Please understand digestion!

This is another brief but important discussion on digestion initiated by Rajiv Malhotra in October 2013. Here is the link to the original thread on the forum. The forum has discussed this important issue several times, and you can find those forum discussions summarized via this search. What is remarkable about this particular post are the names named and specific instances of digestion with evidence provided. Question remains and must be asked: what do we as Indians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs do about this digestion and appropriation?

"This example is what digestion of advaita into Christianity does"
 Rajiv comments on this particular online article "Dharma in the Christian West" (working link thanks to Bhagwan) that on the surface appears to celebrate Hinduism in the west, but in reality, is yet another example of digestion.

"Most naive Hindus would go about celebrating that this Christian has shown great love for our tradition. It turns out that Father Keating (in the pic)
(link source:

is the prime digestor of maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM and various other Hindu things into what he calls Christian Centering Prayer that has spread into a few hundred centers across. Plans are now to export it into India where it will become a rage among upper strata Anglicied Indians who will feel they are now sophisticated by adopting this American invention.

This is the sort of stuff in the book American Veda that has so many Indians jumping up and down in glee. Ditto with Lisa Miller's article and a hundred other examples.

Please understand digestion!!!"

Maria responds:
"... it is not surprising to meet parishioners in [Episcopal] congregation who attend yoga classes or belong to a Tibetan Buddhist sangha.". Then, neither real epicospalian, nor good yoga practiotioners, nor truely tibetans! Unfortunately, this is the tendency in the west, which is dragging or trying to drag the whole world with them.
.... what I clearly saw is the danger of this tendency....and the evidence of this many wolves under the skin of lambs, as they say.... Most of the people are not aware of what they are doing by being so "fusion", but what it is behind this, I feel, is a "fishing of souls" (harvesting, like they say), but I would say fishing because they throw a fish hook, the hook of sameness, and fishes go running for it.

I found it dangerous because this way of presenting the things aims to/ and may attract to:

- hindus/dharmics with no very clear ideas and concepts in their minds: they can be brought to the "sameness" point. And from there to conversion, there is only one step.

- disappointed christians who have ran towards new-age movements looking for traces of sort-of spirituality

It is another threat different from the mainstream christians. But another threat, even more dangerous because of the "common points" that they squeeze to get from a barren land to present it as "see! we also have a profound philosophy!".

What to do? ... what about us, anonymous people, who don´t have any position of influence? "

Rajiv the follows up in a separate thread.
"It is important to be able to understand the celebration of digestion at work in writings such as this article from an influential interfaith journal, and other writings related to it. It praises Father Keating, but Keating has digested Transcendental Meditation into Christian Centering Prayer after he personally and his benedictine monks from Massachusetts learned TM from Maharishi in the 1970s. (I have a tape recording of Keating's speeches thanking Maharishi for teaching something not found in Christianity - thanks to a friend who was present at the time.) Now Keating's movement teaches it as core Christianity and the history of this is traced from a Christian text called "The cloud of unknowing" all the way back to Jesus.

The article then locates that "similar" things to Hindu non-dualism had already existed in certain medieval Christian mystics. But two key points are conveniently missed:

    First, these so-called Christian mystical teachings need a great deal of creativity for connecting the dots to make them non-dual without internal contradictions.

    Second, these obscure mystics were rejected by Christianity at their time and thereafter, and only recently got excavated after Hinduism's influence, and hoisted up as a way to dilute and digest Hinduism.

It then goes on to explain that "Jesus is the exemplar of non-dual consciousness", citing reinterpretations of the Bible to support the claim.

Please note that these are the stages of UTurns: From praise, to various degrees of digestion. This is why J. Krishnamurti has vanished from the scene as his ideas simply got digested. RK Mission in USA is largely consisting of old folks, because their meditation which had made them attractive to westerners some decades back is not digested into church sermons and programs thanks to people like Keating. Tantra is being digested into various forms of psychology and clinical therapy. Yoga become Christian Yoga. Vipassna becomes Mindfulness Meditation trademarked by jon-Kabat Zinn and turned into "Western medical breakthroughs". And so on - this is a very long list.

Here's what my own work has entailed:

The first frontier in the 1990s
was to point out the blatant Hinduphobia that was/is in the academy/media. At first our very own Hindu leaders did not understand this or want to understand it, as it was disruptive and inconvenient to them. But under consistent pressure from the Hindu public, now there are many persons protesting against Hinduphobia, and its top advocates face opposition from Hindus unlike before.

The second frontier was sharpened in "Breaking India", namely, that India is being subverted systematically by a combination of forces that see its dharmic foundation as the problem to eliminate. Initially people told me this message was too sensational. I had to settle for a small, unknown publisher. But today it is a best-seller as people have made their own observations and realized that these things are indeed happening right now.

The third frontier was BEING DIFFERENT's message that there is something IRREDUCIBLY DIFFERENT we must recognize and not negotiate away, and that this is the foundation for any identity, education, interfaith work or public posturing.

Now we must tackle the fourth frontier
: Here we have large numbers of our "leaders" going around promoting books, speakers, scholars, who praise Hinduism the way the tiger praises the deer he has invited to dinner. If you read the above article, its pro-digestion nuance should be clear though subtly presented. This article is meant to make people like us appreciate that the West has "adopted" the East - much like the pagan symbols, ideas, practices got adopted into Christianity. Full of praise for Hinduism's non-duality but also making clear that it is now becoming part and parcel of the Biblical history centrism."

Ashok asks:
"Am I the only one who gets anxious reading these messages?
Initially, I used to keenly await them and learned a lot. And I continue to do so. However, lately, I open these messages with some anxiety. The feeling of helplessness that one might feel while being swallowed up while paralysed but still conscious.
Is there nobody other than Rajivji fighting this? I'm sure the more learned in this group would know of what is being done to resist this digestion. If so, could we hear about some of that. For example, if there has been a response to this article, I would welcome seeing it..."

Rajiv comment:
"Thanks for your honest concerns. The fact is that most persons who feel they defend Hindu dharma are proud of being digested into the West. I dont want to name members here who invite and support authors and give funds to scholars who are in one of the following categories:
1) A digester
2) Praise other digesters, presenting it as "he loves Hinduism and took it to the West".
3) Understand the problem once I spend time to explain it to them. But WILL NOT FIGHT THE SYSTEM. I must end up doing the best I can to fight against mighty opponents.

Many of them in fact side with the other party in any dispute I might have..."

YB  adds: "RK Mission in USA is largely consisting of old folks, because their meditation which had made them attractive to westerners some decades back is not digested into church sermons and programs thanks to people like Keating." Should it read....."now digested......."

Rajiv comment: yes, thanks.

1 comment:

  1. I was initially thinking that, let them do puja to their GOD, after all we have so many millions of GODs the other GOD is going to be just +1 to the list. But I did fail to understand the ill thinking of these western fellows, who in history does not seem to have been for them selves..they have always been poking and stealing the wealth(in all forms) from India shamelessly and formulating it as their own and making rounds across the world. How can a civilized person do this? Does any one with a common sense approve such people as civilized? Not at all. So, I think, they must understand and acknowledge the usefullness they got from these things, instead of shamelessly telling it as their own.