Rajiv Malhotra's Hindu Challenge to the Integral Community

Rajiv Malhotra, author of Being Different and Indra's Net, and a critic of Western academia for colonialist raiding of Indian sources (without attribution), has issued a challenge of sorts to Wilber or other integralists.  He says that the recent developments of Integral Christianity and Integral Judaism are little more than the Hindu-ization of these Western traditions, and that the reason Wilber or other integralists have not proposed an Integral Hinduism is that this would expose Integral as completely unoriginal, with nothing to offer to Hinduism that isn't already present in it.

What do you think of this?  Is he on the mark, or is he misunderstanding what an "integral" approach is about?  What would an "Integral Hinduism" look like?

(My sense, which I can discuss later, is that he is mistaking some of the content of Wilber's books as the essence of integral, rather than its meta-theoretic capacities for contextualization and integration...)

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Here's the view from Doofus St. On this issue (FWIW), I'm quite sympathetic, generally (I haven't read the book), with his contentions. Where to start? Okay, Christianity:  Christianitiy's orthodox doctrines, since Constantine, are obviously theologically incoherent to any thinking person. My take is that the itinerant jew was trying to teach the rabbi's that their ethnocentricity was a stumbling block to the truth ( the situation has not changed even to today). I think Constantine's Christianity continued the same error in another form . Exactly who Jesus was is not something I'm interested in going into here; but I've never been convinced that he was trying to teach Vedanta to the rabbi's. Because of that, I agree with Ravji that Wilber's interpretations here leaves a little to be desired. One last word on Christianity here: I'm sympathetic to any Christian that applies the faculties of logic and reason while on their path; such a path leads to various forms of deism, process theology, and panentheism/christian mysticism where god always has some 'other' essence, imo.(or a complete renunciation of that faith). 

Here is the thing with Hinduism though: I don't see that it's any easier for that tradition to solve it's ethnocentric tendencies than it is for Christian's. Whatever truth that is in Vedanta has been mired in patriarchy; abhorrent interpretations of karma and reincarnation; and a tendency towards wonton superstition juxtaposed to some very sublime spiritual insight. Hopefully, Ravji sees these historical truths.

None of this challenges the spiritual veracity of satchitananda. It seems more an issue of what placeholders work best. I 'm not convinced about Wilber's framing; it looks like spiritual colonization to me [ I won't get into evolutionary fetishism here]; I'm more prone to a unity of multiplicity, or something like that. 

I'm also quite concerned today about a new alliance between Hinduism and neoliberal economics. It's not taking my imagine much to see what a disaster this could turn out to be. 

Okay, that's the view from way down here as i broadcast from the carbon sinkhole that is Van. B. C. 

I shall now spend my days trying to figure out how humans can trade goods and services without destroying pretty well everything that is meaningful to us.

A west coast ontological proof of god: the much maligned Seahawks executed the impossible yesterday in Seattle. With less than a few minutes left to play they executed a holy trinity of football plays! The conversion of a fake field goal; the conversion of a on side kick; and a conversion of a hall Mary pass on a 2 point convert! We are believers for at least two weeks; where we shall meet the devil incarnate: Mr. Tom Brady. 

Anyway, as a side dish, I feel compelled to get this out there: there is no left wing socialist conspiracy to get Christian's to worship Gaia instead of God! Christian's, for the most part (as dumb as they can be at times) , can tell the difference between the earth and god! And there is no such thing as a free market , and even if there was such a thing, it wouldn't preclude mindful stewardship of ecosystems! This does not necessarily mean that there is not a conflagration of events happening on the earth at this time; there certainly is, but isn't there always?

And God obviously loves QB Russell Wilson, and answers his prayers for victory as long as he keeps the faith!

Yeah, but he's pissed at Tiger! 


Such capriciousness:)

Do you think Rajiv would go for a PGA Integral world open in Bangalore?

Hm, well, this thread has gotten off to a weird start!

I first heard Rajiv talk about this in a video.  I don't have a link to it, but here is an article where he also references his "challenge."

More suggestions for Rajiv:

-be mindful of consequences involving framing Hinduism within pre conventional morality juxtaposed to conservative political ideology. We know this leads to various forms of exceptionalism, nationalism, ethnic bigotry, etc, and in their worst projections end up as fascism i.e. the strong ethnocentrism of Germany in the previous mid century. 

-realize that a large part of  combining neoliberalism and religion is hype i.e. excessive salesmanship! The coaches and guru's can get caught up in the structure of that system and end up not seeing the forest for the trees. Yes, one is a master at something, say golf ( or religion); within this system one needs to be aware that it's the coaches/teachers function to be hyper-positive while pointing out all the various flaws in someone else's techniques. It's just that within neoliberalism this tendency gets extremely exaggerated and leads to various forms of delusion. Yes, on the micro scale we are competitive; but evolution on the global scale is symbiotic and inter-relational. We mustn't loose sight of that.

-practice religion without religion. 

Ok , good to see what his contentions are. To be clear, i am just a guy with an opinion and have no interest in stepping into the middle of a quarrel . i speak as an individual who believes humanity is entering various stages of integral complexity. The trademarked integral can answer these charges as they see fit. As an 'independent' i shall continue to offer up my opinions as annoying as they might be:)

Spending the day reading through his website; reading reviews of the book; reading comments, etc. I'm starting to get a handle on his perspectives, I think. Does anyone know what India was like prior to western colonialism? Is there any reason to believe that it was different in any significant ways from any other culture through the past few thousand years? Would anyone care to speculate about what India might look like today imagining that it had not been colonized by the British? 

There is a certain boots on the ground pragmatism to his heterogeneous observations, but in this point in earth's history with us I think we might equally focus on our homogeneuosness.

Also, how would he sort out the thousands upon thousands of native metaphysical beliefs within that culture and how would he build a society around those ideas? Would it be a theologically driven theocracy? 

Here is a link to reincarnation:


It seems that most cultures throughout history developed ideas around this issue; it is certainly not unique to India, although it's not hard to concede that India came up with a complex ideology surrounding the idea. To my thinking, reincarnation is not necessarily metaphysical in the sense that nature recycles everything; why not consciousness? So a natural theory surrounding reincarnation is not necessarily incoherent; whether there is an assholon ( super intelligence) over seeing the whole bloody mess is not something humans can know in any definitive, objective sense ( we only end up with conflicting religious ideologies when we walk down that road). 

Now, I am happy, that unlike the western academies; the Indian academies still have philosophy and religious departments, I think that is the right move; although it will be interesting to see if India ends up asserting a new theory of everything solely on their own, without the consensus of the global scientific establishment. 

Yes, I've seen that article before; thank you for highlighting it here.  Although I appreciate a number of Malhotra's ideas and criticisms, I tend to agree with the author that Malhotra seems to be "over-reaching to be different," and believe he also seems to have a rather one-sided view of Westerners' engagement with India (seeing it almost exclusively in terms of exploitation and appropriation).  His interpretation of Wilber's relationship to Indian thought, in particular, seems misguided.  It is true that Wilber now appears to be claiming structure- and state-stage attainments that exceed those of Aurobindo, Buddha, and others, and that is certainly questionable; and it is true that Wilber emphasizes certain schools of Hinduism above others (which can be misleading because he often attributes Advaitic interpretations to "the traditions" in general); but the idea that he sees nondualism as fundamentally entailing world-denial is just plain wrong, as far as I can tell.  In his transpersonal psychology days, he discussed the "spiritual problem" of causal-level fixation, which can lead to a denigration or simple disregard of physical existence, but to my knowledge he has never insisted that nonduality leads in this direction. 

I may have an opportunity to talk with him about all this.  A friend is working on putting together a symposium between Malhotra (and some of his colleagues) and Integralists, and I've been invited to take part in it if it goes forward.

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