Advaita and Christianity
Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Mar 28 21:57:46 CST 2000
On Mon, 27 Mar 2000, jkcowart at cari.net wrote:
> I wonder if this must be so. As long as one recognizes that all we can deal
> with are *images,* then the recognition that any image of God is trans-
> cended by the incomprehensible and nondual ultimate reality should not
> be so hard to arrive at (intellectually and emotionally).
If truth is unapproachable then there is no truth. The consequences of
such a line of thinking are hideous.
> Nonetheless, it is the sad and horrifying history of mankind that people
> one another (even to the extent of mass atrocities) over their attachment to
> such images.
Yes, and while we might not like to think about it, Hinduism has not been
immune to this. But for the love of those images much good has been done
in the world too, far more good than bad. Let's remember that too.
> How much better to step back from them and admit our utter ignorance--
> while yet accepting whatever benign aid (grace) those images may have
> to offer in the living of our lives as we await moksha.
If moksha is random than what guarantee do we have that it will ever come?
> For now we live in a dream. But it is a dream with rules. And one of them
> is that we ought not to reify even the most profoundly spiritual of images--
> from whichever quarter they may arise.
> I believe this can be avoided in the theistic context as well as in any
> other one.
> Literalists and fundamentalists of all faiths disagree with that view. Wars
> result--and each religion breaks down into smaller and smaller subgroups,
> with its own reifications _en pointe_ at the others.
> Quite frightening, given the present state of geopolitics, I'd say.
As late as the '60s smart people were ready to declare the end of
religion particularly the orthodox kinds. This forecast has proven
spectacularly wrong because let's face it fundamentalism works. It meets
the totality of human needs much better than its competitors. Yes it has
brought strife but it has also fought injustice (cf. the famous Christian
fanatic Martin Luther King) and brought people together.
Advaita Vedanta is not literalist (The Mimamsaka rules of interpretation
are more complicated that.) but it is fundamentalist. I would say it's
basic assumptions are as follows.
1. The present state of being we find ourselves in is not good. (i.e. it
is full of suffering etc.)
2. It is possible to transcend that state of being to a better one.
3. Advaita Vedanta is the method to transcend that state.
There room for doubt with all three steps. You may be happy with life as
is. You may not agree Advaita Vedanta is the right method. But if you
accept these assumptions then there is no doubt. But you have
automatically placed yourself apart from all those who doubt. You are a
fundamentalist. However whether not you then become intolerant is up to
you. If Advaita Vedanta has been less intolerant it is not because the
potential isn't there because it places great emphasis on being aware of
ones thoughts and keeping them in control.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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