SRV Outreach

Babaji at Eastern Wyoming College

Last October Babaji was invited to speak at Eastern Wyoming College, a two year college in Torrington, WY, over a period of four days.  This unusual opportunity was made possible by the enthusiastic effort of our sangha brother Tadrupa, a mathematics professor there, and a grant from the local Humanities Council.  What made this an unusual opportunity is that Babaji was invited to speak not only at religion and philosophy classes but also in biology, history, psychology, government, public speaking, sociology, communications, and the debate club.  Later in the week, he also gave a lunch time talk on Unity and Diversity and ended the entire series with an evening presentation of music and teachings for the public. A total of 16 talks were given during the visit.

The razor-edged line that Babaji walked in this secular setting was that of presenting Indian philosophy, cosmology, and the higher moral/ethical plateau of dharma to an audience that was not prepared for such a radical shift of perspective.  Babaji sought to open minds to another view by using the dharmic and nondual teachings of Christ, but less than a handful of students showed any recognition or understanding of these.  Thus, his tact turned to using the philosophical power of Vedanta to shock students out of a complacent and conventional world view.  It was not comfortable, definitely not easy, and not known if any minds were actually opened.  As one might expect, the reception to the teachings was mixed, with some, such as the religion professor and communications instructor, praising the effort.  Others found the discourses controversial.

classIn the West, religion, science, and philosophy have been kept separated for hundreds of years through fear of excommunication and death early on, then  by politics, suspicion, and apathy in our own days.  It is inconceivable for people raised in dogmatic religion and dogmatic science that there can be harmony between the two; that there can be science and metaphysics without pitting them against each other.  Studying matter does not negate existence beyond matter and metaphysics does not rule out physics.  Why shouldn’t philosophy be able to propose an ultimate Reality – a ground of existence – with methods of logic and practice without being presumed to be only another form of superstitious religion?  

This is why Vedanta is so important, and why Swami Vivekananda chose it above all other systems he inspected deeply to bring to the West.  Vedanta, with its vast sweep of perspectives founded on Advaita, nonduality, accounts for and systematizes the gross, subtle, and causal states of existence.  Only with a comprehensive system of thought like this can all branches of human expression, exploration, and experience, be harmonized, and then transcended.  Take, for example, the dharma teaching of the Five Akashas — the five space/dimensions of gross particles, pranic particles, thought particles, Intelligent particles, and finally Chidakasha, the space of pure, particle-less (amatra) Reality in which all the others abide — this teaching alone would harmonize science, religion, and philosophy for those who contemplated it with an open mind. Yet, the entrenched idea that science, philosophy, and religion cannot be simultaneously accepted stands as a major obstacle to that openness of mind.

Thus, echoing Swami Sarvananda’s translation of the famous verse from the Svetashvatara Upanisad:  “Practicing the method of meditation, they realized that Being who is the God of religion, the Self of philosophy, and the Energy of science…..,” Babaji kindled the light of Dharma in one of the houses of academia in the Midwest.  Will any catch fire?