Why is there no religion in which you believe in god, but without both worlds interfering.

I agree with pretty much everything I've seen Vivekananda say. He's brilliant. However, like James he was often speaking in ways tailored to his audience and therefore context is really important. So in this passage Vivekananda is talking about astrology. I imagine if interviewed today he'd say similar things about caste -If my life can be disturbed by caste expectations, it isn't worth a cent.

But when he says to make your own fate, he isn't speaking to a person identified with the Witness. He's speaking to people who feel pulled around by fate, that is, people who feel in bondage. He's trying to rally their rajasic qualities so they strive to be better. That he's talking to people-in-bodies is evident from one of the following lines: "If a star disturbs my life, it would not be worth a cent. You will find that astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food and rest."

In the same way, interestingly, Krishna's advice to Arjuna is very much in the context of advice to a novice. He proves he is not ready for realization when he asks Vishnu to take on his familiar form as Krishna after the vision. Arjuna is not looking for realization, he is disturbed by his aversion to his caste dharma. I would not say that he is aware of reality making him do things - the opposite is true, he thinks that he must personally decide to go through with fighting, and take responsibility for that choice, in order to proceed. He does not want to be the one to make that choice. So it is possible that Krishna's advice would be different in a different context. But for Arjuna, it's "Don't worry about your aversion! I'm handling all of this. What choice can you make? Either you fight and I reward you or you don't and I ruin you." He tells Arjuna that if he fails to fulfil his role, he will lose the war for his family, he will be ridiculed, etc. So he is not allowing for Arjuna to forge his own identity as a monk or whatever at this point. He's warning him that that is not how it works.

But once the mind is strong, my money is on Vivekananda advising first selfless action to purify the mind, and then if questions remain, analysis in pursuit of the Self - that is, karma yoga and jnana yoga.

Personally, I grew up in the suburbs and come from a place of depression, dissociation, self-harm and apathy. Learning about the Void in Buddhism felt like an invitation to suicide, for me. These tendencies are not really helped by a world-denying philosophy. But if this mind is real, then by abusing myself I am not merely wasting time with a delusion. I am also actively altering my mind's structure (i.e. the samskaras that run my body) so that I am more likely to resonate with objects that cause me to either harden these particular tendencies or correct them. E.g., Arjuna had a choice to identify further with the body (by running away) or to get over that identification and act, even in the face of death. In my view this is what free will consists in - the choice of repeating mistakes or of correcting them. To do this I have to give some credence to the idea that I have some agency to effect change in the part of the world that is my mind, and also realize that because of my own personal history, the things that I find myself interacting with in the world might be really unpleasant for me until I get over my hang-ups.

At the same time, my agency is limited- because I am a real mind with real structures that really affect and are effected by my perception of the world, I am not an unbiased Witness. Therefore I'm working with a distorted (one might say delusive) view of Reality. By extrapolation, I know that other people are not unbiased, either. We are all delusive to some extent. Someone who is telling me he is unbiased is a charlatan or a fool - in any case he's giving me an opportunity to dispel whatever habits of unfounded trust in words I might have. (In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna teaches that even realized souls on Earth are functioning off the exhaustion of their prarabdha karma, which is left over from a prior manifestation, before realization. So even a jivanmukta lives a life that is influenced by his samskaras pre-realization.)

Brahman is totally impersonal. The gains we make in spiritual life have nothing to do with Brahman, they have to do with our building up habits that let us attract and be attracted to the particular phenomena of our spiritual lives (e.g. devas and a chosen deity, worship, simple living, vegetarianism, etc). What this means is that even spiritual life is interaction with the world. By this same logic, the spiritual life is brought into awareness by the desires of the aspirant. So it becomes an object of desire, is distorted, and leads to entanglement and away from realization. This can result in deeply alienating some people (who have been hurt in these settings) and opening many doors for scandal and loss of faith in institutions, and that's not something I want to be a part of. It is basically impossible for something built up so much by the ego as the 'right' spiritual life to not result in serious disillusionment and disappointment down the road, because we are on Earth. I just want to practice in private and to see love and awareness connecting all things. Does this make any sense? (:

(I ran out of room for American Pragmatism. Start with William James. Then Peirce if you like him. Then John Dewey.)

/r/askphilosophy Thread