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???: Philosophies of India. Modern French Philosophers. Wisdom. Humanism?...

  • Jul 29, 2012 · 1:00 PM
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SUGGESTED TOPIC #1: Philosophies of India...and the impact India has had in the world.

In 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a spiritual retreat that exploded the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga into popular Western culture, an introduction that actually began when translations of Hindu texts penetrated the thinking of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the ideas spread to Thoreau, Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India's "science of consciousness." Philip Goldberg, author, director for SpiritualCitizens.net, and Huffington Post blogger on religion, traces this movement from Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation. www.philipgoldberg.com Watch lecture at http://youtu.be/j7Zyd00n3yM

 

 

India. The world that Christopher Columbus intended to find. India is why the Native-American peoples that Columbus found were mistakenly labeled Indians. Imagine back then when Europeans demanded a shortcut to India to get to its spices. And now we have Indian restaurants in our neighborhoods, yet some of us can hardly stand the spicy food. Now India has a larger middle class than the entire US population. And India is the largest democracy in the world. And there are many other impressive statistics. India is politically counter to China in that China [being communist or at least non-democratic] can institute strict laws [for the benefit of the masses, but not necessarily favorable to the individuals] such as only allowing 1 child per family, something that maybe India needs to apply somehow if it wants to manage its overpopulation and the poverty, but perhaps India's religious traditions may not allow it. India is also now famous for Bollywood and the many films it can produce, and they claim that it is actually older than Hollywood. When we need some technical support, we may end up talking to someone in India. A recent popular movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India gives us a street view of India. Another not so recent movie was "Eat Pray Love" from a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, who lives for some time at an Indian Ashram, and we get to see what its like but we really don't understand why or what is happening in her mind. So I thought I would call this meetup to help us understand the mind of India by investigating Indian philosophy, in particular the Bhagavad Gita.

Now India has countless languages and dialects with the most universal being English, and Hindi being one of the largest local languages, but there is also Gujarati, and there are languages of South India that are totally different from Hindi. The basis or root for Hindi and many Indian languages is Sanskrit, an Indo-European language that actually seems more familiar to speakers of Western European languages than Greek.

I could have named this meetup "Indian Philosophy" but that wouldn't be quite right since India contains many kinds of [and perhaps some of all] philosophies, somehow Indian society welcomes all philosophies and seems to take a Relative Truth stance, I suspect this is because of what Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita on the topic of worshiping. Seems like it doesn't matter what is worshiped, its the thought (of worship) that counts.

There is Western Philosophy and there is Eastern Philosophies, and one major component of Eastern Philosophy is Indian Philosophy. Out of Indian philosophy comes Buddhism, Sikhism, Tantrism, and Yoga(-ism). There is also Islam in India, but much of it got separated into the state of Pakistan (making it one of the largest Muslim country in the world, and yet inside India there are as many Muslims as there are in Pakistan), something Ghandi was hoping would not happen. So here for now we should focus on the Indian philosophy that forms Hinduism.


Several characteristics come to mind that distinguish Indian Philosophy, if treated as one. One is that in Indian philosophy, there is a tolerance and a welcoming of contribution from all authors (and these authors are recognized as masters, gurus, saints, poets, etc.) The Indian philosophical environment [or eco-system] is metaphorically like an open source environment in software as found in the GNU-Linux (and now Android in Smartphones) environment and its many free apps, versus closed source environment expounded by large software companies like Microsoft and its proprietary software. [This metaphor was best expressed in an article that Rami Kuttaineh pointed to, but I couldn't find the link. But here is a similar link, one some of you mobile phone geeks and programmers can appreciate http://raj.chevli.co.uk/2012/01/hinduism-the-open-source-faith/ ] India is open source about its philosophies [and religions] and this allows greater participation, contribution, and analysis from its peoples and practitioners. But still Indian philosophies tend to refer back to its own classics which go back several millenium starting with the Vedas and culminating with the Mahabarata and the Bhagavad Gita, a great representative of the Upanishads or Vedanta. Actually you won't find much philosophical discussion in the Vedas, it is more like rituals and stories about gods and goddesses. Now the Mahabarata could be compare to the epic poems of the Greek Homer. But within the Mahabarata is found the most famous literature of India, the Bhagavad Gita, also simply called the Gita. The Gita is like the New Testament, while the Mahabarata and the Vedas are like the Old Testament in that they form a backdrop for the Gita which gives a summation of Indian philosophy. In the Gita we have a philosophical discussion between teacher/guru [Lord Krishna] and disciple [Arjuna]. And the path to happiness is to know oneself (just like the Greek Socrates says) and that knowledge is accomplished through worship of one's deity. The Gita's teacher is Lord Krishna who is comparable to something like Jesus and Apollo combined. So Krishna reveals [to us (humankind) by talking to his student Arjuna] that he is God and that whomever you worship, you in effect are worshiping Krishna. That allows Indian religions to have many gods because all forms of worship are in effect worshiping the One God. This gives India its tolerant nature, not found in western religions and societies. There has rarely been religious wars in India [subcontinent] due to doctrinal differences.

In Chinese philosophy, the Tao is the One from which comes the two [modes], Yin and Yang, and from which, like binary information or re-formation, springs forth the tens of thousands of things in the universe. In Indian philosophy, the One is Brahman, and it brings about two modes: Spirit [Purusha] and Matter [Prakriti]. While Spirit is consciousness, Nature has three qualities (the three gunas). The three gunas distinguish qualities such as how much matter moves, how heavy, and how bright it is. Heavy solid cold matter generally moves slower and expresses less energy and is dark. On the opposite end you have light matter which is not only light in weight (and therefore lacking in static mass) but full of light (or high freguency electromagnetic waves). And somewhat in between you have matter that is quite energetic and moves. But the three gunas are also applied to the character of beings, so that we may have slothful beings versus light beings versus energetic beings. Actually, we (and all things) are all a mixture of the three. The three are called Tamas (for the slothful, dark heavy stuff), Sattva (for the light stuff), and Rajas (for the energetic stuff). The three make up matter (Prakriti).

In chapter 13 of the Gita, Lord Krishna says:

Know that Prakriti [or matter] and Purusha [or consciousness] are both beginningless; and also know that all manifestations and Gunas arise from the Prakriti. (13.19) [13.19 format indicates chapter13.verse19 of the Gita online at http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/gita.htm ]

The Prakriti is said to be the cause of production of physical body and organs (of perception and action). The Purusha (or the consciousness) is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasures and pains. (13.20)

The Purusha associating with Prakriti (or matter), enjoys the Gunas of Prakriti. Attachment to the Gunas (due to ignorance caused by previous Karma) is the cause of the birth of Jeevaatma in good and evil wombs. (13.21) (Jeevaatma or Jeeva is defined as Atma accompanied by the subtle (or astral) body consisting of the six sensory faculties and vital forces; the living entity; the individual soul enshrined in the physical body. )

The Supreme Spirit in the body is also called the witness, the guide, the supporter, the enjoyer, and the great Lord or Paramaatma. (13.22)

They who truly understand Purusha and Prakriti with its Gunas are not born again regardless of their mode of life. (13.23)

Some perceive God in the heart by the intellect through meditation; others by the yoga of knowledge; and others by the yoga of work (or Karma-yoga). (13.24)

Some, however, do not understand Brahman, but having heard (of it) from others, take to worship. They also transcend death by their firm faith to what they have heard. (13.25)

Whatever is born, animate or inanimate, know them to be (born) from the union of the field (or Prakriti) and the field knower (or Purusha), O Arjuna. (See also 7.06) (13.26)

The one who sees the imperishable Supreme Lord dwelling equally within all perishable beings truly sees. (13.27)

Seeing the same Lord existing in every being, one does not injure the other self and thereupon attains the Supreme goal. (13.28)


The three gunas are explained in chapter 14 of the Bhagavad Gita.

The Bhagavad Gita outlines the various spiritual grounds and paths that humans go through in order to attain enlightenment and God-realization. But the advice given can be used in everyday life.

There are many interpretations and translations to English and commentaries for the Bhagavad Gita. Explore various translations and commentaries, all have their strengths, and their biases towards their particular gurus and lineage and agendas and belief system. There are many versions online. The above verses of the Gita come from a version online at http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/gita.htm

So I could have called this meetup The Bhagavad Gita, but I think most of us are more familiar with India. Here we may take a look at Indian philosophy, and a good place to start would have to be the Bhagavad Gita. The words Bhagavad Gita literally translates to "Songs to God." Yes this is a religious work. But the separation and distinction between religion and philosophy cannot be made here. Religion is like the practice of the philosophy, and philosophy gives the reason for the practice, therefore we need to understand the philosophy in order to know what we are doing in the religion, I think. So study the Bhagavad Gita and know the spirit of India.

The high regard for the Bhagavad Gita

The poem the Bhagavad Gita is held in the highest esteem by all sects in Hindustan {the Indian subcontinent} except for the Mohammedan and Christian sects. It has been translated into many languages, both Asiatic and European; it is being read today in every part of the world. So the Gita should not be consider just a Hindu Bible, but a satsang (spiritual discourse) for mankind and therefore a key component of the teachings in the Manav Dharam (religion of mankind). The Gita transcends religions. And there is evidence that it influenced the Transcendentalists, philosophers who paved the way for our interest in meditation and all things oriental (yoga, Zen, Buddhism, Reiki, Karate).

The influence of the Gita on European and American philosophers

The study of the Bhagavad Gita was influential to the philosophers of Europe and America who develop Transcendentalism, a philosophical school that includes elements of Oriental, Greek, English, French, German, and American thoughts. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant gave Transcendentalism its name. The verb "to transcend" means "to go beyond" something. In Transcendentalism, there are truths that go beyond, or transcend, proof. These were truths that were simply "known" but could not be proved with logic. These truths were a private experience of faith and conviction. In Transcendentalism there is the fundamental premise, axiom, and belief that there is a higher reality and greater knowledge than that manifested in human mind. It divides reality into a realm of spirit and a realm of matter. This division is often made by many of the great religions of the world.

Kant, with other German thinkers, influenced the views of some important English writers; the poet-critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the Scottish philosopher-historian Thomas Carlyle. These three, especially Carlyle, exchanged ideas with Ralph Waldo Emerson of Concord, MA, the distinguished New England philosopher and essayist [masked]).

It was Emerson who brought the movement to New England {a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut} and nurtured its growth in this country.

American Transcendentalism thus began in the 1840's as Emerson interacted with Longfellow, Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thoreau and Lowell. This influential group of people were all born within a few years and a few miles of each other in New England. Ralph Waldo Emerson and his friends read the Hindus, Confucius, Buddha and the Mohammedan Sufis. The Bhagavad-Gita was very influential to Emerson.

Transcendentalism planted the seeds and helped to make the soil fertile for America's interest in Oriental thought. And this includes interest in Buddhism. And with Buddhism comes Zen, Yoga, and meditation.

The Gita as a practical meditation manual

The content of the Bhagavad Gita is contained in eighteen chapters. One chapter is dedicated to meditation [the how to's of meditation], and what to meditate on (as objects or ideas of contemplation) is spread throughout the chapters. There is discussion of several Yogas. Karma Yoga, Bakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga. Basically, Karma Yoga is about dedicating your work [to God and] for the benefit of others and therefore reducing your ego and attachment to your efforts, Bakti Yoga is about [worship or] devotion to God, Jnana Yoga is about using your intellect (discriminating ability of the mind) to understand reality and to discern the path that leads to God. In a way, any Yoga is a path, and the eighteen chapters of the Gita are eighteen Yogas.

 

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  • Jairo M.

    and then there is Transcendental Meditation (TM). An interesting film called "David wants to Fly" on LinkTV http://www.linktv.org/programs/david-wants-to-fly

    August 5, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    reminiscent of the glorious designs on the walls of the Taj Mahal, Nine Animals and the Well will teach, amuse, and delight.

    July 31, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    someone else has thought of a better one? Who hasn't had to learn the hard way that the greatest gift of all is friendship? This is the lesson the nine animals are about to learn as they make their way to the palace to celebrate the raja-king's birthday.

    Why nine animals? And why the well? Because James Rumford's original fable is also a counting book, where we learn that our ten Arabic numerals came not from Arabia, as one might think, but from India.

    With its pictures of paper collage

    July 31, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    A book I had hoped to share with the group at the start of our meeting: http://www.amazon.com/Nine-Animals-Well-James-Rumford/dp/0618309152/ My daughter had picked it up during our last visit to the Orange County Public Library [ocls.info]. Here is the description from inside of the dust jacket:

    Who hasn't gone to a birthday party and felt the pride of thinking of just the right gift, only to find out that someone else has thought of a better one? Who hasn't had to learn the hard way that

    July 31, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    Indian Philosophy in a nutshell http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SBgmqXGB0Q&feature=related talks about Samkhya, Vedanta, Yoga, the Bhagavad Gita, Purusha and Prakriti

    July 30, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    Thanks all who came. It was a delight to see in one room (after a long absence) Dr Deen Khandelwal, Dr Sastry, and Dr Vijay Reddy, oh and Lucia Gomez. We are all Hindus, the key is acceptance and having an open mind and open heart. Yoga and meditation helps.
    Om Shanti Shanti

    July 29, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    One of the jewels I gathered from the meetup: Hinduism seems very flexible, welcoming and accomodating, not just tolerant but better yet accepting. As a Hindu, one may believe in one God, many gods, or no gods, and no need to believe in reincarnation, just don't deny it dogmatically, keep an open but critical mind. Maybe the more important idea is how one practices and if it benefits others, and doesn't harm you or others.

    July 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Loved Dr Deen Khandelwal's definition of Dharma: a living being's duty and nature

    July 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thank you, Jairo!

    July 28, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    India it is. All in favor say AYE. I heard some ayes, using my psychic powers.

    July 28, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm in favor of India this time. I'd really appreciate the choice of a topic before 9am tomorrow (Sunday). Thank you!

    July 28, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    Why meditate at all? Krishnamurti with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, part 2 of 5 videos gets interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bLfEaYRS5k , or you can watch all parts in one video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYvV07c0p4Y

    July 28, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    I don't know that we have a procedure for determining how to choose between suggestions. I suggested both. I suggest (vote or motion) that it be India this time. That way Marylin will come, and Indian friends will come and share stories about India, its philosophies, etc. and correct my views. All in favor say something, all opposed say something.

    July 28, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    What place has meditation in all this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqL9c4jYigk Jiddhu Krishnamurti [masked]) was one of the great thinkers of our times. I would dare say he is the closest thing to what the Buddha must have been like, so I call him a Buddha. He encourages us to discover for ourselves what we mean by truth, beauty, goodness, God, etc. In this talk (5 videos) he sits down with Tibetan master Chogyam Trungpa to thinking on these things.

    July 28, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_MDRI-Q76o Fritjof Capra (author of Tao of Physics) lectures on The Systems View of Life, integrates chemistry and biology of life, ecology, living systems, web of life, networks, communities, social science, and cognitive science.

    July 28, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This meet-up is tomorrow. Do we have a topic yet? My RSVP is dependent on it. If it's India, I'll be there. If it's the French philosophers I know nothing about at the moment and don't have the time to learn anything, I won't. Thank you! :)

    July 28, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    In the Gita, one who strives for perfection and liberation is a Karma Yogi. The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning 'to do'. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action. In Vedantic philosophy the word karma means both action and the effects of such action.

    July 25, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    "Modern French Philosophy" by Vincent Descombes. guide to figures of the last forty-five years: Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, the early structuralists, Foucault, Althusser, Serres, Derrida, Deleuze and Lyotard.

    July 25, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    July 24, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    Explore: Spiritual India - River of Compassion (The Ganges River - Mother Ganga) http://youtu.be/igNJfkBxtE0

    July 24, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    The World According to Monsanto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIQaumgRD3Q and Vandana Shiva - The Future of Food and Seed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYwOTLopWIw&feature=related

    July 24, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    Another Indian guy I would invite would be Dr Vijay Reddy. He is interesting because he describes his story as pursuing the American dream and shunning his Indian religious/philosophical roots growing up in favor of America, but now is re-discovering spiritual India, so he describes himself a born again Hindu.

    July 20, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    We had member Dr Deen Khandelwal, and I hope he comes, if we examine India, he is Hindu, gave talks at Hindu University of America, grew up in India, had to memorize the first few chapters of the Gita.

    July 20, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    In 2008, Oprah Winfrey had on her show for a course, Eckhart Tolle, author of Power of Now, reinterpretes concepts from India's philosophies and makes them and Christian mystical ideas seem whole integral, and comprehensible.

    July 20, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    I have a book (haven't read it, but have read early parts of it) that involves conversation between father philosopher and son Buddhist monk. The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life by
    Jean François Revel, Matthieu Ricard

    July 20, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    So much, so much, so much. Let's leave this one simply to India. Parts of French thought have been covered already, and can no doubt be covered again. I've read and watched a number of movies based out of India from a number of sources. You did a really good job of expressing the history of Indian and more greatly what was called "Orientalism" in American culture here.

    The one who sees the imperishable Supreme Lord dwelling equally within all perishable beings truly sees. [masked]

    July 20, 2012

  • Jairo M.

    Consider India a suggested meetup. Another one to suggest is France. Modern French Philosophers.

    July 19, 2012

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