In an age as interconnected as ours, we are increasingly driven to unify two very different cultural systems of human development: Western and Eastern liberation. Both perspectives are valid, and we can all benefit from understanding them if we can accept their complementarity instead of viewing them as opposed. Each one has its own objectives and results.
Each offers us its way and formula to increase awareness, freedom, compassion, and the greater global good.
The western one focuses on the transformation of institutions, power structures, social relationships, and the individual process of growing up, leaving behind more narcissistic and group-centered positions and moving towards a greater identity maturity that includes every human being.
In contemplative Asian traditions, there is a strong emphasis on awakening, transcending worldly conditions by cultivating compassion, taming the mind, and dissolving the ego to reach enlightenment.
Different paths lead to different results
We slowly realize that although most practices on the path of awakening produce significant benefits, they do not necessarily make people more mature or more ethical.
Similarly, some people develop great cultural respect and sensitivity to differences in privilege, education, justice, and ethics, yet are wracked with stress, deeply wounded, and unknowingly trapped in the prison of the mind and ego.
In short, we are learning that awakening and growing are different paths that lead to different results.
Mature people can accept and navigate the difference between an oppressive and even crazy outside world and an inner focus on wholeness and peace. And at the level of psychological development, it is not just about understanding complex ideas in the areas of physics, mathematics, or music theory but also getting out of oppositions, contradictions, and ideological absolutism to integrate understanding and kindness.
Developing compassion and wisdom, becoming aware of all phenomena, and seeing the ultimate source of peace and freedom through study, meditation, and the systematic analysis of the mind and the ego are all part of the path of awakening in Asian traditions.
As experience has shown, even if you meditate for a very long time, you may not be able to see your blind spots and get rid of your shadow. Regardless of how much you understand power and injustice, it will not free you from the oppression of your own mind.
Each approach can help the other due to its complementarity and intrinsic richness.
All humans have an innate longing for wholeness and unity that can only be discovered by waking up to our true nature. Through meditation and contemplation, we can see that we are the “witness” and can watch our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
This path takes us to self-transcendence and the connection with Universal Consciousness, God. We realize that although the ego feels separated, it is a mere illusion. We choose to disidentify with it and identify with the pure consciousness of our essence instead.
This gives us the freedom and detachment to play our roles without forgetting that life on Earth is just a play. Waking up is a crucial step for the emerging new humanity on Earth. It should probably be our top priority at this time.
Both aspects are crucial
From the perspective of the ultimate reality, everything is already perfect exactly as it is. From a relative standpoint, increasing perspective-taking ability, emotional intelligence, ethical values, and greater compassion are necessary.
It is about creating a balanced, peaceful, and noble life. To grow up means to up-level your consciousness and to expand the paradigm that shapes your worldview. Regardless of how awake you are, your individual development and psychological health impact the whole.
The future of human development, expansion, and evolution will significantly benefit if we unite the western and eastern perspectives. We are in a time when both doors can and should be opened.
* Author: Mónica Esgueva
* First published on Medium (Mystic Minds)