The problem with Hindu speakers – by Somerset Maugham
Posted by robertpriddy on May 19, 2016
I have heard countless talks on Indian spirituality – mostly by Indians, of course – and read reams of Indian spiritual books, and the most popular of which among Indians are very repetitive, as if nothing much has been learned since the Upanishads or Shankara. Sathya Sai Baba was an exponent of constant repetition in thousands of ‘discourses’. His followers can say nothing original that he has not said, but they repeat his words endlessly too. This is what the famous author Somerset Maugham had to say about this tendency:-
Somerset Maugham wrote about how values cannot be independent of human minds and conventions, as is held in Hindu doctrine, which sets in stone all that it claims to be divine truth, eternal and independent of human knowledge:-
Values: It is natural to hesitate when one comes to believe that a theory such as that values are absolute and independent of our minds is erroneous, when one knows it has been held by so many great philosophers. One would have thought that if values really were absolute and independent of our minds, the human race would have discovered by this time what they are and, taking them for granted, never think of wavering in their allegiance to them. But what values are esteemed depends on circumstances. They can change from one generation to another. The values prized by the Greeks of the Homeric age are not the same as those they prized in the Peloponnesian War. They differ in different countries. ~I don’t know that the non-attachment of the Hindus has ever been held to be a value by the Europeans, nor that the humility which Christianity has regarded as a value has ever been regarded as such by the believers in other faiths.
In my own lifetime I have seen values lose their worth. When I was young the conception of a gentleman had value; now not only what it stood for, but the word itself has become vaguely objectionable. But it is dishonest to assert that if moral values are not absolute they must depend on prejudices or preferences. It is admitted that language has grown up in response to biological needs. Why should moral values not have grown up in the same way? Does it not look likely that they have been developed in the evolution of the species because they were essential to its existence?
Some relevant links:-