Ancient Wisdom cover

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ignorance

Softbound, 170 pages, 5 1/2" X 8 1/4"

table of contents

excerpt

We want to be happy; we want to love. We are starving for feeling, a feeling that merely having does not fulfill. Eastern philosophy, and the devotional heart of India's Vedanta in particular, can fill the empty shopping bag of our Western accomplishments. And when it has done so, we will not feel that we have been conquered, rather we will feel liberated from the oppression that the prevailing yet faltering scientific industrial paradigm fosters.

This book was written with a view to address the quality of our lives. The chapters draw heavily on India's ancient spiritual heritage of theistic Vedanta, interfacing with our times. This interface should prove useful for those who are already discouraged with the direction humanity is heading as well as for those who still hold fast to ideas that have seen better days.

For those now disenchanted with industrialization and scientific materiaslism as well as pseudo­spirituality, India's ancient spiritual heritage provides a rich alternative. Those who continue to subscribe to materialistic dogma, having written off the spiritual out of frustration, will find in these articles a formidable challenge to their worldview. It is a challenge well-reasoned, much unlike that which is offered by the materially compromised spiritual West.


Table of Contents

Introduction

Part 1: Cultural Conquest

Social Paradigm

Spirit of the Environment

Who Discovered America?

Sacred Cow

Raga and All That Jazz

Part 2: Knowledge Over Nescience?

The Case for Continence

Life in the Womb

Making Sense with Scents

Ayurveda or Allopathy?

Part 3: Voice of Transcendence

The Heart of Compassion

Demystifying Mystic Powers

Old Age Common Sense for New Age Nonsense

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Ecstasy - Can We Live Without It?

About the Author

References

Index


Excerpt

from “Spirit of the Environment”

Our present environmental crisis is in essence a spiritual crisis. Evidence of this has been documented in the well-known seminal work of Lynn White, Jr. His article, published in Scientific American in 1967, framed the ecological debate that gave birth to the field of environmental philosophy. As White irrefutably explained, we need only look back to medieval Europe and the psychic revolution that vaulted Christianity to victory over paganism to find the spirit of the environmental crisis.

Christianity's ghost-busting theology made it possible for man to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects. It made the soul man's monopoly. This thinking went so far that in some quarters even women, man's better half, were considered soulless. Inhibitions to the exploitation of nature vanished as the Church took the “spirits” out of the trees, mountains, and seas.

Deep ecology is on one end of the spiritual spectrum, modern Christianity on the other. Neither seems to answer the need of the hour. Yet clearly the solution to the environmental crisis is the proper spiritual outlook. I would like to suggest a third idea that falls between the one extreme of Western traditional religion, which has ravaged our natural environment, and the other extreme of deep ecology, which while saving the natural environment, has annihilated our soul. Let us look to the East, not to soulless Buddhism or Hinduism's popular monistic Vedanta, but to the theistic Vaisnava Vedanta of Sri Caitanya.

from “Who Discovered America?”

It may very well come to pass in the near future that those concerned with truth will wrestle primarily with history rather than science. The obvious reason for this is that, in the words of Dr. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, author of Theology and the World's Religious History, “Humanity is more important than things. The truth about humanity is of a higher order than the truth about things.”

History tells an intriguing tale, one that ultimately may provide the greatest support for a spiritual world view. But history has also been distorted. An example of this is the “common knowledge” that Columbus discovered America. Some say he didn't, nor were any other Europeans the first to touch America's shores. There is good reason to reexamine the history of the world and the Americas in particular. An unbiased look into the development of our planet's civilizations may help to bring about a change in values, a shift from material values to spiritual ones.

What if Europe was really in darkness in comparison to the Far East and India that Columbus set sail to find? What if the popular idea that the Tibetans and the American Indians have much in common in terms of their spiritual culture is largely a result of another historical scenario? What if Hindus and Hopis, Advaitins and Aztecs, Tibetan monks and Mayans were part of one world culture—a spiritual one?

from “Sacred Cow”

It is particularly difficult for Westerners to appreciate India's worship of the cow. After all, we live in the land of the hamburger. The American restaurant abroad is McDonald's. “Ole McDonald had a farm, did it ever grow!” Western economists often contend that killing and eating cows can solve India's food problems and lay a foundation for a lucrative export trade. This thinking has caused cow worship and cow protection to come under attack for centuries. Cow protection has been called a lunatic obstacle to sensible farm management.

India's cow is called the zebu, and an investigation of the controversy surrounding her brings us to the heart of village life in India. The average landholder in India farms approximately one acre. This is not enough land to warrant the purchase of a tractor. Even if the size of the land plots were increased to make the purchase of machinery cost-effective, India's unique weather, a five season year including the monsoon, would quickly render the tractor useless. After the monsoons the soil is too soft for planting and must be quickly and efficiently prepared before the intense heat brings an end to a very short growing season. The loss of even one day considerably affects the overall yield. The zebu bullocks are ideal for they can easily plow the soft earth without overly compacting the soil as would heavy machinery.

After repeated attempts to modernize India's approach to farming—and in particular its attitudes toward its beloved zebus—it became clear that these technological upgrades were not very well thought out. They were not to replace a system that had endured for thousands of years, a system not only economically wise but part of a spiritually rich heritage. It may well be time to export the spiritual heritage of India to the West, where the sacred cow of technology continues to threaten the progress of humanity in search of the deeper meaning of life.