891. East Meets West, Between And Beyond
A prevailing prejudice in Western circles about 'Buddhism' finds its expression in the generality that Buddhism would be an 'Eastern Religion'.

The proponents of such a viewpoint usually imply that a 'Westerner' would not be able to successfully 'practice' such a 'religion'.

Now, for the purposes of awakening from the dream(s) of life, it does not matter whatsoever which way exactly this awakening is coming about - all what matters is _that_ it actually happens.

It seems superfluos to add that it is even _less_ important _how_ this happening or way is _called_.

Nevertheless, a few thoughts about 'Eastern' and 'Western' paradigms can be helpful in sorting out the territory of the mind and can provide some important structural clues.

Ironically, Gotamo Siddharto, the 'Buddha', was a member of a 'noble' family, and, within the emerging system of casts in his time, he normally would have become a 'Brahman' priest if he would not have gone a truly 'revolutionary' path.

Accordingly, he called himself an 'Ariyan' (Pali: ariyaa), he  called his teachings 'dhammaa ariyaa' (lit. the 'Ariyan Thing' ), and his basic propositions are the 'Four Ariyan Truths', commonly translated as the 'Four Noble Truths'.

Before Hitler and the Ku-Klux-Klan, the word 'Ar-yan' usually described the tribes that are theorized to have descended from the Caucasus in ancient times and spread out over Northern Indian, pushing the native Dravidians towards the South. Whether this theory is true or not, Gotamo Siddharto was indoubtely a Caucasian since the Dravidians were Caucasians, too. 

Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary offers the following: "Ar-yan, Arian (Sans. ar-ya, lord, master, aarya, a tribal name, akin to OPer. ariya, a tribal name)..." and then adds the fine print: "Ar-yan has no validity as a racial term, although it has been so used, notoriously by the Nazis to mean 'a Caucasian of non-Jewish descent," etc. The use of the word in connection with race is due to the idea, regarded by most ethnologists as false, that peoples who spoke the same or related languages must have had a common racial origin. Misuse of Ar-yan has led to its replacement in scientific discussions by "Indo-European'..."

In Gotamo's times, the use of the language Sanskrit was restricted exclusively to Brahman families and his use of the local dialect 'Pali' was an expression of his view that 'awakening' is utterly independent of any racial or cultural aspects.

Again, no matter how words and names are twisted to fit them into the political correctness of whatever direction, Gotamo Siddharto was beyond any doubt a Caucasian who claimed that race, gender, age, and language are of no relevance whatsoever in the successful pursuit of individual liberation.

Now, if one looks towards the East, the Chinese history of philosophy offers the extremes of the teachings of Confuzius and Lao Tze - the extremes of total rationalism and total intuition.

In short, the entire 'Eastern/Western' pseudo paradigm falls apart wherever one cares and dares to look more closely.

Gotamo himself posited that _both_ ways, pure rationalism and pure intuition, can lead to awakening with the restriction that only pure rationalism can be gone by
_everyone_ and that 'pure intuition' depended on individual properties that, when not present, may not yield success.

In the end, at or near total liberation of the Being, both ways merge, however, and in praxis, a combination of both ways, another aspect of Gotamo's 'Middle Path', seems to be the most promising approach.

'Religion' comes from Latin re-ligere, lit. 'leaning back'.  In this sense it means 'finding one's own origin' or 'coming back to one's wholeness'. The word 'religion' is sparingly used in this book because it has been equated with God-centered
approaches that are solidly based on tight and usually suppressive social constructs called 'Churches'.

Likewise, the word 'meditation' is rarely used in this  'Little Purple Notebook' (except here of course). The reasoning for this is that the word 'meditation' is being used to denote about _everything_ that is different from daily routine and has thus become a meaningless tautology, a word that can mean anything or nothing at all.

Using the phrase 'I was meditating' doesn't express _what_ one was _doing_. It is like answering to the question of 'what did you today?' by saying 'I was living the entire day!'.

Mingled into the East/West pseudo paradigm is yet another very important and easily undervalued or unrecognized aspect: the dichotomy of goal-orientated and process-orientated approaches.

The goal-oriented approach expects immediate and unmistakable results. It is an either-or, yes/no approach that does not accept gradual results over time.

So-called 'Eastern Wisdom' appears to prefer the process-oriented way of making small changes to steer a process into the wanted direction.

A good example has been given by Buckminster Fuller: a ship may weigh hundreds or thousands of tons. When it is moving in water, the inertia of such a ship would require equal or larger amounts of force to change its direction using the goal-oriented approach. A human would be crushed in the slightest attempt of trying to change its course with raw force.

However, as Bucky explains in his 'trimtab paradigm', a minor  change of the trimming of the rudder of such a (moving!) ship will ultimately change the course of the entire ship, as large and heavy as it may be.

In this approach, characterics of the process itself are used to change something _over time_. Such an approach requires obviously patience, foresight, and knowledge of the process itself.

While the goal-oriented approach easily leads to 'just fixing  symptoms', the process-orientation looks at the underlying conditions  for the existence of a phenomenon and, by changing those conditions, changes the outcome of the entire process in the future.

While Gotamo's overall approach was clearly process-oriented (cp. the chapter 'Arising Dependent on Conditions' vs 'Cause & Effect'), this doesn't mean that goal-oriented approaches could not be employed in any of the series of processes leading to liberation.

Here again, a 'wise' combination of both, a 'Middle Path', can be the most effective means.

What counts in the end, however, is not the exact route that was taken, but that it was taken at all. It means that one 'has gone the way' (Pali: 'Tathagato').

Which was the reason that the man who is now called the 'Buddha'  refused to be called any names whatsoever except 'Tathagato- having  gone that way'.

In short, let's not get fixated on names, descriptions, or verbal explanations!

Let's not crash into the road signs, but just simply drive home!

Copyleft © 1998 by Maximilian J. Sandor, Ph.D.