Humility is a despicable vice

1. Christianity (to some extent Judaism), presented an idea, unknown to the world in which it grew, namely the Pagan world of Rome. The idea was that human beings are creatures of God and that they belonged to His domain. He was the dominus or the Lord of the domain. As a result, human beings should not be arrogant, but must be humble instead. (As the ‘Book of Job’ in the Old Testament makes it clear, there is a very heavy price to be paid for arrogance.) Here, it belonged to the opposite spectrum in Ancient thought, which saw arrogance as a moral virtue and humility as a despicable vice. Protestant Christianity, especially Luther and Calvin, very forcefully propagated this idea: Man was a sinner, worse than the lowest worm, because of which God’s Grace becomes unfathomable and ungraspable.

2. This Christianity hated paganism. ‘Hinduism’, as a pagan religion, is universally hated by those who have embraced Christian thinking, even in its secular guise. That is the reason why the Protestants, and Catholics in their wake, were and are so positive about ‘Buddhism’: the Buddha became the Indian Luther who fought ‘Hinduism’. The so-called ‘thinkers’ in the US, for instance, uniformly hate ‘Hinduism’ and are sympathetic to Buddhism. (If you look at the RISA group of the AAR, you will see this hatred expressed very clearly.) Ambedkar, that insignificant man, and the Ambedkarites, who have transformed this intellectual pygmy into God, embrace this Christian hatred in its entirety. They are also the darlings of the RISA people ( I know of no exception here) in both the US and elsewhere because of this reason. I have found no other group that hates ‘Hinduism’ as much as the members of ‘Hinduism Unit’ of the AAR. I should know; I was the co-chair of this unit for 4 years. Now, I am neither a member of the AAR nor attend their silly circus, which is their annual meeting. Indians simply lick up to these AAR people and thump on tables every now and then to ‘prove’ their independence. None of them know how the US academics talk about them in their absence, nor do they realize that they are not at all taken seriously. However, these Indians know that “money does not smell”. They have, therefore, no problems with their masters as long as they are paid well and regularly.

3. This Christianity, in order partially to discredit Judaism, spoke of ‘love’ and ‘humility’ in exaggerated terms. Jesus was the embodiment of ‘love’ and Christians should embody ‘humility’. Because of the hatred and the sympathies I spoke about, this ‘property’ was attributed to the Buddha: apparently he was humble and radiated love towards all. (His notions of ‘Karuna’ and ‘Maitri’ were pressed into service here.) Of course, this praise is strictly limited to the Buddha. Vasistha, Visvamitra, Durvasa, Jamadagni, etc. have no role to play in this way of talking.

4. Indians took over this entire story hook, line and sinker. ‘Vinaya’ becomes humility and every one preaches this message of universal love and maximal humility. Most Indian god-men (I reserve the use of this word to the fake guru’s in India) sell this everywhere. Understandable. They too seek fame, money and following. Some, perhaps, even seek free sex. This gets coupled to ‘political correctness’, which is destroying intellectual integrity, love and passion for truth and knowledge, intolerance towards dissimulation etc. The resulting cocktail is deadly.

5. In this forum, I was preached about ‘humility’ and how the ‘enlightened’ behave. Mr X ‘humbly’ breast-beats about his ‘roots’, the way Rajiv does breast beating as a ‘sadhaka’ of Adhytma. Obviously, they do not even know elementary things about ‘Hinduism’, including the notion that breast beating expresses your attachment to ‘the Ego’. Mr X, whose roots in Indian culture are as deep as his attachment to his ego, does not seem to realize that we know of no rishis, who were ‘humble’. Vishvamitra got offended by Indra and went into a rage and decided to build three worlds; Durvasa is known for his anger and Shapa; neither Vasistha nor Jamadagni are known for their humility. Draupadi was terrified of Durvasa and you all know how she got the ‘akshaya patra’. I suppose these people were also enlightened. In that case, why their rage or the way they humiliated their opponents, kings and ordinary men? How do we know that Buddha did not humiliate his opponents? All Mr X has to go with is his guru and his words. That is fine with me. But, then, I need examples of such humble enlightened people from ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Buddhism’ or any other Indian traditions. I need to have many examples and they must vastly outnumber others. Only then does it become buyable. Was guru Nanak a ‘humble’ man? And Shankara, or Ramanuja or Madhva? How could Indians use this concept to describe these people, when no Indian language has a word for it?

6. And then some people hold forth here, expressing their erudition. Sanskrit words abound, this or that post is written that tells us how some guru or another says something different or how ‘kalyana’ is a property of Brahman and about purusha and prakriti and so on. The question is: why are these things relevant? I am building a hypothesis about enlightenment and that makes use of my language from the 21st century. I am not commenting on any of these gurus. Those who have written on this made use of languages of their time. Further, even though they grappled very hard, they could not formulate certain thoughts because they did not have access to the theories and languages that I have. Furthermore, I do not claim (a silly claim, as far as I am concerned) that my hypotheses will show that everything they said is ‘true’. In the nature of things, it cannot be done scientifically. It is highly probable that I can show that many of them spoke nonsense in many of their writings. My only burden is to propose cognitive hypotheses that make their mistakes appear reasonable. For instance, I can already show that some things that some Upanishads say; some commentaries of Shankara on the Brahma Sutra; some formulations in the Brahma Sutra itself, etc. are nonsensical, to put it mildly. I can already show why they are nonsense. I have yet to figure out appropriate hypotheses required to explain them or prove them. In short: by simply pointing out what Ramanuja says or what Shankara says, as though such remarks are criticisms of my hypotheses, one is wasting my time. I am not a follower of any of these people, including the Buddha. The only thing that I can and will do is this: propose a set of coherent hypotheses that will capture their basic concerns and derive their different answers from these without ad hoc modifications. It is in the nature of things that I cannot derive all their positions. Some will escape the net. However, we do know that this is inevitable: the discussions about ‘incommensurability of theories’ have shown this over and over again. Very simply put: I am doing science and not translating or defending this or that guru from the past or the present. My relationship to Indian culture is based on four decades of intense scientific research. I am not nor have I ever been a nationalist. I love, admire and respect Indian culture because of what it has brought forth, but not because I am a ‘Hindu’.

7. My piece on enlightenment was an attempt at capturing an experience that is neither fleeting nor induced by drugs. I live that experience; not just everyday but every minute including in the dream state. I cannot get rid of the way I experience the world. I use the word ‘enlightenment’ because I know of no other word that is as close to communicating that experience to others. I do not know whether I am enlightened. Nor do I care whether other recognize me as an enlightened person. All I can say is this: like all human beings, I too seek happiness or Ananda. I have found it because I see that I am that happiness. Actually, there is nothing to search for, when you are what you search. But the strange thing is that, somehow, a fruitless search is a precondition to finding what cannot be found through such a search.

8. I am reading what Indian adhyatmins have written about this entire process only because it sheds light on my experience and allows me to reflect about it and, hopefully, help me teach those whom I can teach. However, in some aspects, I know that I will go far beyond what they have written. Not because I am ‘better’ than they are but because I can access things they could not. I am born to a period which equips me differently than they. In other aspects, I sense their depth. I am not sure I can capture that depth adequately. Today, in any case, I cannot.

To sum up: if people want to learn, they better develop the required attitude. Without that, no learning is possible. It matters nothing to me whether or not I repeat a Shankara or a Ramanuja.

Humilitas: Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership’s author John Dickson talks about Christianity, humility and the Ancient world .]


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