The following passage from the last chapter of Hindu Soul Traditions by William J. Jackson expresses one of the book's main themes: "To explore evolution, cultural viability, the longevity of tradition, fitness in the universe, not avoiding dominant paradigms of our age, seems necessary now. The alternative, to pretend we are independent of a matrix, to act as if we're not interwoven in the universe, seems false and foolish, Science and wisdom call out to each other; at some points they even converge. We need authentic initiations to the past and future both. If one is not initiated into ancient enduring patterns there is danger of life's trivialization; if one is not initiated into the best of emerging patterns there is danger of mind's ossification. We need to try out new ideas." The book Soul Image in Hindu Traditions is about some of those new ideas, reflecting on topics of enduring interest.The science of recent decades in much different from the science of a century ago, and out view of the universe should reflect that fact. Recent research in physics, cosmology, biology and ecology reveals that the universe in much more dynamic, interrelated, complex, and less static had been thought by earlier scientific thought. To learn about the nature of the universe helps us to think in new ways about spiritual matters and religious traditions. All the great the great traditions have lessons to teach us, so it would be foolish to say to religions, as some modern people do, "A plague on all your houses!" Concepts from various disciplines can help us to better understand the creative process in individuals and cultures and also to appreciate the importance of wisdom. Such concepts may aid us in realizing the possibilities of renewal in traditions and may help us in facing new challenges.
WILLIAM J.JACKSON, born and raised in Rock island, Illinois, is a Professor of Religious Studies at Indian University Purdue University at Indian polis where he has taught courses in Asian traditions and in the Comparative Religion since 1985. He received his B.A. at Lynodon State College in Vermont in 1975, and received his Ph.D from Harvard University in the Comparative Study of Religion in 1984. He lived in India for about four years, if you add up all his stays there, especially doing research in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He studies culturally creative figures of South India and has published several books about them, including Tyagaraja, Life and Lyrics, and Songs of Three Great South Indian Saints (oxford University Press). He is publishing a novel about America (Diving for Carlos) with Creative Arts Publishing in Barkeley, California. Jackson has a passion for the arts, and a strong interest in recent developments in science including fractal geometry and dynamical systems theory in relation to the humanities. He was a research fellow at the Bellagio Research Center in Italy in 2000, working on his fractals in the humanities project. He has published poetry and fiction in "the Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, where he worked as a forest fire tower watchman for the State of Vermont of Bald Mountain. He still owns and regularly returns to the house he built in the mountains in Vermont. He is married to Marcia Plant Jackson, a nurse-practitioner, and they have one daughter, Rose, who is now a college student.
While travelling recently in Europe, India and America, I was impressed by the amazing amount of building and reconstruction which is going on. Change and renovation are massively apparent everywhere in such dramatic ways! Earthmoving machines are grinding, sparks are falling from the blue fire of welders' torches, jackhammers are thundering, and cement is churning and churning. While the same constant exertion and construction goes on in the realm of ideas, it is a fact that it is often quite difficult for a new idea to be heard. (The fact that I had originally hopped to publish this book in early 2000 shows that ideas must was for their time.) The "old guard" seeks to protect its territory, to preverse what has been accepted and now seems comfortable. The avant-gard experiments, improves and discovers. No doubt among the avant-garde there are those as the late George Harrison punned, who 'aven't got a clue. But among the explorers and pioneers in any field there are those with new ideas well worth hearing and considering. I thank Mr. Praveen Mittal of B.R. Publishing Corporation (India for his hospitality to the new ideas presented here. These essays represent new explorations in Hindu traditions. Of course the old and new are always mixed together to some degree. I hope I will be forgiven for retelling stories which are already known in some quarters-the mythical stories of Nachiketas and of Persephone, and the biographical stories of Madhvacharya and Chaitanya, for example. these great stories are not as well known as they should be today. They concern principles both timeless and timely. I also believe the activity of improvising which I examine here is a deep source of creative power and that more awareness of improvisation's importance is especially valuable today. the spiritual wisdom of sages, such as Sadashiva Brahmendra and Appaya Dikshita, is a reminder of the depths of vision to be found in mystical traditions around and world. New concepts from Chaos Theory, such as "Strange Attractors," and Fractal Geometry, involve principles that should be better known to all students of culture, both in the arts and sciences. This book contains invitations to relate these ideas to nature and culture. The book concludes with hopes for the future. If the ideas prove useful they may find their place in the endless renovations in which human beings are inevitably engaged. I welcome readers to consider and contemplate the issues discussed here, so that they might enter the ongoing conversation and follow up interesting possibilities with their own questions and quests. My thanks to Professor Klaus Witz, for his encouragement on this book.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Children’s Books (95)
Brahma Sutras (87)
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