How do the East and the West regard Indian spirituality? The Discovery philosophers discuss 《Discovery》兩位哲學家討論東方與西方如何看待印度的靈性修行傳統


In February 1968, The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh in northern India to study transcendental meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. As a symbol of the West’s fascination with India, it’s hard to beat the image of the rich, famous and hedonistic rock stars seeking simplicity and spirituality – trailed by wives, girlfriends, assistants and the press.

Ever since the 1960s, perhaps earlier, India has represented to the West everything it believes it is not. In essence, the West is materialistic and India spiritual. New York is as lacking in soul as New Delhi is rich in it. When Westerners find themselves financially comfortable but existentially empty, it is to India that they turn for an alternative.

More often than not, however, these seekers find it harder to leave behind their Western values than they expect. Like The Beatles’ entourage, individualism follows them into the ashram. I found myself thinking this when I visited the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment in Bodh Gaya in the state of Bihar. Most of the visitors were in groups from other Buddhist countries, all dressed alike. The few Westerners came alone and very much retained their individual styles. I saw one woman crosslegged with nicely done hair and stylish clothes. Another man sat meditating with sunglasses on, an accessory no one else with closed eyes felt necessary. If one aim of meditation is to dissolve the ego, they brought plenty to work on.

I’ve also often noticed how people who go on Eastern religion retreats rarely think of themselves as giving up on sensual pleasures but rather as taking up better, simpler ones. They will try to persuade you that the diet of lentils and rice is actually better than richer ‘junk’ food rather than an ascetic embrace of the bland. They haven’t rejected a life of pleasure and personal happiness but found a simpler, cheaper, more effective way of getting it; not an alternative to the goal of personal fulfilment valued in the West but a different route to it.

That is perhaps why so many renounce only so much. When The Beatles stayed with the Maharishi, they certainly didn’t practise celibacy and many reports

suggest they didn’t stay off the drink or drugs either. Their ‘simple’ living quarters were also palatial by local standards.

If this sound too cynical, it’s far milder than the criticism the musician Ravi Shankar had of the Western hippies who claimed to revere him. Shankar was befriended by The Beatles and was famously introduced to a wider Western audience at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. Shankar dismissed many of the people who attended his performances as ‘strange young weirdos’. For them, rejecting Western values simply meant turning on, tuning in and dropping out. This outraged Shankar who was horrified by the sight of festival crowds ‘shrieking, shouting, smoking, masturbating and copulating – all in a drug-crazed state’. He wanted them to listen to his music in a state of concentrated reverence. ‘You don’t behave like that when you go to hear a Bach, Beethoven or Mozart concert,’ he said of them.

For many, it is as though meditation and Indian classical music are chemical-free trips. Even the Beatle most devoted to the Maharishi, George Harrison, first spoke to him as though his spiritual techniques could be dished out like drugs. ‘Got any mantras?’ he said, as though asking for some marijuana.

At the same time, Westerners often romanticise India to such an extent that its people are thought to be more spiritual than any human beings could ever be. Far from being above worldly matters, the Maharishi amassed a sizeable fortune and according to several reports slept with some of his female followers, despite claiming to be celibate.

The singer-songwriter Donovan, Mike Love of The Beach Boys and the actress Mia Farrow were among many Western celebrities who stayed at the Maharishi’s ashram. Only a few, Harrison among them, followed the path over the long term. Today, transcendental meditation, like the ancient spiritual discipline of yoga, is practised by Westerners more often in the service of wellbeing than for the ultimate goal of liberation or enlightenment.

I think that too many people who become disillusioned with the West end up wanting both too much and too little out of India. Too much, because they want it to be more purely spiritual than any human culture can be; too little because they do not want its religious and philosophical ideas to fundamentally challenge their project of personal fulfilment.

Perhaps that’s why in the end most Western experiments in Indian religious practice end up as a kind of spiritual tourism, as John Lennon seemed to realise. On his return to the UK, a reporter asked him if the Maharishi was ‘on the level’. ‘I don’t know what level he’s on,’ he said, ‘but we had a nice holiday in India and came back rested.’


披頭隊四樂 於1968年2月,前往北印度部的Rishikesh,在伽大師瑪哈禮師.瑪西赫 .優濟座下學習超覺坐。這四位名利雙收、以享樂為的滾尚 搖 巨星在, 妻子、、,女友 助手 以及一眾傳媒簇擁下,遠赴東方追尋簡樸生活與靈性修養,正好成為西方對印度著迷最強而有力徵的象 。

自1960年代始開,甚或在更早以前印,度一被方直 西 視為其反面。簡而言之,西方盛行物質主義,而印度則著重靈性;約紐在心靈上貧乏的程度,正好與新德里的內心豐盛遙相對照。於是西當 方人發自現 己經濟優裕,但卻心靈空虛之時,他們紛紛將目光投向印度,求尋 別的出路。

然而這些慕道者發往往 現,捨棄西方價值觀比他們想像來得困難。以披頭四一夥為人 例,即在使 清修之地,個人主義亦如影隨形。當我置身佛陀悟道的印度比哈爾邦菩提迦耶,時 就不禁想起這個問題。前來這裡的客多自訪 大 來 其他佛國教,家 他們三五成群結伴而來,服飾裝束大同小異。西方來客為數不多,而且都是單人匹馬至; 於穿衣打扮,則各有個人風格。看我 見一個盤腿而坐的女子,頂著悉心打理的髮型,衣著入時。另外一個男人坐著冥想,卻然著仍 戴太陽鏡眼 ;他大概沒有想過,既然已閉上眼睛太,陽眼鏡還有什麼?作用 如果冥想的其中一個目的是破除我執,這些人的行修 之路仍然十分漫長。

我又注意到,踏上東方靈性之旅的人,絕少認為他們是放棄了感官歡,愉 只不過是選擇更優質、更簡單的而享受 已。這些人會嘗試服說 你,扁豆和米飯比起甘膩豐厚的「垃圾」食品更,好 卻並非認同簡平樸 淡苦的 行生活。他們並未著捨棄 重享受和追求個人快樂的生活方式,只是以更簡單、更便有宜和 效的方法爭取;西方重視自我滿足的目標不變,只是成方 這個目的段同標 手 不 罷了。

或許這正是許多人不能徹底地捨離世間逸樂的原因。披頭四跟瑪哈禮師一起學習時,肯有定沒 禁欲,而多許 報道亦示暗 ,他們並沒遠有 離酒精和毒品。他們所謂「簡樸」的居所,以當地而標準 言,也奢華得形同皇宮。

這聽起來或許太過憤世嫉,若俗但 與印度音樂家Ravi Shankar對那些聲稱景仰他的西方嬉皮士的批相,評 比 卻是溫和得多。披四頭 結識Shankar後成, 員George Harrison於1971年在孟加拉舉行音樂會時,將後者介紹予西方廣大聽眾認識。Shankar嘲那諷些前來欣賞他演出的人為「標奇立異的怪人」對。 這些樂迷來說摒,棄西方價值觀不過就是興奮狂歡、縱慾和輟學。Shanker目睹參加音樂會的人「濫藥後進入瘋狂的狀態,尖叫大、、、吼吸煙 自慰和性交」的景象,令他大驚失色──他只希望人們能夠以尊重的態度專注聆聽其音樂。他炮轟道:若「 這是巴哈、貝多芬或莫札特的音樂會,你們就不會如此放肆。」

對多而許 人 言,冥想和印度古典音樂猶如毋需藥物的迷幻之旅。就連披頭四裡對瑪哈禮師最虔的誠 George Harrison,在首次與瑪哈禮師會面時,劈頭就問:「有什言麼真咒語教我念?,」 態度就如索食大麻般輕,佻彷彿靈性修持就像毒品般可以信手拈來。

此外,西亦方 往往過分美化印度,甚至以為印度人比其他人更具靈性修為真。相是,瑪哈禮師遠非超脫世俗的高人他,斂聚巨富額財 ,更有報道指他雖宣稱禁欲,卻曾與部分女性追隨者發生關係。

蘇格蘭歌手Donovan、美國隊樂 The Beach Boys成員Mike Love和美國演女員Mia Farrow等一眾西名方 人,都曾跟隨瑪哈禮師修行,但能夠長期修道的只有Harrison等寥寥數人。現在西方人修習超覺坐,或源是自老古 靈修哲學的伽時,往往只視之為促進身心健康的工具,而並非為了方致解脫或悟道的目終極 標。

我認為太多對西方幻想破的滅 人,對印度有過高的期望,之餘 卻又未能全情投入其中。他們希望印度保持比任何人文類化更純粹的靈性,同時又期望印度的宗教和哲學不要動搖他們追求自我滿足這個基本的宗旨。

這也許解釋何絕了 以 大部分西的方人印度宗教修行體驗,最終都只淪為一趟靈性觀光。披頭的四 John Lennon似乎深對此有體會;他從印度返回英,國時一位記者問他瑪哈禮師是否「有高深修的 為」, Lennon回答:「我可不知道他的道行有多高,但我們在印度享受了一個美好的假期,好好休息了一番回才 來。」

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