Detachment from the Hindu philosophy

I’ve been doing some research and some thinking, and I am realizing that there isn’t any hope for me and Hindu philosophy. I have had trouble reconciling Hinduism with individualism, and I think the reason for this is because individualism is simply not present in Hindu philosophy.

The first reason for this is because of the obvious values of devotion to God and self-abnegation or self-sacrifice. Individualistic philosophies place emphasis on the individual, and thus the self. Hindu philosophy, meanwhile, values the surrender of the self to God, the abandoning of desire and want, and the cessation of the self and the idea of the individual, and Hindu rishis often describe individualism as a path that leads nowhere, thus marking what is actually anti-individualism. I find that Hinduism’s emphasis on this idea of self-surrender inescapable, as is their emphasis on God, and I can’t find any hope of bringing individualism into it.

Then you have the concept of Dharma. If Hinduism is not a religion, then it is a way of life based on this concept of Dharma, which is about duty (which I have traditionally seen as an artificial moral obligation imposed by others), drawing close to the family and family traditions, and thus family values (which I see as little more than social conservatism), and sacrifice. Again, I find this easily contradicts the spirit of individualism, since individualism is about you, yourself, and your freedom to walk your own path, as opposed to following society, thus it goes against any communal attitudes. I don’t follow the traditions of my family, I follow what I believe and for myself.

The fact is, individualism isn’t very big in Indian philosophy, or that matter many Eastern societies. In the West, we are quite familiar with individualism as a philosophy which values the individual as free to walk his own path (though this is not to say Western society has always valued the individual, or even honestly values the individual today), but many Eastern societies such as India and China valued family and clan more than the individual (China in particular traditionally values social harmony over the individual). In Indian society, there was much importance given to family and the group, only rarely did the individual take centre stage.

I still love Hindu mythology, lore, symbols, gods, and art, and still adore the force known to their culture as Shakti (which I find is related to the horned force, or the raw primal force, or Chaos), but I cannot subscribe to the Hindu philosophy and I cannot identify as Hindu. Ultimately I am a Satanist, and a pagan, because that is where my beliefs and philosophy lie, all I can do is venerate Hindu gods my own way, or in a much more pagan sense. And I like to think I still have a connection to the lore but not the philosophy. Although, I still have some interest in Tantra, and I have no major beef with Carvaka, despite its atheism and materialism (which I find to be rather dull especially for Indian philosophy).

Of course, it could be possible that those who wish to surrender themselves to a higher force simply have the wrong idea of how to approach the force of Shakti, as a dear friend of mine tells me.


29 responses to “Detachment from the Hindu philosophy

  1. Hello, by chance (I don´t believe in coincidences) I got to your post same day that you wrote it. Although you seem to have some deep knowledge in Hinduism, let me humbly tell you that I think that, unfortunately, you seem to have missed the most important points and in my view it is what exactly according to you is why you cannot stick to Hinduism anymore: the lack of scope for individual evolution in the Hindu philosophy. If there is something that attracted me from Hinduism, as a western with a catholic background, is that Hinduism always tells you “never believe in what I say only because I say it. Look for a personal experience and get convinced by yourself”. What it is comprised under the label “Hinduism”, as you may know is the widest range of philosophies from dualism to monism, from theism to atheism. I don´t want to give any proselytizing speech about Hinduism, but I honestly think that for your inner satisfaction, you should review some affirmations that you are doing relating to hinduism and that are mistaken. Dharma is not at all only duty. Dharma is a complex concept that you should understand deeply before dismissing it. I am afraid you are mistaking it for a puritanical behaviour, which is not at all. Another description of the many that dharma has, it is that it´s something absolutely natural, is the natural essence of the things, as they always say, the dharma of the sun is to shine, the dharma of the wáter is to make things wet, the dharma of the scorpion is to bite and introduce the venom.

    Also, I really thing you got it completely wrong when you said that indian philosophy tends to community and western help more the individual development. Where do you see that? It is just the contrary! Look:

    – East and Philosophies related to Sanatana Dharma: yoga, vedanta, tantra…whatever school you choose in Hinduism, it will ALWAYS encourage you to an INDIVIDUAL effort and individual spiritual practices for your spiritual evolution.
    -West and western philosophies always encourage you to belong to a flock, be it an specific style of fashion, or the belonging to a group in which all are and have to be alike, be it atheists, jews, muslims or christians.
    Dont see only appearances, go deeper and you will see with your inner eye. Western philosopies hardly can give you any of the real freedoms you seem to be looking for, you are mistaking the superficial for the core of the things.

    Something different is that the Ultimate Reality behind everything has all of us interconnected….so the spiritual work is personal but we are not apart ones from the others, with all the creatures of the Universe.

    I wrote all of this as a western that has found in Hinduism my source of happiness, that I still think you could get if you get to give another chance to hinduism, if possible from indian hindu sources, more reliable in general than the western sources that talk of Hinduism with sad vested interests. But for understanding it one has to definetly stop being a western mentally with a western framework and becoming an Eastern mind, no matter your ethnicity. You have to get completely into the other shoes, otherwise you miss important nuances quite different from the simplistic dualistic western mindset that we generally have. You have very near all the knowledge which, known properly, could give you so much inner satisfaction. Don´t miss this great opportunity!

    PS: Sorry for my lack of command in English. It is not my mother tongue.

    • Hmm, I may have some disagreements, but I simply cannot argue here. You make an interesting case, and you seem to be rather respectful about it too. I must ask though: if you’re right, then where might I start?

      • Well…OM…I´m not that knowledgeable, ok? But where might you start? In yourself: it´s obvious that you are a seeker. A seeker of what? For sure of knowledge, A seeker of individual independence, of freedom. And perhaps, you are looking also for your share of power. Any of the external philosopies will give you nothing of it but only if they tell you to look for it in yourself. Only when you find attuned with it is when you will get convinced by something, What I mean for it is: I assume you live in the West, so probably you have all the external freedoms possible (freedom “to”: to get things, to move freely, etc). So what may make you continue searching? That the real freedom you may be looking for is the inner freedom, the freedom “from” (from inner suffering, from uneasiness) (source, a very recommendable author: Rajiv Malhotra in his book Being Different). First, having clear in mind what one is looking for. In this book you may find some responses. For reading slowly, but clear point of the differences from the East and the West.

        By the way….seeing your nick…this writer says something quite interesting regarding to chaos: he says to the westerner: something like (better read it in his book) what you see as chaos is your lack of cognitive capacity for (lack of developed habit of doing it) of managing “parallel realities”, or several possibilities at the same time, like “it is but it is not, and is none of them, and it is something else. Everything in from of the same reality”, that like you may know in the hindu philosophy, nothing as “objective reality” exists by itself….that we can only see (and this I say) when we shift our framework for western to eastern…something that even many indians don´t do. Because many are very westernized.

        May be you may get something from Krishnamurti also…

      • According to my understanding, no. Many have tried to do it, but the moment you go deep in this philosophy (I am talking of Vedanta) you realise that west and east are, in this field, incompatible. As in many others. From the simple fact that in the west we live according to duality, according to a viewer and something viewed, a scene for instance, and the whole system is founded on it. And in Hinduism you as the viewer (the “real YOU”) are part of the object of your vision. In fact, without you the viewer, the object would not even exist. And the whole system is founded on this. So there is an almost opposite viewpoint to see the whole Cosmos. In my humble experience, definetely one has to make the shift boldly. Innerly, mostly. When you get convinced. And if you do.

  2. I, too, am struggling with Hinduism’s conception of (anti-)individualism (oh, and its distaste for forms and attributes). But it’s important to remember that Hinduism isn’t a monolith and, while advaita is the most common interpretation, there’s also dvaita, where devotees maintain some degree of individualism. There are some Hindus who believe in a polytheistic universe, where individuality is absolutely maintained. I’m not trying to sway your opinion either way. This is just the path I’ve been wandering and thought you might find it curious.

    I am primarily a Kemetic. Anything from Hinduism that doesn’t jive with Kemeticism doesn’t get integrated into my path. While that’s caused a few problems so far, it’s been workable overall. Since you’re primarily Satanist/pagan, that’s something to consider.

    As for Dharma, the belief is that when we put others first, we ultimately help ourselves. Of course, there are times when we have to act for our interests alone, and I doubt it would be adharma to do so. It’s more like a balance type of thing.

    • i really think is a misconception to consider that Hinduism conception is anti-individualist! It is much more individualist, specially in Advaita, than in dvaita, that it is more similar to the dualistic point of view of the west. Moreover, what can be more individualistic than a philosopy that tells you that you and only you (the real you) exists??? In the other dualistic conception, you are dependent on an “external” entity to which you adore (whoever it is). I really don´t have any problem with this view, even I have my own ishta devata. But keeping clear in mind that, for me, He is a relative form that depends on me which position it takes: I may take Him as the Final or I may see that He is a manifestation of some Greatest Power beyond…it will all depend on my moment of spiritual evolution…..and it will be truth….and false at the same time. 😉

      • Say, have you heard of the Shin Megami Tensei series of video games? Well in Shin Megami Tensei there are three paths one can take. Law (which stands for order and security at the cost of freedom and personal liberty), Chaos (which stands for individualism, freedom, and personal power), and Neutral (which stands for neither and often favours keeping things as they are). In Shin Megami Tensei 1, the Chaos faction is associated with not just Christian devils, but Hindu gods such as Shiva, Kali, Yama, and Agni. Look it up if you want.

      • No, I have not. But it sounds interesting… reminds me of the 3 gunas or qualities/tendencies present in everything the cosmos (including of course in the human beings) in the Samkhya philosophy: I would relate sattwa to Law…more or less; rajas would do to Chaos (passion, fire, activity, etc), and Tamas (passivity, rest, lazyness) to Neutral. They all exist combined in every thing pertaining to Nature (so in everything 🙂 ). The three qualities are necessary, because for example, even being tamas the less desirable of the three, if it didn´t exist, we would not be able to sleep.
        The aim for Moksha is getting to transcend the three of them. Once one is as much attuned to Nature as possible, finally one should trascend Nature itself. That is one of the things where I find that the western philosopies lack: they keep teaching how to keep spinning around in circles, but they don´t teach you how to do the final jump to the other shore. No boat to take you there in the impractical western philosopies. And that is what I found that one can find in the Dharmic traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikkhism and Jains).

        Of course, Hindu Gods are not under the dualistic view of God/Devil of the west. They include both the sides (“good” and “bad”) in themselves…so I guess that is why according to Vedanta…the aim is again trascending both the “good” and the “bad”, by trascending even the personal gods, either by seeing them a manifestation of the Ultimate, or considering them as part of the “relative reality” of Maya and going beyond.

        Being a saint in Hinduism is not being very, very good, like in the Abrahamic religions, but trascending both good or bad. This is not understandable from the western mindset. ;-)….perhaps that is why so many times western scholars relate hindu gods to demons. ;-)….they have got a very poor framework to classify the things they study!! 🙂

      • Even atheist scholars in the West are more influenced by Christianity that what they would like to recognise… :-). Denying or oppossing something like the mainstream atheists in the west do, is just the other side of the same coin….like centripetal forces strenghtening the same point (good boy-bad boy; rebellion-submission). Unless one trascends the two poles of the same duality planet…one can never fly further in the Cosmos 😉

      • No. Very little. When I started studying it, I didn´t attune with it. Although it is a clear Son of Hinduism, very wise philosophy and very deep as well…many similiraties, some important differences.

      • I don´t know….I don´t think so…it´s more of interdependences in the Universe, not spiritual essence but continuously changing…but I would try not to assume anything before researching on it. You could get many surprises!. Have to leave you for now. Good luck.

      • Are you talking in a figurative sense or thinking of creating a video game or something like that? In any case, I´m afraid I don´t have any idea on this…

      • I guess you could say both, since I do have ambitions pertaining to video games. But I’m sorry to hear you don’t have any idea on this. Thanks for saying it upfront though.

      • Sorry. But don´t worry. You will find somebody who can know, for sure. Do you know what? Never stop searching, but when you find something that really convinces you, stop, take a deep breath and deepen into it, focusing all your energies on that. At that very moment, leave the rest of philosopies apart (in terms of so much dedication) and enjoy what you find. Whatever it is, as long as it makes you contented and doesn´t harm others. That´s, in my humble experience, the way of getting the most from life for us, seekers. But as I told you at the beginning “never believe what I say, only because I (or anybody else) says it. Look for a personal knowledge and experience, and when you get convinced, go ahead in it.”.

      • Be patient. Things take their own course and not the one we want ;-). Reach up to your limit, but at the same time know your limitations, external and internal, starting for that we cannot get more of 24 hours in a day. We have only one mind, no matter how intelligent yours obviously is, but still is one!. There is nothing bad in knowing oneself, with weaknesses and strengths, moreover if we want to be greater. That moment will arrive, for sure, in which you will focus more on something concrete. Meanwhile….I still say, give another opportunity from reliable sources to eastern philosopies: they provide concrete techniques to bring philosopy to daily life. And you don´t need to believe in anything but in yourself and a desire to get out the best of yourself. Give it time to digest after swallowing.
        Look inside, we are truely a microcosmos that may fascinate you more than any theory imposed from outside.

        If you have any other question in which you think I can help, just let me know. But know the path is individual and nothing will convince unless we experience it.

      • Interesting comment though.

        Tell you what. I’d say look up the series and look up the entities in the Law, Chaos, and Neutral alignments. Perhaps you might pick up something interesting from it.

    • Sorry, I forgot to say that Dharma is absolutely contextual. It is not fixed as a set of morals of what is “good” and what is “bad”. If you read the shastras, you will see apparent contradictions among them. But there are not contradictions but adjusting to the context in which, sometimes seeing for one´s interest, might be the more dharmic thing to do. But for knowing how to act according to the context, the focus is NOT on morals, but in viveka, clear discrimination. Knowledge. Again please, Dharma is NOT puritanical morals at all…though some people…or many…may have distorted it to be sort of this (british colonization carried to India its puritanical viewpoint of life, and that left some impression in many minds, etc). Again, source: my understanding of the book Being Different that I talk of above.

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