East Meets West

This book was created to provide you, the reader, with a clear and concise plan for choosing and attaining your goals. To accomplish this, we will combine traditional Western theories, ideas, and plans regarding the pursuit and attainment of our material goals and desires and the views and advice given on these matters by Eastern philosophers and spiritual teachers.

By "Western" I am referring to the use of the analytical and scientific methods and their application towards technological progress and innovation. This system has dominated Western culture since the industrial revolution and has created never-before-seen technological progress.


When referring to "Eastern" philosophies I am speaking of the spiritual philosophy and world view expounded by the great spiritual teachers and philosophers of the East. This book will draw from the teachings and writings of the Buddha, the Christ, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Radhakrishnan, and Rabindranath Tagore.

Modern Western culture predominantly focuses on the attainment of material gains and desire. The industrialized Western nations have been quite successful in this respect. Eastern cultures, especially India, have traditionally given more importance to inner, or spiritual, goals. Unfortunately, the methodology of the East has often been too vague and undefined for Western minds. To unite the philosophy of the East with the methodology of the West is the purpose of this writing.


This book is about success and motivation; getting what you want out of life. It is also about the untapped awareness and potential each of us can have access to. This awareness can radically change our perception of ourselves and life, and thereby affect our feelings regarding our life and goals.
One of the classics of American success and motivational philosophy is Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, written in 1937 after 20 years of research involving interviews with 504 of the most successful individuals of the Western world including businessmen, inventors, and presidents. This timeless work clearly defines the ingredients necessary for the attainment of one's desires. It offers the reader a plan and strategy for making a certain amount of money or securing a fulfilling, rewarding job. It also offers ways to cultivate positive self imagery and goal setting.

In essence, it offers the reader the skills and tools necessary to attain, quickly and effectively, one's desires for money and success. The book stresses a concept that was quite revolutionary in America in 1937: the importance of positive mental attitude and visualization in the attainment of one's desires. A focused and concentrated mind was recognized by Mr. Hill as being the single most important factor in successful people. He looked at situations that most people would have called "luck" or "chance" and saw that it was actually a mental attitude that created the outcome. He was one of the first Western analysts to recognize the incredible power of a focused, concentrated, and positive mindset.

These same principles, in various forms and disguises, are expounded upon by self-help and motivational speakers and authors to this day. Unfortunately, something is missing from this philosophy of success. Significant questions regarding the choice of goals and the effects and ramifications of various pursuits are not addressed. Also, mankind's potentialities are often severely underestimated. We often limit our awareness to material desires and neglect our spiritual possibilities.

The materialistic motivation which inspires much of our activity is never questioned. The words of Jesus offer a note of caution:

Therefore do not worry or say, what will we eat, or what will we drink, or with what will we be clothed?
For worldly people seek after all these things. Your Father in heaven knows that all of these things are also necessary for you.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all those things shall be added to you.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will look after itself. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

These Western theories regarding motivation and self-help always reference a deeper intelligence that provides a key ingredient in the attainment of one's desires. That intelligence is often called the subconscious, infinite love, intelligence, the creative force, or God. This aspect of the formula for success is often left unexplored. Eastern philosophy deals with this subject wonderfully and can provide us with a wealth of understanding regarding this mysterious aspect of life.

Choose a desire, fixate upon it and it will be yours. This is the attitude of many motivators. We are offered the secrets of success, but little account is taken of the interconnectedness of all life and the significance of each of our desires and actions.

My uneasiness with these philosophies and practices is that they do not adequately question the unbridled pursuit of desire or the deeper significance's of the pursuit. Look at America today and you can see the tragedy that results from the relentless pursuit of materialistic desire. At the same time, the West demonstrates a power and dynamism unknown to Eastern cultures, a power and dynamism that could be a great help to those nations.

Our scientific, rational understanding of the world has allowed us to create incredible technology and domination over nature. This has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. This analytical attitude toward life has also aided us in understanding the human body, although we have also lost much of our intuitive or holistic knowledge of health and healing. The scientific method has done little though when it comes to man understanding his place in this vast, mysterious world. We can analyze the distance of our solar system or the speed of light, but this knowledge has not brought us the peace of mind and heart possessed by many of the great spiritual teachers throughout history.

Eastern mystical and spiritual philosophy takes a sharply contrasting view from the Western scientific approach. Eastern philosophers and Western mystics, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, say that the only desires that can bring us true, abiding happiness — which is admittedly what we all truly seek — are either the desire for God, the infinite and eternal, or the desire for the cessation of all desires. This philosophy is based on the idea that desire arises from the sense of self, from our ego. We seek to satiate our sense of self and ego through our multifarious activities. This sense of self is based on separation and distinction. "Me" as separate from all else. Therefore, seeking satisfaction for "me" serves to strengthen a sense of isolation and separation. This sense of self becomes ever stronger and separates us from the rest of the world. We soon find ourselves living estranged from other people and the world around us. The resulting sense of isolation and loneliness causes inner pain and suffering for many people. Each time we do things for other people we counteract this activity. A feeling of completeness, or oneness with life, is lost soon after childhood as we seek happiness in primarily selfish and self-centered ways. The Buddha's 2500 year-old statement, "Desire is the root of all suffering," sums up these ideas.




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