Non-duality

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Thomas, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    So said Cynthia Bourgeault in an interview on 'Christian non-duality' for the Garrison Institute.

    She then went on to spoil it somewhat, which is a pity, but I think there's a lot to be said for her first comment.
     
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  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    All is one....uneyer1.....G!d n I are one...the rock and table are one....

    Please expound...
     
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  3. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    The quote from here made me think of Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows. It is system theory and only semi relevant to the topic, but it helps when viewing the whole, parts of a whole and the relationship between them in different ways. It could perhaps be applicable when looking at metaphysics or how the metaphysical and the physical intersect. The book is a favorite of mine because it reflected how I already saw the world and then added a lot on top of it.
     
  4. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    And now something completely different.
    What are people's thoughts on what she said here?
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK. What, if any, is the difference between you and a rock?
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Five sense perception...

    I have more water... Can't sit thru a movie...

    And me thinks you'd agree with the rock more often.
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I don't think it is. I think there's too many powerful testimonies to the contrary.
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    And going on ... what's the difference between you and God.
     
  9. Aussie Thoughts

    Aussie Thoughts Just my 2 cents

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    God can view numerical sequence and has full editing capabilities. Wil does not...:D
     
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  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Lol...

    Jesus and G!d and holy ghost... Differences? But one? One was flesh.... The trinity is how we view them...perceptions... One but separate, one but different....

    No?
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Wil —
    The difference is in external relation, the essence of the three is the same.
    Like three people, each an individual being, but wholly and equally human by nature.

    Well Christ was the union of two natures, the divine and the human. Christ is one of the Three before time, before creation.

    The Incarnation is the key, really, on which the whole idea of Christian nonduality turns.

    Well the Trinity is revealed in Scripture, so that's the foundation from which the perception develops.

    Of course, how anyone perceives anything says much if not more about them than the thing perceived.

    Yes, so the 'separate' and 'different' requires qualification to avoid the apparent contradiction.
    The Persons are 'separate' as persons yet 'one' in essence; 'different' in act yet the 'same' in intention. The distinction is in external relation, not in essential nature.

    The Holy Trinity is a Supernatural Mystery (something we cannot assert by natural observation or intellectual intuition) and the term 'Person' is the best means by which we approach the Mystery. Boethius (6th century) defines person as "an individual substance of a rational nature"; Mary Midgley (still around) defines a person as being a conscious, thinking being, which knows that it is a person (ie: self-aware).

    So really, you, me and Aussie (and indeed everyone else) are one (nature) but separate, one (humanity) but different.

    I hope that helps?
     
  12. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Cynthia Bourgeault's thoughts about the Trinity are fascinating. Instead of thinking about the Trinity primarily in terms of "persons", she thinks about it primarily in terms of "process". She says "the Trinity is primarily about process. It encapsulates a paradigm of change and transformation based on an ancient metaphysical principle known as the Law of Three". Have you read her work about the Trinity?
     
  13. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    She basically means Christianity is not about right belief, but right practice. This extends to her perspective of non-duality, which she believes is the state of mind Jesus referred to whenever he talked about the Kingdom of Heaven.
     
  14. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Do you agree that belief is always a mental operation?
    So here experience is synonymous with practice?
    Do you have an example of how to practice non-duality?
     
  15. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    No, I'd say belief is a conviction first and foremost.

    This conviction might be arrived at through the operation of the mental faculty, but that is extremely rare. C.S. Lewis is a prime example of such, but generally, man is a voluntive creature rather than an intellective creature.

    Yes. The only authentic experience is in and of the practice.

    Those who pursue a religion for a 'religious experience' (specifically the sensory consciousness of the numinous) are really barking up the wrong tree.

    It's why I'm generally suspicious of the phrase "I'm spiritual, but not religious". As well as inferring an explicit duality, there is in the terms themselves an inherent contradiction: any mode of 'spirituality' is ontologically informed by its parent religion. In the Orthodox Christian world, the two are synonymous. Too often 'spiritual' people speak of religion in a subjective and pejorative manner, generally ignorant of what right religion is, but amply armed with the evidence (as they see it) of what's wrong. No-one eschews science on the basis that it gave us nuclear weapons. The commonly-held idea that 'religion has caused more wars' etc., has been rendered void in the last century by the Reich, Stalin, Pol Pot, et al. It hardly bodes well for the claim to esoteric insight when they cannot objectively discern the exoteric.

    I think the idea of a 'spiritual experience' has become rather distorted by filtering ideas from the Asian continent through a goal- and object-oriented western mindset. Anyone declaring a spiritual life usually declares some order of 'enlightenment', an elevated and kind of supra-aesthetic appreciation of 'the one-ness of everything'. I'm rather of the opinion that's largely irrelevant to the discussion of religion.

    In the same way the mystics — the Rumis, the Eckharts, etc., are held up as the paragons of religious 'experience', as if they are the goal of religious endeavour. It's a complete distortion of what authentic religious practice is. Eckhart, for example, never claimed any order of 'experience' whatsoever. And the claim that he thought 'outside the box' is a nonsense in the face of the tradition for which he speaks (have they read Aquinas or Bonaventure or Albert the Great, I wonder), and the fact is that Eckhart spent a good many years disciplining the Medieval equivalent of "New Age" mysticisms!

    Pure Christianity.

    To approach that, we need look at where duality comes from.

    The following is distilled from a long article by David Bentley Hart, as I think he has a lot of useful stuff to say.

    The great Indo-European mythos, from which Western culture sprang, was chiefly one of sacrifice. It saw the cosmos as a closed hierarchical system, with the gods on top of the mountain, with angels/demigods, heroes, free men and slaves arrayed on its slopes in descending order.

    The engagement between gods and mortals was fundamentally strife-ridden, a transactions with death in which man was the plaything of seemingly callous and often capricious gods in whom was personified the callousness and caprice of nature.

    The terrible dynamism of the gods/nature was resisted and rationalised within the cults, recuperating their sacrificial expenditures in the form of divine favours.

    Judaism, at its very inception, had the chance to break with the old regime. The God of Abraham demanded total fidelity, and Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son to that end. But the sacrifice was refused. It should have ended there, but instead a 'providential' ram found stuck in a bush, and offered instead. But how can a chance find be any demonstration of fidelity?

    +++

    Certainly the mythos did not always express itself in slaughter. Early religious expression included fertility festivals, for example, and the celebration of the passage of the dead, but they were all underwritten by the idea of sacrifice.

    The pervasive shadow of this mythos fell across the philosophical schools of antiquity. All the great speculative and moral systems of the pagan world were, in varying degrees, confined to this totality, a strife between order and disorder, within which a sacrificial economy held all forces in tension. This is true even of Platonism, with its inescapable adherence to dualism, its dialectic of change and the changeless (or of limit and the infinite, in modern parlance Relative and the Absolute), and its equation of truth with eidetic abstraction; the world, for all its beauty, is the realm of fallen vision, separated by a great chorismos from the realm of immutable reality. The same in the Indo myths, with their concept of purusha and prakriti, essence and substance.

    It is true of Aristotle, the father of the 'categories' in which everything, the gods included, are assigned their place in the cosmic order. Stoicism offers an obvious example: a vision of the universe as a fated, eternally repeated divine and cosmic history, a world in which finite forms must constantly perish simply in order to make room for others, and which in its entirety is always consumed in a final ecpyrosis (which makes a sacrificial pyre, so to speak, of the whole universe). Neoplatonism furnishes the most poignant example, inasmuch as its monism merely inverts earlier Platonism’s dualism and only magnifies the melancholy in 'the flight of the alone to the Alone'.

    The same is embedded in science. The example of the wave/particle paradox is but one.

    +++

    Only in the light of this does the shatteringly subversive message of Christianity emerge, and yet its message of love not sacrifice was voiced by Hosea eight centuries before Christ.

    So, in an act to show that He requires love not sacrifice, God inverts the whole, ancient order – He sacrifices His son.

    "Now is the judgment of this world, now will the prince of this world be cast out", says Christ in John's Gospel (12:31). "I have overcome the world" (16:33).

    Nowhere is the vastness of meaning of the Passion more evident than in the rending of the veil of the temple.

    +++

    Naturally, also, with the death of the old mythos, metaphysics too was transformed. In every ancient system of philosophy this world is a reflection of the other, Christian theology taught from the first that the world was God’s creature in the most radically ontological sense – called from nothingness, not out of any need on God’s part, but by grace. The world adds nothing to the being of God, and so nothing need be sacrificed for His glory or sustenance. In a sense, God and world alike were liberated from the fetters of necessity; God could be accorded His true transcendence and the world its true character as divine gift – a theophany.

    The full implications of this is embedded in the Council of Chalcedon, and the four 'Chalcedonian adverbs' — that Christ comprises two natures in Himself, God and the world, "without confusion, without change, without division," and, most tellingly, "without separation". God and the world as two, as distinct, but a single totality.

    +++

    Christian ride the world of the old gods, amd modernity seeks to ride the world of Christianity.

    The only cult that can truly thrive in the aftermath of Christianity is a service of the self; the cult of the of the impulses of the will, of the nothingness that is all that the withdrawal of Christianity leaves behind.

    Modern men and women believe in nothing. This is not to say, we do not believe in anything concretely or absolutely; everything is negotiable. Everything depends upon my viewpoint, my narrative. The world is as I write it.

    We live in an age whose moral value is determined to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way, Promethean. We live in the embrace of Hollywood (who's promethean apetite is now coming into the spotlight), in the embrace of the 'counter-culture' of the 60s and the abasement of every transcendent value in its catchphrase, 'tune in, turn on, drop out'.

    Hence the liberties that permit one to purchase lavender bed clothes, to gaze fervently at pornography, to become a Unitarian, to market popular celebrations of brutal violence, or to destroy one’s unborn child are all equally intrinsically 'good' because all are expressions of an inalienable freedom of choice. But, of course, if the will determines itself only in and through such choices, free from any prevenient natural order, then it too is in itself nothing. And so, at the end of modernity, each of us who is true to the times stands facing not God, or the gods, or the Good beyond beings, but an abyss, over which presides the empty, inviolable authority of the individual will, whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.

    This is not to say that — sentimental barbarians that we are — we do not still invite moral and religious constraints upon our actions. Thus this man may elect not to buy a particular vehicle because he considers himself an environmentalist; or this woman may choose not to have an abortion feels wrong about terminating 'it'. He may support this or that good cause, she may argue for this or that natural right.

    But this merely illustrates the point: we take as given the individual’s right not merely to obey or defy the moral law, but to choose which moral standards to adopt, which values to uphold, which fashion of piety to wear and with what accessories.

    And the same our custom-fitted spiritualities, notable for their rose-tinted view of antiquity, plunder the old order, be it dream catchers of native North American religions, the yogas of the Indian subcontinent, some Pre-Raphaelite grove shrouded in Celtic twilight, all purveyed as so much glittering but otherwise worthless quartz, dressed with pages drawn at random from Robert Graves, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, 'or that redoubtable old Aryan', Joseph Campbell.

    Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Gnosticism, all the trappings of the "New Age", occult, pantheist, "Wiccan", or what have you — all have reverted to a duality of this world and that, of the chasm between the world and the spiritual, between, as they see it, religion and spirituality'. The modern religions, whose burlesque gods command neither reverence, nor dread, nor love, nor belief; they are no more than the masks worn by that same spontaneity of will that is the one unrivalled demiurge who rules this age and alone bids its spirits come and go.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    How does one get conviction without mental acrobatics?

    I mean I am easily convinced of gravity...it allows me to juggle, a graphic representation, a repeatable experiment...

    But conviction to abstract thought, concepts, religions...
     
  17. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Woha! Didn't expect this! I'm looking forward to reading this when my mind gets a bit clearer again.
     
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  18. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Ask the electorate! :D

    Seriously, though, there's always a to-ing and fro-ing. Nothing happens in a void, it's just I think 'belief' comes down on the side of conviction. I mean, there are things I believe I can't prove, but I can reason.

    So how do you cope with the world?

    I mean, we're both convinced of gravity, but neither of us understands it, beyond the observable phenomena.

    Same with the world, I would say. We observe, we don't necessarily understand, but we form ideas, draw conclusions, make decisions.

    Empirical validation by repeatable experiments is the lab is one thing, but in the world it's different, isn't it?
     
  19. le_manx

    le_manx New Member

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    "It is not belief if there is nothing there to trust."

    - VNV Nation
     
  20. Bhagwan

    Bhagwan Member

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    everything is one process
    you and rocks are concepts.
     

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