[Advaita-l] western monism/pantheism

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 10 14:09:54 CDT 2003

--- Tahir Nazir <tnazir at energy.com.au> wrote:
> What is the difference between western monism/pantheism and advaita?

Monism is the view that there exists only one substance in the
universe. Pantheism is the belief that equates God with the Universe.
They are both somewhat amenable to advaita. 

There are some strains of monism in the philosophy of Parmenides among
the ancient Greeks. He claimed that "since all entities essentially
consisted of 'Existence', 'Existence' is all there is." But AFAIK, this
is all there is to his school, so there is not much to compare with in
relation to advaita.

Serious Western Pantheism began with Baruch Spinoza, an excommunicated
Jew who lived during the medieval times in Holland. Spinoza once quotes
from an "Old Hindu Poem", thus indicating some definite influence.
Although Spinoza makes the equation of God=Universe, there are some
important distinctions between his philosophy and advaita: 
1) According to Spinoza, the real universe is a Deity that consists of
parts. In advaita, reality has no parts. 
2) Spinoza believed that God has attributes. In advaita, God has no
3) AFAIK, Spinoza never actually makes the equation God=Self. It is
implicit but not explicit. 

So his view feels rather like VishishhTAdvaita than advaita. You can
read more at http://members.aol.com/Heraklit1/spinoza.htm

A good resource is "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant.

> Regards,
> Tahir 



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