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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.