Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | May 25, 2010

Many-Sidedness and Maybe-ism

From Dr Atul Shah of ‘Diverse Ethics’

MANY-SIDED WISDOM – A New Politics of the Spirit by Aidan Rankin, 150pp, O Books 2010 Available on Amazon for £9.99.

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 his book.

The book comprises six chapters, with titles ranging from ‘Letting Go of Dogma’, to ‘A Subtle Power’, ‘Karmic Ecology’ and ‘Growing Beyond Growth’. It is aimed at a  reader who is keen to discover wisdom, to unite the multiple worlds of mind, body and spirit, and willing to invest some time and effort in reading and understanding profound voices. He makes the task very easy for the reader by using prose which is effortlessly smooth and flowing, concise and poetic, focused yet liberating. I definitely felt very uplifted when I finished the book – a sense of personal growth and inner peace and understanding, which I hope will stay with my soul forever.

Rankin firmly places his book on the Jain wisdom of ‘Anekant’ or Many-Sidedness. This is a complex idea, which demonstrates that truth has multiple-facets, and depends on the position of the seeker and their assumptions and world-views, explicit or implicit. This is not the same as relativism, where there is no objective truth, but neither is it purely rational, or purely spiritual or purely emotional. The Jains allow all these perspectives to cohere, and in their philosophy of maybe-ism (Syadvada), show that truth can be tentative, but must be sincere, non-violent, and respectful of all living beings and their rights to co-exist…

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