|Many of us in the West are
bewildered by this religion we know of as "Hinduism". On one hand, we
see the various great yogis and sages of India. They speak of the highest spiritual knowledge and
appear to have attained states of consciousness far beyond what our western religions and philosophies
have even imagined. They exhibit a state of consciousness which transcends time, place, person,
culture, religion, race and all the biases of the human mind and ego.
They appear as cosmic beings who have
gone beyond the limitations of human life. These great yogis of India were the first of the eastern
teachers to come to the West and to teach meditation. They have also
been the first and most prominent to declare the unity of all religions
and to thereby move humanity in the direction of a global spiritual path. They have not sought
converts but rather have offered ways in which we can enhance our spiritual practice whatever our
religious belief may be or even if we do not have any at all.
Their freedom and openness in the spiritual realm we find
unparalleled in our experience of our own tradition and rare in other traditions
as well. On the other hand, we can also see the close-minded traditional ethnic Hindu, trapped in
caste and culture and addicted to worship of what appear to us as idols. Their narrow attitudes appear
opposite that of the great teachers. They appear hidebound in superstition. Through them we tend
to see Hinduism as an ethnic religion barred to us and perhaps out of place in the modern world.