Let It Sink In

One of the philosophers who introduced and reinforced Eastern concepts such as ‘pantheism’ and ‘predestination’ in the Western tradition post-renaissance was Spinoza. Bertrand Russell famously said that the philosopher who was “dearest” to his heart was in fact Spinoza. However, introducing and reinforcing Eastern concepts such as ‘pantheism’ and ‘predestination’ in a Western environment and setting came at a personal cost for Spinoza. For one, Spinoza ended up being excommunicated and labeled as a heretic by the Jewish community in his hometown of Amsterdam, in addition to being misunderstood and obscured by almost everyone else.

Spinoza was also opposed to organized religion, which was another reason why the Jewish community in Amsterdam excommunicated him and labeled him a heretic. Spinoza is known to have said: “I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion.” Spinoza also very much adhered to an idealist outlook within the Western tradition, through his Aristotelian emphasis on happiness as the primary aim of life in addition to acknowledging that love is the mechanism for the self-transcendence which in turn enables one to achieve happiness. As Spinoza said: “All happiness or unhappiness solely depends upon the quality of the object to which we are attached by love.”

Thus, despite being confounded by a Western environment and setting that is very much skeptical of Eastern thought, and despite coming out of a racial and religious community which staunchly opposed esoteric concepts because of its inability to think beyond the exoteric aspects of religious practice, Spinoza very much embodied the four main principles of the esoteric religious practice of Sufism, which consist of repentance, truth, sincerity, and love. As a result, Spinoza was very much ahead of his time by virtue of introducing and reinforcing Eastern concepts in a Western setting even before a present-day influx of Eastern migrants to the Western world.

Moreover, the Eastern beliefs and practices which Spinoza introduced and reinforced in the Western public sphere serve as the impetus for the work ethic and spirit which are necessary for worldly success. If we examine some of the changes which are occurring in Western societies, some of the most educated and economically vibrant communities in the Western world are from the Eastern world. During a trip to New York City recently, a lady working at a food cart in Manhattan who is of Caribbean origin but is married to an Egyptian Muslim told me during a conversation that halal food carts in New York City which are owned and operated by Muslim entrepreneurs are actually beating out long-standing chains, establishments, and restaurants. Thus, there is an essence and substance inherent in Eastern entrepreneurship that is lacking in Western entrepreneurship, which is evinced by the fact that the most educated and economically vibrant communities in the West are in fact of Eastern origin.

As someone said, misinformation and lies spread six times faster than truth on the internet and social media. But the spread of misinformation and lies are enabled to a certain extent by the censorship and suppression of truth by those in government and the mainstream media. But the truth is sublime and subtle, and as a result, the way in which truth will sink into the public sphere and society over the long run means that truth is something which government and the mainstream media cannot impede.

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