Advaita Philosophy, Yoga Philosophy

First mails



From: palash mazumdar <palashm@yahoo.com
To: dalittrell@yahoo.com
Sent: Fri, October 23, 2009 6:47:17 AM

Hi,

I have read several of your book reviews and like them very much.

I am a doctor from India. My book on Advaita Philosophy and Yoga, The Circle of Fire, is due to be published on Nov. 24th by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley and distributed by Random House Inc.

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781556436703

http://www.northatlanticbooks.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781556436703

About the book (from Random House):

The Circle of Fire examines the eternal metaphysical questions “What is God?” and “What is the purpose of life?” The book discusses the answers to these questions given by Western science and different schools of Indian thought, specifically detailing the answers to be found in India 's two most developed atheistic traditions, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Representative of a generation of Indians who have grown up with the best in scientific education and spiritual values, author P.J. Mazumdar takes a hard look at religion, science, and how two seemingly divergent bodies of knowledge can be brought together. Like Deepak Chopra a generation earlier, Mazumdar is both a medical doctor and a member of a family steeped in Hindu tradition, and is therefore well–placed to elucidate ancient Indian philosophy to the modern analytical mind. Acknowledging the metaphysical insights to be found in both Western science and Eastern spirituality, Mazumdar pays special attention to the highest school of philosophy of Hinduism, Advaita, and its application to practical spirituality through the teachings and practice of Yoga.

Like other books on the meeting of science and spirituality (Fritzjof Capra's 80s classic The Tao of Physics) and the necessity of a scientifically compatible notion of God (Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion), The Circle of Fire is ambitious in scope and a challenging, rewarding read.

I would like to know if you would be interested to receive a review copy of the book. I would be gratified if you would favor the book with a critical review if you find it interesting enough.

If you wish to receive a review copy, please email me back at this address, i.e., palashm@yahoo.com.

Looking forward to your response,
P. J. Mazumdar





From: Dennis Littrell
To: palashm@yahoo.com
Sent: Sat, October 24, 2009 6:47:17 AM

Hi, Palash Mazumdar:

Yes, I would very much be interested in reading and reviewing your book The Circle of Fire. I've practiced and studied yoga for something like 35 years. So please do send a copy to me at the address below.

Thanks for writing and good luck with the book.

Best wishes,
Dennis Littrell





From: Dennis Littrell <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Subject: The Circle of Fire
To: "palash mazumdar" <palashm@yahoo.com>
Cc: "Dennis Littrell" <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Date: Sunday, 6 December, 2009, 5:08

Hi, Palash:

Your book arrived today. Thanks for having it sent. I am looking forward to reading and reviewing it. I quickly read the chapter on jnana yoga and was favorably impressed in particular since there is so little material available on jnana yoga, and because you base most of your presentation on the Upanishads, which I think is correct.

Amazon is not yet accepting reviews until their publication date of Dec 15. I'll send you an email when my review posts.

Incidentally, I have written a book on yoga myself from a more secular point of view, and in part following the formulation of Patanjali. I call it Yoga: Sacred and Profane. I am posting the chapters as a Google blog, 22 posted so far. Click on this link to take a look. If you have time, let me know what you think.

Best wishes,
Dennis





From: palash mazumdar <palashm@yahoo.com>
To: Dennis Littrell <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Sent: Mon, December 7, 2009 9:47:24 PM

Hi Dennis,

Thank you very much for your kind comments.

I have read the most recent blogs on your site and must say that I was very happy to read your views, they match exactly with mine. Your style of writing and the content itself, i.e, interpretation of astrology as a form of sympathetic magic, analysis of karma in its historical and religious context, etc. are very interesting and make for an excellent read. Its a great book, you must bring it out in print so that it can reach a wider audience (I understand its not yet in print?).

In my book also, I have discarded reincarnation and karma as not being essential to understand either Advaita philosophy or the practice of Yoga. Advaita is a strong and powerful philosophy without the need of these two props. Instead I have tried to show Advaita as something which can be reached and understood based on reason and rationality alone without the need of any sort of scriptural support.

I also believe though that we can find enough support for an Advaita without karma or reincarnation in the Upanishads also. I have done a long analysis on this, and I will put this in my website, www.thecircleoffire.com. In fact, I should have got the site up by now but I am struggling somewhtat with the HTML and CSS and what not. I hope to get it up within the next two or three days and I will send you a note when it is on, you must read this before writing a review.

Will keep in touch, its great to meet someone whose views are so interesting.

Regards,
Palash.





From: Dennis Littrell <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: The Circle of Fire
To: "palash mazumdar" <palashm@yahoo.com>
Date: Wednesday, 9 December, 2009, 23:41

Hi, Palash:

Thank you for taking the time to read my yoga blogs and for such an enthusiastic response. If the response continues to be positive I may take the trouble and time to find a publisher. :–)

It is true that our approaches are surprisingly similar. I was frankly amazed when I started reading your book in earnest yesterday to see that you began with science, and that furthermore your grasp of modern science is impressive. Everything you wrote on the physical, natural and medical sciences seemed correct to me, although I understand that is 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang and not the 12 billion you give on page 40. But of course that is a minor quibble.

I have read some Advaita philosophy in the past and I must say your expression is unusually clear. I suspect that after reading your book I will be able to better understand some other works that are less clearly written!

Your point on page 69 that the "I" exists only in terms of thoughts and sensations, and that it could not have existed alone is something I never thought of. Very interesting.

I also like your realistic formulation of the knower, the knowing and the known as distinct from idealism. I am not a philosopher so I apologize for my inexact terminology from here on out.

I was not able to appreciate how learning establishes free will as you assert on page 75. It seems to me that any act or experience of learning is no different in terms of causation than other acts or experiences. Remember Hume's Fork: Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them. This seems to do away with free will.

Your definition of consciousness on page 81 seems to me to need broadening. Here's how I define consciousness as the term is generally used. It has three aspects: The first is awareness of the world (including awareness of our self and our processes, that is, self–awareness). I believe this is the same as your definition. The second is self–identity. Notice that awareness of self is different from identification with self. The third is experience or sensation: the feelings we get when we experience the world. This is sometimes called "phenomenal consciousness." An example would be the subjective experience of the color red, or the taste of a strawberry.

Nonetheless you do address the problem of sensation and argue rather convincingly that my experience of red and yours are the same since we and other creatures have evolved similarly. I would only add that regardless it is possible that your experience (your sensation) might be somewhat different than mine. All we can really say is that it is highly likely that our experiences are very much the same.

I am having trouble reconciling your statement on page 75 that we have free will with your statement on page 104 which seems to imply the non–existence of an agent that does the willing: "…our individuality comprises layer upon layer of relative and changeable personality traits, memories, thoughts, and feelings, but there is no absolute reality holding these things together."

This seems similar to the Buddhist "no–self" which to my mind negates free will

There is so much to appreciate in your book. It is exciting to read and I am learning a lot. I won't anticipate my review (well not completely) because I am only 106 pages in, but yours is the clearest expression of Advaita philosophy I have ever read, and beyond that it is a wonderful expression of the metaphysics of yoga. I am so glad you wrote this book and shared your knowledge and understanding with the world.

Best wishes,
Dennis





From: palash mazumdar <palashm@yahoo.com>
To: Dennis Littrell <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tue, December 15, 2009 8:00:18 PM
Subject: The Circle of Fire

Hi Dennis,

Hope you are doing well.

My book has now been officially released on Dec 15th. Along with that, my website is also now officially up. Please do visit my website, www.thecircleoffire.com, when you have some spare time, and give me your valuable feedback. You may look up the discussion section for an analysis based on the book.

Warm regards,
Palash.




From: Dennis Littrell <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: The Circle of Fire
To: "palash mazumdar" <palashm@yahoo.com>
Date: Friday, 18 December, 2009, 5:18

Hi, Palash:

My review of The Circle of Fire posted on Amazon today. I also sent it to Amazon.uk, but heaven only knows when it will post there.

Since Amazon limits reviews to a thousand words I was not able to write as much as I would have liked. If you are interested in reading some of those thoughts I would be happy to send them.

Your book adds greatly to a rather limited literature on the philosophies of India in the U.S. and is especially welcome since much of the existing literature was written many ago.

Good luck with the book and thanks for sending it to me.

Best wishes,
Dennis





From: palash mazumdar <palashm@yahoo.com>
To: Dennis Littrell <dalittrell@yahoo.com>
Sent: Fri, December 18, 2009 7:07:43 AM
Subject: Re: The Circle of Fire

Hi Dennis,

Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to review my book. Thanks also for the five stars and your critical comments.

I am of course very much interested in your thoughts about the book. I would like to see them. We can share our views and perhaps help each other in understanding some concepts. I would like to share my views regarding free will and any other point that you may bring up, and also to read your views.

So do please send your full review.

Warm regards,
Palash.








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