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Philosophies of Life of East and West
Edited by Allie M. Frazier
(Source: Readings in Eastern Religious Thought – Hinduism vol. 1. Edited by Allie M. Frazier pg 10-16)

In considering the beginning and development of Western philosophy G.W. Hegel remarked, that in the West the “mind’s way is roundabout”. 

 By this he points to the significant fact that Western thinkers first directed their attention to the external world. The most significant development in Western philosophy, is build upon the premise that truth is a relationship which exists between judgements and real things. The problem of the relationships and between thinking and reality thus emerged as a central concern for Western thinkers. 

Part of our heritage in the West is the recurring attempts to evade the transcience of earthly life by means of religious hopes, metaphysical systems and vigourous activism.

Time exists by virtue of its “perpetual perishing”. Any being subject to time is subject to its dominant characterisitic, transcience.While we may control an indifferent environment by our technological prowress and our scientific genius, we cannot thereby, alter the essence of time. 

In the West, man has set himself and his will against the destructive movement of time.

The West has restructed its views, of history to the spans of man’s life on earth ( often restricting such history of Occidental man).

Moreover, the West has developed and responded to a linear and evolutionary conception of time. (perhaps rooted in and validated by the sciences of geology, history, and paleontology. Each historical moment is presumed to be unique and non-repeatable. 

Westerners believe, that the destructive ravages of time can be averted only by careful planning and by preservation of existing modes of stability, such as institutions, religions, political orders. 

While the West focuses principally upon human history, in general, the East focuses upon the history of nature or being.  The scale of time (in Hindu and Buddhist scriptures ) completely staggers the imaginations of the Westerners. Eons follow upon eons in a seemingly endless succession. 

In the East, the great aim of religious men is to find that overall cosmic unity that is hidden behind the veil of temporal succession and cosmic change.

According to the Eastern appraisal of the human predicament, the ground of man’s bondage to endless suffering rebirth, and ignorance is his enslavement to the demonic forces of the cosmic illusion.

Men, through ignorance of their real spiritual destinies, are caught in the thralldom of desire and pleasure, and as a consequence suffer pain, death and rebirth. 

Man seeks the death of temporality and rebirth in a mode of absolute freedom is symbolized in the concepts of Nirvana, Kevola, moksha, Tao – the shore completely beyond the chains of illusion. 

The paths taken to reach such unconditional liberation, whether in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism or Jainism, lead the soul progressively away from involvement in its personal individuality, its world and their incessant becoming.

The aim of most Eastern religious discipline is not simply to comprehend the plight of man’s bondage to illusion, but also to overcome that enslavement by the nullification of the factors which cause the bondage example, Desire, pleasure, pain, birth and death. 

The contrast between the Christian appraisal of the human predicament and the typical Oriental appraisal of man’s situation is quite instructive.

The Christian views man’s fallen condition as a form of bondage to the destructive consequence of sin – such as anxiety, guilt, pride, self-centredness. While  this is deplorable condition in which to exist, it is nevertheless a real condition.

For Eastern religions, man’s enslavement to the world – to individuality, desire, pleasure, pain, rebirth – is not a real condition at all. 

Hence, most religious persons in the East do not seek a relationship with external being, (God), but rather they seek a realization of an eternal mode of being which is hidden from them by their ignorance. 

Western religious thought is produced by the convergence of two traditions – The Greeks and the Christian. Its key concepts are revelation, relationship and community. In the East, (India) the key concepts of religious thoughts are recognition, realization, release and reunion.   




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