I am currently exploring western reception of Indian philosophy through the centuries, specifically yoga, it’s reverberations with neo-vedanta and Indian nationalism, and historicistic beliefs in an uninterrupted yoga tradition.
Our culture has always been global. Resonances and cultural exchange has been a component of global cultures for a long time, as have interruptions, disappearances and resurfacing of old wisdom and folly. Modern Yoga with its psychophysical, denominational and purely physical practices is very much a product of amalgamation of western and eastern knowledge and tradition. And this is ok. It doesn’t invalidate an individual practice, or make it less significant for the spiritual development of the individual that the tradition dates back less than a century. Further I believe that our transnational amalgamation called Yoga is a valid path to inciting far reaching socio-economic change.
Insisting that Yoga as a practice dates back 5.000+ years of uninterrupted tradition, and is thus more valid than Abrahamic traditions, modernist scientific knowledge and other systems of understanding the world, as well as trying to force any insight, or fallacy, one has, or adopts into this corset of uninterrupted tradition, does a disservice to one’s own spiritual growth and understanding. Amalgamation, differentiation, interruption and discovery are all necessary to form a functioning understanding of the world, both as a culture and as an individual. Insisting that there is one ring to rule them all, figuratively speaking, and one that has been around for 5.000+ years at that, blinds one to the possibility of salvation in what is now.
Now is the right time, states the Lotus Sutra. I believe that our culture contains the possibility of giving us all the wisdom we need to live a life that is meaningful and human today. Some of it is already written, some of it we have to painstakingly discover, yet all of it is already there. Whatever wisdom we gain will be uniquely suited to our times. Those who come after will find their own wisdom, a new amalgam, partially using and partially rejecting what we have gathered and painstakingly making their own discoveries, to live their own meaningful and human lives.