Undermining the Walls of the Ivory Towers of White Mythology-Sutapas Bhattacharya
Detailed Scholarly Critique
SUTAPAS BHATTACHARYA was born in Guahati, Assam, India in 1964. His family moved to London in 1967 where he has lived ever since. His formal education led to a First Class Honours degree in Molecular Biology from London University in 1986 with prizes from his college for top student in the school of Biological Sciences in both the second and final year of his studies.
Since graduation he has worked in scientific publishing. He continued to develop his interest in the philosophical questions relating to Science.
Working for a major international publishing company, he has amazed academics in numerous scientific disciplines with his claim to have identified the physical correlate of the Divine Light, the Pure Consciousness of Indian Philosophy, with a physical process well-known to Science.
Undermining the Walls of the Ivory Towers of White Mythology
Science & Indian Philosophy undermines the Pseudo-Scientific pretensions of Academics and Christian-root Mythologies of the West
I complained once to an Indian friend that the poverty, ignorance and hopelessness of the subcontinent were a consequence of Indian religious and philosophical beliefs (or was it the other way around).
Heinz Pagels, The Cosmic Code
1. Introduction: Science is on the side of Hinduism against its detractors
In 2007 I ordered physicist Heinz Pagel’s 1981 book having seen a quote from it about the plenum/void which I found interesting. I was surprised to find this comment about India in his concluding chapter. Pagels (the late husband of Elaine Pagels – author of the Gnostic Gospels) was extremely hostile to his contemporaries who linked physics to eastern mysticism (Raymond Ruyer’s The Gnostics of Princeton discussed the attraction of Hindu philosophy to physicists). Pagels referred glowingly to Judaeo-Christian “prophets” as geniuses with pipelines to the Godhead and other Jewish myths like the Word as Law and Genesis. Similarly Stephen Katz, the Head of Jewish Studies at Harvard is the most prominent voice of the Constructivist dogmatists in academic studies of Mysticism which uses the most facile, erroneous and Eurocentric arguments (as exposed by the likes of Robert Forman and G.W. Barnard) to protect Jewish mythology and the purported uniqueness of Judaism from the threat of a universal spirituality based on Hindu and Buddhist Nondualism (as the likes of Huston Smith have noted, the Jewish tradition, unlike the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims, does not refer to union with the Godhead). My point is that there is a fear of the threat posed by Indian mysticism in western academic study of Religion and this fear is well founded. I am working on my new book The Brainstem Brainwaves of AtmanBrahman: The Synthesis of Science and Spirituality which will bring to a western audience an overwhelming barrage of empirical evidence and logical argument undermining the theistic mythology of Semitic Religion. Indeed, the well-established brain process (known to all medics) which correlates perfectly with yogic knowledge of the Light of Pure Consciousness or Atman ties in with a well-established medical distinction between Conscious Arousal (due to this process) and the contents of Consciousness which immediately undermines the central argument of Katz’s Constructivist dogma that there are no mental (i.e. brain processes) which are unconditioned or unmediated (see section 11).
Having just read Invading the Sacred I have assembled below a number of thoughts containing information which may be useful to those actively involved in the campaign against the defamation of Hinduism in the USA. My comments are also inspired by my empathy with Rajiv Malhotra as a non-academic intellectual challenging the Eurocentric, Christocentric mythology of Western Academia. My primary aim is to show that scientific knowledge supports the anti-defamation position in a more forceful manner than referring to critiques by American psychoanalysts or reversing the gaze although both are useful. Indians need only point to scientific knowledge that completely undermines the absurd superstitions of the Freud Cult and its pseudo-intellectual followers (see Section 5). Although a Berkeley psychologist Kihlstrom was cited rubbishing the scientific status of Freudian myths, Invading the Sacred was far too respectful of this nonsensical rubbish. Once one is aware of how science and empirical phenomenology completely disproves Freudian superstitions, anyone referring to Freud or his Psychoanalysis can quite reasonably be dismissed as an ignorant fool.
In the early 1990s when I first started studying Hinduism and Indian philosophy, as part of a “search for my roots”, I picked up in the bookshop the book published after the 6th East-West Philosophy Congress at the University of Hawaii entitled Culture and Modernity edited by the Advaita Vedanta scholar Eliot Deutsch. The prestigious first position in this book was given to the American Richard Rorty, famous for his Eliminative Materialism which denies the reality of Consciousness. Although on the extreme fringe of Materialism, Eliminative Materialism is at least ‘honest’ in that, as I realised when I put forward my first theory of consciousness in 1983 (see below), Materialism or Physicalism precludes any possibility of actually accommodating Consciousness as such (or Awareness) – none of the fancy notions of emergent materialism etc. can actually account for consciousness. Rorty’s absurd arguments, following Anglo-American Analytical myths prioritising Language, involved dismissing everyday notions of mind embodied in our language as “Folk Psychology”.
Furthermore, Rorty went on to argue that “ascetic priests” like Heidegger and Brahmins were frauds who sublimated the Freudian sexual libido pretending to “penetrate the veil of appearances” in order to claim to be more manly than the warrior caste. Rorty also treated humans as if they were simple Skinnerian pigeons responding simply to pleasure and pain!
Note that the prestigious first position in this East-West philosophy interaction book was given to an American who denies the reality of Consciousness, the primary reality of much Eastern philosophy. Furthermore Rorty claimed to dismiss the claims of mystics to transcend the realm of mundane appearances, upon which most Eastern philosophy is based, using the pseudoscientific notions of Freud as if these were some sort of scientific facts. Were female mystics like Hildegard, Mechthild and Theresa trying to pretend to be more manly than warriors!!! No criticism of Rorty’s assertions were found in Deutsch’s book even though Deutsch supposedly is an expert on Advaita Vedanta. I did not find this surprising as I ridiculed both Rorty and the ‘literary criticism’ style writing posing as ‘philosophy’ found throughout the book with its emphasis on the postmodern buzzword of incommensurability in the introduction to my 1999 book showing how Mysticism could be integrated with Science. I suggested that such puerile literary critics posing as philosophers such as Rorty, utilising Freudian and Behaviorist “Joke Psychology” should leave real philosophy to scientifically literate “big boys”.
In fact when I, the non-religious atheist, first bought some books on Hinduism in 1990 at the age of 25, alongside Wendy Doniger’s Penguin Rig Veda and Penguin books on the Gita and Upanishads, Eric Lott’s Vedantic Approaches to God, and J.C. Chatterji’s The Wisdom of the Vedas I also purchased Klaus Klostermeier’s A Survey of Hinduism. Klostermeier wrote that Hinduism is much more open than any other religion to new ideas, to scientific thought and to social experimentation. Klostermeier also stated:
An increasing number of creative scientists will come from a Hindu background and will consciously and unconsciously blend their scientific and religious ideas. All of us may be already much more Hindu than we think.
It would not be surprising to find Hinduism the dominant religion of the twenty-first century.
I also later learned from Ashish Nandy’s Alternative Sciences: Creativity and Authenticity in Two Indian Scientists that India’s first major modern scientist, Jagadis Chandra Bose, had hopes of challenging reductionist western science with a new holistic Indian science drawing upon Vedantic notions of underlying oneness. Amongst the western admirers of Bose in regard to this ambition were Albert Einstein, Henri Bergson, George Bernard Shaw and Aldous Huxley. Indeed, the first generation of modern Indian scientists had shared this hope of a new Indian science but it came to nothing back then when Indians had no power.
Contrary to one Indian scholar of Religion’s comments in Invading the Sacred, Freudian concepts are falsifiable using new scientific knowledge as I shall show below. Thus if anyone still clings on to these thoroughly discredited Freudian superstitions they are ignorant pseudo-intellectuals, no better than Christian Scholastics trying to count the number of angels on the head of a pin rather than being like Darwin against the anti-scientific Creationists as Doniger presents herself ludicrously. Doniger herself wrote in Karma and Rebirth in the Classical Indian Tradition “, and Nyaya texts argue about memory of previous lives, answering a Hindu need to establish a scientific basis for Rebirth”. Similarly Arvind Sharma writes in A Hindu Perspective on the Philosophy of Religion, citing M. Hiriyanna on Hinduism’s requirement to provide evidence and question one-off revelations etc. and appeal to the best minds of the community.
Unfortunately, C.P. Snow’s fifty year old thesis The Two Cultures on the split between the Sciences and the Humanities in Western academia (better called ‘Euroversities’ due to their Eurocentric pretensions to universality) remains extremely relevant as scholars of Religion, Sankritists, sociologists and historians etc. remain largely ignorant of real science, see Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science exposing the absurdities of much postmodern ‘scholarship’ of which the Wall Street Journal reviewer said “[Gross and Levitt are] in a good position to pull rank on the English professors and cultural critics who deconstruct science without actually knowing any”.
There are scientists who do understand the real mystical meaning of Hinduism better than the Sanskrit scholars and other Religious studies academics. At the 1986 Synthesis of Science and Religion conference in Bombay, Professor Arthur Ellison (a former Head of Electrical engineering at City University, London – and who later became one of my strongest supporters – see below) wrote:
I was fascinated to read a parallel explanation, amounting perhaps to much the same thing, by Professor J.H.M. Whiteman (a former professor of applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town and also a mystic). He states that everything is described in the classical Eastern (Hindu) literature.
Indeed, the empirical evidence and logical arguments I shall present in my new book will show how Indian, predominantly Hindu knowledge accompanied by modern scientific knowledge and rational argument, is on the verge of invading the most sacred mythology of the West including the religious myth of theism (or dualist separation of god and soul) and the Western scientific myth of the primacy of the ‘physical world’ which has roots in both the anthropomorphic Christian myth of Creatio ex nihilo as well as Galileo’s despiritualization of Nature through his false conception of measurable quantities as ‘primary qualities’. It is not just Secular Social Sciences which are rooted in Christianity as Balagangadhara notes, the notion of insentient, inert matter and transcendent “laws of Nature” etc. underlying science are just as much rooted in Christian myth. I referred to ‘Christian Humanism’ in my 1999 book (see below) and one of my concluding sections was entitled “The Modern West’s subliminal Christian Legacy”. When the hyped-up celebrity scientist Stephen Hawking utters pseudo-mystical garbage about a Theory of Everything allowing us to know the Mind of God he is using St Augustine of Hippo’s Christian anthropomorphization of NeoPlatonic archetypes.
Note however that the basis of much of modern secular democracy and human rights in the Protestant Reformation is the truth which belies the absurd Western myths that today’s democracy etc. is rooted in Athens. Western archaeological scholars on Discovery Channel claim that due to Hero of Alexander’s invention of a steam powered toy that the Ancient Greeks might have created industrial society had they not had slaves etc. This naive reductionist nonsense ignores so much complex history including the fact that France was the most advanced scientific nation in the 18th Century but Britain’s overseas commerce and other subtle factors led to Britain becoming the first industrial nation.
Just a few days ago I was clarifying to the editor of the Toronto Star why an Indian who corrected him on his omission of India’s contributions to global civilisation was facile in using Zero and Yoga without explaining the significance. I explained that there would be no modern science without India’s mathematics. As Charles Seife shows in his book Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea it was the new Indian mathematics (which Basham noted was called ‘Hindisat’ – art of the Hindus by the Arabs) including Indian numerals, algebra, sine function, negative numbers, imaginary numbers etc. but especially the Zero and Infinity (from yogic mystical realisation of the Plenum/Void),which led to first the Arabs and Sephardic Jews abandoning Aristotelian-Ptolemaic cosmology. Later the spread of these Indian mystical ideas of an infinite universe influenced the likes of Nicholas of Cusa and Giordiano Bruno to assert that the universe was infinite. One contributor to Invading the Sacred referred to Sagan and the Hindu time scales matching modern views – note how Francis Crick, in his absurdly reductionist, Behaviorist The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, faced with this anomaly of an ancient ‘religion’ getting cosmological scales similar to science, asserts that Hindus exaggerated distances and times for the sheer joy of it! Seife also shows how Renaissance artists attained perspective using Zero points and Infinity, Cartesian co-ordinates required the new Indian maths as did Newton and Leibniz’s Infinitesimal Calculus, the basis of Physics, which was heavily criticised early on for its illogical use of limits to Zero.
Over the last two years I have been preparing my new book The Brainstem Brainwaves of Atman-Brahman: The Synthesis of Science and Spirituality ( a much revised and updated work based on my The Oneness/Otherness Mystery: The Synthesis of Science and Mysticism (Motilal Banarsidass; 1999). The overwhelming empirical evidence supporting my identification of the physical correlate of the Divine Light (Atman; Cit; Buddha nature; al haqq; Inner Light of Christ; Godhead, Near-Death Light) drawn mainly from authoritative Indian yogic phenomenological knowledge is appended at the end of this text so everyone can see the facts (although Western academia discriminates against such well-established Indian knowledge whilst presenting western mythologies as ‘scientific’). Natural History Museum evolutionary biologist, Professor John Poynton, who invited me to lecture to the UK Society for Psychical Research in 2000 commented on the low turn-out that the SPR membership, mainly sceptics, immediately recoils from any mention of Sanskrit or Pali terms ignorantly thinking that they must be primitive mumbo jumbo.
In the past my ideas were suppressed in the past by US and UK New Agers as I dared to criticize the great White cult leader Ken Wilber and his pseudoscientific epicyclic ‘models’ at a time when an Internet millionaire Joe Firmage, sacked from his own company because of his outrageous beliefs in extraterrestrials performing Biblical miracles etc. poured money into Wilber’s integral Institute. Furthermore, MLBD’s patrons are largely scientifically illiterate Sanskritists, Buddhologists and Indologists who are happy only in churning out ever more new translations of old texts rather than trying to advance the real understanding of Hindu Philosophy and most reviewers of MLBD books are scientifically illiterate.
2. Anthropologizing Academics: Peer review and the Scholastic, Groupthink Mindset
I felt that Invading the Sacred was much too respectful of the supposed status of ‘peer review’ in academia. The fact that works containing such shoddy mistranslations and other distortions, not only pass peer review, but also win prizes from the AAR and American Learned Societies etc. again reveals the underlying tendency to scholastic dogmatism that operates within academic circles.
The distinguished physicist David Bohm co-wrote with physicist David Peat a book called Science, Order and Creativity in which, amongst other things they argued that the academic peer review system stifles thinking ‘outside the box’ and by enforcing conformity this system reinforces the sense of self-righteousness of the orthodoxy as most of their peers have also been steered into conformity with the orthodoxy so it appears as if everyone agrees with the orthodoxy.
More recently physicist Lee Smolin in his The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What comes Next has revealed how tribal social psychology and anthropological factors apply just as much to physicists at the USA’s elite universities as to primitive tribes in the South Seas. Power relations, prestige, indoctrination, groupthink, rejection of freethinkers (the ‘shut up and calculate’ orthodoxy rejects anyone from asking deep philosophical questions about the foundations of physics) etc. are all present even in the most prestigious of all the sciences. Smolin refers to Feyerabend’s work showing how scientists act just like other human beings cutting corners and seeking fame and fortune by whatever means is convenient contrary to the sanitised hagiographies written by scientific historians.
Twenty years ago in Science as Cognitive Process, Rubinstein et al. Showed how a ‘paradigm’ operates like our cognitive structures selecting information that fits pre-existing frameworks and rejecting anomalous information. The authors ‘anthropologised’ academic communities showing the parallels with tribal rites and adherence to tribal values and taboos etc.
The extreme hostility to new ideas from outsiders exhibited by the scientific establishment including the Wright brothers’ flights, Edison’s inventions and many other major technological breakthroughs is shown in Richard Milton’s Alternative Science:Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment. Milton refers to the authoritarian mindset with a low tolerance for cognitive dissonance that manifests amongst the established academic scientific community.
Thus even in the real sciences, the existence of peer review etc. does not prevent the tendency of academics to shift toward scholastic dogmatism reminiscent of medieval theologians. In the Humanities, Marxian dogma, Freudian superstitions, Postmodern pretensions and Derrida’s deliberately obfuscating gobbledook etc. run riot as highlighted in Higher Superstitions.
This scholastic self-definition of what constitutes valid knowledge about the subject along with the extreme specialization of modern academia allows the most preposterous, non-empirically grounded fantasies to pass as authoritative, scholarly knowledge as I show in in the last chapter I have completed for my new book entitled The Anthropocentric Myth of Logos and Anglo-American Analytical Absurdities which shows how the dominant school of academic philosophy in the UK and USA is based on numerous assumptions, almost all undermined by scientific and phenomenological knowledge and simple epistemology. I have relied largely on Lakoff and Johnson’s Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought which although attacking primarily the assumptions of Anglo-American Language Analysis, also attacks the relativist-absolutism myths of Postmodernists using empirical knowledge from the Cognitive Scientists. Lakoff and Johnson state:
The mind is not merely embodied but embodied in such a way that our conceptual systems draw largely upon the commonalities of our bodies and of the environments we live in. The result is that much of a person’s conceptual system is either universal or widespread across across languages or cultures. Our conceptual systems are not totally relative and not merely a matter of historical contingency, even though a degree of conceptual relativity does exist and even though historical contingency does matter a great deal.
Knowledge from William James introspections of the true nature of ‘relations’, Quantum Logic, Kurt Godel’s understanding of the primacy of intuition over logic, Husserl and various other scientific and empirically grounded sources, reveal that what passes as ‘philosophy’ in Anglo-American academia is little more than a groundless mythology.
3. Am I a Hindutva advocate, Hindu Nationalist reactionary or Right-wing “fascist”
I was brought up in England since the age of two and we have no extended family bar one or two relatives in Britain so I was almost completely separated from Hindu social customs and mores. As stated above I only started to learn about Hinduism and Indian philosophy at the age of 25 in 1990. Although my father was a Brahmin and occasionally acted as a purohit, he died when I was 12 and I hated him so was unlikely to follow anything he did. I refused to take the sacred thread or paita and until my mother’s death two years ago, I had not been to a Hindu temple for about 25 years!
My interest is more in Indian philosophy because, as stated above, I found in it support for my earlier views on consciousness leading to a revolution in my thought as I began to appreciate what mysticism was really about following my scientific indoctrination which rubbished anything to do with religion or spirituality.
Thus I was always wary of Hindu Nationalists due to my family’s Kolkata background and my own Leftist sympathies although nowadays I am more mature and appreciate that the Congress approach of aping the West, hoping to become a pale imitation, is a failed strategy for India. Pride in our indigenous traditions and self-respect etc. is vital as I wrote in the introductory section “The Reassertion of the Indian” in my 1999 book explaining how I began to uncover my underlying Indianness in my own philosophical writings and this was a ‘Hinduness’ even though I had never thought of myself as a Hindu. It is in fact my realization, after re-reading Klostermeier etc. that the Hindu Nationalists actually stress the Universal Spirituality aspects of the Sanatana Dharma that attracts me to this aspect of Neo-Hinduism (which I associated with Bengalis like Ramakrishna and Vivekananda rather than the VHP). Whereas, ignorant Western scholars like Richard King try to dismiss such NeoHindu claims to Nondualism as universal spirituality as Hindu Supremacism, my own philosophical work (see below) actually confirms this universalist view (see my Amazon.com review of King’s Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and the Mystic East in which I undermine his Neo-orientalist arrogance assuming his Gadamerian sociological myths are superior to the Hindus’ own phenomenological understanding of the underlying commonalities of different spiritual traditions. I also argue that ‘Perennial Philosophy’ as used by Aldous Huxley comes from Sanatana Dharma as Huxley wrote this book whilst at the Ramakrishna Mission in California.
Indeed, it was the defamation of Ramakrishna in Kripal’s book, which I was unaware of until someone sent me Invading the Sacred that really provoked me. My late beloved mother kept pictures of Ramakrishna, his wife and Vivekananda in our sitting room and in her bedroom as is typical of Bengalis. I don’t read books on Hindu mythology and I ignored the raucous debates on the Infinity Foundation websites back in 2000-2001 focusing on the YogaPsychology philosophical debates. Thus this stuff is all new to me. After my Society for Psychological Research lecture in 2000 just before I attended the Waves Hoboken conference, at the dinner afterwards, a British woman told me that she knew Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty. I thought nothing of it.
I note that Invading the Sacred makes much of the American myth of the Frontier, the self-justifying mentality of aggressive colonial settlers as I was familiar with from V.G. Kiernan’s America: The New Imperialism back in the 1980s and the BBC’s 1991 TV Series Savagery and the American Indian which I referred to in my own work. Of course, this mentality resonates with US support for the Zionist settler colonialists in Palestine where American President Truman, in order to gain the Jewish vote in 1948, forced the non-European Arabs to pay the ongoing price for the European guilt conscience in regard to their historical persecution of the Jews starting with the exile by the European Romans. Whereas in 1936 the Indian National Congress held a day of solidarity with the Palestinians, whose uprising against Zionist land-grabs was brutally suppressed by the British, I am deeply disturbed by the cynical realpolitik support for such racist settler colonialism (where pork-eating Russians pseudo-Jews are shipped in to settle stolen territory etc.) exhibited by the BJP.
Thus nobody can accuse me of being a right-wing BJP supporter! As Alan Wallace says in Buddhism and Science, Postmodern sociologists, following Foucault, assume all ‘Religion’ is about power relations disguised as cosmology. This also implies that these Western postmodernists are better positioned to understand the tradition than its insiders!
Eurocentric New Agers like David Lorimer (the non-scientist bureaucrat behind the Scientific and Medical Network tend to dismiss my work as the “modernization of Hinduism” rather than accepting that a universal, spiritual philosophy acceptable on a global level does not need a European author nor a tacitly Christocentric, Western ‘secular’ and thus supposedly impartial and ‘scientific’ presentation! Thus we have New Agers at Tucson Consciousness conferences referring to Europeans like Bergson or Whitehead as a European name is tacitly accepted as implying a “scientific philosophy” whereas as I show in my new book such ontologies including Process Philosophy and its related Process theology are totally inadequate in regard to consciousness and the transcendental.
Rajiv Malhotra has already raised the issues of New Agers reformulating Indian ideas as Western or Christianising them at such conferences. Arthur Ellison in the 1986 Bombay conference pointed out that Rupert Sheldrake’s so-called morphic resonance is an unacknowledged reformulation of the Indian Yoga Sutras understanding of the Akasha. I note that Sheldrake, by trying to Westernize the idea by referring to Aristotle’s Formal Causation loses its utility as the notion of transcendental resonance, which I showed was key to paranormal psychic phenomena only makes sense in the Indian tantric cosmology in which the physical universe is manifested from a deeper level of subtle vibrations. Sheldrake even wrote in IONS magazine that it was his first trip to India that undermined his materialist indoctrination and he noted in the prelims that his first book was written in a Christian ashram in India) When I mentioned the Indian origins of Sheldrake’s ideas to an old hand at the SMN/IONS sponsored Beyond the Brain conference in 1999, he replied oh we all know that but no-one mentions it; i.e. it is impolite to embarrass this high profile New Ager who is closely associated with both the Scientfic and Medical Network and Sausalito IONS who were sponsoring conference.
Indeed, when I received a copy of Invading the Sacred, two weeks ago, I was, as I still am, in the middle of typing a section for my new book The Brainstem Brainwaves of Atman/Brahman entitled “The Failings of Western Philosophies, Psychologies and Science in regard to Mysticism and Consciousness”. This contains a rather comprehensive analysis of major Western approaches, including Galileo, Kant, Freud’s sexual superstitions (see below), Jung, Panpsychists, Process Philosophy, Introspectionists, Phenomenologists, Anglo-Americans, Cognitive Science etc. exposing their failings. Thus by undermining every sort of ontology I show how the only viable ontology in regard to accounting for Awareness one positing distinctionless Pure consciousness as such or primordial Awareness as the Ground of all Being from which the physical world manifests. Thus I shall provide a logical argument by elimination of alternatives rather than saying “experience it yourself in moksha/nirvana”. My identification of the physical correlate of the Divine Light of Pure Consciousness at first implies a Neutral Monism type view of Energy and Pure Consciousness as the two fundamental attributes (see Section 11) as I held in the 1980s but a deeper understanding leads to a view resembling Tantric Kashmir Saivism with Pure Consciousness as ultimate – or like Ramakrishna’s metaphor that Brahman and Sakti are like the snake and its smoothly flowing motion.
4. Is Doniger Smarter than “idiot Hindus” and Who am I to challenge doctorate-bearing ‘scholars’
On the Amazon.com website a supposed student of Wendy Doniger calling herself “A customer” has written a review entitled “A good intro book written by someone smarter than you”. The second paragraph reads:
I’m really writing this review to debunk the other reviews on this site. Chances are the reviewers who charged the author of innaccurate [sic] translating or having a Judaeo-Christian agenda either (1) don’t realize the extent of Prof. Doniger’s expertise or (2) are just idiot Hindus with their own narrow views of their religion. Unless these reviewers are scholars themselves, I doubt they know enough about Hinduism to make these charges. Don’t listen to them.
I posted a comment to this review pointing out that in Invading the Sacred the critics of Doniger’s translations were given as Harvard professor Witzel (whom I gather from The Indo-Aryan Controversy is a staunch opponent of ‘Hindu revisionism’) and ex-SUNY professor Antonio de Nicolas.
Amazon did not add my comment nor respond to my clicking the ‘Report this review’ for its use of “idiot Hindus”.
Now “A customer” who supposedly studied under Doniger is probably a student of Religion if indeed this is not just a fake review to attack Doniger’s critics. I am not an academic myself but I would challenge Doniger or any such official academic scholar of Hinduism to try to dismiss my intellectual credentials to challenge their supposed scholarship. Is she not aware that Hinduism is not a “religion” a semitic construct. Now, when I was at school in England, only one boy studied Religious Studies at Ordinary Level (ages 15-16), a child actor named Ian Land who had starred as a Victorian waif in the BBC children’s drama “The Peppermint Pig”. I had wanted to do it as well but due to low take-up it was taught during lunchtime. I had wanted to do the World Religions syllabus but, with two others dropped out after one or two lessons, as Land’s parents had insisted he do some strict Christian study. The stuff being taught was obtuse to say the least and seemed like utter Bible-babble only worthy for idiots pressured by their parents to memorise this claptrap.
I think there is much truth in Freidrich Schlegel’s assertion that the Indians and the Greeks developed Philosophy as their languages facilitated abstract thought whereas the Semites’ languages left them stuck with mythology or religion (as Bernal notes in Black Athena, Schlegel was married to a Jew and campaigned for Jewish rights). American mathematician and mystic Franklin Merrell-Wolff said much the same about the pictographic Chinese language being totally unsuited for philosophy. Chinese scholar and ambassador to the USA Hu Shih has noted that India conquered China culturally and Sanskrit and Pali added 35,000 words to the Chinese vocabulary.
In England, unlike the USA, most people have a healthy contempt for religion as being for the dim-witted. Just the other day (31/12/07) the comedy actor John Cleese (who attended the 1999 New Age “Beyond the Brain” conference mentioned below) was speaking on a Channel 4 programme The Secret Life of Brian about the political background to the controversial Monty Python film parodying the life of Jesus The Life of Brian (1979) which George Harrison ended up financing after others pulled out. Cleese ridiculed middle America’s Christians as idiots who immediately worked themselves up into a state of fury when anything relating to sex is mentioned (N.B. the demonization of the Hindu Americans as prudes by the Freudian RISA pseudo-intellectuals).
We may reasonably class Doniger’s “hermeneutics” (fancy words which give a false air of sophistication – I will examine Gadamer’s dasein- based ontology below) with literary criticism in English etc., I noticed that it was the low-intellect boys, poor at maths and science who studied such subjects whereas, being rather clever was under peer pressure to study sciences.
I know that the astrophysicist Subraniam Chandrasekhar went to Chicago after his creative work at Cambridge. Note that another astrophysicist who did similar work, Carl von Weiszacker (brother of a German President) was a strong advocate of the Indian tantric philosophy. In fact in 2006, I was in touch with US physicist Nick Herbert, an old acquaintance of Heinz Pagels, after reading his Quantum Reality (which showed how attributes of ‘matter’ are described mathematically as waveform families and his Elemental Mind (in which I noted he speculated that the brainstem Reticular Formation must be of central importance for consciousness due to its central location and involvement with all other structures) as this tied in with my own work on Science-Mysticism synthesis. Herbert emailed back that he actually called his own views Quantum Tantra as he recognized the similarities between the tantric view of the physical world as manifested through energetic vibrations in universal consciousness and modern physics. Contrast this with David Gordon White whose claims to scientific credibility would be to cite the name of Sigmund Freud just as Constructivists like Stephen Katz cite the name of Immanuel Kant as if this appeal to the supposed authority of Kant is sufficient argument.
Furthermore, just after my A’Levels in 1983 I started examining the problem of the ontological
It was only in 2006 that I managed to read Whiteman’s Philosophy of Space and Time and the Inner Constitution of Nature: A phenomenological approach. I noticed that he referred to Vedantic and Buddhist concepts in this book full of physics and also argued for the existence of a Universalized Consciousness as the only way to resolve the paradox of communal objectivity etc. Furthermore I noticed that he acknowledged Werner Heisenberg, the primary inventor of Quantum Mechanics for checking the chapter on QM in this book. I later discovered that P.A.M. Dirac (the inventer of the concept of antimatter – considered by those who know as the 2nd greatest English physicist after Isaac Newton – unlike the chattering class pseudo-intellectuals in the media who hype up the current Lucasian Professor Stephen Hawking) had invited Whiteman to Cambridge to discuss with him the 1967 book.
Dirac’s own comments about matter and antimatter involved postulating a Nothingness underlying the dichotomous forms of matter and antimatter resembling the Plenum/void of Indian metaphysics (the nirguna Brahman). American mathematician and mystic Franklin Merrell-Wolff recognised the parallels between Dirac’s notion of oppositely charged forms of matter polarizing out of a formless background and his own mystical realizations of the highest reality, the distinctionless plenum/void which he compared to an infinite ‘space’ of consciousness. Not surprisingly, Dirac’s radical notion shocked his contemporaries at first.
Werner Heisenberg told Fritjof Capra in his interview for Capra’s Uncommon Wisdom that he was subconsciously influenced by Indian philosophy in his invention of Quantum Mechanics. He also stated that his discussions in Calcutta with Tagore came as a great help with him as he was comforted to find that an entire civilisation (Indian) subscribed to a view of the world which resembled that of the new Quantum Mechanics which had so shocked the Western Mind. Note that Albert Einstein also held philosophical debates with Tagore – the representative of Indian civilisation – the two great founders of the New Physics did not hold such debates with representatives of Semitic Religions.
The other great formulator of Quantum Mechanics, Erwin Schrodinger, was a well-known advocate of Advaita Vedanta who thought that the Vedantic doctrine of the Atman-Brahman, that the true Self within was one with the universal Self was the highest thought formulated by Man. We shall see below how Western thinkers like Benjamin Libet try to rubbish Schrodinger’s Vedantic views by using absurd verbal sleight’s of hand.
The aforementioned physicist David Peat supported me in a dispute with physics professor Chris Clarke of the S&MN over the nature of the Pauli Exclusion Principle which is the central concept of Quantum Chemistry. Without the operation of this principle there would be no stable elements, no chemistry and no cosmic evolution – yet conventional science cannot account for the operation of this Exclusion Principle using its conventional concepts although maths manages to describe it. Wolfgang Pauli, considered by the fathers of the new physics as the cleverest amongst them, maintained a dialogue with Carl Jung for 26 years until Jung’s death, as in Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters, 1932-1958. Pauli recognised that his Exclusion Principle was an example of what Jung referred to rather confusingly as ‘acausal’ connecting principles, not limited by normal space/time causality (i.e. transcendental connections as in yogic knowledge). Pauli was keen to get Jung to speak about his trip to India and Pauli referred to the dance of Shiva as representing the vibratory manifestation of the physical world etc. In Jung’s own Near-Death Experience, late in his life, his own life’s purpose was represented by a meteor which became for Jung a Hindu Temple (see Baily and Yates, The Near-Death Experience: A reader).
Thus we see that some of the greatest physicist founding fathers of the 20th century quantum revolution including Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Dirac and Pauli have expressed ideas resembling or even a direct interest (as in the cases of Schrodinger, Heisenberg and Pauli) Hindu philosophy.
Who is Doniger to think that her ‘expertise’ makes her an authority on Hinduism when all she can refer to is the thoroughly discredited superstitions of Sigmund Freud! No intelligent, impartial scientific adjudicator would take pseudo-intellectual Freudian ‘phallusies’ as more authoritative than the views of the founding fathers of the new physics.
After reading Invading the Sacred, I checked up on what University of Chicago, Professor of Buddhology Matthew Kapstein was referring to in his conclusions to Kapstein (ed.) The Presence of Light: Divine Radiance and Religious Experience (Chicago U.P., 2004) when he stated:
Ramakrishna’s disciples, as we know, took great care to clean up his act .
I see that reference 57 is to Jeffrey Kripal’s Kali’s Child. I emailed Kapstein and all of his contributors after reading this silly book written by scholars of Religion and Art Historians trying to make out that even the ubiquitous references to Divine Light in mysticism did not indicate a common core universal mysticism. In the concluding chapter Kapstein kept reassuring readers that he would not ‘pull the perennialist rabbit out of the hat’ with a load of humanities style literary piffle about the Light as a metaphor and also including a chapter about distinctly non-mystical lights seen at the top of some mountains in China. He also tried to dismiss Robert Forman’s Perennial Psychology argument with literary piffle rather than hard facts. I pointed out that scientific and phenomenological knowledge (as presented in Section 11) undermined their Constructivist assumptions as the brainwaves of the brainstem RAS constitute exactly such a universal human brain process underlying all forms of mental activity as implied by Forman’s perennial psychology argument.
The only contributor to Kapstein’s book who responded to me was Paul Muller-Ortega who had written the chapter on Abhinavagupta and whose discussion with Kapstein had prompted the book project. He said he had experienced the Light himself and said that most scientific research on mysticism seems to be biased towards confirming the superiority of the method, either TM or more recently Buddhism (as in the books with the Dalai Lama which I referred to). He was pleased to see that I did not take such a tack and referred to all available sources and looked forward to seeing my books. The other contributors all kept silent – obviously if academic studies of Religion admitted scientific and phenomenological knowledge then there would be no future for wordsmiths churning out circumlocutory theses seeming very erudite but based but based on vacuous Eurocentric arguments. Thus there is the hidden fear of the scientific and perennial mystical threat to the ‘business’ just as non-academic New Agers fear for their ‘business’ (see Section 9).
Britain’s leading Buddhism scholar Peter Harvey also responded after I read his The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism in which he showed how the early Buddhist suttas mentioned the Bhavanga or brightly shining citta which developed into the Buddha nature of some Mahayana schools which does resemble the Hindu Atman. His descriptions of the objectivated nibbana or Light tied in very well with my RAS interpretation. But his arguments against scientific encroachment onto such questions smacked of preserving the authority of academic Religion scholars.
5. Science undermines the Sexual Superstitions of Sigmund Freud
Reading the first section of Invading the Sacred, by Indrani Rampersad, I felt that referring to an American psycho-analyst’s criticism of Freudian psycho-analysis as reductionistic, Eurocentric and inappropriate for the Indian context and mysticism was letting Freudians off very lightly and showing too much respect for this discredited nonsense.
Admittedly the book does refer on pp273-4 to John F. Kihlstrom, a Berkeley psychologist, who states correctly that there is no empirical evidence to support any specific proposition of psychoanalytic theory. He adds “so far as we can tell Freud was wrong in every respect.”
Just two days ago (4th January 2008) I caught the last ten minutes of the first part a new BBC2 TV series Extreme Pilgrim in which British Christian vicar Peter Owen-Jones stayed at the famous Shaolin Zen Buddhist/Kung Fu monastery in China (he will visit a Hindu mela and Himalayan yogis next week). I doubt that the Indian origins of these martial arts were mentioned in the programme but I only saw the end. The British vicar noted how the Shaolin monks touched and massaged fellow monks whilst they lay in bed etc. Owen Jones commented that there is nothing homosexual in these activities and that we in the West have come to read sexuality into such innocent shows of affection and I feel that we have lost something. The false reading of sexual motivation into such innocent behaviour is of course the legacy of Sigmund Freud.
In his award-winning BBC TV series The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis told of how Freud’s dubious ideas came to be popularised in the USA through the influence of Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays (the father of PR). It was Bernays, drawing upon the idea of wish-fulfilment, who began the new style of advertising products not on their intrinsic merits but by playing on the subconscious wishes of the public, associating the product with a sexy image etc. that gave rise to consumerism. Curtis stressed that the influence of Freudian thought grew due to its titillating emphasis on Sex rather than its scientific credibility. (Note that William Indich states in Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta that AV postulated wish-fulfilment as one of the many causes of dreams over a millennium before Freud who claimed that it was a universal characteristic of all dreams!).
Similarly we read in Invading the Sacred that Wendy Doniger writes racy, sensationalist books emphasizing SEX which sell although they are inauthentic and the standard of scholarship highly questionable as exposed by fellow academics such as Witzel and de Nicolas. We also read of how ‘Tantra as Sex’ was a way in which Americans could peddle erotica to highly conservative 19th Century American society. Thus the authors of Invading the Sacred are quite correct in identifying the shadow projection of American society’s sexual concerns onto an alien and exotic culture half-way across the world.
Indeed, when I received a copy of Invading the Sacred, I had been reading a book published by the US National Academy of Sciences by Thompson and Madigan entitled Memory:The Key to Consciousness published in 2005 giving the latest scientific research and understanding of memory. The authors stated that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the key Freudian notion of unconscious Repression of memories.
Stanislaw Grof has demonstrated how many of Freud’s ideas are in fact projections of Newtonian mechanics onto the mind and, in keeping with the outdated classical views, the Freudian analyst is conceived as an impartial observer who does not interfere in the observations.
Psychologist Robert May in Cosmic Consciousness Revisited points out that those who elevate Freud to almost godlike ‘original genius’ status are generally ignorant of the fact that, consciously or unconsciously, Freud secularised Jewish mysticism in his ‘psychoanalysis’ omitting the supernatural elements. This was shown by David Bakan in his 1958 Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition. In fact Kihlstrom’s comments about our every thought and deed being driven by repressed sexual and aggressive urges ties Freud in with Jewish Mysticism. I recall from the YogaPsychology discussions that Antonio de Nicolas is very fond of the idea that the subcortical amygdala is involved in mystical experience. Jewish neurologist Rhawn Joseph in his Neurotheology lists the bloodthirsty, genocidal, sexually aggressive, petty, jealous and temperamental misdeeds of the Jewish YAHWEH which certainly do not resemble a spirit-like being. He associates YAHWEH with mystical awakening of the amygdala which is intimately involved in controlling Fear and Aggression. The amygdala may well be a neurological correlate of mystical experiences of the primitive tribal war gods like YAHWEH and Wotan which are invoked when the tribe is faced with danger to arouse aggressive bloodlust amongst the tribe. However, true spirituality involves deeper mystical awakenings (lucidity in deeper brain structures) involving the brainstem Reticular Formation given the overwhelming evidence for my correlation of the Divine Light with the brainwaves of the brainstem RAS (see Section 11) which also has relevance in critiquing Freudian myths.
Indeed, Hollywood is making a film based on the story that Jesus spent time in India based on some German’s book Jesus Lived in India which my elder brother bought a copy of twenty five years ago. Whilst I don’t believe the story, it does emphasize the shift from the Old Testament’s bloodthirsty, vindictive YAHWEH to the New Testament’s new god of love which resembles the spiritual compassion of Indian traditions which might have been due to Indian influences.
[ Author’s addendum to above paragraph-
From Bakan’s 1958 ideas from May’s Cosmic Consciousness Revisited:
“Freud’s central ideas of the repression of Sex and Aggression again hint at amygdalic influences”.
May’s own comment:
“Carl Jung, whom Freud had hoped would become his successor, accused Freud of replacing the jealous god YAHWEH with another jealous god Sexuality”.
Jung did not of course know of the link to the amygdala but he obviously intuited the Jewish mystical archetypes remanifesting themselves in Freud’s bizarre ideas just as Bakan later demonstrated in 1958 (the year of Jung’s death). ]
As Kihlstrom stated, Freud’s theories were misleading and incorrect even when he published them. In his 1973 book Soul Murder Morton Schatzman investigated the facts of the Schreber case which Freud had interpreted as an example of his nonsensical “Oedipus Complex”. Schatzman found that Schreber’s father had possessed ‘disclipinary devices’ for torture revealing that the truth of the matter was real child abuse and not unconscious fantasy as Freud had portrayed things. In the 1980s works like Masson’s Assault on the Truth and Peck’s The People of the Lie continued to undermine the superstitions of the Freud cult.
V.W. Odajnyk writes that Freud’s obsession with the primal incest archetype led to dogmatic rigidity. Anthony Stevens says that Freud even asked Jung to promise never to abandon the sexual theory, the foundation of psychoanalysis and that Freud even asserted that “we must make a dogma of it”. May notes that Freud referred to his disillusioned followers Adler and Jung as “heretics”. Thus, as with common with European Jews, Freud like Marx and Husserl, recapitulates Judaic archetypes of messianic utopianism, dogmatic adherence to the creed, etc.
Husserl saw himself as the new Moses leading his people into the supposedly new territory of phenomenological investigation (J.H.M. Whiteman notes how Husserl unwittingly reformulated old Hindu and Buddhist concepts – although Husserl of course never really went very deep and never transcended the ego). Both Husserl and Sartre mocked Freud’s use of the term ‘unconscious’ for processes not involved in attention. Husserl called it a nonsense to talk of an unconscious content that would only subsequently become conscious. Consciousness is necessarily consciousness in each of its phases. The primal consciousness is not something inferred to on the basis of reasoning, it is rather something that can be seen as a constituting phase in reflection.
Sartre regarded Freud’s “unconscious thought” as a contradiction in terms. The thesis that our thoughts gush from an impersonal unconscious and ‘personalize’ themselves by becoming conscious puts of the problem of existence (ontological problem). Sartre and Husserl do not clarify, as does Merrell-Wolff that nonegoic, nondual consciousness having no self/object distinction is still aware and not ‘unconscious’.
Schwartz and Begley in The Mind and the Brain point out that, as late as the 1980s, research published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry ascribed Phantom Limb syndrome in amputees to Freudian wish-fulfilment! Advances in neurosciences are undermining such absurd Freudian superstitions as Schwartz and Begley demonstrate in regard to Foot Fetishism. The somatosensory maps of the feet in the human brain are adjacent to the maps of the genitals with some overlap. These maps are not static but constantly shifting and some crossover presumably underlies the sexual sensations aroused in Foot Fetishism. Such biological explanation as with similar understandings of Phantom Limbs undermines the absurd Freudian myths associated with sexual deviations.
Medical professor and psychiatrist Anthony Stevens in Archetype Revisited notes that frustration of archetypal intent (instinctual potentials requiring fulfilment in life) can occur at any stage in life, not just in childhood. Thus Freud was wrong to locate all the origins of adult psychological problems in infancy. Indeed, Steven’s own interest in rites of passage and attaining ‘manhood’ etc. indicate that adolescence is more important than infancy given modern society’s frequent failure to let children attain ‘manhood’. Stevens also points out that most dreams are of threatening situations and not Freud’s wish-fulfilment. Modern dream research involving REM studies etc. show that dreams in which predatory animals pursue you are common and such REM dreams help prepare young mammals including homo sapiens, descended from apes, for the threats it might face in its lifeworld. They have nothing whatsoever to do with castration as Freudian morons suggest.
The British National Health Service sends therapists to train at Mindfields College run by psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell who rubbish both Freud’s ideas and legacy and argue that the ‘therapy’ of Freud and the Psychoanalysts actually makes patients worse! In his highly acclaimed book The Origin of Dreams Griffin had reported on years of recording in great detail his own dreams using an alarm clock to wake himself up at intervals. Contrary to Freud’s view of all dreams as distortions of repressed infantile wishes with an ultimate sexual basis, Griffin’s research showed that anything emotionally arousing can become the subject of dreams.
Griffin and Tyrrell in their Human Givens state that Freudian therapy by dredging up emotional history undid the highly effective stress control done by our dreaming which lowers emotional arousal. Most sane people don’t remember their dreams. They comment correctly that people undertaking Psychoanalysis appear to get madder and madder. They add that the most valuable thing that Freud did was to draw the attention of the West to unconscious processes well known in the ancient world. They refer to his messianic ambition and paranoia leading to unrealistic models and Freud’s propaganda campaign for his bizarre ideas (note also the role of Bernays). Freud, they say, effectively muddied the waters of psychiatry and psychotherapy for the rest of the 20th Century. Psychoanalytic theories were never scientifically tested by Freud or his followers (only asserted as true) and had their roots in just 6 case histories which were all that Freud ever published, and all were disastrous from the point of view of the patients (being misdiagnosed and mistreated by Freud). Yet, Griffin and Tyrrell add, literature, media and the entertainment industry don’t seem to realise that Freud and Jung have little relevance to modern psychotherapeutic practice.
As Griffin and Tyrrell referred to Idries Shah relating Sufi knowledge to science, I sent them a copy of my 1999 book and Tyrrell invited me to speak at their College if I so wished. I have always seen psychoanalysis as something for neurotic, angst-ridden Jewish Americans living in a Woody Allen style New York. In one of the early episodes of The Sopranos, on hearing that her son is getting therapy Tony Soprano’s mother tells him that therapy is just a scam run by the Jews. Presumably Wendy Doniger’s Viennese mother was from a similar background to Freud where such bizarre ideas about the mind are the norm. I myself recovered from a nervous breakdown back in 1993, faced with the brazen ‘jobs for the friends’ corruption of the promotion process in the publishing industry, without any therapy whatsoever but by getting a grip on myself.
Surveying the academic literature, psychologist David Wulff says in Varieties of Anomalous Experience that it is highly doubtful that mystical absorption is simply a regression to infantile pre-egoic states of awareness. In fact, Jordens’ essay on Jung’s concept of Libido and the Vedantic Prana/Atman identity is one of many pieces of strong evidence supporting my RAS brainwave/Divine Light of Pure Consciousness correlation (see Section 11). The Freudian concept of a sexual libido or sexual energy is just nonsense from a scientific perspective as energy is energy – a dynamizing or moving principle – whereas Jung’s Libido as a general psychological energy does make sense. The RAS brainwaves generated by the brainstem Reticular Formation underlie all gross brainwave activity. They constitute the Activating System arousing the entire brain and selectively activating specific centres etc. Such scientific facts are totally inconsistent with Freud’s sexual libido nonsense and its supposed sublimation but are consistent with Jung’s notion of a general energy underlying egoic activity.
I have found that Freudianism is especially popular with what in Britain we call the “chattering classes”, the pseudo-intellectual middle class literati who are well versed in novels and art but generally ignorant of real science. The sex-obsessed Freudian mythology continues to exert a hold over the thinking of many in the UK’s pseudo-intellectual intelligentsia, especially literary critics. As we have seen, the sort of scholarship passing as ‘philosophy’ in much of the humanities is actually just glorified literary criticism hence the fancy names like ‘hermeneutics’. In 2006, the British literary reviewer Craig Brown concluded an obsequious review in the Daily Mail newspaper of a new book on Freud. Brown concluded suggesting that perhaps Freud will be remembered as the ‘ocean’ rather than the whale, implying metaphorically the vastness and depth of Freud’s (supposed) genius.
9. American New Age Eurocentrism and Suppression of Challenges to Cult Dogma
I notice also that Jeff Kripal is nowadays associated with the Californian New Age Esalen Institute. Richard Tarnas spent 10 years at the Esalen Institute. In his Passion of the Western Mind he lauds Stanislaw Grof’s LSD and Holotropic breathwork investigations of mystical states. However, in spite of lauding Grof, Tarnas concludes by reducing mystical experiences of oneness with the plenum/void (quite explicit in Grof’s own work although he focuses on supposed womb and birth experiences) to Freudian superstitions of a return to the womb experience! Similarly New Age writer Ervin Laszlo whose so-called ‘systems science’ remains very ill-defined and seem rather unoriginal claims in his Science and the Akashic Field, an incoherent New Age pop philosophy book hyped up by the ‘usual suspects’ (e.g. Larry Dossey, Deepak Chopra etc.) as a world-changing masterpiece, that he Ervin Laszlo should be remembered in this sequence:
NEWTON, DARWIN, FREUD, EINSTEIN, LASZLO !!!!!!!
Contrary to the loud pronouncements of New Age organisations like IONS, S&MN, Andrew Cohen’s What is Enlightenment to be leading the readers with the best new scientific understanding of spiritual enlightenment, the nature of consciousness and related issues, the ordinary members find that they actually operate like Cults promoting the books of their high profile popular paperback writers who run a commercial operation churning out a book a year or so whilst suppressing information that threatens to undermine the myths their leaders have promoted for decades. For them, ignorance is bliss as the more the mystery the more the opportunity for generating profit through all manner of pseudo-intellectual psychobabble.
We also see the Western Romantic glorification of Tibetan Buddhism which largely treats Tibet as a mythical Shangri La and ignores the fact that nearly all of the concepts in Tibetan Buddhism have originated in or have parallel precursors in Hinduism. Invading the Sacred mentioned how Doniger hypocritically steers clear of criticizing Tibetan Buddhism, so beloved of the American liberals and Left, even though Tibetan Buddhism is quite explicitly Tantric in origin, arising from North-East Indian Tantrism. However, the western neo-Romantic fascination with Tibet does also highlight the fact of the brutal Chinese Communist dictatorship and its own imperialist agenda. It is shameful how the Indian government kowtows to these bullying barbarians who have done their utmost to destabilize India by arming and financing Pakistan. The Muslim Paks remain ignorant of the fact that China cynically tests its own nuclear weapons in its Western Muslim minority territory where radiation-induced birth defects are ripe but Muslim protest brutally suppressed.
My work, although being quite explicitly Hindu, accepts that Buddhist philosophy is superior in regard to certain questions such as the mind being a self-organising process. I note that the central thesis of Hermann Guenther in his 1989 book on rDzogs-chen and the New sciences of Mind which I am about to read asserts that the Tibetan sangs-rgyas (totality of person’s being in the world) should be rendered as ‘Buddha’ as ‘dissipative structure’ which ties in with my own ideas from 1983 in which I viewed the conscious mind or field of attention as a dissipative structure.
However, many Western Buddhists find the pseudo-profundity of Nagarjuna’s Middle Way negative discourse to be profound. This same situation pertained in ancient China where the 9th Century patriarch Tsung-mi distinguished the Buddhist via negative, traced back to Nagarjuna, which emphasized the doctrine of emptiness from the via positiva which stressed the omnipresence of the Buddha Nature (from R.M. Gimello’s chapter in Mysticism and the Religious Traditions:
Now if there were not such substantial realities as insight what could be revealed as the Buddha-nature, what could be said ‘neither to be born nor to perish’ and so forth? One must recognize that understanding in the very perception of what is presently at hand is precisely the Buddha-nature of the mind…
Men of these days regard negative discourse as profound and expressive discourse as shallow… This is all due to their mistaking purely negative discourse for profundity and to their failure to aspire after an intimate personal realization of the substance of the truth.
Such infatuation with Middle Way negative pseudo-profundity is found in many of the contributions to B.Alan Wallace’s edited Buddhism and Science and Richard King in his Orientalism and Religion cites the Middle Way as his supposed clinching argument against Neo-Vedantic claims that Buddhism is just an unorthodox variation on the Sanatana Dharma. As I wrote in my Amazon review of King, actual mystic philosophers like J.H.M. Whiteman recognise that Buddha was actually restating concepts already found in the Upanishads but did not clarify numerous key terms leading to much confusion. Franklin Merrell-Wolff also held that deeper insight could harmonise the views of Sankara and Buddha and Wallace himself notes the Dalai Lama’s Dzogchen Buddhism holds to a [neo-Brahmanical] universal ground consciousness and does not hold Nagarjuna’s views as incompatible.
We see also at the Tucson Consciousness conferences which IONS originally sponsored, that Western thinkers like Bergson and Whitehead are presented as if, being European, their ideas must be scientific with no mention of Indian phenomenological knowledge until the Malhotra sponsored B. Alan Wallace spoke on Buddhist phenomenology. The whole New Age movement is based around the ‘great white hope’ Ken Wilber and his pretensions which numerous critics have ridiculed. This is in spite of the fact that Willis Harman spoke of a view resembling Indian Metaphysics based on the primacy of Consciousness replacing Materialism. In 1999 Japanese physicist, on receiving my O/OM book sent me a copy of his inaugural speech at a Tokyo Conference on Science and Eastern Philosophy – the TV programme about the conference was watched by 10 million Japanese. Inomata quoted Harman in stating that Materialism would be replaced by Indian-style metaphysics based on the primacy of Consciousness. However, New Agers and sympathesizers like Harry Hunt at Tucson III refer to “ancient Indian traditions” and Hunt even referred to ‘lost traditions’ as if Vedanta, Buddhism etc. are extinct! This rationalizes the Eurocentric New Age claim to appropriate Indian ideas as new Western ones (Andrew Harvey’s “The Christ Consciousness” etc.) as in Malhotra’s U-turn and claim originality and radical revolutionary status for the likes of Wilber and Grof.
10. Some British Examples of Hinduphobia, Hinduphilia, Eurocentrism etc.
In late 2001 the Oxford professor of History Niall Ferguson, an ex-financier and Thatcherite free marketeer (now linked to Harvard) published a double page spread in the right-wing, middle brow tabloid The Daily Mail supporting Kipling’s colonialist views on the “White Man’s Burden”. Following an earthquake in Afghanistan, the West was sending emergency aid to the Taliban-run country just before the US invasion. Ferguson cited Kipling’s false myths which told of heroic British colonialists helping to save the starving Indian natives during the British Raj. He also referred to the old chestnuts of saving Indians from barbaric Hindu practises such as Sati and child marriage. The Daily Mail did publish my letter (which I copied to Ferguson at Oxford) exposing the brazen falsehoods in Ferguson’s arguments. As Mike Davis showed in his Late Victorian Holocausts and his 2001 Observer article ‘Ghosts in the Dust of Gujarat’, far from saving Indians from famines, the British rulers were creating artificial famines throughout the Raj. Whilst millions starved in the Deccan and the South in the 1870s the British held the largest feast in human history, the Delhi Durbar of 1876. When forced to give some famine relief, British labour camps gave less nutrition than Nazi death camps even after strict selection of who received such ‘aid’. I also noted the 1942-43 artificial famine. The Mail edited my letter to just the main famine issue cutting out Ferguson’s rehashing the myths of British saving us from Sati etc. interestingly in 2005, I received a letter from Harvard which turned out to be from Ferguson, thanking me for my letter (sent almost 4 years earlier). Although acknowledging my facts it did not change his empire was a good thing views.
The patronizing emphasis on Sufi Islam is the hallmark of William Dalrymple’s output from India. In one programme a few years ago he lamented the loss of the tolerant Sufi Islam of the Mughals asserting patronizingly that all Indians would have been happier or better off if India had maintained such Islam as its dominant spiritual tradition! As if the Hindu majority in an independent India would have been happier under the alien Bedouin tribal culture! Look at Mohammedan Pakistan and Bangladesh! The Kashmir-born UK Apprentice first series runner-up Saira Khan, on her Pakistan Adventure programme, also highlighted Sufi dervish practices. Neither Dalrymple nor Khan made mention of the likely Hindu influences underlying this liberal mystical form of Islam. William James in his Varieties of Religious Experience mentions the probable Hindu origins of Sufism in Persia.
But in one of his August 2007 BBC News 60th anniversary reports from India Mark Tully went to a Muslim University in some Indian city in order to ask a Muslim professor about the supposed Indian tradition of tolerance and pluralism. The Muslim professor said that it was true and referred to India’s Hindu tradition and its effect rubbing off on Islam in India. Thus whereas the white British interpreters of India, Dalrymple and Wood, ignore Hinduism’s central role in India’s famed tradition of tolerance, a Muslim professor pointed to Hinduism’s pluralism as the key!
The Left despises Hinduism, as opposed to Mohammedanism and Buddhism, as they perceive the latter two as egalitarian. Gurumurthy’s mentor Jon Snow and Channel 4 News hype up the much-rubbished Turner Prize for Art which is won by the likes of Brit-art ‘conceptual artists’ with unmade beds, lights going on and off in a room, pickled sheep carcasses etc. This charlatanism posing as Art is taken very seriously by the anti-elitists like Jon Snow and Krishnan Gurumurthy demeaning the value of real talent and hard work in their egalitarian imaginary world. In fact, the high value of such ‘conceptual art’ is solely due to the patronage of the wealthy ex-advertising agency boss Charles Saatchi (half of the Baghdadi Jewish Saatchi and Saatchi who helped Margaret Thatcher to power with cynical adverts showing unemployment queues) and the influence of Tate Modern director Nicholas Serota (of Eastern European Jewish stock). I would not be surprised if Indian copycat ‘creatives’ who copy all the Western fads, however ludicrous (as with the Leftist academics), started copy ‘conceptual art’ as it requires no talent, only a Lacan-like pretentious smokescreen of a title which indicates the invisible profundity of its social message.
Also in 2007, the young Indian Sikh writer Nirpal Dhaliwal came to prominence through a short-lived marriage to middle-aged female journalist Liz Jones. One important point that Dhaliwal raised was the fact that British publishers producing books supposedly written by ethnic insiders actually selected half-caste Anglo-Indians and Anglo-Africans like Monica Ali (Brick Lane), Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith and Hari Kunzru who actually write about their communities from the perspective of their white halfs. Thus as with Malhotra’s questioning of Jeff Kripal’s self-hated of his Romany half and the insider/outsider issue in religious traditions we have this subtle racism in British publishing smacking of the old Bhowani Junction where every major Indian role was played by a browned-up European.
Even sympathetic Westerners display subconscious Eurocentric slips as I found with J.J. Clarke whom I met a 25th anniversary celebration organised by the Eco-magazine Resurgence associated with the Small is Beautiful Schumaker followers and edited by some Indian Jain ex-monk. Although all the food at the Royal Geographic Society was Indian vegetarian etc., when I was telling some British professor about my ideas using Indian knowledge, J.J. Clarke added in my support the names of Wilber and Jung as if by naming two Europeans with similar views this legitimated my stance.
The British comedian Bill Bailey on a televised stand-up show in 2006 referred to the ending of Nasadiya Sukta in order to contrast Hinduism favourably with Christianity and Islam. Whereas the Christians threaten you with damnation in hell etc. for any transgression he had found that a famous Hindu text ended on a sceptical note saying perhaps no-one, not even He who dwells in Highest Heaven, knows the secret of Creation.
On Christmas Day 2007, the black British Christian scholar Robert Beckford in his Channel 4 The Hidden History of Jesus showed the numerous precursors to the Jesus myths in the stories of Krishna, Buddha, Osiris, Mithra etc. Beckford also concluded that in the modern world the true message of Jesus, ignoring all the myths and fairytales, was best represented by Mahatma Gandhi by living the message in his own actions, challenging the oppressor of the downtrodden. I recall reading in Ashis Nandy’s The Intimate Enemy: The psychology of colonialism that Gandhi outwitted the British by showing that Indians could be more Christian than the Christians, turning the other cheek etc. exposing the British as the true savages relying upon violence.
Twice in recent years, the media has covered cases where Yoga classes have been banned from Church halls by British vicars who recognise that Yoga is key to Hindu spirituality. The irony is that the media and Yoga practitioners wrongly treat Yoga as merely exercise in their media protestations whereas it is the anti-Hindu Christian vicars who actually realise that Yoga is central to Hinduism. Unfortunately you get ignorant radio presenters like BBC radio’s Richard Bacon, who was about to start Yoga himself, claiming that Yoga was Buddhist (again showing the hyping up of Buddhism amongst trendy, hedonistic westerners – Bacon had been sacked from the BBC children’s flagship ‘Blue Peter’ for taking cannabis).
I am currently working on my new much revised and expanded book to be published in the USA and UK entitled The Brainstem Brainwaves of Atman-Brahman: The Synthesis of Science and Spirituality.
An earlier draft version of my first chapter, entitled “The Divine Light and the Mystery of Existence” of this new book is now available to read free at: