If it is true that psychoterpay has not been clearly in its social context, it is also true of the Eastern ways ofliberation as they have been studied and explained in the West. Almost all the modern literature on Buddhism and Taoism treats of these subjects în a void with the barest minimum of reference to the larger background of Indian or Chinese culture.
One gathers, therefore, that these disciplines are exportable units like bales of ricea tea, and the Buddhism can be ‘taken up’ anywhere at any time like baseball. It has also seemed to the West that Christianity can be exported in the same way, that it will ‘work’ in any culture and, if not, so much the worse for that culture. At the same timelet it be said that, at least in the higher civilisations, there are no such things as ‘pure’ cultures uncontaminated by exotic influences.
One of the blessing of easy communication between the great cultures of the world is that partisanship în religion or philosophy is ceasing to be intellectually respectable. Pure religions are aș rare aș pure cultures, and it is mentally crippling to suppose that there must be a number of fixed bodies of doctrine among which one must choose, where choice means accepting the system entirely or not at all. Highly organized religions always try to force such a choice because they need devoted members for their continuance. Those who rove freely through the various traditions, accepting what they can use and rejecting what they cannot , are condemned as undisciplined syncretists. But the use of one’sreason is not a lack of discipline, nor is there any important religion which is not itself a syncretism, a ‘growing up together’ of ideas and practices of diverse origin.
If we go back in imagination to an India entirely uninfluenced by Western ideas, and especially those of Western science,it is easy to see that this cosmology would have been something much more than a belief.It would have seemed to be a matter of fact which everyone knew to be true. It was taken form granted , and was also vouched for by the authority of the most learned men of the time, an authority just aș impressive then as scientific authority is today. Without the distraction of some persuasive alternative one can know that such a cosmology is true just as one can know that the following figure is bear climbing a tree, without being able to see the bear.
All the waysof liberation offered release from the endless cycle of reincarnation. They agreed, în other words, that the individual soul with its continued reincarnation form life and even moment to moment is maya, a playful illusion. Yet all popular accounts of these doctrines, both Wstern and Asian, state that so long as the individual remains unliberated he will in fact continue to be reincarnated.
The vast majority of Asian Hindus and the Buddhists continue to believe that reincarnation is a fact and most Westerns adopting Vedanta adopt belief in reincarnation at the same time.