Thinking east


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Quotations about India from the great foreign scholars of different centuries

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Thinking east

  1. 1. THINKING EASTAphorisms and reflections on the past, present and future significance of Indian thought.
  2. 2. If I were asked under what sky the human mind hasmost fully developed some of its choices gifts, hasmost deeply pondered on the greatest problems oflife, and has found solutions, I should point to India. Max Mueller
  3. 3. In India our religions will not ever take root: theprimordial wisdom of sexuality will not let itself bereduced to events in Galilee. On the contrary,Indian wisdom is flowing back to Europe and willbring about a fundamental transformation in ourknowledge and thinking. Arthur Schopenhauer
  4. 4. Devoid of intellectual discernment are thoseEuropeans who want to convert and civilise the Hindus. Friedrich Nietzsche
  5. 5. … to begin with we see that Europe [can only]reproduce what in India, under the people ofthinkers, had already been accomplished severalthousand years ago as a commandment of thinking. Friedrich Nietzsche
  6. 6. Our purpose will surely be served when the Indian world-view becomes known. It will make us aware that we, withour entire religious and philosophical thought, are caught ina colossal one-sidedness, and that there can be found yeta quite different way of grasping things than the one whichHegel has construed as the only possible and rational way. Paul Deussen
  7. 7. We Westerners are about to arrive at the crossroads that theIndian thinkers had already reached about seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. Heinrich Zimmer
  8. 8. … the gods were never dethroned in India. They were notdisintegrated and dissolved by criticism and natural science,as were the deities of the Greeks … The gods of Homerbecame laughable, and were … later regarded asincompatible with the more spiritual and ethical, laterconcepts of divinity … India, on the other hand, retained itsanthropomorphic personifications … to assist the mind in itsattempt to comprehend what was regarded as manifestedthrough them … What is expressed through the personalmasks was understood to transcend them, and yet the garbof the divine personae was never actually removed. By thistolerant, cherishing attitude a solution of the theologicalproblem was attained that preserved the personal characterof the divine powers for all the purposes of worship and dailylife, while permitting an abstract, supreme andtranscendental concept to dominate for the more lofty,supra-ritualistic stages of insight and speculation. Heinrich Zimmer
  9. 9. The strength of the Sanskrit language … accounts for theuniqueness of Indian philosophy, which, as creativethought expressive of the inner life, is unsurpassed by anyother people … Rudolf Steiner
  10. 10. Indian thought, with its usual profundity and avoidance ofarbitrary divisions, regards Philosophy as religious and Religionas philosophical. The "liberty-loving nations of the West" havebeen in the past greatly, and still are to some extent, behindIndia in the matter of intellectual and religious freedom. Ashas been finely said in India, Satyannasti para dharmah(‘There is no religion higher than Truth’) and as the Vedas haveproclaimed, ‘Truth will conquer’ (Satyam Jayate). Sir John Woodroffe
  11. 11. Hinduism may not be called a religion in the sense otherreligions are known. It is much more than a religion, it is atotal way of life. Hinduism has no founder. Its authority isEternal Truth. The cumulative record of metaphysicalexperimentation. Behind the lush tangle of religious imagery,is a clear structure of thought. Compared to the ruggedoriginality of the Indian traditions, the language of todaysphilosophers concerned with being often sound a littlecontrived. Hindus have always been metaphysicians at heart.It is the underlying ideas, and not the images which count. Sir John Woodroffe
  12. 12. It is not too much to say that the mind of the West with all itsundoubted impulses towards the progress of humanity hasnever exhibited such an intense amount of intellectual force asis to be found in the religious speculations of India ... These havebeen the cradle of all Western speculations, and wherever theEuropean mind has risen into heights of philosophy, it has doneso because the Brahmin was the pioneer. There is no intellectualproblem in the West which had not its earlier discussion in theEast, and there is no modern solution of that problem which willnot be found anticipated in the East. Matheson
  13. 13. It is less than a hundred years since the West came topossess some knowledge of Yoga … Over severaldecades knowledge of yoga in the West has come totake the form either of a strict academic discipline or, onthe other hand, as something that one sees rather as areligion, albeit one that never developed itself into anorganised church … Carl Jung
  14. 14. On the meaning of yoga for Indians I wish to be silent,for I can make no judgement on a matter on which Ihave no knowledge from personal experience. As forthe meaning of Yoga for the West, however, I havesomething to say. Carl Jung
  15. 15. The West, with its bad habits of wanting to believe, on the onehand, and educated scientific and philosophical critique onthe other, falls either into the trap of belief and uncriticallyswallows concepts like Prana, Atman, Purusha, Samadhi etc.Scientific criticism however, already stumbles over theconcepts of ‘Prana’ and ‘Purusha’. This split in Western mentalitymakes it impossible from the start to realise the intention ofyoga. Either it is [seen as] strict religious duty or as a form oftraining such as memory training, breath training… etc. Carl Jung
  16. 16. I would say to you, if I may. “Study yoga yourself.You will learn an endless amount from it, but donot apply it, for we Europeans are not made in away that we can apply these methods withoutpreparation. An Indian Guru can explaineverything to you and you can make it your own.But do you know who the guru addresses? Inother words, do you know who you are and howyou were made?” Carl Jung
  17. 17. The power of science and technology in Europe isso huge and undeniable that it is almost pointless toknow all that has been discovered and all that canbe done with it. A completely different questionbegins to dim here: who applies this knowledge? Inwhose hands lies this power? Carl Jung
  18. 18. The Westerner doesn’t know his own soul,which protests suicidally against him. Carl Jung
  19. 19. If we recall that in our time an equiform manner of[calculative] thinking is commandeering world history allover the globe, then we must be equally determined tokeep in mind that this equiform thinking is only thestandardised and monolithic form of that historical mouldwhich we call Western. Martin Heidegger
  20. 20. Calculative thinking computes. It computes ever new, evermore promising and at the same time ever moreeconomical possibilities. Calculative thinking races fromone prospect to the next. Calculative thinking never stops,never collects itself. Calculative thinking is not meditativethinking, not thinking which meditates the meaning whichreigns in everything that is. Martin Heidegger
  21. 21. Martin Heidegger has … shaken the foundations onwhich the Occident builds. Eugen Fink
  22. 22. It is … the office of Asia to take up the work of humanevolution when Europe comes to a standstill and loses itself ina clash of vain speculations, barren experiments and helplessstruggles to avoid the consequences of her own mistakes.Such a time has now come in the world’s history. Sri Aurobindo
  23. 23. … the result … will be no more Asiatic modification ofWestern modernism, but some great, new andoriginal thing of the first importance to the future ofhuman civilisation. Sri Aurobindo
  24. 24. For those now disenchanted with industrialization andscientific materialism as well as pseudo-spirituality,Indias ancient spiritual heritage provides a richalternative. Eastern philosophy, and the devotional heartof Indias Vedanta in particular, can fill the emptyshopping bag of our Western accomplishments. Swami B.V. Tripurai
  25. 25. It is no secret that we in the West live in a time of spiritualcrisis. Western civilization has been guided by Christianity.Now it appears that this period is drawing to a close. Bothreligious institutions and social structures are in disarray. Agreat many things that were considered basic assumptionsof western thought are being challenged. Stephen Cross
  26. 26. … increasing numbers of Westerners in revolt against whatthey have found to be the shallow, gadget-dominated,spiritually empty civilization of the West have turned toHinduism in search of greater meaning or purpose in life.There is no doubt that the great Hindu tradition offersprofound spiritual insights, as well as techniques forattaining self-realization, detachment, and even ecstasy.. Beatric Pitney Lamb
  27. 27. India indeed has a preciousness which a materialisticage is in danger of missing. Some day the fragrance ofher thought will win the hearts of men. This grim chaseafter our own tails which marks the present age cannotcontinue for ever. The future contains a new humanurge towards the real beauty and holiness of life. Whenit comes India will be searched by loving eyes anddefended by knightly hands. W.J. Grant
  28. 28. ... a chapter which had a Western beginning will haveto have an Indian ending if it is not to end in self-destruction of the human race. At this supremelydangerous moment in human history, the only way ofsalvation is the ancient Hindu way. Here, we have theattitude and spirit that can make it possible for thehuman race to grow together into a single family. Arnold Toynbee
  29. 29. Must not there be a different way of grasping things than theone which was launched by the Greeks, a way that needsto be fashioned yet by becoming aware of the implicit andunquestioned foundations on which they are built? … not analternate way which can be substituted for the Greek, butrather a foundational way which can provide the Greekand Western enterprise with the foundation of a moreprimordial awareness and thus break its appearance ofabsoluteness and independence? J.L. Mehta
  30. 30. Brahman … is not conceptual knowledge of Being, thoughwisdom about Being (SAT-VIDYA), or about Brahman asBeing, is part of it.Brahman is SAT (Being), the ground of all that is, includingmy own being which is of the nature of sheer, pure CHIT(awareness, of which “knowing” is itself a derivativemode)… J.L.Mehta
  31. 31. From the Rigveda to Aurobindo, the central Indiantradition has made the choice in favour of theprimacy and priority of consciousness. J.L. Mehta
  32. 32. … the representation of private interests ... abolishes allnatural and spiritual distinctions by enthroning in their steadthe immoral, irrational and soulless abstraction of aparticular material object and a particular consciousnesswhich is slavishly subordinated to this object. Karl Marx
  33. 33. A philosophically revived and refined Hinduism can and shouldserve the noble and most necessary purpose of resisting ‘TheNew Atheism’ and the ‘Monotheism of Money’ that dominatestoday’s world - along with the unquestioned assumptions of thepurely technological ‘science’ that is its unquestioned religion.Only such a new Hinduism can help bring an end to the risingocean of spiritual ignorance, ecological devastation,economic inequality and global mayhem that go with the blindworship of Technological science, The Market and the God ofthe Abrahamic faiths – essentially nothing but a divinisation ofthe ego and of limited ego-consciousness. Hinduism alone canaccomplish this world-transforming aim - not through Jihad,violence or war but through the supreme principle and innatepower of Awareness (Chit). Peter Wilberg
  34. 34. As Ghandi said:“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”That is one major reason why a new and truly global‘Hinduism’, one freed of attachment to ethnicity, caste andgender discrimination, communalism - and the currentencroachments of global capitalism and consumerism in itsmother country – is so much needed. Such a Hinduism wouldno longer be identical with ‘India’ or the ethnic HinduDiaspora from the Asian subcontinent. Yet it alone couldoffer the world an alternative to the world-destructive warthat is raging between:1. rampant secular materialism, consumerism and imperialism,2. its religious-political prop in the form of Judaeo-Christian Zio-Nazism, and3. reactionary feudalistic and fundamentalist Islamism. Peter Wilberg
  35. 35. The New Yoga of Awareness is a new Hindu-Tantricworld-view which recognises that ‘God’ is not a SupremeBeing ‘with’ awareness - a type of divine Superego.Instead God IS awareness – that pure awareness whoselight is the divine Source of all beings, yet also immanentwithin them as their eternal and divine Self. Peter Wilberg
  36. 36. The ‘Awareness Principle’ at the heart of Hindu Tantric theosophy:- that there is and can be nothing ‘outside’ awareness.- that awareness [CHIT] is everything and that everything in turn, isan awareness.- that awareness is not the private property of any being and thatit cannot – in principle - be the ‘function’ or ‘product’ of any thingor object we are aware of, including the human body or brain.- that awareness is the very condition for our experience of anyself or universe, body or being whatsoever. -- that God is not a supreme being ‘with’ awareness but ISawareness, an awareness absolute and unbounded by any being. Peter Wilberg