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Many-Sided Wisdom:A New Politics of the Spirit Paperback – 26 Mar 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: MANTRA BOOKS (26 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846942772
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846942778
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 1 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,912,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Aidan Rankin presents the philosophy of Jainism with clarity, insight and relevance to our current global crisis. In so doing he connects us with a spiritual view of pluralism that is as multifaceted as life itself, through which we can bring the cosmic existence into our minds and hearts to widen our vision and let go of all biases. (Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri), Director, American Institute of Vedic Studies.) This lucid commentary on Indic wisdom , especially the concept of Anekant, goes a long way in emphasizing the interconnectedness of life as the foundation for an integral environmental ethic. (Dr Swarnalatha Rangarajan, Editor, Indian Journal of Ecocriticism.) An exceptional book - timely and lucidly written. A unique and wise philosophy of healing for an age of intolerance. (Dr Atul K. Shah, CEO Diverse Ethics.)

About the Author

Aidan Rankin is a London-based writer whose books include Many-Sided Wisdom: A New Politics of the Spirit, Shinto: A Celebration of Life and The Jain Path: Ancient Wisdom for the West. He has PhD and MSc degrees in Political Science from the London School of Economics and an MA in Modern History from Oxford University.

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Format: Paperback
SEEKING TRUTH WITHOUT PREJUDICE
BOOK REVIEW: MANY-SIDED WISDOM - A New Politics of the Spirit by Aidan Rankin, 150pp, O Books, ([...] 2010, ISBN 978-1-84694-277-8
In the huge cacophony of noise and pollution that is the modern media, it is rare to find a new work which is written with patience and perseverance, where the author has laboured over his thoughts and researched them for years (decades even) before putting them to print. This new book flows like a timeless river, respects its readers very deeply, and unites a wide range of disciplines from politics to ecology, spirituality, philosophy and economics so flawlessly, that we feel we are truly being touched by wisdom which has stood the test of time.
We live in a time where luxury is being eroded - there is the threat of global warming and the reality of climate change, war is always around the corner, and the rich are also the most anxious and dis-satisfied, whilst the poor only fall ever-lower, and population rises. Science, the objective saviour, is not able to solve these problems for us. Neither is Capitalism. The word `holistic' is increasingly being talked about as the way forward - where silos or barriers between thoughts or organisations need to be broken, and we need more co-operation and less competition. And the ancient Indian Jain tradition is one of the foremost exponents of the richness and depth of holistic thinking, action and science. Rankin draws on this in this book.
The book comprises six chapters, with titles ranging from `Letting Go of Dogma', to `A Subtle Power', `Karmic Ecology' and `Growing Beyond Growth'.
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Format: Paperback
To quote "`true to spirit of many sidedness, this book is and is not a book about Jainism and is and is not about politics, it is about Jainism, in the sense that the idea at its core Anakantavada (Anekant) or many sidedness". Through interrogation via the Jain practice of Anekant or many sided viewpoint Aidan Rankin logically and very eloquently makes the case for a step forward by viewing life through the discipline of an ancient wisdom with great understanding of the human condition and its common failings. Current discredited global trends and false priorities which so exalt the importance of the individual paradoxically are shown to create a lack of freedom, mean heartedness and the seeds of eventual human isolation so impacting on the ecological and environmental health of our planet.

This book is inspirational in as much as it invites us to investigate an ancient way of personal and human development already quietly and patiently practiced within Jain communities worldwide. The discipline of Anekant or many sidedness stands in sharp contradiction to the dogmatic either / or viewpoints so failing human societies. To achieve a multi-faceted viewpoint requires the development of humility. Jainism doesn't seek to coerce or deny viewpoints. It is not about being converted or triumphing over others beliefs or practices. Real strength of personality comes from listening and evaluating ones understanding to seek positive rather than negative karmic influences. Humility and compassion will paradoxically produce more character than those who so publically seek individualism only to end up being the same as everybody else.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is based on the ancient Jain idea of Anekant, or Many-Sided Wisdom, otherwise known as Multiple Viewpoints or Non-Absolutism. In the so- called "developed" West we tend to see all things as right or wrong, black or white. We are switched into this binary thinking, which we equate with progress, which in turn requires increasing consumption, the need for expansion, and dominion over the natural world. And we are attached to too many possessions. Rankin tells us that this attachment, rather than religion per se, is the cause of many wars that are blamed on religion. We see our power over others as a strength; we lack humility, which is seen as weakness. Nowhere is there a greater need for the practice of this many-sided wisdom than in our divisive politics, and polarized religions. Our problem is that we all think we hold the only path to truth; and we are in a mess because of this. The Shinto masters say that "my truth does not need to be the same as your truth." And this is also the Jain way. We can all be right, in different ways. We can respect the other point of view totally, and find common factors, connecting strands, between otherwise conflicting arguments. This is Anekant, or non-violence of the mind. It requires us to recondition our minds; to change the way we look at ideas. And it could transform individuals and society, and the world in which we live, offering the path to a safer better world for all humanity.

The author explains in some depth the three main principles of Jain understanding, which lead to Anekant. Firstly, Jains have a fundamental respect and sympathy with all creatures. All life is interconnected, and our intelligence confers responsibility, not entitlement. Then he writes of cosmic law, Karma and reincarnation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Wisdom with Universal Significance for Humanity 2 Sept. 2010
By Eleanor Stoneham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is based on the ancient Jain idea of Anekant, or Many-Sided Wisdom, otherwise known as Multiple Viewpoints or Non-Absolutism. In the so- called "developed" West we tend to see all things as right or wrong, black or white. We are switched into this binary thinking, which we equate with progress, which in turn requires increasing consumption, the need for expansion, and dominion over the natural world. And we are attached to too many possessions. Rankin tells us that this attachment, rather than religion per se, is the cause of many wars that are blamed on religion. We see our power over others as a strength; we lack humility, which is seen as weakness. Nowhere is there a greater need for the practice of this many-sided wisdom than in our divisive politics, and polarized religions. Our problem is that we all think we hold the only path to truth; and we are in a mess because of this. The Shinto masters say that "my truth does not need to be the same as your truth." And this is also the Jain way. We can all be right, in different ways. We can respect the other point of view totally, and find common factors, connecting strands, between otherwise conflicting arguments. This is Anekant, or non-violence of the mind. It requires us to recondition our minds; to change the way we look at ideas. And it could transform individuals and society, and the world in which we live, offering the path to a safer better world for all humanity.

The author explains in some depth the three main principles of Jain understanding, which lead to Anekant. Firstly, Jains have a fundamental respect and sympathy with all creatures. All life is interconnected, and our intelligence confers responsibility, not entitlement. Then he writes of cosmic law, Karma and reincarnation. Thirdly, he explores and explains why he believes that Jainism is so relevant today, not only in the Western world but also in the emerging global community that is influenced largely by Western ideas.

Whilst the book is based on Jainism the author is at pains to explain that the ideas have full relevance for us all, of any religious tradition or none. The concept is relevant within the practice of all religions and across all religious divides. The Jain understanding of each individual as a unit of consciousness in no way interferes with the essence of a message that is of relevance to us all. We are all on a spiritual journey; but we are restricted by our human consciousness that is not fully evolved spiritually, although an increasing number of people are sensing a shift in consciousness towards a greater spirituality. Even then, Rankin tells us to beware the New Age movement that is often tainted by commercialism, and the Green politicians who still believe they are the only ones who are right!

The book concludes with the Jain rule of "Careful Actions, Careful Thoughts," followed by the Jain ascetics but a good guide for living for us all. Before taking any action we need to ask ourselves what effect that action will have on us, on others, on society, on the planet and on a generation or more from now. This type of thinking is instinctive in many indigenous cultures. It also links with the Seventh Generation Principle, from the political culture of the Iroquois people, and now adopted by Native American elders and activists. "What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have?"
This short review cannot possibly do full justice to such a fascinating idea. Anekant, Rankin tells us, is a gift from Jainism to the world, and if allowed to do so, it has the potential to heal not only our wounded planet but also the wounds within ourselves. It is a gift we would all do well to use gratefully and with humility and understanding.

This is an excellent book. It is well researched, and written in an easy and lucid style. I recommend that it should be read by anyone with a real concern for the future of this world.
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