One of Many
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- Seattle, WA
Thomas said:Hi Vajradhara -
I posted my reply last night after a long and trying day at work, and in retrospect I find it somewhat curt. If I have offended, I am sorry, and I by no means meant to make little of the effort you made in compiling your post, my response does seem somewhat dismissive.
There are many interesting points, all worthy of their own discussion. Part of my response is my experience in that if I responded to all, then soon the discussion becomes so diverse as to lose its way. If we choose to discuss any particular point, then let us do so as a separate thread, then we can maintain focus on the topic at hand. Again, I read your post not necessarily requiring an answer, but simply as an offering.
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If I consider my reaction, there is this:
Cultures across the world have their sacred traditions, from the Native American to the west (of the UK) to Shinto in the East.
Of all these traditions, we of the 'first world' are the only people who actually dismiss their own traditions as somehow bankrupt, meaningless, void, whatever, often without any serious or meaningful investigation. And we do so both from outside, and from within. In so doing this includes not only Christianity, but Judaism and Islam, which then includes all Sufi wisdom.
It is something in the nature of western man that tends towards exteriorisation - hence a history of constant change, movement, novelty, etc. Its dynamism is to be applauded, but the way in which it deserts that which stood it in good stead is a negative and damaging characteristic.
Meanwhile the west picks up eastern traditions and 'skims' them. Your post on yoga is aposite - it was an is a spiritual practice that is only meaningful as part of a total practice - it is a religious observance - we have reduced it to a keep fit regime, and the only time 'spirit' is mention is when we discuss Kundalini or Tantric yoga, which we do because we've heard it means good sex.
In a certain sense the Christian Revelation and the Incarnation 'heads off' this tendency in man - it was a Providential appearance of a Dispensation that forstalled a psychic and spiritual crisis brewing in the Occident - a tendency towards an externalising rationalism on the one hand (from the sacred doctrines of Pythagoras to the secularism of Aristotle) and naturalism on the other.
In the latter case it was successful - manifesting a supernaturalism in the face of cosmolatry, and metaphysic in the face of a Greco-Roman rationalism, but in this man lost his way, rationalism attained an ascendancy and has since manoeuvred itself into a position of authority on everything. Science has become the 'blind faith' of the modern age.
Aside: As research goes on, there is more evidence accruing against the theory of evolution than for it - suvival of the fittest, yes; but that one species can alter its own genetics and mutate into an entirely different species is becoming increasingly impossible to support - yet try stating such to a general audience and you'll be shouted down - not becuae of the evidence, but because science is always right.
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Where I most profoundly disagree with Campbell is his failure to perceive the metaphysical content of Scripture - because he can't see it does not mean it is not there, whilst the sages of other traditions see through its manifest forms to its essential metaphysical reality.
'Beresith', for example, the first word of the Bible, means 'in principle' or 'in the principle' rather than 'in the beginning', but Scripture was written for all humanity, not an elite few, and thus its language addresses man as a whole, not purely the intellect.
The Six Days of Creation correspond to the deployment of metaphysical principle, and concords with the Vedas, I am told, to quite a significant degree. The fact that an auther can 'see' the metaphysics of one and not the other causes me to suggest some deficiency or misunderstanding of his insights. Guenon's 'Man and the Multiple States of Being according to the Vedanta' is an exposition of this Asiatic metaphysic, and draws many similarities in doctrine between that and Scripture
The perspective is different, agreed, but to say that one is wanting in light of the other is a mistake.
There - that's my (hopefully) more measured response.
no, i was not offended. i find it difficult to become offended by what someone posts to me or in response to something i've posted. mainly becuase my understanding is subject to change and it would be quite foolish of me to insist on a particular point of view...
i appreciate that you've taken the time to explain yourself more fully
i'm making an assumption that you are a Christian and as such, Campbells mythologizing of the Christian scripture cannot be very well received. this is something that i completely understand. he takes this same approach with the eastern traditions as well...
my personal feeling is that Campbell has a great many things correct and he explains why he believes so in a very convincing fashion. i do not agree with everything that he has written, nor would i expect anyone to do so, however that does not invalidate his other writings.
moreover, you are correct.. it was not so much a posting of questions rather it was posted to provide a frame of reference between discussing east and west traditions. if we can agree to a common frame of reference, even if we may not agree with it in totality, we can engage in a meaningful discussion.
however, without a common frame of reference, the conversation necessarily turns to a pendantic definition game wherein most of the terms being disucssed are understood differently by the participants and require lengthy, time consuming posts to explain what the word or term means.
i had hoped that this was broad enough that we could use it for our frame of reference and proceed with dialog from there.