Religious & Spiritual Eastern Philosophy
What is Eastern philosophy? Simply stated, it is the quest to move forward along a spiritual path, alleviating suffering and distress. Rather than diverging into separate streams, these different systems flow in the same riverbed. In this article, we will discuss the philosophy of Eastern thought, and its relation to human reasoning in search of peace and prosperity. Its roots are deeply rooted in ancient Eastern thought, and it has been used for centuries to inform Western thought.
The Menssen-Sullivan proposal for religious and spiritual eastern philosophy suggests that philosophers should bolster their critical assessment of general positions while taking specific data into account. For example, philosophers of religion should consider the problem of evil in terms of theological positions on redemption and ostensible revelations. This new approach might not be ideal, but it is more accurate than previous efforts. And the proposal may have important implications for western philosophy, especially Christian philosophy.
The Menssen-Sullivan proposal for religious & social eastern philosophy aims to redress this problem by considering different aspects of religion and its historical and social context. While Hick's proposal has its critics, it could potentially accommodate diverse communities. Hick's work has been around since the early 1980s, and it has advanced philosophy of religion, bringing attention to social and historical contexts.
Heidegger's attempt to turn eastwards
For Heidegger, the conflict in his early work was not between Christ and the world, the flesh, or the devil, but between liberalism and Marxism, which he regarded as products of World Judaism and German National Socialism. Heidegger's later philosophy may be seen as an attempt to turn eastwards and a reaction to the crisis of Western civilization.
Heidegger's existentialism was hamstrung by stubborn secularism, which prevented him from seeing salvation or the transcendent. His existentialism later took on a nihilistic tone in the hands of Sartre, which caused it to become morally corrosive in the Christian West. So, Heidegger's attempt to turn eastwards in religious & spiritual eastern philosophy has a mixed legacy.
The late Heidegger worked on his idea of human thought, in part addressing the limitations of science. He sought to understand the human mind and experience, and to find true meaning. For Heidegger, this meant looking beyond the crowd and into the depths of human experience. He reflected that poetry reveals Dasein, the human soul, and makes the world a dwelling place for humans.
For Heidegger, transcendence was the condition of being-in-the-world. But it was impossible to grasp it without reference to God, which was the reason for his disavowing of the deus absconditus (the deity outside the world). Thus, he rejected faith and abstract belief. The attempt to turn eastwards in religious & spiritual eastern philosophy was a step in the right direction for Heidegger.
Schopenhauer's synthesis of Hinduism and Buddhism with Western thought
Arthur Schopenhauer merged Hinduism and Buddhism with Western thought. He wrote "Die welt als wille und vorstellung" (1819), referring to Hindu scriptures like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and noting that Buddhism brimmed with Indian ideas and preeminence over other systems. Schopenhauer had studied Hinduism and Buddhism since his youth, and even believed that the New Testament had Indian roots, and that Jesus had learned Egyptian wisdom.
A second volume was published in 1844, and compared Vedanta philosophy to esoteric texts and writings by the alchemist Raymond Lull, the quiet mystic Jeanne-Marie Guyon, and various Sufi teachings. Richard Wagner, who lived in exile in Switzerland, discovered this work and became interested in Buddhism. It was the beginning of a lifelong interest for Wagner.
The esotericism of Buddhism is not limited to Southeast Asia, Tibet, and Japan, but has become a part of Euro-American religious thought. Various Christian spiritual traditions have begun to integrate Eastern religious ideas. For example, a Christian yogic guru named Bede Griffiths has been a prominent figure in a Christian-yogic movement. Gnostic Christianity has also incorporated Eastern religious concepts. It is not uncommon to find devotees of the Indian God Krishna in major European and American cities. This has led to a synthesis between Eastern and Western thought.
A study in the history of Hinduism has revealed that the philosophical system of Carvaka is limited to the Lokyatika school. Its first use comes in the 7th century when Purandara refers to his fellow materialists as "the Carvakas." In the eighth century, two prominent philosophers, Kamalasila and Haribhadra, use the term "Lokyata" to describe the system.
The origins of the Carvaka are not entirely clear, but it is possible to discern certain traits. The main point of the Carvaka cosmology is that it recognized the four elements as the basic constituents of all things. It also sought to explain the appearance of life and consciousness in material objects, arguing that the combination of these elements confers a variety of properties. In fact, the Carvakas are known to have rejected Shankara's description of the world. But neo-Carvakas must defend a philosophy they developed and defined by their own writings.
Unlike most religious and spiritual Western philosophy, the Carvaka rejects the notion that the soul is separate from the body. It also accepts the idea that everything in this world is ultimately a product of this world and that all suffering is just a privation of pleasure. They maintain that the strong and clever should pursue pleasure and reject the pious and unworthy. This concept essentially limits their thinking to this life and to their own existence.
The Daoist view of life places emphasis on the "form" or the whole person. Physical health is viewed not as a goal in and of itself, but as a means to achieve mental and spiritual wellness. The human body is seen as a microcosm, a system of correspondences, and parallels the bureaucratic systems of both the heavens and the state. As such, the human being should be viewed with reverence and respect.
Daoism incorporates many common religious practices and gods into its rites. Various forms of exorcism exist in the Chinese culture. The officiant in an exorcism ceremony is called a wu (shaman) and administers herbal medicines or protective talismans to cure the afflicted. In Daoist tradition, these practices have continued for centuries, although the typical shamanic "trance" is never a part of the process.
The Daoist view of the universe is based on the cosmology of the standard Chinese cosmological system. This provides the Daoist with tools to represent unity into multiplicity, as well as its relationship between the human being and the cosmos. The cosmology is also essential to the practices of Daoism, as they seek to provide a way to "return to the Dao."
Ancient Shinto has two world views, one a three-dimensional view of the kami and the other a two-dimensional view of the earth and its various regions. In the former view, life after death remained in the world of the kami. The latter view regarded death as the final and ultimate end. This way of thinking made Shinto a very secular religion. However, many people still adhere to Shinto's tenets, especially those who have lived under the Tokugawa shogunate.
In the early days of Shinto, no one had a founder and no sacred texts were created. Instead, these people practiced rituals to restore and maintain the harmony between humans and kami. In the early years of the religion, most rituals were tied to the agricultural year and included a concluding meal. The following are examples of major Shinto rituals:
The Buddhist influence on Shinto religion teaches the importance of contemplating death, as it reminds followers of the shortness of life and the need to make every moment count. While people may express their deepest feelings on specific days, they should remain calm and controlled, as this will honor the dead and his/her spirit. This is a fundamental concept in Buddhism, and it is one of the main reasons why Shinto is still so popular in Japan.