Self Introduction of shrI Robert Watson(fwd)

Ravi Mayavaram msr at REDDY20.TAMU.EDU
Sat Apr 11 13:04:06 CDT 1998

At an early age, I became painfully aware of the limited and provincial
nature of the Protestant beliefs into which I had been born. Around the
age of 18, I gravitated almost instinctively to the absolutism,
aesthetic beauty, and rich history of the Roman Catholic Church. I
delved fairly deeply into Catholic philosophy and theology, especially
St. Thomas Aquinas. Over the years, I became disillusioned with that as
well, and turned to agnosticism, bordering on atheism. Then around the
age of 21, during the height of the popularization of Indian ideas in
the West, I discovered Sri Ramakrishna. From there I branched out into
Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and others. I felt as if I
had stumbled across a great hidden treasure. Here at last was a
philosophy that made sense of what is deepest and most profound among
the Catholic mystics, but without all the arbitrary doctrinal wrappings.
I rejoiced over its total universality, as opposed to Christian dogmas
of uniqueness, and also over its wonderful balance of the value of
reasoning and discrimination up to a point, but only as filled out and
informed by direct personal experience. Vivekananda's typical statements
that aspirants need not believe any of his teachings until they see
their truth for themselves filled me with joy. Not only did I feel that
Advaita Vedanta possesses the intellectual respectability that Catholic
Scholasticism lacks, but I found it to be compelling, with an endless
inherent fascination. I am now 49 years old and, although I have gone
through many periods of discouragement and skepticism, I have been
meditating regularly for the last six years or so, and attempting to
maintain some mindfulness and detachment during the remainder of my day.

However, true to my Western roots, I do have some philosophical
questions and doubts with regard to Vedanta. I hope to raise these
questions in the most honest and constructive manner possible, in order
to see them addressed by those who have more knowledge and experience
than I do. Only by acknowledging my misgivings fully can I maintain the
consistency and integrity that brought me to Vedanta in the first place.
The mailing list will be a precious resource to me by providing a forum,
not only to deepen my understanding of Vedanta, but also resolve and lay
to rest the doubts that I have at the intellectual level. I look forward
to what I hope will be an intense learning experience.

Robert Watson

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