• Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    For a couple of years, after reading Huston Smith's 'Forgotten Truth: The Common View of the World's Religions' (1976), I have begun to think that the division between theism and atheism is anything but a black or white issue, and this is not down to agnosticism or of proof of the existence of God. Huston argues that both atheism and theism are partial truths, with atheism being a way of thinking through the limitations of the anthromorphic thinking of 'God'.

    One way of seeing beyond theism and atheism is in Buddhism, which focuses on consciousness. There is a fair amount of interest in the links between consciousness and neuroscience within Buddhism. However, there is the underlying idea of non-duality, which may be a perennial one within many traditions. I have had some difficulty thinking about the idea but have been reading recently which I am finding useful in making sense of the idea. I will share its perspective as a basis for critical reflection/analysis?

    The book is, 'The Supreme Self: The Way to Enlightenment' by Swami Abhayanda' (2006), which is a spiritual autobiography and expounds the philosophy of non- dualism. It is hard to summarise fully a book which draws upon many traditions, including Hinduism, the Judaeo- Christian tradition, Buddhism and Taoism, and I will simply give a few ideas as a starting point for discussion.

    Abhayanda speaks of how, in spite of an emphasis on 'Divine Consciousness' in Judaic Scripture, within the Jewish Patriarch's story of creation, 'the Divine Self inherent in man had become a separate being, a god, standing apart from His creatures as a vengeful and tyrannical overlord'. He argues,
    'Such a dualistic view of reality is a failure of vision and results in a narrow and self-alienating view of life. And yet it is this version of the nature of reality, that has influenced the culture of Western civilisation greatly for the last 2000 years...'
    The author draws upon various traditions, including Hinduism, and his own experience of 'enlightenment', which,
    'revealed that I am, by extension, everyone is, the one Soul of the Universe. The slightest movement of the mind would initiate the recreation of duality; but held singly on its concentrated focus, the mind remains immersed in the Eternal. Raised to that eternal Consciousness, I saw that all Creation is one coordinated whole, that every movement of every grain of sand is in perfect harmony with the coordinated unfolding of the universe. My physical existence was then seen to have no separate identity, but was part of a unified continuum of creative energy.'
    His general perspective is one of the idea of 'God' as consciousness itself and of interconnectedness.

    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism. I am aware that there have been many debates on the topic on the forum. Also, there are various philosophical positions, including substance dualism and deism, so it is a complicated area. Here, in this thread, I am focusing on the idea of non-duality and asking do you see the idea as helpful or not in your philosophical understanding, especially in relation to the concept of God?
    1. Do you believe in the existence of 'God? (7 votes)
        Yes
        14%
        No
        71%
        Not sure
        14%
    2. Do you support a philosophy of idealism? (7 votes)
        Yes
        29%
        No
        71%
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k
    I have edited the title and added a poll, to see if people see a link between idealism and belief in God. I wonder are the two connected as philosophical ideas?
  • Keith
    8
    I have begun to think that the division between theism and atheism is anything but a black or white issue,Jack Cummins

    When pressed for a quick label, I will use the label of “atheist”. However, it does give me pause when I do, because “atheist” is a parasite term. It needs “theist” to be defined before it is possible to be an “atheist”. For example, polytheists are justified in calling monotheists, “atheists” because they nowadays deny the existence of many gods. Or if your definition of God is the most powerful being then I might be a theist (Just depends on if you can prove power can be measured). So, in theist/atheist pairing, I can see one side of a non-dualistic relationship.

    The question is the other side. Does theism need atheism to have meaning/exist? The best positive answer I can come up with is, “yes because without the denial (atheism) it quickly becomes pantheism”. If one cannot say this is not God then everything becomes God. And if everything is God, then “God” is functionally meaningless. Or it is a fun way to be a closet atheist.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    To some extent it comes down to the use of various labels to try to explain the metaphysics of 'reality'. In thinking about whether theism depends on atheism conceptually and vice versa, an essential aspect is what one means by the concept of God, as an idea in the human mind.

    In considering the history of theism, it is worth thinking about the origins of religion and supernatural belief. It may be considered in the context of the anthropologist, James Frazer's description of transitions from belief in magic, religion to science. In looking at whether theism itself was dependent on the opposite of atheism, it has to be remembered that ancient people did not have the knowledge of science. Also, it is possible that human beings literally believed that they conversed with gods or God, such as Moses receiving the commandments from God. This was spoken of by Julian Jaynes in 'The Bicameral Mind: The Origins of Consciousness'. Jaynes argues that the human beings may have actually heard 'voices', with schizophrenia being a throwback to such experience. He suggests that this involves a lack of differentiation between inner and outer, or subjectivity and objectivity.

    It could be argued that it comes down to the way in which opposites are constructed in the human mind, such as embraced by Taoism. There are opposites, such as good and evil, male and female, light and darkness within the framework of a larger underlying unity. The human mind constructs in a dualistic way, so this has led to the development of opposites in historic development, including subjective and objective, as well as theism and atheism, or earlier in Abrahamic religions, as God and the devil.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    idealism and belief in God. I wonder are the two connected as philosophical ideas?Jack Cummins
    No. No. And yes I think they are "connected".

    (A proper response to come later.)
  • Fire Ologist
    493
    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism.Jack Cummins

    I see no reason to deny the physical world, and no reason to deny that mind incorporates the non-physical in this same world.

    Paradox, to me, is a unity, not a defeat of opposites or a crack in any foundation.

    We are the instantiation of dualism; we are the contradiction in the universe (the one word). We are a paradox; impossible yet actual. There is one AND there are many. Parmenides and Heraclitus were both right, and spoke of the same Being, the same Natural world.

    I am not an idealist, or a realist, or a physicalist. I see that all of these features are given, are present in the impossible beings that we are.

    We are only bodies. AND, we are only spirits. Because spirits are bodily things, and bodies are spiritual things.

    I do think there is a unity, but it is paradox, not just ideal reason and thought, and not just one physical universe unfolding, but both in harmonious opposition, as is a human being.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism.Jack Cummins

    The problem with this idea is that there is no demonstration that idealism is true. Sure, there are various inferences one can follow (a la Bernardo Kastrup), but the arguments aren't overwhelmingly convincing.

    Idealism doesn't imply theism. It might get one to a kind of Schopenhauerian Great Mind - some instinctive form of will, without metacognition or a plan. But this is a fair distance from a god as is generally understood. And I don't think god is a helpful word.

    His general perspective is one of the idea of 'God' as consciousness itself and of interconnectedness.Jack Cummins

    We are all one and everything is oneness has been a New Age monistic mantra - coming out of the theosophy movement and 1970's counterculture. God as a precondition of reality (consciousness itself) of which we are all fragments is a good story. But how do we test it? I'm not a fan of personal experince anecdotes. I wonder if 'theism' (an impersonal mental construct or unifier of experience) might be an inadequate and misleading word to use to describe this model of reality.

    There are also theistic variations of idealism, but I am assuming for the purpose of this discussion you were not heading there yet.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    Paradox is a useful way of seeing opposites. It is like looking at both sides of a coin and realising that they are both aspects of the same coin. Taoism grasped the idea of duality within oneness so well.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    It would be hard to defend idealism in the face of science and quantum physics demonstrates duality, such as in particle as a particle and wave. It presents a less certain nature of causality. Idealism would signify the disembodied as more real than the embodied. Non-dualism goes beyond this, but it can be seen as having a foot in idealism when it involves seeing consciousness as the source, whereas materialism sees matter as primary.

    What is probably the importance of Shopenhauer here, is the way in which he brought the numinous, or 'thing in itself' of Kant down to being imminent in human experiences as opposed to transcendent.

    The 'new age' movement did usher the ideas of interconnectedness. The romanticism of new age has died and may have been replaced by brokenness and isolation. Also, the philosophy of materialistic determinism may be an ideology to support totalitarianism or authoritarianism in its denial of consciousness and free will. Marx spoke of religion as the opium of the people but atheistic materialistic determinism may lead people to loss of meaning, and turning to alcohol and heroin to dull the pain of meaninglessness.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    The 'new age' movement did usher the ideas of interconnectedness. The romanticism of new age has died and may have been replaced by brokenness and isolation.Jack Cummins

    I was around for the New Age movement. I think much of it was a reaction to the brokenness and isolation of the 'me generation' and 'greed is good'. I think a part of culture has always been railing against perceived brokenness and isolation - right through the ages. Most people at the time, as they do now, considered pursuits like the New Age mainly for lost souls, crackpots, the drug addled and virtue signalers. I was one of them. :wink:
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    t would be hard to defend idealism in the face of science and quantum physics demonstrates duality, such as in particle as a particle and wave. It presents a less certain nature of causality.Jack Cummins

    Kastrup does a good job using science and quantum physics to argue for idealism. The most compelling arguments seem to be the case against what we used to think of as physicalism.

    My issue with this is not really seeing why it matters. Even if idealism is true, it makes no difference to our experience or the choices we make. Which is how I feel about much spirituality and philosophy. We sometimes imagine that the arguments are revelatory, but really all they contribute is an evanescent sense of novelty.
  • Tarskian
    301
    both atheism and theism are partial truthsJack Cummins

    Religion gives you hope, i.e. the belief that things will get better, if not in this life, then at least in the next one. This is the spiritual position. That is why the believer has hope. Since the believer has hope, his belief that there is hope, is completely true.

    Atheism does not instill hope because there is no reason for an atheist to have any. This is the purely rational position. The atheist view is completely true. There simply is no hope for someone who is not capable of it.

    Both positions are self-fulfilling prophecies. They are both completely true because in this matter, the truth is what you believe it to be.

    Some people choose to be hopeful. Others prefer to be hopeless. Everyone chooses what suits him best because there is no compulsion in matters of religion.

    There are no partial truths in this matter. Both views are entirely true
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    I feel like the second option should have an answer of "kinda" haha. There are different types of idealism that mean actually kind of opposing things. For example, what if I don't believe that minds create reality, but I do believe that physics is a manifestation of the multiverse iterating over mathematical objects?

    I've been told that that's a type of idealism, so... kinda?
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism. [ ... ] I am focusing on the idea of non-duality and asking do you see the idea as helpful or not in your philosophical understanding, especially in relation to the concept of God?Jack Cummins
    "Non-duality", like monism, I don't find as "helpful" (i.e. incisive) as double-aspect theory¹ (e.g. Spinoza's mind-body parallelism of Substance/God) because I assume "the split" is epistemic – different, complementary ways of describing the same entity – but not ontological.

    I also think "materialism and idealism" or "atheism and theism" are logical negations of one another and yet each is consistent with – dependent on – any of the monist, dualist, pluralist or non-dual ontologies. IMO, "a non-dualistic viewpoint" doesn't "solve" these logical negations (i.e. "the split"), only denies-ignores them.

    Do you believe in the existence of 'God?
    No. I'm a pandeist²

    Do you support a philosophy of idealism?
    No. I'm a naturalist³



    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-aspect_theory [1]

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/718054 [2]

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/871001 [3]a

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/800071 [3]b
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism.Jack Cummins

    I first encountered it in my late teens through a pamphlet on the Teachings of Ramana Maharishi. I went on to read a lot of related books - in those days, there was the Adyar Bookshop, owned and operated by the Theosophical Society, which had a large range of titles. Stand outs were Swami Vivekananda's books, numerous titles on Zen, and the teachings of Krishnamurti. I think having some knowledge of non-dualism is an essential aspect of cultural and spiritual literacy in today's world.

    I am focusing on the idea of non-duality and asking do you see the idea as helpful or not in your philosophical understanding, especially in relation to the concept of God?Jack Cummins

    Early on, I came to understand that any concept of God was bound to be mistaken, although of course that is a difficult point to make. The crucial point that was conveyed to me in many of those books was the centrality of 'realisation'. Realisation, in that context, has two meanings: first, coming to understand, and also, making it real (as a builder 'realises' the design of a house). You learn what it means by seeing it, hence the emphasis on sadhana, spiritual practice.

    There's something very different about the way this is conveyed in 'dharmic' religions than in Biblical religions. Explaining it would take a long essay, but suffice to say that while dharma and religion overlap, they're not the same. Dharma is one of those quintessential words that doesn't have a direct equivalent in English, but a lot of people will mistakenly equate it with biblical religion due to their cultural background. See http://veda.wikidot.com/dharma-and-religion

    So rather than 'the concept of God', I think dharma teachings convey more a general "sense of the sacred", which in India, appears in many forms, or no form. It's a much more expansive understanding. Through my engagement with those teachings, at least I got some kind of felt sense of relationship to them. I guess you could say some degree of realisation, not that it amounts to any kind of attainment or unique insight. Having realised that, it helped me to re-assess Christian teachings, which in some ways I am closer to now than I was previously, although I'm not a church-goer.

    There are some 'Christian non-dualist' teachers. I could mention Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk, who I encountered at the appropriately-named Science and Nonduality Conference.
  • Tarskian
    301
    IMO, "a non-dualistic viewpoint" doesn't "solve" these logical negations (i.e. "the split"), only denies-ignores them.180 Proof

    Does the set of all sets that do not contain themselves, contain itself? True or false?

    Both answers turn out to be false (Russell's paradox).

    Decidable propositions are (either true or false). One of both. Undecidable propositions can be (false and false) or (true and true).

    Therefore, the first question is not: Is it true or false? Instead, the first question is: Is it decidable or undecidable?

    Religion versus atheism is rationally undecidable of the type: (true and true). This translates into: There is hope for the believers and no hope for the unbelievers.
  • Lionino
    2.1k
    Both answers turn out to be false (Russell's paradox).

    Decidable propositions are (either true or false). One of both. Undecidable propositions can be (false and false) or (true and true).
    Tarskian

    Nonsense.
  • PeterJones
    415
    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism. I am aware that there have been many debates on the topic on the forum. Also, there are various philosophical positions, including substance dualism and deism, so it is a complicated area. Here, in this thread, I am focusing on the idea of non-duality and asking do you see the idea as helpful or not in your philosophical understanding, especially in relation to the concept of God?Jack Cummins

    Hi Jack

    Fascinating question. Yes, non-dualism deals with the split between materialism and idealism, and between atheism and theism. The issues are tricky, however, because of the words.;For instance, 'transcendental' or 'absolute' idealism is non-dualism.

    All extreme or 'positive' metaphysical positions are rejected by non-dualism. It states that all such positions are wrong. Philosophers find that all such positions are logically absurd, and this is the central problem of metaphysics, but usually overlook this fact and fail to reject them. Kant makes the situation clear in the Critique of Pure Reason, where he concludes that all selective conclusions about the world as a whole are undecidable. Here a 'selective conclusion' is an extreme position, and 'undecidable' means not what it means in mathematics, but that positive (yes/no) both answers are absurd, rendering all metaphysical questions undecidable. As F.H. Bradley puts it, 'Metaphysics does not endorse a positive result'. .

    Thus non-dualism does not simply solve the two problems you mention but all metaphysical problems. Simply put, (as I explain at length in a forthcoming book), non-dualism is the only global theory or 'theory of everything' that survives analysis.

    This is the reason why metaphysics is not understood in the Western philosophical tradition, which studies every philosophical theory except the one that works. I would suggest that most people could understand philosophy better than most famous philosophers if only they study the only theory scholastic philosophers almost never study.

    Russell's paradox is what happens when set theorists do not endorse non-dualism, and many other paradoxes arise.
    ,

    . .

    . . , .
  • Tarskian
    301
    NonsenseLionino

    Nonsense is a categorical technique:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstract_nonsense

    In mathematics, abstract nonsense, general abstract nonsense, generalized abstract nonsense, and general nonsense are nonderogatory terms used by mathematicians to describe long, theoretical parts of a proof they skip over when readers are expected to be familiar with them.[1] These terms are mainly used for abstract methods related to category theory and homological algebra. More generally, "abstract nonsense" may refer to a proof that relies on category-theoretic methods, or even to the study of category theory itself.

    There is an interesting discussion on hacker news on whether category theory lends itself to analyzing Russell's paradox:

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24355739

    The answer seems to be "no".
  • Mww
    4.7k
    The issues are tricky, however, because of the words.;For instance, 'transcendental' or 'absolute' idealism is non-dualism.FrancisRay

    Tricky may be dependent on mere subjective inclination, insofar as there is an established transcendental idealism, while not “absolute”, is certainly dualistic. Or, perhaps, sufficiently demonstrates the intrinsic duality of the human intellectual nature.
  • Lionino
    2.1k
    More nonsense. I suggest you seek basic education so you don't have to abuse random internet links to appear smart.
  • Tarskian
    301
    More nonsense.Lionino

    My argument was not categorical. So, your proposition is not receivable.

    I suggest you seek basic education so you don't have to abuse random internet links to appear smart.Lionino

    I know what the problem is with my academic education. I largely spent my time learning how to manually carry out the steps that the following software can do automatically:

    https://www.gurobi.com/resources/open-source-mixed-integer-and-linear-programming-solvers/

    Open-Source Performance: Mixed-Integer and Linear Programming Comparisons

    Performance is typically a crucial consideration when choosing a solver. To give a sense of the relative performance of the various solver options listed above, we’ve summarized the results of independent benchmark tests maintained by Hans Mittelmann at Arizona State.

    If we look at performance on Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) models across a broad set of test models, the table below shows results along two key dimensions: a) was the solver able to solve the model, and b) how quickly was the model solved? As you can see from the results, performance varies widely across solvers.

    Furthermore, in the decades since, I never got the opportunity to use any of that. So, I am the first one to admit that academic training is not necessarily very useful. It was fun, though. And since the education was for free in the United Socialist Countries of Europe -- I even got a scholarship to pay for living expenses -- it could all have been much worse.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    It is debatable how much the issue of materialism vs idealism matters; for some it can be pure academic philosophy. In a way, it may matter more to those who come from a theistic perspective, especially in relation to the issue of life after death. Having grown up within a Catholic background, I definitely began with a clear belief in life after death and it has perplexed me ever since.

    At one point, the issue was whether life after death would be physical or material. It was round about that time that I began to question life after death seriously. Heaven and hell, reincarnation, karma and nirvana may be symbolic of one's place in the eternal scheme. Nevertheless, coming from the starting point of Catholic or Christian theism, which was rather worrying with the prospect of fear of hell, I continue to find issues of God, or lack of God, as well as concepts of mind, body and spirit fascinating. Non-dualism appeals to me because it encompasses the splits, especially in a way which is a realisation of one's self, or ego, in a way which is part of larger processes, which can be an important part of the experience of enlightenment.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    I have started looking at your links but will read them further before making a full reply. My current approach to your post is that you see the issues very theoretically. I am not dismissing theory, because it is certainly a way of navigating one's way around thinking about issue carefully. I try to read the theories for clear thinking, especially in untangling knots of socialised beliefs. But I am not sure that it comes down to ontology completely. There seems to be something deeper, but maybe I say this because I am not convinced entirely by naturalism.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    I didn't come across the idea of non-dualism until a few years ago. Nevertheless, even when I was going to Christian Union as a student the Brahman-Atman relationship which I had read about seemed important. I do find the ideas of Eastern traditions more compatible than many in Western theism or atheism. It may come down to a far more contemplative approach to life or a softer, more subtle metaphysics.
  • 180 Proof
    14.7k
    You've misread me (so far): I'm saying that "duality" (or "the split" as you call it) is only an epistemological issue that's been mistaken for – incoherently reified into – ontology. As for your doubts of naturalism, Jack, I hope the (last) 2 links in my previous post provide you with some (more) food for thought that is both "theoretical", as you say, and also, more significantly, existential-pragmatic.
  • Jack Cummins
    5.1k

    I think that you wrote a post to me some time ago about non-dualism. It is interesting that it can be an approach for approaching all metaphysics but is so often ignored within Western philosophy. It may be about the organisation of the right and left brain in thinking, especially within education. It may be that those with a more mystical leaning find it makes sense than those with a more theoretical approach. Ideally, I would like to be able to blend the two as a more synthetic understanding, going beyond the duality of right and left brain, Eastern and Western philosophy. I am all in favour of seeing bridges rather than inherent splits.
  • javra
    2.5k
    I wonder to what extent such a non-dualistic viewpoint offers a solution to the split between materialism and idealism, as well as between atheism and theism. I am aware that there have been many debates on the topic on the forum. Also, there are various philosophical positions, including substance dualism and deism, so it is a complicated area. Here, in this thread, I am focusing on the idea of non-duality and asking do you see the idea as helpful or not in your philosophical understanding, especially in relation to the concept of God?Jack Cummins

    A thoughtful OP.

    For me, non-duality is certainly helpful, if not pivotal, to my philosophical understandings. Yet this necessitates a very different perspective compared to mainstream views. Firstly, in the non-dualistic ontology which I hold onto there must - or at least should - be initially clarified different levels of reality (here more stringently interpreted as actuality): the realities/actualities that are strictly private to individual agents (e.g., the reality of the quality of what one experiences during an REM dream which one upon awakening does not share with any other; or, more broadly, the reality of what is nowadays termed one's personal umwelt - which to me currently seems incommunicable in whole); then there is the realities/actualities of mutually shared experiences or else of mutually shared information and interactions (e.g., the reality of languages, cultures, and relationships); then there is the globally singular reality/actuality of, in part, that information which is equally applicable to all coexistent agents (this being the reality of what we know of as physicality). These three distinct, though entwined, realities will however all be dualistic when technically appraised: if for no other reason, in all these there will occur a duality between self/selves and other. Then, finally, there is that reality which is non-dualistic in all conceivable senses. Maybe for obvious reasons, this ultimate reality is hard toward impossible to illustrate via examples - other than by introducing what are typically termed religious or mystical concepts found throughout cultures both past and present. But for the sake of this post, this non-dualistic ultimate reality is - at the very least for all intended purposes - logically identical to what in many a philosophy is termed the Good (Neo-Platonic notions of "the One" as just one instantiation). Once one adjusts to the notion that this ultimate non-dualistic reality is (for lack of better concise terminology) in fact the only reality that actually is in in the sense of being eternally permanent, or static, or fixed (and is thereby both uncreated and imperishable) - to further complicate matters, with this same non-dualistic ultimate reality being one and the same as an egoless awareness that is therefore utterly devoid of any limitations (the complexities of this here placed aside) which, nevertheless, comprises the very essence of any aware being - then one can then intellectually (but not experientially) look back upon the first three layers of reality previously addressed (all of them being dualistic) as a mixture of this ultimate non-dualistic reality (in the form of all co-occurringt instantiations of awareness) and the ultimately transient information it creates (either as individual agents/selves, or as societies, or, far more complexly, via the simultaneous co-occurrence of all agents/selves in the cosmos). I know this mouthful is here poorly expressed rationally, but I'm not here seeking to adequately justify my philosophical outlook, only to outline its key features. So, then, from the vantage of this non-dualistic ultimate reality, all duality will then be interpreted as various forms of maya/illusion. To include all three types of reality first expressed.

    The more concise I make this outline, the more implausible or else gappy this worldview becomes. I know. But, again, I won't be expounding on what I find to be the rational consistency of this outlook in this post.

    Nevertheless, once this perspective becomes comfortably upheld, one then can quite easily both have the cake and eat it too: Yes, all "form is emptiness" and there can be no thing as a self - this from the vantage of ultimate (and, in at least one sense, the only true/authentic) reality - while at the same time (but in a difference sense) fully acknowledging the truth of physicality and all that it encompasses (e.g., that there can be no living human mind if the human brain gets too badly injured or else perishes; that brain-operations fully correlate to the operations of mind - both pertaining to an individual human self which can quite safely affirm "I am" such that it is other than all which it is not (hence,forever being in a dualistic relation to the world as an I-ness/ego); and so forth). And one can likewise make sense of the Hindu notion of Brahman wherein all currently divided or else separate "witness consciousnesses" are constituents of the true, authentic, or else absolute Self of Brahman (here, though, the true self is utterly devoid of ego/I-ness). But to so comfortably interpret the just aforementioned, all four levels of reality/actuality previously mentioned need to be entertained.

    I don't deem this philosophical perspective which I espouse to be either theistic or atheistic. Nor agnostic for that matter. But it is certainly non-physicalist. And it could be understood as one particular type of idealism - or else of neutral monism in so far as both mind and matter are deemed to equally be aspects of the comsic maya/illusion (which, again, shall always be dualistic).

    And, as to the concept of God, God can mean many disparate things to different people. As one example of more Western beliefs regarding divinity, or else God, which can be fairly easily interpreted in non-dualistic manners is the Judaic notion of the Ein Sof that can be found in Kabbalah. But this or like notions proper are in no means anthropomorphic; God here is not an ego which creates or controls or determines or judges. Rather it is infinite (in the strictly literal, non-mathematical sense of "devoid of any limits whatsoever") awareness which holds no duality relative to anything other whatsoever yet - to here introduce Aristotelian terminology - "moves everything" despite being itself as infinite being utterly unmovable and part-less (divinely simple). To assimilate this in what I previously described of my own current philosophical perspective, this notion of God as just expressed is identical to the non-dualistic ultimate reality of the Good which I've previously mentioned. But express this same concept to most via the term "God" and most - from my experiences so far most Jews included - will wrongly assume you're thinking of a superlative and incorporeal ego that in some way or another controls everything. Which would be an utterly incorrect interpretation of what is being upheld.

    Almost feel like apologizing for getting so personal into my outline of my own currently held beliefs. But then the OP does ask its leading question at a personal level.
  • ENOAH
    731
    Great question. I am not fully confident in the precise definition of 'Non-duality'. But if it is like monism in regard to ultimate reality being One, isn't difference required to have "theism vs atheism" to begin with?

    In other words, in non-duality, as Im reading it, there is ultimately neither atheism nor theism, all of reality is One (if non-dualism is like monism).

    In that sense, maybe it bridges the gap by "telling" both theism, and atheism (and everything in between) that they're ultimately all wrong. Ultimately, it (metaphysically, literally and poetically) makes no difference.
  • ENOAH
    731
    It may be that those with a more mystical leaning find it makes sense than those with a more theoretical approach.Jack Cummins

    If I may hazard a guess, the so called East (and the farther east you get the more this applied) "did" there philosophy, rather than keeping it in their "heads". While the Brahmins and rest of India created a wealth of theoretical work, they also had Jnana Yoga and the other Yogas. Then by the time Buddhism reaches China, it's stripped of most of the theoretical--iconaclastically--
    and the focus is on Zazen, tge exercise of sitting.

    Maybe there is something in that which the West, having ignored (in Philosophy, to date), has not "seen." I.e., for instance (and now I'm being almost recklessly hypothetical) that the human organism can by a physical exercise of the body sitting in meditation, come to "see" with its organic senses, released very briefly from Mind's constructions, that all in Nature (what we call the Universe) is One. A thing that cannot be arrived at in theoretical reflection where difference, logic, cause, effect, are necessary mechanisms. How can one come to know all is one? One must only be that reality. Perhaps, though very vaguely, meditation has been a gift to the Eastern thinkers.
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    I do find the ideas of Eastern traditions more compatible than many in Western theism or atheism.Jack Cummins

    Some popular history: a seminal event in the history of this particular cultural moment, was the Parliament of the World's Religions, Chicago, 1893 (link to wiki entry). Amongst the presenters were Swami Vivekananda, of India's Ramakrishna Mission, Soyen Shaku, a Japanese Rinzai Zen master, Anagarika Dharmapala, a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk. 'The Parliament of Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the World's Congress Auxiliary Building (now The Art Institute of Chicago), and ran from 11 to 27 September, making it the first organized interfaith gathering. Today it is recognized as the birth of the worldwide interfaith movement.' After this session, Vivekananda stayed on the US, travelling the country by rail and giving lectures. He was by all accounts a charismatic and magnetic speaker. The Vedanta Society of New York was set up by him, active to this day, and now headed by the erudite Swami Savapriyananda. The California Vedanta Society has also been around a long time, and was frequented by Alduous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood, among others.

    Soyen Shaku also had a major impact, and came to stay in San Francisco after the event. He was accompanied by his private secretary, one D T Suzuki, who went on to become a major populariser of Zen Buddhism in America, lecturing at Columbia University in the 1950's and 60's. Soyen Shaku too planted the seeds of the later flourishing of Zen centres throughout America and beyond.

    That is where a lot of non-dualist teaching entered Western culture, although there were elements before it, and many after it. But the Parliament of Religions was a major source.

    Maybe there is something in that which the West, having ignored (in Philosophy, to date), has not "seen." I.e., for instance ...that the human organism can by a physical exercise of the body sitting in meditation, come to "see" with its organic senses, released very briefly from Mind's constructions, that all in Nature (what we call the Universe) is One.ENOAH

    Actually, there is what is designated the 'wisdom-eye' of 'discriminative wisdom' (Sanskrit 'viveka' - the root of Vivekananda's name.) There is a form of 'higher knowledge' throughout the yogic and Buddhist texts (unpopular though that suggestion might be in the secular flatlands). It is called by various terms including Jñāna or Prajna - notice the 'gn-' root which is the common indo-european root of 'gnosticism'.

    I do accept that there is a state which might be called the 'unitive vision', but that it's strongly associated with samadhi, states of trance and metabolic suspension which enables yogis to maintain stillness of extended periods of time. Those states of meditative trance are very clearly mapped out in the early Buddhist texts, but they're extremely rare and difficult to attain (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.) There appear to be some who have a natural inclination or ability to fall into those states, but again, they're few and far between. (I think Krishnamurti was one.)

    But I agree with you that this general orientation is much more strongly presented in Eastern philosophies than in Western culture, especially since the Renaissance.
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