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preface Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras (c. 200 CE), the classical statement of Eastern Yoga, are foundational for Hindu, Jaina, and Buddhist theology, philosophy, and spiritual practice. This book explores the fundamental contribution of Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras to the philosophy of language and theology of revelation of Bhartr .hari (c. 600 CE) in part I, and in part II analyzes where Western psychology (Freud, Jung, and Transpersonalists such as Washburn, Tart, and Ornstein) have been influenced by or reject Patañjali ’s Yoga. The part II analysis results in a key insight, namely, that there is a crucial difference between Eastern and Western thought with regard to how limited or perfectible human nature is—the West maintaining that we as humans are psychologically , philosophically, and theologically limited or flawed in nature and thus not perfectible, while Patañjali’s Yoga (and Eastern thought generally) maintains the opposite . Indeed, for Yoga and the East, we will be reborn over and over until, through our yogic religious practice, we overcome our finite limitations, such as individual egos, and achieve union with the divine. Different Western responses to this Eastern claim are detailed in part II from complete rejection by Freud, Jung, and John Hick to varying degrees of acceptance by transpersonal psychologists such as Washburn, Tart, and Ornstein. The lines of analysis in parts I and II have been gradually maturing over the past twenty years. The argument in part I that Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras were fundamental to Bhartr .hari’s philosophy of language did not appear in my earlier books on that topic—The Sphota Theory of Language, Motilal Banarsidass, 1980, 1986, 1990, 1996, and The Philosophy of the Grammarians, Princeton University Press, 1990— because I was not completely sure of my scholarship on the point. My thinking was tested out in two early chapters of a 1976 Twayne book on Bhartr .hari that remained relatively obscure, circulating mainly among literature of India scholars. My thinking was further developed and tested in a 1985 article published in the Indian Philosophical Quarterly, which is little known outside India. As a result of feedback from these earlier publications and some revision, I am now confident of my scholarship on Patañjali’s Yoga contributions to Bhartr .hari, which I have put together comix pletely for the first time in part I. Chapters 3 and 4 are based on chapters 1 and 2 in my book Bhartr .hari © 1976 G.K. Hall. In part II, my thinking on how Patañjali’s Yoga has influenced Western psychology, and how a fundamental disagreement about human nature has appeared through that analysis, has developed and been tested in articles published in Philosophy East andWest, a chapter from my SUNY book (Jung and Eastern Thought, 1985), and a new chapter on the transpersonal psychologists. All of this writing has been reworked a couple of times to highlight the major point of difference between Patañjali’s Yoga and Western thinking on the limits of human nature—an insight which has only gradually clarified itself in my thinking but which I am now ready to engage fully. That this point, central to part II, is timely is evidenced by John Hick’s most recent book, The Fifth Dimension: An Exploration of the Spiritual Realm (Oneworld, 1999) in which he devotes chapters 15 and 16 to dismissing Eastern claims of union with the divine as “metaphorical” rather than “literal” in nature. In my view, this is an unfair reductionism of Eastern claims, which are also shared by some Western mystics, by taking Kant’s view of the limits of human nature and experience to be absolute. My position is that good comparative scholarship requires that we examine such claims within the presuppositions of their own worldviews, and that there is no “theological or philosophical helicopter” that will get us above all biases or presuppositions so as to determine which are absolute or right and which are wrong. Therefore, as scholars we must remain critical but open. It is this debate that is at the root of the disagreement as to the limits of human nature between Yoga and Western psychology, philosophy, and theology. Taken together, parts I and II represent a culmination of my thinking on the significance of Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras over the past 25 years. It is the Yoga book I have wanted to write since I spent two years in Banaras (Varanasi) in 1972 and 1973...


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Subject Headings

  • Psychology and religion.
  • Yoga.
  • East and West.
  • Patañjali. Yogasūtra.
  • Jung, C. G. (Carl Gustav), 1875-1961.
  • Freud, Sigmund, -- 1856-1939.
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