About the book:
The exploration of consciousness is an ancient and unique specialization of Hindu spirituality which sees consciousness as the very ground and being of the entire universe. Consciousness is the key word for the Hindu mind and meditation is the main methodology to develop it. There is a new interest in spirituality today, evidenced by the popularity of Yoga and meditation worldwide but it appears as yet to be immature or naive. While one can find meditation camps, techniques and training methods, these seldom turn out people of deep insight. The reason is that true intelligence is always something that cannot be planned, orchestrated or mass-produced. On the other hand, many spiritual people, particularly of a devotional nature, are notably lacking in intellectual sophistication and sometimes miss out in common sense. They can be duped by claims of sainthood or spiritual realization, which are easy to make and difficult to verify. They are prone to uncritically accept anything that calls itself religion or mysticism. Without some positive development of the intellect, spiritual growth appears limited or one-sided, or at least mute. It easily gets lost, deceived or confused. We need a new order of spiritual thinkers - spiritual intellectuals if you will - who have the sophistication of thought but coming from a place of consciousness within, and who speak directly, not relying on the intellectual establishment. In this context the works of Ram Swarup are notably refreshing and revitalizing to the spirit. He is a good model of the type of higher thinker that we need in the world today. He demonstrates a remarkable combination of sharp intellectual clarity with deep spiritual insight and sensitivity. Ram Swarup presents us with a living example of a yogic thinker. His capacity for Vichara is wide and many-sided, embracing religion, philosophy and spirituality, often reminiscent of Sri Aurobindo, whom he admired. He shows the awakened Hindu mind in the global context, aware of the past and envisioning the future. It is not the India of British rule that he reflects but a new and perennial India as the teacher or guru of nations. Like his other works it covers a vast range of ideas. Ram Swarup's meditations begin characteristically with the Yoga system of Patanjali. He discusses Buddhist Yoga and mentions Buddhist practices relative to Patanjala Yoga. He speaks almost as if a master of Buddhism as well as Hindu Yoga approaches. Ram Swarup in writings has perhaps pioneered the new Hindu critique of other religions, particularly versus Christianity and Islam which still seek to convert Hindu India to their more own uniform creeds. He has removed the superficial attitude - all religions are good - and applied the Hindu mind, the awakened buddhi to this difficult task. After all, religion has not only ennobled people; it has also been the main cause of genocide. It has not only produced profound thoughts and insights, but also burned libraries, banned books and prevented its doctrines from being questioned. What kind of mental and psychic formation is behind religion that can harm us if we are not aware of its compulsions? Ram Swarup's discussion of the Gods is quite revolutionary in many ways. The danger of various Gods and Goddesses is a common subject in missionary theology that portrays the One God of monotheism as the only truth. Yet monotheism, with its intolerance and aggression, reflects the very lower emotional interests of human beings that its votaries like to descry in other Gods and Goddesses. Ram Swarup shows the danger of monotheism, not only for its social domination and authoritarianism that restricts individual freedom but also for its warping of the human psyche and turning religion into a force of aggression, if not vengeance. In this examination of religion, Ram Swarup functions like a master psychologist, aware not just of ordinary human limitations but also of the psychic and occult ramifications of our religious urges. Modern psychology is ignorant of the psychic power of religious beliefs and practices. Ram Swarup shows the psychic danger of misapplied religion and also the means to purify ourselves from their distortions. During his life, Ram Swarup openly and sincerely dialogued with liberal Christians and with Sufis, which communications are reflected in the present volume. While originally hoping that liberal Christianity and Sufism might offer an alternative to the prejudices of the orthodox, he eventually realized that they were just whitewashing religious intolerance with a thin coating of 'mysticism'. In all these discussions Ram Swarup is not offering any final word or last judgement. He is encouraging us to really examine the topics mentioned and find the truth for ourselves. Most importantly, his book stimulates a genuine Vichara or inquiry in its readers, taking them into a state of meditation that is not fanciful or abstract but clear and adaptable. It represents a revival of the Hindu mind and its gentle but firm analysis of life, through a discerning attention. Hopefully, other thinkers will continue his line of inquiry and take Ram Swarup's dynamic thoughts to the world at large. His legacy is bound to be large for the new world and new India that are about to emerge.