09. Eastern Teachings

The Eastern teaching recognizes the fact that in order to attain to knowledge of the conscious self in the body, one must be freed from the illusions of the senses, and from the false thinking and action that result from failure to control one's own feelings and desires.

But it does not transcend the universal misconception that feeling is one of the senses of the body.

On the contrary, the teachers state that touch or feeling is a fifth sense; that desire is also of the body; and that both feeling and desire are things of nature in the body.

According to this hypothesis it is argued that the purusha, or atman, (the embodied doer, feeling-and-desire) must completely suppress feeling, and must utterly destroy, "kill out," desire.

In the light of what has been shown here concerning feeling-and-desire, it would seem that the teaching of the East is advising the impossible.

The indestructible immortal self in the body cannot destroy itself. If it were possible for the human body to go on living without feeling-and-desire, the body would be a mere insensible breathing-mechanism.

Aside from their misunderstanding of feeling-and-desire the Indian teachers give no evidence of having a knowledge or understanding of the Triune Self.

In the unexplained statement: "thou art that," it must be inferred that the "thou" who is addressed is the atman, the purusha—the individual embodied self; and that the "that" with which the "thou" is thus identified is the universal self, Brahman.

There is no distinction made between the doer and its body;

and likewise there is a corresponding failure to distinguish between the universal Brahman and universal nature.

Through the doctrine of a universal Brahman as the source and end of all embodied individual selves, untold millions of doers have been kept in ignorance of their real Selves;

and moreover have come to expect, even to aspire, to lose in the universal Brahman that which is the most precious thing that anyone can have: one's real identity, one's own individual great Self, among other individual immortal Selves.

Although it is clear that the Eastern philosophy tends to keep the doer attached to nature, and in ignorance of its real Self, it seems unreasonable and unlikely that these teachings could have been conceived in ignorance; that they could have been perpetuated with the intention of keeping people from the truth, and so in subjection.

Rather, it is very probable that the existing forms, however ancient they may be, are merely the vestigial remnants of a much older system that had descended from a civilization vanished and almost forgotten: a teaching that may have been truly
enlightening; that conceivably recognized feeling-and-desire as the immortal doer-in-the-body; that showed the doer the way to knowledge of its own real Self.

The general features of the existing forms suggest such a probability; and that in the course of the ages the original teaching imperceptibly gave way to the doctrine of a universal Brahman and the paradoxical doctrines that would do away with the immortal feeling-and-desire as something objectionable.

The Bhagavad Gita

There is a treasure that is not entirely hidden: The Bhagavad Gita, the most precious of India's jewels. It is India's pearl beyond price. The truths imparted by Krishna to Arjuna are sublime, beautiful, and everlasting.

But the far-off historical period in which the drama is set and involved, and the ancient Vedic doctrines in which its truths are veiled and shrouded, make it too difficult for us to understand what the characters Krishna and Arjuna are; how they are related to each other; what the office of each is to the other, in or out of the body.

The teaching in these justly venerated lines is full of meaning, and could be of great value.

But it is so mixed with and obscured by archaic theology and scriptural doctrines that its significance is almost entirely hidden, and its real value is accordingly depreciated.

Owing to the general lack of clearness in the Eastern philosophy, and the fact that it appears to be self-contradictory as a guide to knowledge of oneself in the body and of one's real Self, the ancient teaching of India seems to be doubtful and undependable.

One returns to the West.

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