On this episode of Conversations in Process, Jay is joined by Professor Jeffery D. Long to discuss the relationship between Hinduism and process thought, and also to hear Jeffery’s own journey in faith and how he came to Hinduism as an American.
Jeffery is a professor of religion and Asian studies at Elizabethtown College and a prolific writer who has published widely in the field of religions and philosophies of India. In his academic work, he endeavors to put Hindu philosophy and theology into conversation with process thought, showing the resonances between these two distinctive intellectual and spiritual traditions. In his most recent book, Hinduism in America: A Convergence of Worlds (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), he explores how this Indian spirituality has taken root in this far away content, tackling difficult topics such as Orientalism, Hindu influence on the American consciousness, and political Hinduism in the United States.
In this conversation, Jeffery talks at length about his own spiritual and religious background, dwelling on how the early loss of his father spurred questions to which he was unable to find answers in his inherited Catholic tradition, despite immense respect and appreciation for this religion. When he was eventually exposed to the Hindu tradition he was immediately struck by the profound consonance between the perspectives of these eastern scriptures and views he had come to on his own through independent spiritual exploration. This exposure eventually culminated in his conversion to Hinduism following a deep engagement with the sources of the tradition.
Jeffery also discusses the relationship between Hinduism and process thought, particularly as it pertains to Alfred North Whitehead’s metaphysical formulations, mentioning how Whiteheadian notions such as creativity have equivalents within a Hindu framework, and how certain theological language from the Hindu tradition lends itself to a process-relational perspective. In addition to these speculative theological topics, he explores questions of lived religion such as how Hindus are able to navigate pluralism and how one can find the Divine in “the muddiness of life” from a Hindu perspective. The conversation draws to a close with Jeffery sharing his perspective on Huston Smith’s two visions of life after death in Hinduism: the individual as a drop of water returning to the ocean, or the play of life continuing on and retaining individuality.
- Hinduism in America: A Convergence of Worlds: https://bookshop.org/books/hinduism-in-america-a-convergence-of-worlds/9781474248457
- Jeffery Long’s page on academia.edu: https://etown.academia.edu/JefferyLong
- Conversations in Process: https://cobb.institute/conversations-in-process/
- The Cobb Institute: https://cobb.institute
- Open Horizons: https://www.openhorizons.org