by Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph. D.
In order to summarize the fundamental ideas that are being discussed in the Google forum [Online_Sadhu_Sanga] the following is presented as a basis from which further development may be made for arriving at a coherent understanding of consciousness from the Vedantic and Western philosophical perspectives.
Keywords [Advaita, Dvaita, Visisadvaita, Acintya beda abeda, Matter, Ego, Maya,Triplicity. Consciousness, Spirit]
Advaita philosophy conceives the Absolute as One devoid of any qualities, dimensions, personality, and so on. Thus it is called monism or abstract monism. It is therefore nirguna – meaning without any differences, determinations, or distinguishing features. The idea is that there cannot be two truths that are absolute or they become relative truths – not absolute. So the Absolute must be One.
One is pure universality – abstract or empty universality. As such it lacks all determinations, or is indeterminate. To even say that One is or has Being is to violate the pure Oneness that is the Absolute for the monists. Lacking any determinate content it is thus formless.
In the ancient pre-Socratic Greek culture Parmenides represented the Eleatic school that considered God to be One without any qualities whatsoever, even Being was denied to the pure One.
In India the school of Shankaracharya is considered as representing kevaladvaita or the philosophy of pure Oneness without any determinateness or qualities. This is the nature of nirguna Brahman.
Eastern and Western monism both believe that All is One, because each of the entities of the All (Many) is after all in essence a one, i.e. many ones. In the same way every being is an instance of or immanently Being and thus all are Being. But One and Being are different, so the monists had to accept one or the other, so they chose One since Being is just as indeterminate as One and is thus the same as One. Of course there are many such arguments given in this way.
Because Brahman is One, allness or the many must be a perceptual illusion that is removed by logical thinking in accord with the monist philosophers. Thus they consider Brahma satyam jagat mityam, Brahman is true or real and the world is false or illusion. In this philosophy the ultimate destiny of the enlightened soul is to merge into the oneness of the One Brahman and loose its individuality or ego entirely.
The chief characteristic in the logic of the One is the one-sidedness of its doctrine of sameness of the entities of the All to the exclusion of their differences. Being-for-self or one is not the only determination of the entities of the All except in the abstract ideal sense, just as the atoms or molecules of an ideal gas are considered in their isolation without regard to their relation to or interaction with one another.
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