Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hey, What's Up?














...is what this multi-headed fellow (Brahma) seems to be saying. Today in my Theory and Practice class in anthropology, part of our discussion was how Western philosophical and scientific methodology comes from out of a dualistic backround, and how therefore this dualistic outlook creates a number of issues in many areas, and specifically in the area of how development is perceived by Westerners as it is applied in developing nations. The theoretical materials that we read for our discussions today seemed to indicate how theory and practice in development are becoming increasingly a less dualistic phenomenon, and more integrated in its application toward a somewhat more monistic or holistic approach.

I raised the point (Yeah Me!) of how although it seems now that Western thought has increasingly moved from dualistic polarities (good and bad, right and wrong, Republican and Democrat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum) towards an increasing monism (integrated wholeness); that in other cultures and societies, an integrated approach to existence has been a part of life for thousands of years. I used the Hindu culture as an example of this. Some of the great philosophers of the West, Emerson, Thoreau, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, are known to have examined Hindu texts and thought as they developed their own philosophies.

Dualistic thought (as in, "I'm good and you're bad") has been the underpinning of a lot of misconception and tragedy in the Western world. If we call ourselves "the good", and therefore make any and all others "the evildoers" by default; well that is just a recipe for disaster. If we examine our own cultural antecedents, one can see that in fact the Christian message is a holistic one, and not a divisive one, as many "fundamentalists" choose to apply it. Ever notice something just a little crazy, a little over the edge, that connects the Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells and the Osama Bin Laden's together? Yes, thats right! They take a dualistic stance in their positions, and if all parties claim eternal, yet opposing, truths, then conflict is the only eventuality that will result.

And, when is the last time you heard of anyone committing violence in the name of, say for instance Buddhism, (not counting the Mongols of old, whose Buddhism was only at a superficial level)? As the above multi-headed Brahma represents, all of existence is connected and contingent upon its constituent parts, hence the symbol of a many-headed Brahma representing ultimate Unity, in spite of the many (seeming) multiplicities of existence.

1 Comments:

Blogger willowtree said...

Nice post. I love the 'Christian message is a holistic one'. I dont know how many Christian churches follow that idea. It sounds great, I think they will tell you they do, but then...well you know the rest.
I read about Gayatri just the other day. I took one of those online which hindu godess are you tests hehe. She's who I came up with. I thought that meant I had multiple personalities or something.
They probably just couldnt figure me out? hehe

6:49 AM  

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