Advaita and Christianity
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 26 20:26:39 CST 2000
On Sat, 25 Mar 2000 13:52:06 -0800, jkcowart at cari.net <jkcowart at CARI.NET>
>At 03:47 AM 03/25/2000 +0000, Anand Hudli wrote:
>>Simply because some system seems to agree with advaita on a point or
>>two does not mean that this system essentially preaches nonduality
>>of the advaitic kind.
>It is indeed wise to practice accuracy in these matters.
>I, for my part made no systematic claim for Christian nonduality.
>On Wed, 22 Mar 2000 19:32:57 -0800 I simply stated:
>>There is a strong non-dual tradition in Christianity (Eckhardt and
I am sorry if I gave the impression that I was responding to such
a claim of yours. At this point, the comparison of advaita and
Christianity is only out of curiosity.
>It may not be "essentially preached" but its *essence* is there none-
I can understand your position as a Christian (I presume that is your
faith) who is familiar with advaita. Even if I were in your place, I
would certainly attempt to reconcile any differences between Christianity
and advaita. Reconciliation at the empirical level is certainly possible.
But ultimately, advaita is something more than any religion can offer,
because it tells us that even God is transcended at a certain stage!
This is what makes a true reconciliation between advaita and any so called
theistic religion difficult. Based on this point of even God's merging into
the absolute attributeless Brahman, theistic systems in India have had
quite vehement disputes with advaita. I am not saying that advaita itself
is not theistic. It does not deny God as He is commonly understood, but
Of course, I agree that non-duality can come in different flavors.
It is possible to accept non-duality without accepting the unreality
of the world. We have an outstanding example of this in India - the
vishishhTa-advaita of RamAnuja. Here, although there is non-duality,
the world is accepted as real. This means the world, and the souls
are parts or qualifiers of the one Reality. We all are parts of the one
God. Non-duality is thus preserved.
>On Fri, 24 Mar 2000 15:35:28 -0800 I wrote:
>>It seems to me that the truth of advaita is to be found at the heart of
>>every one of the world's religions.
It seems to me that the non-duality of advaita MINUS the unreality of
the world, the equality of individual soul and Brahman, and the
jIvanmukta concepts, is commonly found in many religions. There
was a clarification as to why advaita can claim the title of
"nonduality" a few weeks back. The main departure point of advaita is
that it *denies* any ultimate reality to everything except Brahman,
and quite emphatically too. I am not sure if this *negation* aspect
is found in the "theistic" religions. It is found in Buddhism, no doubt,
but there the negation is carried to the extreme without admitting even
the absolute such as Brahman.
>Yet, an overwhelming majority of human beings across all cultures and
>times have claimed a virtually absolute exclusivity for their own spiritual
But advaita does not claim such exclusivity in empirical matters, or
in theistic matters. It allows one to worship a variety of Gods, not just
one. It is only in VedAnta, or the concluding teaching of advaita,
is there a claim of exclusivity. It is possible for someone to teach
things that are also found in the VedAnta. But then this someone cannot
be anyone other than a VedAntin! There can be no two views of the truth.
As a good example of comparing teachings of a saint with advaita please
see the article by Dr. R. Balasubramanian:
where he compares the teachings of the philosopher saint Jnaneshvar
of Maharashtra, with Shankara's advaita and concludes that Jnaneshvar
belongs to the "main-stream" of advaita.
I expect to see a similar analysis of teachings of Christ or other
saints to convince myself that they were advaitins too.
>In any case, it was never my intention to introduce a difficulty into our
>discussions, and I regret any divisions my comments on undividedness
>may have accented.
Healthy discussions can only provide us with opportunities to understand
our own system better!
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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