Advaita and Christianity

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NAC.AC.ZA
Tue Mar 28 03:08:11 CST 2000

On Mon, 27 Mar 2000, Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> 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.

Beautiful!  I salute you, Anand, For expressing it so concisely!

Reading non-duality (vyaSTi-samaSTi, jIva-Ishvara) into the Bible
does give a powerful and deeper understanding of that faith - but
it remains saguNa.  Of the scriptures that I have read, it is only
the prasthAnatrayi of Advaita Vedanta with Shankara's commentaries
that so clearly  - and practically - direct one to NirgunA Brahman.

> The main departure point of advaita is
> that it *denies* any ultimate reality to everything except Brahman,
> and quite emphatically too.

There is a pertinent section of Shankara's commentary to BRhad 1.4.10
that never fails to delight me:

      Objection:  We do not say that there is no superimposition on
      Brahman of attributes not belonging to It, as in the case of
      mother-of-pearl, but that Brahman is not the cause of the
      superimposition of these attributes on Itself, nor the author
      of ignorance.

      Reply:  Let it be so.  Brahman is not the author of ignorance
      nor subject to error.  But it is not admitted that there is
      any other conscious entity but Brahman which is the author of
      ignorance or subject to error.

> I am not sure if this *negation* aspect
> is found in the "theistic" religions.

I am not sure that one can compare philosophy with religion: that is
not to imply that they are opposites, but complementary, like man and
woman, or two sides of the same coin - it is the coin itself that is
essential, not the images on the surfaces.  Squabbling about images
is a waste of energy, that detracts from the essential.

I view philosophy as the reasonable aspect of religion, and religion
as the devotional aspect of philosophy.  Ultimately philosophy/religion
is a very *personal* relationship between the adherent/devotee and his
Truth/God that manifests in his daily conduct in the world, and that
transcends the tenets/beliefs of any formal "system" with which he
associates.  The concern that I have with a Christian-Advaita type
of discussion, is whether it enhances and strengthens that personal
relationship, or merely reinforces the ego's attachment to the formal
"system" and leads to attack/defense reactions.

I ramble - time to stop.
Regards, Charles.

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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