Before becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when I was still a Catholic who was looking for answers to the great questions of life, I had the opportunity of reading several books about Eastern religions and philosophies, and I was fascinated by some of the things that I was learning.
In our Western civilization we are often too worried about doing something “productive” all the time, and our material prosperity can blind us to what is really important in life.
I was looking for some comparison between the beliefs of Christianity, and more specifically the beliefs of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Hinduism, and I found a very interesting article about Hinduism in an old Church magazine.
In the beginning of the article there is this wonderful comparison between Eastern and Western thought made by Hari N. Dam, a Hindu and former student at the University of Minnesota. I am sharing it below. I believe that it helps to understand better the spirit of the East, especially of India and Hinduism. It is simple, concise, and poetic.
East and West
“You live in time; we live in space. You’re always on the move; we’re always at rest.
“You’re aggressive; we’re passive. You like to act; we like to contemplate.
“We always hark back to the past; you always look forward to the future. We pine for the lost paradise; you wait for the millennium.
“We accept the world as it is; you try to change it according to your blueprint. We live in peace with Nature; you try to impose your will on her.
“Religion is our first love; we revel in metaphysics. Science is your passion; you delight in physics.
“You believe in freedom of speech; you strive for articulation. We believe in freedom of silence; we lapse into meditation.
“You first love, then you marry. We first marry, then we love. Your marriage is the happy end of a romance; our marriage is the beginning of a love affair. Your marriage is a contract; our marriage is an indissoluble bond.
“Your love is vocal; our love is mute. You delight in showing it to others; we try hard to conceal it from the world.
“Self-assertiveness is the key to your success; self-abnegation is the secret of our survival.
“You’re urged every day to want more and more; we’re taught from the cradle to want less and less. Joie de vivre is your ideal; conquest of desires is our goal.
“We glorify austerity and renunciation; you emphasize gracious living and enjoyment. Poverty to you is a sign of degradation; it is to us a badge of spiritual elevation.
“In the sunset years of life, you retire to enjoy the fruits of your labor; we renounce the world and prepare ourselves for the hereafter.”
Globalization and communication on large scale is changing life and thought in all countries, making people in the entire world more similar, but still certain differences in basic attitudes toward life remain, and they are beautiful, and we should learn to appreciate them more.