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Make it Plain, Brother

Robert Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Columbia University


"However, as we begin the twenty-first common era century in hopes of not repeating

the violence of the world wars and genocide of the previous ones - it is crucial that we

face up to some important lessons that Lama Govinda tirelessly taught.  Western cult-

ure,based on the religious forms of Christianity and Islam, which, in Lama's words, "lost overpowering the human mind through the dictatorship of a partially world-creating and at the same time world-negating spirit", is still relatively uncivilized, focused on the external conquest of other civilisations, violence, war, imperialism, and a rampant need for material possession and self-aggrandizemnet.  Contrary to its inflated self-image, it is not the most advanced culture the world has yet seen.  Its very developed material technology is, in fact, put to the childish uses of violent destruction and thoughtless consumption.  Its worst problem is its foundational confusion, which leads those of us under its thrall to feel disconnected from nature.  Hence we tend to be not responsible for the consequences of our actions, and distract ourselves from the extreme danger of destroying everything in our path by the irrational promise of either a blissful salvation by an absolutely disconnected omnipotent "God", or else a blissful oblivion.


Hence our barbarous culture - I do not call it a "civilisation"- poses the ultimate threat to planetary life, to all the human beings of other more ancient and better balanced cul

tures, all other life forms, and the eco-system itself.  We are deploying the five horse-

men of our imminent man-made apocalypse: population explosion, epidemic disease, unliveable pollution, resource depletion, and wars of mass destruction.  The urgent need, therefore, is for us bearers of this imbalanced, disconnection culture to rediscover our interconnection with the rest of life, our infinite responsibility to ourselves and all other living beings, the extreme negative danger of our continuing on the path of destruction and consumption, and the positive potential for us to find a reliable happiness within our own souls, to conquer our own inner negtive habits, and to cultivate our infinite capacity for love and joy."


        from his introduction to "The Way of the White Cloud"  Lama Anagarika Govinda

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