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East vs West

Spiritual truth in the East and the lack there of in the West

Gaia as the world tree by Alex Gray
The tree of life giving life - East but being destroyed by human greed, the West

The philosophical and lifestyle differences between East and West are apparent particularly when travelling from any western country to India. It is such a crazy chaotic place and yet there is something wonderful and transcendent in India not in addition to the resplendent colours and the joy on people's faces.

I've written several posts on the subject and now thanks to a line by Chaman Lal, the penny has finally dropped in regard to what I'm attempting to say. If we take India as being the central point of Eastern philosophy and indeed it is. It is also the origin of all civilisations, a question that is no longer in doubt.

Despite all the contradictions, India or Bharat is a land of actively seeking whereas all other countries are lands of pleasure.

For those who don't know, Bharat is an ancestral name for India before it became known as Hindustan. Now if we think about Bharat as a land of action, it's a land of natural science where we can look at the rich history and see that the Hindus, the people of Bharat have always been seekers of knowledge and truth, and as such they are described as followers of Dharma.

The Hindus had modern well-developed cities at a time when Europeans were still living in caves and fire was their greatest treasure. Those ancient followers of Dharma were able to correctly evaluate the general nature of our solar system and neighbouring galaxies several thousand years ago. They gave us the language, mathematics and science with which the modern technological world is built.

The West took knowledge acquired through following Dharma and turned it toward personal pleasures, the Hindus had no such concerns because they understood that happiness and joy were much more meaningful than pleasure as pleasure is a temporary phenomenon.

One could argue that for long periods of time Bharat was a literal paradise or a heaven on earth because natural foods were abundant and the climate although sometimes a little too hot in summer and in the northern regions a little too cool in winter was in many other ways ideal. A life according to Dharma did not exclude pleasure but the focus was more on human well-being for both the individual, the nation and the long term continuity of human civilisation.

One of the key aspects of a Dharmic lifestyle is that there is a recognition that the internal world and the external world are equally important. In other words the inner self is just as important as the outer self and by paying attention to the nature of one's own mind or consciousness, by following one's actions and observing the reactions, the progress of one's life could be made pleasant and harmonious.

Conversely in the West:

We and I must include myself here in seeking the root of social and political injustice, the level of disease and suffering in Western society looked to the east for solutions. We invented our own concept of psychology, healthcare and lifestyle based not on real needs but based solutions on greed and desire.

In my opinion this was bought about through the rise of patriarchal capitalism. The West abandoned the Divine feminine and if you look into the ancient Middle East, this history can be followed. The Jewish God El (later Yahweh) was divorced from his female counterpart Ashera and women became chattels, something that only happened two women in India during the British occupation.

If we look at Western civilisation we see so many extremes of behaviours that in analysis they are all about seeking pleasure. Pleasure temporarily negates pain and suffering, and pleasure generates a desire for more pleasure. If you reflect on your own life for a moment, you wake up in the morning and use the bathroom to deal with the body's most basic of needs. Many people begin their day with a cup of coffee, a ritual to bring the mind into focus on the days tasks which most often are all to do with seeking pleasure or escape from suffering.

Working and achieving sufficient remuneration without conflict generates a certain amount of pleasure and some work for the pleasure afforded by work being a distraction from one's mental suffering. Mental suffering that cannot be alleviated through mental involvement or physical activity is generally treated with medications which dull the symptoms without curing the problem.

This need for pleasure creates addictive or compulsive behaviours, the millionaire is not satisfied, he or she needs to make another million in part because there is someone else with more and this is one compulsive behaviour that often has unpleasant consequences. In the news recently it was reported that a certain celebrity who preaches social responsibility gains much of her wealth by employing slave labourers.

Capitalism became the driver toward new pleasures, new distractions from reality, distractions from the self-inflicted pain and suffering that is almost universally experienced across the western world. It is believed that by adopting certain beliefs and a regulated lifestyle according to the needs of the body balanced against the demands to be employed (often in destructive and antilife occupations) there one can enjoy a certain satisfaction in life and perhaps if you follow prescribed beliefs to the letter, you will be happy.

This is clearly no solution to any of our problems and in fact it exacerbates them because people have to come up with new excuses, new beliefs, and new justifications and rationales. This is a grand deception yet the Western world has been led by beliefs that are completely unfounded and used knowledge and technology to create new pleasures.

Happiness and pleasure are not the same

A young child is happy because he or she is connected to life and the world is filled with wonder. The young child has not formed opinions, learned to judge or to seek pleasure until such time pleasure is encouraged. The Western education system then systematically erodes a child's happiness and teaches that a certain skill will bring pleasure and happiness. And instead of knowing life and giving to life, the idea is established that life owes me or that pleasure is my right and we can see this happening today in our laws.

Conversely the Hindu child is taught to be appreciative and the child slowly learns that by appreciation a certain magic happens, the universe is revealed facilitating the flow of happiness and joy. To be sure there is an advice in the West to be thankful but true appreciation and praise without strings attached in the Western world is rare or disingenuous. A case in point is Saddam Hussein, the US administration declared him a friend of the USA and encouraged him to attack Iran even supplying chemical weapons for that purpose. Then the US did an about turn and attacked Iraq and the tragedy continues.

The Western world has become dominated by a group of individuals controlling the world for their own pleasure without concern for anyone else. Their friendships are entered into for political expediency and if there was such a thing as a devil or an antichrist, these (mostly men) most fit that description and they develop places like Guantanamo bay.

To really understand the differences between happiness and pleasure, one must know one's own human nature. The Western world is taught to identify one's persona with the physical body. This of course is borrowed from the earth and returned (recycled) after death - it is impermanent yet people crave some sense of permanence. Many people in the Western world, perhaps the majority are so embedded in their own suffering that they cannot see the forest for the trees do not realise they are a soul with a body and mind - the soul represents the permanent and the panacea to suffering.

The move from a matriarchal to a patriarchal civilisation that began around 6000 BC is the cause of much suffering today. The divorce of El and Ashera represents civilisation turning its back on the Divine feminine which has a greater affinity with the human soul and began a long period of erosion within the human consciousness bringing us to this sorry state where the soul is completely neglected.

Bereft of spiritual connection, there is only suffering and that suffering at times can be placated by experiencing pleasure. People seek pleasure in various forms of sexual expression yet without genuine heartfelt love, such pleasure further damages the psych and increases the distance between the sense of self and spiritual reality.

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