Non-Saintly Integrity in the South Hebron Hills
Is integrity a Western notion, rooted in Western philosophical concepts of wholeness and moral consistency? I can’t think of a Sanskrit equivalent. Yet the Indian metaphysical and meta-psychological traditions do offer several possible points of comparison, partly in the context of a pervasive theory of human freedom to act and to know, and partly in relation to the idea of “self-coincidence”, tadatmya, the autonomous coherence of disparate pieces of self and the linguistic acts proper to such a (relatively rare) state of being — that is, sentences like “I am,” “I want,” “I think,” and “I know.” Tadatmya contrasts with heteronomy, paratmya. I hope to explore these notions in a concrete context of action rich with ethical implications, that is, our work in the south Hebron Hills, with its Gandhian textures. Specific conditions seem to enable self-coincidence, and there are decisions which, at such moments, either fulfill this inner state or compromise it. The Israeli invention of selective refusal to serve in the army also offers an unusual illustration of Gandhian/Israeli integrity.
David Shulman is Professor of Indology and Comparative Religious Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his Ph.D from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His many publications on Tamil and Sanskrit literature and mythology include: The Wisdom of Poets: Studies in Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit (2001); as co-author and co-editor: Self and Self-Transformation in the History of Religions (2002), Siva in the Forest of Pines: An Essay on Sorcery and Self-Knowledge (2004), God on the Hill. Telugu Songs by Annamayya (2005), The Demon’s Daughter: A Love Story from South India (2006) and Spring, Heat, Rains: A South Indian Diary (2008). Shulman is also a long-time dedicated peace activist, and has published a book-length account, entitled Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine (2007), of his years working, and often clashing with police and settlers, to deliver food and medical supplies to Palestinian villages.