Eastern Philosophy

Ken Wilber once wrote (I paraphrase greatly) that Eastern philosophy (and its associated studies) contained more than any other body of knowledge, but that scattered among its ideas and works lie the most precious gems and highest truths.

Western knowledge could almost be said to be based on the old principle of science. The old principle of science was that for a something to be included in the body of science, that something must be demonstrable by ANYONE. Eastern philosophy is based on the individual's experience. In the realm of individual experience, many men experience and demonstrate things not possible (yet) to others.

The ultimate aim of Eastern philosophy/practice is Self-Realization, or Enlightenment, or God-Realization (all synonyms). In modern (last 4000 years) religions, this concept has often degenerated into seeking a blissful afterlife. Even Jesus was obviously teaching Self-Realization, he said that the kingdom was at hand.

Gurdjieff used the expression magnetic center to mean that part of ourselves which is drawn to really understand what is going on in the universe, that part of us which is drawn to discover and experience our deepest nature. These two quests are the same ("As above, so below"). We live in a culture (America) that until recently provided little support to our innate and inborn spiritual quest.

Gurdjieff stated that ideally, our magnetic center draws us to things (people, books, whatever...) in the surrounding environment which satisfy our quest to know what REALLY is going on. To the extent that an individual's quest remains uncorrupted, he continually learns more about reality, and evolves as an individual. To the extent that his quest becomes corrupted (is educated out of him, is channeled into symbolic quests like power), he flounders and develops little. Eastern philosophies seemed to recognize that we come in different TYPES, and that different methods (various yogas, devotion, association with sages) are appropriate to these different TYPES. But it's all the same goal ("All roads lead to Rome").

For me, being enamored of Science Fiction as a child was really part of this quest. I then thought that through science, ALL would eventually be possible. Later, devouring Ayn Rand's works (while in High School) was also part of the same quest. Later, I saw that science was part of philosophy, that philosophy was tied to psychology (awareness is primary), and that psychology contained a gateway to the East (though I never visited, I was a child of Esalen and related things). This was just my path. As I said, all roads lead to Rome, at least if highwaymen don't recruit you into their ranks along the way.

Note my use of the word sage earlier. In Western cultures, we don't really have this concept. A sage (jnani) is not just someone who is extremely intelligent, or someone with much real world wisdom. A true sage is someone who has experienced and continually manifests as one who has discovered his REAL nature, and the nature of the universe. Some Eastern schools of thought hold that hanging out with sages is the fastest path to enlightenment. However, most sages (gurus) who present themselves as such are probably sidetracked searchers. Follow your magnetic center with intuition and care.

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