You Can Have What You Want:
(Huston Smith's interpretation of the fundamental meaning of Hinduism)
1) Pleasure
  • "If pleasure is what you want, seek it intelligently"
  • Pleasure is viewed as a positive, legitimate desire in Hinduism
  • However, it does not satisfy completely b/c it is too privatized and fleeting

  • 2) Worldly Success
  • Wealth, fame, and power
  • Like pleasure, worldly success is also viewed as a positive desire
  • However, it likewise does not completely satisfy for the following reasons:
  •  1.  Competitive and Precarious (One's success come's at the expense of anothers)
  •  2.  Insatiable  ("Poverty consists not in the decrease of one's possessions, but in   the increase of one's greed")
  •  3.  Self-Centered
  •  4.  Ephemeral

  • 3) Duty/Service
  • Allows for respect and gratitude
  • However, it is also limited b/c community is finite, and no matter how dutiful you are, the community can never be perfected, duty can never be finally fulfilled or satisfied.

  • 4) Liberation
  • The true and ultimate desire of all human beings
  • Absolute Being, Absolute Knowledge, Absolute Joy



    [The first two paths (Pleasure and Worldly Success) are Paths of Desire.  The second two are Paths of Renunciation.]

    Life's Fundamental Limitations:
    1) Limitations on Joy

  • Physical Pain (can be remedied through medicine and science)
  • Frustrated Desire/Psychological Pain  (can be remedied through detachment from desire)
  • Boredom/Spiritual Pain

  • 2) Ignorance
  • Can be remedied through wisdom ("knowing of That the knowledge of which brings knowledge of everything")

  • 3) Finitude/Restricted Being
  • Can be remedied by moving beyond our fixation on the present

  • Four Paths of Yoga:
    (Religion treated not as a belief, but as a technique)
    Yoga -- "method of training designed to lead to integration or union"

  • 1st Step is to cleanse oneself of impurities
  • 2nd Step is to cultivate habits such as non-injury, truthfulness, non-stealing, self-control, cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline,  compelling desire.

  • 1) Jnana Yoga (knowledge)
  • the path to oneness with the Godhead through knowledge
  • an intuitive discernment that transforms the knower ("to know the good is to do the good")
  • Key = Discrimination
  •  1. Learning factual truth
  •  2. Thinking -- move from factual truth to reflective truth, from concept to    realization
  •  3. Detachment -- to distinguish between the infinite self (atman) and the transient finite self; to move from self-identification and self-concern to    identification with Being as a whole, and a concern for All

  • 2) Bhakti Yoga (Love)
  • the path to the Godhead through Love
  • the most popular of the four paths of Yoga
  • powered by the emotions rather than reason
  • Begins with the insistence on God's otherness or transcendence
  • Goal is not identification with the Godhead (as in Jnana Yoga), but adoration of God
  • God is thought of not as an impersonal ground of Being or as a concept, but instead, as being personal with distinct attributes
  • Two General Approaches of Bhakti Yoga:
  •  1. Japam -- the meditative practice of repeating God's name
  •  2. Ishta -- adopted a form or particular embodiment of the divine

  • 3) Karma Yoga (Work)
  • the path to the Godhead through work

  • 4) Raja Yoga (Psychophysical)
  • "the royal road to reintegration"
  • practicing prescribed mental exercises and observing their subjective/spiritual effects
  • Eight Steps
  • 1. Five Abstentions (injury, lying, stealing, sensuality, greed)
  • 2. Five Observances (cleanliness, contentment, self-control, studiousness,contemplation)
  • 3. Asanas (postures) -- for example, the lotus position
  • 4. Mastery of Respiration
  • 5. No Sense Bombardments
  • 6. Concentration (to focus the mind on one thing only)
  • 7. Meditation (the duality of the knower and the known, or of the subject and the  object is resolved into a complete unity)
  • 8. Samadhi (complete absorption into God, all forms pass away, to think no-thing)

  • Four Stages of Life:
    1. Student
    2. Householder
    3. Retirement
    4. Sannyasin
    Four Castes in Society:
    1. Brahmins (seers) -- intellectual and spiritual leaders
    2. Kshatriyas -- administrators
    3. Vaishyas -- producers and workers
    4. Shudras -- followers or servants  [Untouchables]

    Hindu 'Theology':
  • 1st Rule:  to learn what to leave out (neti . . . neti)
  • Brahman -- Hindu name for the supreme reality
  • Nirguna Brahman -- God without attributes
  • Saguna Brahman -- God with attributes
  • Brahma -- Creator God
  • Vishnu -- Preserver God
  • Shiva -- Destroyer God



    Hindu Anthropology:

  • Jiva -- individual soul
  • Body is thought of as a garment or a shelter ("Worn-out garments are shed by the body; worn-out bodies are shed by the dweller")
  • Samsara -- reincarnation, transmigration of the soul
  • Karma -- moral law of cause and effect; the absolute governing principle in both
  •  spiritual and material matters
  •  1. Complete Moral Responsibility -- everyone gets exactly what they deserve
  •  2. No such thing as Luck or Chance
  • Atman -- the animating force within each individual



    Hindu Cosmology:

    1. Just World ruled by Karma
    2. Middle World -- training ground for human spirit
    3. Metaphysically world is not self-existent, world is grounded in a more fundamental reality
    4. Maya -- world is illusory
    5. Lila -- world is play