then seeking a way out of the misery of life. The difference in basic world view between Buddhism and the Vedic/Vedantic schools is thus stark.

In a state of ignorance (whose cause is not determinable but its effect can be observed), man identifies with impermanent elements of reality and is caught in an endless cycle of suffering. As as result of ignorance, various afflictions arise which include desire, anger, fear, hatred, covetuousness, pride, vanity etc. Note that in these doctrines, the view of human emotions and drives is largely unilevel without any ostensible inclusion of context or the 3rd force. Anyway, with right discipline, concentration and knowledge, one moves away from the afflictions towards the state of sainthood. Through progressive stages of such practices leading to non-attachment, one comes to the stage where all roots of attachments and antipathies are destroyed and one achieves the state of absolute indifference (upekkha) and can be set free from the bondage to the eternal cycle of death and rebirth.

Dasgupta writes
Any one who seeks to discuss whether Nibbâna (liberation) is either a positive and eternal state or a mere state of non-existence or annihilation, takes a view which has been discarded in Buddhism as heretical. It is true that we in modern times are not satisfied with it, for we want to know what it all means. But it is not possible to give any answer since Buddhism regarded all these questions as illegitimate.

While the predominant Upanishadic view held that the Self of an individual had an eternal unchanging component whose nature is pure bliss and which could be realized through transcendental experience, Buddhist view holds that no immutable, permanent Self exits and to think otherwise is to fall into delusion and sorrow.

Today, both the Buddhist and the Upanishadic views of enlightenment are used by the "enlightenment" industry. Having a basic grasp of what these terms meant in these older traditions may be of some help in practicing one's discernment skills in this matter.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Taoism

The origins of Taoist tradition is shrouded in mystery and scholars studying Taoism have often added more confusion to the mix. Much of the problem for scholars stems from the fact that unlike Buddhism, Christianity, Islam etc, Taoism did not start off as the efforts of a community to practice the teachings of a teacher or prophet. In that sense, it is similar to Hinduism and Taoism shares with Hinduism a vast volume of amorphous and sometimes contradictory material of unknown authorship which got synthesized over a period of time. Buddhism had the effect of stimulating philosophical inquiry into somewhat stagnating Hindu schools of thought. On somewhat similar lines, the advent of Buddhism in China provided the catalyst for many Taoist practices to be codified so that it could sustain itself as a distinct tradition. Russell Kirkland discusses these points in his book "Taoism - The Enduring Tradition".

Taoists had a cosmology but rather than going overboard with philosophical speculations, active Taoists were more interested in self-cultivation practices. The social role of self-cultivation was stressed more in the Confucian tradition but Taoists too shared the same basic view even if it was not emphasized to the same degree. The understanding of self-cultivation was also not the same in Confucian and Taoist traditions.

[quote author=Taoism - The Enduring Tradition]

In reality, the contributors to the texts of "classical Taoism" shared much with their Confucian contemporaries. All of them, even those who produced the Nei Yeh (old Taoist work), insisted that it is not only possible, but indeed morally necessary, for individuals to develop or transform themselves in a way that most people do not, thereby enhancing both their own well-being and the well-being of others around them.
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What most distinguished "classical Taoists" from others in early China was their interest in non-personalized spiritual realities, and in the transformative power of the person who has properly cultivated them. The Confucians' primary goal was to transform society by cultivating moral virtues and persuading rulers to do likewise. "Classical Taoists" were more focused on biospiritual cultivation, and sometimes suggested that such cultivation would transform the world.
[/quote]

Here we see some parallels with 4th Way concepts (man being a transducer of cosmic forces, conscious beings effecting a change in the world) as well as alchemical/shamanistic traditions.

Taoist works like Nei Yeh, Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu stressed self cultivation and expressed doubt that individual or collective efforts without reference to life's deeper realities could cause a desirable change to the existing system. Taoism's ancient works like the Nei Yeh also put forward a holistic view of life stating that energies which underlie all living things - humans, stars and ghostly spirits included - are all subtly interconnected. They suggest that

[quote author=Taoism - The Enduring Tradition]
a properly cultivated person can exert a subtle transformative power, acting as a conduit for the natural salutary forces that should guide and empower people's lives.
[/quote]


In the Nei Yeh, practitioners are urged to align their energies to the subtle energies or the spirit (shen) of the universe through the cultivation of the "heart-mind" (hsin) by working on themselves on a daily basis, "practicing diligent self-control over all thought, emotion and action".

Through such practices, Taoists sought a transformative change in experiential awareness - or the experience of enlightenment. In this goal, they were not that different from followers of other traditions like Buddhism and Hinduism. Specially, Buddhism did have an influence on Taoism in its later forms. However, there were some key aspects where Taoism differed from Buddhism. According to Kirkland, Taoists did not buy into the Buddhist concept that the change in experiential awareness was a sudden event. Also

[quote author=Taoism - The Enduring Tradition]
Taoists did not find value in the Buddhist assumption that spiritual transformation could take place merely as a change in one's consciousness, without any real reference to one's physical life or to the subtle processes at work in the world around us. Taoists typically believed that personal transformation must be a holistic transformation, a transformation of all their being - including what other traditions have distinguished as mind, body and spirit - in accord with the most subtle and sublime processes at work in the world within which we live.
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It might be fair to say that the core of Taoist practice - from classical times to that of the present - has involved a practice of self-cultivation within a cosmos comprised of subtly linked forces. We must beware of misinterpreting Taoist practices on terms of modern individualism. Taoist theory did not accept any dichotomization of "self" from "other". Contrary to the charges of its critics, both among China's Confucians and among modern westerners - Taoist self-cultivation has never been grounded in a belief that each human being has any separate, enclosed, individualized "self" that is more worthy of value and attention than what is outside such enclosures. Rather, Taoists generally assume that one's "self" cannot be understood or fulfilled without reference to other persons, and to a broader set of realities in which all persons are naturally and properly embedded. It is this fundamentally holistic perspective that sets Taoist ideas and practices apart from most of what is taught in other traditions of China or those of other lands, in Asia or elsewhere.
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It is here in what might be called the affirmation of the body and the affirmation of the natural world, that we see something Taoism does not fully share with many other traditions. In Taoism, one's body (or more properly, one's body/heart/mind/energy/spirit) and the social, political, and physical matrices within which one's personal life takes place - i.e realities that Taoists often called one's ming, "facts that cannot be changed" - are deemed not only to be real and important, but in certain key ways, fundamental to one's practice of personal transformation.
[/quote]

Regarding views of death, Taoism is generally understood to be concerned with immortality. This concept of immortality was not however related to the perpetuation of the physical body. The concept of "hsien" or immortal is actually used to denote "an exemplar of spiritual qualities on a level sufficient to allow a transcendence of human mortality". Kirkland writes

[quote author=Taoism - The Enduring Tradition]
On balance, it would seem accurate to say that Taoists of nearly every stripe - ...- believed that death cannot be avoided, and yet death can be transcended.
.....

The Taoist goal was to attain an exalted state of existence through diligent cultivation of the world's deeper realities. Such attainments were generally predicated upon a process of personal purification and an enhanced awareness of reality - i.e, a process of moral, spiritual and cognitive growth. Once one has fully completed that process, one is believed to have somehow reached a state that will not be extinguished, even when the physical body ceases to be one's form.
[/quote]

Such an idea of immortality along with the process of working towards it is close to Gurdjieff's explanation of the concept of immortality in ISOTM.

[quote author=ISOTM]
"Can it be said that man possesses immortality?"

"Immortality is one of the qualities we ascribe to people without having a sufficient understanding of their meaning," said G. "Other qualities of this kind are 'individuality,' in the sense of an inner unity, a 'permanent and unchangeable I,' 'consciousness,' and 'will.' All these qualities can belong to man" (he emphasized the word "can"), "but this certainly does not mean that they do belong to him or belong to each and every one.

"In order to understand what man is at the present time, that is, at the present level of development, it is necessary to imagine to a certain extent what he can be, that is, what he can attain. Only by understanding the correct sequence of development possible will people cease to ascribe to themselves what, at present, they do not possess, and what, perhaps, they can only acquire after great effort and great labor.

"According to an ancient teaching, traces of which may be found in many systems, old and new, a man who has attained the full development possible for man, a man in the full sense of the word, consists of four bodies. These four bodies are composed of substances which gradually become finer and finer, mutually interpenetrate one another, and form four independent organisms, standing in a definite relationship to one another but capable of independent action.

"The reason why it is possible for four bodies to exist is that the human organism, that is, the physical body, has such a complex organization that, under certain conditions, a new independent organism can grow in it, affording a much more convenient and responsive instrument for the activity of consciousness than the physical body. The consciousness manifested in this new body is capable of governing it, and it has full power and full control over the physical body. In this second body, under certain conditions, a third body can grow, again having characteristics of its own. The consciousness manifested in this third body has full power and control over the first two bodies; and the third body possesses the possibility of acquiring knowledge inaccessible either to the first or to the second body. In the third body, under certain conditions, a fourth can grow, which differs as much from the third as the third differs from the second and the second from the first. The consciousness manifested in the fourth body has full control over the first three bodies and itself.
"These four bodies are defined in different teachings in various ways." G. drew a diagram, and said:
"The first is the physical body, in Christian terminology the 'carnal' body; the second, in Christian terminology, is the 'natural' body; the third is the 'spiritual' body; and the fourth, in the terminology of esoteric Christianity, is the 'divine' body. In theosophical terminology the first is the 'physical' body, the second is the 'astral,' the third is the 'mental,' and the fourth the 'causal.'1
"In the terminology of certain Eastern teachings the first body is the 'carriage' (body), the second body is the 'horse' (feelings, desires), the third the 'driver' (mind), and the fourth the 'master' (I, consciousness, will).

Such comparisons and parallels may be found in most systems and teachings which recognize something more in man than the physical body. But almost all these teachings, while repeating in a more or less familiar form the definitions and divisions of the ancient teaching, have forgotten or omitted its most important feature, which is: that man is not born with the finer bodies, and that they can only be artificially cultivated in him provided favorable conditions both internal and external are present.
........................

"And only the man who possesses four fully developed bodies can be called a 'man' in the full sense of the word. This man possesses many properties which ordinary man does not possess. One of these properties is immortality. All religions and all ancient teachings contain the idea that, by acquiring the fourth body, man acquires immortality; and they all contain indications of the ways to acquire the fourth body, that is, immortality.
[/quote]
 

Voyageur

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
[quote author=obyvatel ]
[...]

Today, both the Buddhist and the Upanishadic views of enlightenment are used by the "enlightenment" industry. Having a basic grasp of what these terms meant in these older traditions may be of some help in practicing one's discernment skills in this matter.
[/quote]

Thanks for starting this tread obyvatel; a difficult term to come to grips with, especially how it is thought about or projected in the west. Would like to consider this much more before further comment, yet think that it is much closer to philosophical work of understanding then having a sudden enlightened rapturous experience as sometimes equated.

Briefly here from M.Hall:

The philosopher's stone is really the philosophical stone, for philosophy is truly likened to a magic jewel whose touch transmutes base substances into priceless gems like itself. Wisdom is the alchemist's powder of projection which transforms many thousand times its own weight of gross ignorance into the precious substance of enlightenment.

This substance that is worked towards can easy slip between ones fingers - this is difficult work, the hardest and see it not too differently than 4th way teachings. Eastern traditions involve so many deities, mantras and such, yet there seems to be philosophy at root and the student practitioner is always questioning and being questioned until ideas crystallize, osit.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Just to clarify, my purpose of starting this thread was to share some data about Asian traditions (like Hinduism and Buddhism) which I believe points towards their goals as being quite different from the purpose of this forum (as in following 4th Way practices towards STO orientation). These traditions are complex with many branches and it is quite a challenge to figure out what lies at the root. We have discussed New Age corruption of old traditions and the problems with experience chasing many times in this forum. But it seems that these traditions, at least in what survives as their official recorded history, had different goals long before the inception of New Age ideas.
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
obyvatel said:
Just to clarify, my purpose of starting this thread was to share some data about Asian traditions (like Hinduism and Buddhism) which I believe points towards their goals as being quite different from the purpose of this forum (as in following 4th Way practices towards STO orientation). These traditions are complex with many branches and it is quite a challenge to figure out what lies at the root. We have discussed New Age corruption of old traditions and the problems with experience chasing many times in this forum. But it seems that these traditions, at least in what survives as their official recorded history, had different goals long before the inception of New Age ideas.

As per ISOTM , people who are on the other paths ( way of fakir ( physical center) , monk (emotional center) , yogi ( intellectual center ) ) can be of STO path too. but they are not equipped to look at objectively as they needed. Laura suggests in Wave series ( in the context of Ra channeler ) that one can be "way of monk" for one life, once one learns those lessons, they can be on another path learn other parts in another life. Based on my understanding the hindu traditions are more like Yogic path. Since Guru is God, it is easy to get things corrupted . I have seen over and over that these yogic teachers reach out to general population with some practical solutions to every day problems with Ayurveda tips for the poor health, morality teachings interspersing the religious texts, physical exercises like Yoga etc. This created endless lineages with their version of the truth. Though I see some critical thinking in some of the groups, but they are still stuck in rituals BIG time. Of course, They are infested with pathologicals who attract ,dupe people and get busted too. Unfortunately these pathological like saibaba and nityananda gets magical resources to propagate their tentacles and other true STO oriented folks gets silenced and eliminated. Same with New age guru's.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
voyageur said:
Would like to consider this much more before further comment, yet think that it is much closer to philosophical work of understanding then having a sudden enlightened rapturous experience as sometimes equated.

I think that due to the full meaning of "enlightenment" and depending on context, both ideas in that statement are 'true'. Not only that, but I also agree with the connection to the philosopher's stone.

The following light-hearted example definition of the word "mu" may help clarify what I mean, but if not, I can provide a couple more examples upon request.

mu: /moo/

The correct answer to the classic trick question “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”.

Assuming that you have no wife or you have never beaten your wife, the answer “yes” is wrong because it implies that you used to beat your wife and then stopped, but “no” is worse because it suggests that you have one and are still beating her.

According to various Discordians and Douglas Hofstadter the correct answer is usually “mu”, a Japanese word alleged to mean “Your question cannot be answered because it depends on incorrect assumptions”.

Hackers tend to be sensitive to logical inadequacies in language, and many have adopted this suggestion with enthusiasm. The word ‘mu’ is actually from Chinese, meaning ‘nothing’; it is used in mainstream Japanese in that sense. In Chinese it can also mean “have not” (as in “I have not done it”), or “lack of”, which may or may not be a definite, complete 'nothing'). Native speakers of Japanese do not recognize the Discordian question-denying use, which almost certainly derives from overgeneralization of the answer in the following well-known Rinzai Zen koan:

A monk asked Joshu, “Does a dog have the Buddha nature?” Joshu retorted, “Mu!”
Source: _http://catb.org/jargon/html/M/mu.html

If the above clarifies, then we might also be able to connect our understanding to something Laura wrote so long back I can't find it right now: Paraphrasing loosely: "Expand your mind to be at the level of the problem you're working on, rather than trying to squeeze the problem into your current mindset."
 

Chaitanya Krishna das

The Force is Strong With This One
Concerning Vedic philosophy, Brahman is not technically the Supreme Divinity. Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the Supreme Being, and is an eternally personal entity. Brahman is Bhagavan' s impersonal energy that pervades everything in existence, in both the material and spiritual universes, and is alternately known as the Brahmajyoti. The 3rd manifestation of Divinity is the Paramatma, the Supersoul, which resides in the heart of all living entities side by side with the Atman, or soul. Paramatma is also a personal Being.

Mayavadis and Buddhists seek oneness with the impersonal Brahman as their ultimate goal. Practitioners of Astanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga seek full realization of the Paramatma as their ultimate goal. Bhakti Yogis, such as what I practice, seek to escape the cycle of reincarnation in the material universes and seek entrance into Vaikunthaloka, the spiritual universe, as the ultimate goal. Most specifically, we seek entrance into Goloka Vrindavan, Sri Krishna's supreme spiritual planet.

All of these concepts are fully explained in the Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Brahma Samhita, Krishna Karnamrita, and several other scriptures.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Chaitanya Krishna das said:
Concerning Vedic philosophy, Brahman is not technically the Supreme Divinity. Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the Supreme Being, and is an eternally personal entity.

That depends on whom you ask. Vaishnava traditions arising out of India usually treat Vishnu (a vedic god) as supreme and Krishna as one incarnation of Vishnu. Saivite traditions choose Siva as the supreme god. Vedantic traditions stick to formless Brahman.

The "Krishna is the Supreme Being" (sounds kind of like Yahweh declaring supremacy to me) announcement is a monotheistic stance held primarily by ISKCON and has little to do with traditional Vedic texts.

[quote author=Chaitanya Krishna das]
All of these concepts are fully explained in the Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Brahma Samhita, Krishna Karnamrita, and several other scriptures.
[/quote]

Similar "scriptures" exist for the other sects as well concerning the supremacy of their deity. It is kind of silly when you think about it - like "my daddy is the greatest" argument. Many Hindus stay out of this argument by treating Brahman as the formless and picking a deity of their choice as their personal favorite while being aware of that choice.
 

Chaitanya Krishna das

The Force is Strong With This One
Yes, you're right, of course. I can only really speak for the tradition I was trained in though, because that is the interpretation of the Vedic Scriptures I've been studying for 20+ years. But pretty much all the different sects of the Hindu religion follow the Bhagavad Gita, and it states clearly that Krishna is the Supreme Divinity. Different sects just interpret it as allegory, whereas my tradition takes a fundamentalist view of the scriptures. And all the Gaudiya Vaishnava traditions, including the various Gaudiya Math sects, ISKCON, as well as my Gurudev's group, the Nitai Gaur Nam Society, believe that Sri Krishna is the Supreme Divinity.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Chaitanya Krishna das said:
But pretty much all the different sects of the Hindu religion follow the Bhagavad Gita,

Maybe that is what you were told but that is not right.
 

Gimpy

The Living Force
Chaitanya Krishna das said:
Yes, you're right, of course. I can only really speak for the tradition I was trained in though, because that is the interpretation of the Vedic Scriptures I've been studying for 20+ years. But pretty much all the different sects of the Hindu religion follow the Bhagavad Gita, and it states clearly that Krishna is the Supreme Divinity. Different sects just interpret it as allegory, whereas my tradition takes a fundamentalist view of the scriptures. And all the Gaudiya Vaishnava traditions, including the various Gaudiya Math sects, ISKCON, as well as my Gurudev's group, the Nitai Gaur Nam Society, believe that Sri Krishna is the Supreme Divinity.

In what way is this different from Christian Fundamentalism, or any other variant that insists upon a 'static Universe'?

The scholars I've met from India would be appalled by this, insisting that India's religious traditions remain 'resistant' to such things.
 

Chaitanya Krishna das

The Force is Strong With This One
Well, for instance, we accept the Mahabharata as actual history, not as symbolic stories. And we accept the Srimad Bhagavatam as the actual history of the past hundreds of millions of years of THIS material universe. And if you read the Bhagavatam in conjunction with books like "Forbidden Archaeology" by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, and Laura's "Secret History of the World" books, it backs up the fundamentalist interpretation of these scriptures.

The Bhagavatam also states that our particular material universe is simply one of millions of material universes, and that all these millions of material universes make up only one fourth of the total creation, the other three-fourths being taken up by the spiritual universe, Vaikunthaloka.
 

mkrnhr

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Hi Chaitanya Krishna das,
A story being accepted (or not) is not relevent. Truth and falsehood do not depend on people's beliefs. Also, even if something is possible (and everything is possible), it doesn't mean that it is true in the way we think we understand it. Hope it's not too badly expressed.
 
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