Hinduism misunderstood in N.America: Jeff D.Long

Hinduism misunderstood in N.America: Jeff D.Long

CHICAGO: Jeffery D. Long is a Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He is associated with the Vedanta Society, Dharma Academy of North America (DANAM) and Hindu American Foundation (HAF). His formulations of “Hindu process theology” focus on religious pluralism from the perspective of A.N. Whitehead’s process philosophy.

His books include A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism, Jainism: An Introduction, The Historical Dictionary of Hinduism, and the edited volume Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific. In 2007, Long contributed to HAF’s “Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism, and Bigotry Against Hindus.” He also weighed in on the California textbooks controversy.

In 2018, Long received HAF’s Dharma Seva Award “for his efforts to help mainstream Americans understand Hinduism in academia and public schools.” Ahead of his February 01 keynote address at HAF’s Chicago fundraiser, India Post interviews Long on Hinduism in North America.

How did you become such a committed American Hindu academician?
I was drawn to Hinduism, specifically Vedanta, from an early age. I found in the Bhagavad Gita the philosophy I was seeking as I dealt with the worst crisis I have experienced: the death of my father when I was twelve, and the events surrounding it.

As my commitment gradually deepened, I was drawn to the tradition of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, in which I am an initiated practitioner. I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition, which has theologians, or professional intellectuals whose job is to articulate an understanding of the faith for the wider public. I have aspired to serve in a similar role for the Hindu community: to be something like a Hindu theologian.

Why growing Hinduphobia despite a thriving diaspora and excellent India-US relations?
Hinduism is deeply misunderstood in North America. People are ignorant of the depth of its philosophies and effectiveness of its spiritual practices (associating such things with Buddhism, which has more positive associations for most Americans). Hindu traditions have been poorly represented in both the educational system and media, with an emphasis on the exotic, or on phenomena like caste, which are controversial among Hindus but are presented as being blindly followed without question.

But Hindus also have the spiritual and intellectual resources to show the world a better way of being. The world should listen. Moreover, there is a beautiful harmony between American and Hindu ideals of freedom and mutual acceptance. This needs to be emphasized.

Read the rest @ https://indiapost.com/hinduism-misunderstood-in-n-america-jeff-d-long/


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