Skip to main content

UNITY IS DIVINITY

Eastern and Western metaphysics are often believed to be disparate if not opposing. In today's West we have a Christian religion steeped in ritual, where if you attend Mass regularly, receive the "body of Christ," genuflect, confess your sins, and perhaps donate to the coffers, you are absolved of sin and after bodily death guaranteed a place in heaven for eternity. While the East is generally associated with a pantheon of Gods (Hinduism has its Avatars who include Krishna, Rama and Buddha), self-abnegation, and in more strenuous forms denial of a personal God altogether. Some Buddhists believe there is no such thing as the individual soul. For how can the indivisible whole that God is said to be have parts?

But if you really analyze things you find that these conflicting philosophies are really not all that dissimilar. The ancient Greeks typify Western thought, and what did Plato in his Dialogues have Socrates say? That humans seek happiness, defined as being loved, and not just for a limited amount of time, but for all eternity. This is very much the same to the Eastern notion of the divine essence, which is said to be satchitananda, or infinite existence (sat), infinite consciousness (chit), and infinite bliss (ananda).

And this makes sense. For anything which exists cannot be made of nothing, so that what exists now has always existed, and what is never born will never die. Therefore existence itself is eternal. And it is formless, since form is made of parts and subject to dissolution, and the only boundless entity must be spiritual in nature, since anything having a body, any discrete entity, is bound by a shell or skin or covering and therefore limited, or not infinite. And what is limitless spirit if not consciousness. We see it every night in our dreams, as on the blank canvass of our awareness appear myriad shapes and adventures which when the night is through dissolve back into our mind.

And now about bliss. Anything that is eternal and limitless and therefore One, cannot be anything but blissful, since all pain and suffering and sadness come from separation, or the illusion of separation. We fear and we suffer in response to something, we fight against an antagonist, we overcome obstacles. But if the eternal is everything, then there is nothing to suffer, no one against whom to fight - except maybe loneliness, which perhaps may explain why at the beginning of it all the One (God, Brahman, Allah, etc.) said, "I am One, let me become Many."

Because in life's dance you need a partner, to act your part you need other characters, and to love and be loved, as the ancient Greeks believed lay our ticket to bliss, you need someone or something as the object of your affection,  and the beloved is the vehicle by which each individual can express her eternal nature, which is bliss - and perhaps get some (bliss, love) in return.

So East and West are not so different as we are sometimes led to believe.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

EVERYTHING'S INTENTIONAL

There is no such thing as screw-ups.

Case in point. My excellent friend Deej comes over to help me beautify the garden. He immediately dives in, crouching down on his knees and weed whacking with his bare hands. Before I can say yay or nay, he proceeds to remove a huge clump of daisy greens from the oblong patch of Earth adjacent to the driveway. The area instantly looks bare. Like the back of Woody Allen's head. Smoothing out the soil and shaking his head Deej mutters to himself "I fucked it up!" over and over again. We try everything. Planting succulents in the daisy's place. Covering it with rocks. But still the area looks barren. And every time you water it the water trickles down onto the sidewalk in the absence of roots to hold it in place. It's getting dark so we go back inside. The next day I return to the spot with a clear perspective and remove all the other daisies, leaving only rose bushes and the succulents that DJ planted, and depositing 10 bags of m…

SOUL CYCLE

This is not a commentary on the latest fitness fad. Because if it were, the little I'd have to say on the subject would be largely derogatory. I simply cannot see see how crouching in a stuffy, dark, cramped room surrounded by sweat-drenched strangers while expending a lot of energy and going nowhere deserves to be called fun, though aficionados tell me it is (fun). I tell these aficionados that if no pain no gain is your thing, discomfort can be had for a lot cheaper than $50 an hour. Try plucking your nose hairs. What we don't do for the sake of beauty. This endurance heir to the Stairmaster and elliptical is all hype. There's a name for the type who likes to run (or otherwise move) in place. It's called a hamster. 

This reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell, about what living with a woman turns a guy into. You go from a wolf to a sheep to a hamster. After nearly 40 years of married life, my dad has added cockroach to the zoological lineage. Which I'm sure …