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From East Indian to Mexican Philosophy
By Mari D. González
I grew up in Mexico. We have a very unique religion that sets us apart from the world. Although on the outside it might be seen as pure Catholicism, the essence is Indigenous. The most revered deity is the Virgin of Guadalupe, not Jesus. In that sense, we are not necessarily Christians but Guadalupanos (Dr. Jalife-Rahme). Mexican’s virgin is the western Virgin Mary fused with the Native American goddess of Tonantzin.
Para Los Pueblos Originarios de México, the natural world, and the Cosmos are very relevant. Southern Mexico’s original languages are very spiritual and grounded in nature. For example, the word “heart” is often used in the indigenous languages’ conversations to express that one is talking from deep within and with endearment. We have the word “corazonada” which can be translated as “from the heart” which is very common among Mexicans to express intuition.
The closer I get to my indigenous spirituality, the more relevant and absorbable Vedic concepts are for me. Therefore, when I read the word “Heart” in the book, The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, I understood it with a deeper, close-to-home experience.
I am on a quest to learn more about my indigenous spiritual roots to make awakening more relevant to my own experience as a Spanish speaker who grew up in Mexico. English is my second language and the British/US culture is an added layer to my worldview. From the perspective of the Spanish language and Mexican culture (High-Context), I perceive both the English language and the British/US culture as narrower (Low-Context). It is expected that several concepts will be lost in translation between Indian thought translated into British English and the Mexican perspective when reading Indian sacred books in English. I find it helpful to trust my “heart intuition” when I find myself at a concepts’ crossroads.
Mexico’s 5,000 years of culture, civilization, and spirituality–Mayan, Tolteca, Zapoteca, Olmeca, Totonaca, Mexica or Azteca, and Tehotihuacana–are comparable to India’s old history. Unfortunately, just like Indians lost a lot of sacred books to Moslem control, old Mexico lost most of their venerated writings to the Catholic Spaniards during their 300 hundred years of colonization. During that time, what was not lost, it was syncretized. However, Indigenous culture is very palpable among Mexicans. It is in our genes. It is what sets us apart. The way we socialize, relate to others, see the world, our food, and our spirituality are more Indigenous than Spaniards. Our philosophical history is not easily available to study and there are not be accessible books to read and study. The essence of our philosophy has been taught by parents to their children just as in our whole culture.
Currently, more youth and adults are making efforts to revive, reconnect with, and conserve our Indigenous culture. We see more people in leadership positions wearing Indigenous attire with pride. We are in the introspection identity development stage due to the high toll on the Mexican economy, public health, and political corruption. What has kept us going is the culture which includes our millenary spiritual values and indigenous cosmology whether we have Indigenous genes or not.
An Argentinian Yoga instructor told me once that for Mexicans it is easier to connect to ancient Indian wisdom because of our old indigenous roots. Yet, we still need to make the necessary adaptations and avoid wrong interpretations. This will ensure relevancy and meaningfulness to our individual and cultural experiences. Love (heart), awareness, and spirituality as in humanness are “one” in Indian and Mexican philosophies or any other philosophy for that matter.
Yet, we need to understand that even when our destination might be the same–finding the ultimate truth,–our paths to arrive are not the same. We all take different modes of transportation and roads. Additionally, as human beings, we also have the inherent need for meaning continuation. In this process, we go from our uniqueness–diversity or analysis–into that Oneness–inclusion or synthesis.
* Tonantzin Image by Monaghan BGH 290; Gunn Allen SH 45