MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP         Update 06 21 08

Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.

Exploring the Levels of Divine Concepts in the Dual
and Non-Dual Spiritual Philosophical Traditions

Theism and Atheism in the Non-Dual Spiritual Philosophical Traditions

Beyond the prophetic theistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islamism, the questions regarding how various dual and non-dual philosophies of the contemplative traditions should be categorized as theistic or atheistic ascend into such exquisite opinions as to what requisites qualify God concepts so that answers are as elusive as koans. The Buddha remained silent when asked about God. The winnowing of the term atheism has resulted in concepts such as non-theism, trans-theism, hypertheism and meta-theism or emerge in the traditions under such terms as modified nondualism (vishishtadvaita). A Google search of the term non-dual theism brings up some major discourses on the subject and I've extracted some examples that illustrate the ongoing fine-tuning and diversity of opinions.

Tathagata (Buddha) is "God", known under countless diverse names: ...Isvara, Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Non-Duality (advaya), Nirvana, Dharma, Brahman and infinitudes of names and terms for Godhead. As the Buddha declares in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra (Vol. 4, p. 47): "Truth is one, but names are many." Dr. Tony Page Aspects of Theism in Gaian, Buddhist and the Visishtadvaita of Ramanuja dharma.

Theism, Atheism and Non-Theism in the Non-Dual Traditions by Saberi Roy; There are several opinions on the theistic status of Buddhism with the descriptions of Buddhism ranging from atheistic, non theistic to theistic. The fundamental philosophy of Buddhism seems to deny the concept of a personal God, although it is controversial whether Buddhism denies an impersonal form of God. Buddhist scholar Nyanaponika Thera suggested that conceptions of impersonal godhead such as world soul are excluded from Buddhism and this has been explained on teachings related to unsubstantiality or non-self. Despite this, Buddhism does provide an exposition on different higher and lower realms of existence even though the focus is on impermanence. That way Buddhism could be described as pantheism associated with all forms of existence.

God and Non-duality Creationism Versus Evolution forum; non-dual traditions have both atheistic and theistic versions - Zen Buddhists and forms of Advaita are essentially atheistic.

Losing Our Religion Tricycle Summer, 2007 - (Very worthwhile subscription to archive of full articles) Interview of Robert Sharf - Have Westerners created a new and viable form of Buddhism, or has something been lost in translation? Berkeley professor Robert Sharf argues that with our emphasis on individual experience and meditation, we risk cutting ourselves off from the benefits of a greater tradition. Sharf is the D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

An overview of the spectrum from religiosity to atheism that have arisen from Buddhism from its origins 2000 years ago in India, through its integration with Daoism in China and Soto in Japan to its trajectory in the 20th century to accomodate the Western scientific and psychological world view. The contemporary mix of Buddhism practice world-wide ranges from medieval religiosity to modernism, secularism and atheism.

Sharf is known for his cogent critique of what scholars call Buddhist modernism, a relatively recent movement that selectively places those elements that are consistent with modern sensibilities at the core of the tradition and dismisses all else.

(Excerpt:) As I mentioned, the Buddhist modernists were influenced by Protestant thinkers who construed religion as a matter of inner experience. To translate Buddhist experience into terms Westerners could grasp, D. T. Suzuki borrowed from a number of Western sources, including the philosopher William James. Suzuki was fascinated by James’s notion of religious experience as a kind of pure, direct experience that is unmediated by one’s cultural or religious formation. Suzuki and other modernists argued that satori—the sudden experience of an enlightened state—was the unmediated experience to which James referred, and that this experience was not only the essence of Buddhism but the essence of all religion. By insisting that some specific, repeatable, ineffable experience is at the very core of the Buddhist tradition, they end up essentializing Buddhism.

How does this idea—that Buddhism points to an essential, experiential truth beyond Buddhism—become a problem? I think there are several problems. For one thing, many Buddhist texts and teachers argue that if Buddhism is about anything, it’s about critiquing essences! There is also a kind of arrogance in claiming that Buddhism is not so much a religion as it is the path to the truth behind all religions. In other words, when Suzuki and other contemporary Buddhist teachers argue that all religions emerge from and point toward a single truth, they also imply that Buddhism, properly understood, is the most direct expression of that truth. I have been present at any number of Buddhist-Christian “dialogues” in which Buddhist teachers lecture respected Christian leaders about the ultimate meaning or essence of Christianity, which strikes me as arrogant, to say the least.

Anyway, this emphasis on a single determinative experience has been very influential in Buddhism’s development in the West. (End Excerpt)

Mystical Experience and Religious Doctrine: An Investigation of the Study by Philip C. Almond; p 81 Advaita Vedanta was perceived by Madhhva as a direct threat to the theistic element within Vaishnavism. To turn to monism, Stace holds the view that it may take either of two forms, atheistic or acosmic. Atheistic monism means that nothing exists apart from the universe and that God is merely a name for the collection of finite objects which comprise the universe. Taken in this way, Stace is quite right in his assertion that it is of little philosophical interest. By contrast, acosmic monism is that type which holds that the universe as separate from God (or the Godhead) does not exist, that God alone as an undiferentiated unity is real. The Advaita Vedanta of Gaudapad and Shankara is the paradigm of this type. Stace argues that this type of monism must end in nonsense. This is because no reasonable answer can be given to the question, 'how does the theory explain the appearance of the multiplicity of finite objects?'

Theism in Hinduism Wikipedia article: In Indian philosophy, three schools of thought are commonly referred to as Nastikas: Jainism, Buddhism and Carvaka for rejecting the doctrine of Vedas. Nastika refers to the non-belief of Vedas rather than non-belief of God. However, all these schools also rejected a notion of creationist god and so the word Nastik became strongly associated with them.

God in Buddhism Even though an Absolute Creator God is absent in most forms of Buddhism, veneration and worship of Gautama Buddha (and other Buddhas) do play a major role in both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. Another difference is that all have the opportunity to strive for Buddhahood, whereas in Abrahamic versions of theism it is impossible to strive to become the God due to a strict separation between man and God. Although it should be mentioned that the doctrine of Theosis has played an important role in Christian thought. However, there are number of theistic variations of Hinduism where a man can strive to become the Godhead. Similarly, in some major traditions of Mahayana Buddhism (the Tathagatagarbha and Pure Land streams of teaching) there is the notion of the Buddha as the omnipresent, omniscient, liberative essence of Reality, and the idea of the Buddhas as generators of vast "pure lands", "Buddha lands" or Buddha Paradises, in which beings will unfailingly attain Nirvana.

Encyclopaedia of Jainism by Narendra Singh, Indo-European Jain Research Foundation; Page 1050: (T=theistic, A=atheistic) A subjectwise Comparative Study of the Systems; re: different Indian philosophical systems: idealistic and non-idealistic. To the former class belong the Advaita Vedanta (T) and Madhyamika (A) and Yogacara (T) schools of Buddhism which treat the external perceptible world and everything that is apprehended by the empirical organs of knowledge as unreal. The later class is formed by the Carvaka (A), Nyaya-Vaisesika (T), Mimamsa (A) and Samkhya (A) and also by the Vaibhasika (A) and Sautranika (A) schools of Buddism. Of these, the Carvaka system is purely materialistic, while the other systems are materialistic from the viewpoint of their origin, but in the course of their historical growth they have developed certain idealistic tendency. Jainism also falls within this group since it views the gross world which is apprehended by the empirical organs of knowledge as real. Again, of all these systems, idealistic and non-idealistic, the Nyaya-Vaisesika, Vedanta and Yoga are theistic, while others are frankly atheistic.

Principia Cybernetica Overview of the PC Web Project. This is the web server of the Principia Cybernetica Project (PCP), an international organization. PCP tries to tackle age-old philosophical questions with the help of the most recent cybernetic theories and technologies. Stated more precisely, the Project's aim is the computer-supported collaborative development of an evolutionary-systemic philosophy. (A kind of meta-philosophical Wiki) Example: Synopsys- Atheism is the philosophy that there are no gods ("a" = without, "theos" = god) author F. Heylighen. One must note that atheism is not in contradiction with religion. In its original, Latin sense, religion means "that which holds together", implying a kind of overarching philosophy and system of ethics that guides society as a whole, without necessary reference to God. Also in the more practical sense, several "religions", including Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, lack any idea of God, and thus may be properly called "atheist religions". Also the different emotions that typically accompany religous experiences, such as the feeling of being part of a larger whole, can very well be experienced by an atheists, leading to what may be called "atheist religiosity".

Magic, White and Black By Franz Hartmann. M.D. - The Science of Finite and Infinite Life Containing Practical Hints for Students of Occultism, 1890. Preface to the Sixth Edition,1900 - The Theosophical Society: Magic, White and Black...was born in India in 1884 and after sixteen years is considered by many as a standard work on theosophy, metaphysics and occult science...because the truths which it contains are eternal and will never grow old... To call attention of the readers to the divine powers existing within themselves, thus to lead them to a knowledge of their own higher nature, to aid them in entering a higher life and finally to state what the greatest mystics of the East and West have taught in regard to the nature and the development of these powers, has been the aim of The Author Florence (Italy), May 9, 1900.

Advaita-Vedanta synopsis of topic regarding theism. The non-dual reality of the Atman is revealed to the intense seeker, as an experience that defies words. One might call it a mystic experience of brahman, in which to know brahman is to be brahman. Thus, rather than being atheistic or non- theistic, advaita vedAnta is meta-theistic: it points to the basic underlying Reality of all, including what humans call God, what humans call the universe, and what humans call human. This Reality is the unchangeable brahman.

God Is Both Personal (Bhagavan) and Impersonal (Brahman) By Stephen Knapp. A hypertheistic interpretation of the Vedic system. Vedanta means the conclusion of the Veda or end of all knowledge. Though the name Vedanta is often taken to indicate the impersonalist, nondual or Mayavada school of thought, it is essentially dualistic theism, but various commentaries have interpreted it to mean different things. It was the Sariraka-Bhasya commentary by Shankara that established the Vedanta as a nondualistic philosophy, meaning that the ultimate reality is but one. This interpretation has gained much respect and influence, but the author holds that this is not the ultimate or correct viewpoint of the Vedic literature and that not only is God personal but he is the Absolute Truth in the Supreme Person of Lord Sri Krishna.

Experience Festival Vedanta -In summary: Madhva, the dualist, conceives Brahman to be the Personal God. In his philosophy, the universe, souls and God are all separate from one another and real. Ramanuja, the qualified nondualist, also conceives Brahman to be the Personal God. In his philosophy, God must not be considered apart from the world and souls, for the three together form a one whole. The world and souls are real as the body of God, and the individual soul feels himself to be part of God. Shankara, the strict advaitist, conceives Brahman to be the Impersonal God, the Absolute. Shankara does not deny the existence of the Personal God, known as Ishvara, but declares Ishvara to be equally as unreal as the universe and the individuality of the soul. In truth, the only Reality is the Absolute, and man is that Absolute. To Rishi Tirumular, the panentheist, there is an eternal oneness of God and man at the level of their inner Being, but a difference is acknowledged during the evolution of the soul. Ultimately even this difference merges in identity. Thus, there is perfectly beginningless oneness and a temporary difference which resolves itself in perfect identity. (see also: About Atheism in Hinduism Today

Maya- various definitions.

Atheism-Hinduism Six systems of Indian philosophy claim Veda as their ultimate source, and none agrees on the precise nature of reality. Sankhya philosophy, for example, is atheistic. Kapila, the originator of the system, asserted that there is simply no need to posit any deity. Buddhism is a direct heir of the Sankhya/Yoga systems, and it is also atheistic. Advaita Vedanta is a very close cousin of Sankhya, the chief difference being that Sankhya is dualistic and Vedanta is non-dualistic.

A Guide to the Buddhist Path by Sangharakshita, Bikshu Sangharakshita; (p 31) What the Buddha said when asked directly if he was a God.

Notself by Thanissaro Bhikkhu ...where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. (mg comment: ...this suggests that self, no self and God merge into a phenomenological/intuitive singularity.)

miscellaneous opinions: Sankara’s Advaita is neither atheistic nor theistic, but trans-theistic. Religions such as Jainism and Buddhism are atheistic. Krishna incarnated as the atheistic Buddha rejecting the Vedas to liberate the Hindu Advaita religion of Shankaracarya.

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