Oriental Osmosis of Occidental – Part (3)
Under the veneer of Westernization, the cultures of the Indian world – which have existed for 30,000 years – continue to live, sometimes in a magical way, sometimes in the shadows…
– Carlos Fuentes
Irony of parity; “The equality in East is equality in poverty”. Agriculture everywhere is seasonal occupation with days where there is nothing to do except watch the crops and the animals grow. In addition with its overwhelming cereal farming there are long periods of utter idleness. But in West, the mixed farming with its superimposition of the rhythm of mechanization upon that of the ripening of grain and animal husbandry, leisure has often been mechanically managed. The Korean farmer worked only 100 days; the Japanese 140 days and five months of idleness was common in the Deccan. The relative idleness might have advantage for the people who could use their leisure in sailing or hunting. But the Asian peasants often lived far from the hills or the sea, the rice fields stretching to the horizon.
They lived on a diet lacking in variety and protein with insufficient surplus energy for politics or sports. Life was appallingly lackluster. The difference in background got reflected in political and social life but above all in religion. Where life is colourful, religion can be trivial but where life is appallingly droning religion becomes intense. Without the curry, the boiled rice can be very dull indeed.
The philosophy of Eastern culture has been generally understood by Western scholars in myriad ways…. as mystical, unscientific, autocratic and polytheistic. On the other hand the philosophy of Western culture has a contradictory manifestation… as scientific, rational, humanitarian and monotheistic.
Practically speaking the ideological difference is that the Eastern people care more about what they can do for mankind whereas the Western care more about what they can do for me, the individual. One of the biggest questions in the West is “what good will it do to me?” The West has the idea that if it does not do themselves any good that it is not worth doing. The West is so individualized. Customarily, the East think about others, and they think about how it will affect the society and the world. For instance, the West predominantly had a belief that teaching is not a good profession because it does not pay well enough. Again, they are thinking of themselves and what a profession will do for them and not for others. The Eastern philosophy is so much more meaningful as they have an intrinsic altruistic motive… Krishna’s advice to Arjuna “Do your Work, don’t worry about the Results”. Till the recent past they had the belief that teaching was one of the best professions to have, primarily because it is helping others to learn and make their future better. Probably in the last couple of decades have been influenced by the West and has undergone an unwarranted transformation.
Succinctly, speaking the evolutionary path of Western races has consciousness centered predominantly in the head, favouring an intellectuallydominated attitude with an objective focus. The evolutionary path of Eastern races has consciousness balancing head and heart, though a tilt existed towards the heart favouring an emotionally dominated attitude with a subjective focus.
However, there exist some glaring incongruity in what East-West philosophically preaches and what they pragmatically practice. The Muslim immigrants and the traditional French citizens have sparked a skirmish over issues as small as school dress codes and as large as the popularity of the National Front. In Turkey the tensions between the forces of modernity and tradition have flared up over minor aspects. In India, right-wing Hindu activists are not in alignment with Christians and there is a perennial battle with Muslim. In Iran the struggle between Islam and Western secularism is being waged over the Internet. In Pakistan & India “true love” fights with a long tradition of arranged marriages. In the UAE drug and alcohol are leading to an alarming increase in disharmony in family.
Cultural groups tend to see these issues in black or white. Unfortunately, what is white to one group is black to another.