Relevance of Eastern Philosophy in the West

Currently, as time permits, I am on the threshold of a discussion with a group of learned philosophers who have grouped together for several years now to discuss the philosophical treatise known as "The Metaphysics of Quality" proposed by Robert M Pirsig (popular for his book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance").

In the course of a discussion on that forum , I came across a reference to "Mystical traditions" and how Pirsig in his book had listed Shankaracharya along with Loyola, Plotnius et al as stalwarts of Philosophy and Mysticism.

One of the learned responses questioned the veracity of this claim, along with the suggestion that this list was that of "third-level bench warmers at best" (when it came to a qualitative list of Philosophers any holding whatsoever). Upon being questioned about his categorizing Shankara in this contemptuous indictment, he responded that "Since he is not an Eastern person, he doesn't really care to know about Eastern philosophy, thus Shankara doesn't amount to much in his opinion".

Those who might read Pirsig's only two books (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila — An inquiry into morals) will find his views on Indic philosophy is very confused. While he seems to have built a very strong metaphysical framework using Vedanta and Taoism as scaffolding, he also seems to be somehow condescending towards it (especially Indic philosophy). I feel that is inadvertent and a result of the chauvinism that is ever present and nascent in the West (perhaps even unbeknownst to those who perpetrate this bias).

So I got started thinking of Prof Balu (S N Balagangadhara) and his book "The heathen in his blindness" and suggested the group read it.

And also unearthed this beautiful interview on The Hindu nay but a few days old…



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