Follow by Email

Monday, July 11, 2016

Saguna Brahman/Nirguna Brahman vs. Essence Energies: An Exchange in the comments bar

For reasons I'm not entirely sure the blog seems to be refusing to let me add comments to my own posts, or stay signed in as Seraphim, which is frustrating because somebody left a question I wanted to respond to on the post "Transcendental Idealism:  Brief Thoughts."  I am going instead to respond here.

My original post was indeed quite brief.  It read as follows:

Transcendental idealism in three sentences: I am I. I am not not-I. The non-I is given, and not derived from the self; the non-I is transcendentally constructed by and not known apart from the self.
Or in three words: identity, difference, act.

A poster named Christ wrote the following words last March, words which due to my family/work blogging absence I did not read until tonight:

Hi Seraphim,

I discovered your blog by way of the exchange that you had with the late Stratford Caldecott. It is oh so rare to find orthodox Christians who are genuinely familiar with the Traditionalist School of Guenon and Schuon.

I apologize for my presumption, but I hope that you'd be willing to give your opinion on a couple of things that have preoccupied me. I came (returned) to the faith of my childhood, Roman Catholicism, by way of the Perennialist point of view. Ever since then, I have immersed myself in the spiritual/intellectual tradition of the Roman Church, especially the Thomistic thinkers. I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to hear that I have found it difficult to reconcile the "transcendent unity of religions" with the central tenets of traditional Christianity. The "Perennialist-Christian project" seems to rest on the applicability of the doctrine of maya in Divinis, of the distinction between Nirguna and Saguna Brahman. Christian Perennialists seem to make the claim that same teaching can be found in their tradition by way of the Essence-Energy distinction. Do you think that these are, in fact, the same? And, how can a western Christian view this position who don't admit of the essence-energy distinction in the first place?

I would like to respond in the comments, and hopefully will when the bug is fixed.  In the meantime, here goes:

Hi Chris,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I apologize that I did not see your question until now.  I get notifications of comments on my email, which I have not checked in a very long time - a heavy work schedule and increasingly growing family life has set things like that, and my blog, on the back burner.  I'm about to quit teaching positions at two secular universities and move across the country to begin teaching at a small, orthodox Catholic liberal arts high school - named (appropriately enough for my background and interests, Chesterton Academy!) while finding that for the third time in the third year of our marriage we are once again pregnant.  A quick prayer or two on your part would be appreciated once you see this.

You raise a good point, and I think that the comparison made between the two distinctions (saguna vs. nirguna or "s/n" and essence vs energies or "e/e") is illuminating, that it increases our understanding of the problems, and often applicable, but that ultimately it doesn't work.  They're close, but not quite the same.

For one, the energetic mode of being God extends into the Trinity itself, and I don't believe that one can be an orthodox Christian and relegate the Trinity to saguna Brahman, as I suspect most "perennialist-Christians" or at least most Perennialists would do.  I also don't think that, despite the "Godhead" language he uses that appears to do this, Meister Eckhart actually intended to relegate the Trinity to a lower way of being God below the ineffable Godhead.  Meister Eckhart is of course the lens through which perennialism views Christianity - often in a manner which I believe is unbalanced and does not correctly reflect Eckhart's context within the Christian tradition.  Perhaps a better recovery of Eckhart and his context and setting would help make the reconciliation between perennialism and Christianity a little bit less difficult?

The divine "energies" *do* need to be applied to the Trinity for two reasons.  The first is that that is the Orthodox teaching concerning the procession of the Spirit - that the role of the Son in the Spirit's procession is energetic, not hypostatic.  Neither hardline Orthodox nor Roman Catholics will necessarily feel the need to make this distinction, but both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic communions on a magisterial level have shared that common understanding since the 14th century.

The second reason is that the Trinity is not only immanent but also economic - and therefore preeminently "energetic" in the latter case - and the two ways of being Trinity are nondual.  In Rahner's terms, "the immanent Trinity is the economic Trinity, and the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity".

A second way in which the comparison breaks down is that in Hinduism, if I understand it correctly, Brahman actually refers not to God-as-He-exists-apart-from-any-consideration-of-our-existence, but rather quite directly and tangibly to the realization or experience of God; the word "Brahman" actually refers directly to the sacrificial Vedic prayers, and only by extension to the experience of God sought through those prayers.  (And of course, any other God-talk would be dismissed as misguided - atman is Brahman, which entails that ALL discussion of God is discussion of the experience of God.  Orthodox Christian theology must concur, acknowledging no avenue to God apart from the meeting-point between the human and divine natures in the Incarnation of Christ, and we remember Meister Eckhart's words about the threefold nativity of Christ in the eternal generation of the Logos in the cave of the Father, in the cave of Bethlehem, and in the cave of our heart - and these three are all one and the same.)

So saguna Brahman is the relationship of the devotee to his Lord, and nirguna Brahman is the nondual experience of God in the cloud of unknowing.  In either case, we experience God through His energies.  Theosis is energetic, which is simply another way of saying that we are God by grace and not by nature, that we are creatures who are becoming uncreated.  This is still true if we take the standpoint of other standard schools within Hinduism that view the same process in terms of shedding ignorance and realizing something which was always the reality to begin with - God is eternal and if we "become God" that does not mean that God has not always been God or that He experienced some change in time.

So I'd point out those two ways in which the s/n and e/e distinctions don't exactly map onto each other.  Nonetheless they're close to each other.  God as He is beyond manifestation and form (nirguna Brahman) is God as He exists beyond all knowing and reach (God's ineffable Essence).  God as manifested to us as Creator and Lord is God as known and loved and participated (God's uncreated Energies).

From a Latin Catholic POV, you'd want to talk about the analogy of Being and participation.  There simply is no e/e distinction because there is no adequate Latin translation of the word "energeia".  "Energeia" connotes the whole process of participated analogy of being which the mechanistic "operatio" misses.  And "Essentia" in Latin is the whole Being of God in which we participate, which I believe is a bit broader than the Greek "ousia" (the divine depths of God-in-Himself beyond all knowing and participation).

When viewing through an Eastern Christian view, one must be careful not to separate God into a knowable part and an unknowable part.  That destroys the paradox and mystery, which is that we know the unknowable God.  (The blog wars over the apparent contradiction between absolute divine simplicity ["ADS"] and e/e testify to this.  I plainly and simply believe the Thomists are right to affirm ADS.  I also do not believe that their development of the understanding of divine simplicity departs from that of Damascene, who very strongly affirms both divine simplicity and e/e together.)

When viewing from a Western Christian view, one must also be careful to maintain the paradox of knowing the unknowable God, rather than settling in for rationalizations which ultimately make God knowable, either in full (but only to Himself) or in part (as we know God through the Beatific Vision "partially" or "imperfectly").  God remains unknowable.  And we know the unknowable God.  And "knowledge" in this context is transformative, and transformation is deifying.  Duality is overcome - the creature becomes uncreated - and yet individuality and createdness somehow persist ["baqa" to the Sufis] through it all, even as the ego and everything which is strictly and precisely "I", isolated and distinguished from the Trinitarian communion of love in which alone we can find our identity, is extinguished.


  1. Hi Seraphim,

    Congratulations on your growing family and your new job at the Chesterton Academy! To be perfectly honest, I wish I was going to be one of your new students. You certainly have my prayers and warmest wishes.

    With regards to my questions, thank you so much for your well-measured and comprehensive response. As I said before, I am thrilled to have to discovered an erudite Christian classical theist who has such a solid and non-parochial understanding of the Perennialist position. There is so much that I would like to bounce off of you that I am having a tough time formulating a pointed and cogent comment. My apologies if I fail.

    Lately, I have been very interested in the discourse surrounding the debate between "theistic personalism" and classical theism. To my lights, ADS is what gives classical theism its fundamentally apophatic character. Now, the Perennialist/Advaitan takes apophasis "all the way" to the point that they claim that form is emptiness and emptiness is form. That is, that there is a continuum, or degrees of reality, in which the relative represents an appearance of the Absolute- the famous doctrine of illusion. I wonder if the theistic personalist's objection to classical theism is similar in nature to the classical theist's objection to nonduality?

    Vis a vis my last comment, it seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox tradition nods in the direction of nonduality, but unlike the Nirguna-Saguna distinction, the E/E functions in an opposite manner, to forestall "the lapse into pantheism". Union (theosis) is admissible, but identity (moksha)is not. Do you think that is a fair assessment?

  2. Both ADS and e/e intend to give classical theism its fundamentally apophatic character - although I am not convinced that the via eminentiae of Aquinas is properly apophatic. The via eminentiae says that predicates can definitively and rigorously and without ambiguity make true statements about God (although the terms must be understood analogically rather than univocally with their creaturely application), whereas Dionysius' apophaticism says that one must always be willing to deny the statement one just made. Then again, I'm not entirely sure that the two approaches are different either (and in practice the apophatic way works in exactly the same manner as the via eminentiae when it comes to dogmatic formulations like the Trinity). I had to take a very small number of theology classes at my Catholic alma mater, and my rigidly Thomist Christology professor treated Dionysius a bit unfavorably compared to Aquinas. As an Easterner, I'd do the opposite - if I must pit them against each other.

    That said, I think the statement "form is emptiness and emptiness is form" belongs more properly to the Mahayana rather than the Advaitan tradition, and I suspect that nonduality is arrived at for a bit different reasons by both. Advaita is deeply impressed by an awareness of the simplicity and absolute unity of God (Who is the only reality admitted to exist in the proper sense of the term); Mahayana arrives at the idea by an awareness of the contingency of the creature and the idea of emptiness, which really (at least for Nagarjuna) is simply a synonym for the condition of having undergone dependent arising. From dependent origination, Buddhism argues against any sort of naturally eternal Platonic essence to beings - beings are just composites of parts, physical and psychic. The compositeness is the "form" and the Aristotelian prime matter is the "emptiness"; the form is arrangement of parts within the context of emptiness.

    That said, when Buddhist experience arrives at awakening, it arrives at an experience of something unborn, absolute, and eternal, which cannot be described as *a* being, and which is hardly the "low" nothingness of simply absence of being either, but rather pure consciousness and bliss. That sounds a lot like the Advaitan experience of God, and I think Schuon and friends were on the right track to push it in that direction. In that light, I think you're right to see the nonduality between emptiness and form as an indication of the degrees of reality (and so do the Buddhists, insofar as at least one school of Buddhist philosophy acknowledges a validity to "conventional truth" before being seen through by nondual absolute truth).

  3. So when you ask "I wonder if the theistic personalist's objection to classical theism is similar in nature to the classical theist's objection to nonduality? ", my answer would be "probably, but let's not forget that the question is also being framed in several different ways, and ideas like apophasis and nonduality sometimes start out having very different meanings in different contexts, even if, humorously, those different meanings themselves turn out to be nondual." The perennialists were often not terribly careful scholars - Guenon's "Man and His Becoming" was a doctoral dissertation that was rejected for sloppy scholarship, and published non-academically through the intercession and influence of his mentor, Jacques Maritain. The different approaches to nonduality tended to get glossed over.

    "Vis a vis my last comment, it seems to me that the Eastern Orthodox tradition nods in the direction of nonduality, but unlike the Nirguna-Saguna distinction, the E/E functions in an opposite manner, to forestall "the lapse into pantheism". Union (theosis) is admissible, but identity (moksha)is not. Do you think that is a fair assessment?"

    Yes, I do, although I'd quibble as usual. e/e is intended to forestall the lapse into pantheism, but I don't think that even the "tat tvam asi" really is pantheistic. The atman is not the individual self or ego, and the perennialists did well to see it as something closer to Augustine's and Eckhart's and even the hadith's presence of God in the innermost chamber of the heart ("closer to man than his jugular vein" in those beautiful words). Moksha also does not literally mean identity but rather release from samsara.

    The more troubling issue is not pantheism, but rather (a) the permanence of the individual (which is *not* hoped for in any earthly or familiar form by Buddhism and Hinduism, but *is* hoped for - in a *transfigured* form - in theosis by Christianity), and (b) the dismal, hopeless, ageless, endless cycle of samsara, with countless deaths and rebirths. Schuon does some academic acrobatics to reconcile this with the Christian insistence of the uniqueness of the individual by pointing to a sort of typological rather than literal reincarnation (but why would that be something to seek escape from?) and his reminder that for both Samkara and Buddhism it is not the *individual* that reincarnates, but rather either Brahman or the stream of causal continuity. East Syriac (so-called "Nestorian") Christianity, planting itself in China in the 8th century, left behind written sutras which depict Christ's coming as a victory over the cycle of samsara. It's still a really difficult thing to reconcile with the Christian picture of the individual, individual death, and individual theosis.

  4. PS

    I'm glad you saw this post and commented. Since Caldecott passed away, it's been hard to find someone to have conversations about this sort of thing with. And I enjoy them so much. :)

  5. Hi Seraphim,

    "And I enjoy them so much"

    Me too! As I said before, I am so delighted to have the chance to converse with a traditional Christian theist who actually understands the nondualistic worldviews (and gets it far better than I do I might add).

    "It's still a really difficult thing to reconcile with the Christian picture of the individual, individual death, and individual theosis"

    Yes, exactly! This is definitely one of the major problems in reconciling classical Christianity with the Shankaran/Nargajunan perspective. But, do you think that Ramanuja's qualified nondualism, in which real differences are affirmed, compatible with creedal Chrisitianity?

    On a side note, it's so interesting to me that the Perennialist writers had so little to say about the schools of Vedanta other than that of Shankara's. I think I recall Frithjof Schuon referring dismissively to the theistic/dualism of Madhva as "ontological positivism". I found that to be so strange because Madhva's view seemed to align so closely with Western classical theism. And yet, it was reported that when Schuon was asked for a reading list, he put the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas, at the top- a classical theist!

    Are you familiar with the work of Jean Borella?

  6. I would like to circle back to the subject of my first comment, the n/s and e/e distinction. What has me "stuck" on this topic is the fact that both of these discriminations are so similar and so central to their respective traditions, and yet, have very different implications.

    The Perennialist School, following the Advaitan model, tells us that the n/s discrimination has a corresponding difference, that of the exoteric/ esoteric divide within religion. Consider the following quote from the Traditionalist author, William Stoddart......

    " The goal of all religions, in all its varieties, is salvation. What, then is the difference between exoterism and esoterism. Exoterism is formalistic, but faith and devotion can give it depth. Esoterism is "deep"- supra formal- by definition, and is the apanage only of those with the relevant vocation. Here forms are transcended, in that they are seen as symbolic expressions of the essence. In esoterism, faith, too, is essential, but here it has the meaning of sincerity and total commitment- effor towards "realization". It means the acquisition of the essential virtues of humility and charity, and the opening of the soul to Divine grace . Metaphysically, the difference between exoterism and esoterism, or between formalism and supra- formalism, lies in how the final goal is envisaged: in exoterism (and in esoterism of the bhaktic type), God is envisaged at the level of "Being" (the Creator and Judge): no matter how deep, how sublime the exoterist's fervor, Lord and worshipped always remain distinct. In "jnanic" esoterism, on the other hand, God is envisaged at the level of "Beyond-Being" (the Divine Essence). At this level, it is perceived that Lord and worshipped (the latter known to be created in the image of the former) share a common essence, and this opens up the possibility of ultimate Divine Union."

    The Perennialist seems to be saying that at the heart of all true religions is the doctrine of unqualified nonduality in which all dualities are transcended. To my lights, no matter how you slice it or dice it, this point of view is patronizing to theistic religion, even those that are nondual like Visistadvaita and Neoplatonism. Does the highest spiritual experience reveal the Supreme Identity, or as Jerry Katz claims, are there simply NO unmediated mystical experiences?

  7. I'm not sure how to answer the last question, except that two distinct issues might be confused here.

    The advaitan claim is that ultimate reality and ultimate experience is nondual, which is usually understood as Supreme Identity (although every now and then someone like Swami Abhishiktananda throws a wrench in by espousing non-monistic nonduality). This is true of Orthodox Christianity as well, where union with God is not mediated by "created grace" - grace is understood as uncreated, aka the Energies. (This does not really contradict the Latin understanding. "Gratia creata" is the state of the soul itself becoming divinized by God, who is "gratia increata", and while the soul remains a creature, we are still "becoming uncreated".)

    What Katz is speaking about, if I understand him, is not the soul's ascent to God being mediated by created helps like "graces" but rather the mystical experience being mediated by sociocultural context. A Muslim will interpret his experience in accordance with Islam; a Christian will interpret his experience in accordance with his Christian beliefs; a Hindu will interpret his experience in accordance with his Hindu framework. The experience may be ultimately beyond description or context, but we still have to "come down" to talk about it in a language that anyone is capable of understanding.

    I don't think that contradicts the advaitan claim, and in fact the advaitin would appeal to it in order to explain the apparent religious diversity. (And it of course cannot be absolutely true insofar as those religious contexts themselves were formulated in part to conceptualize and verbalize the experience.

  8. I'm not sure that I'd consider nonduality to be necessarily patronizing to theistic religions, although the rhetoric among some of its American champions (especially on social media) can spin it that way. I do need to reread Alphonse Levee's "Christianity and the Doctrine of Nondualism", which I just unpacked after our move.

    Samkara was probably a purer and more consistent nondualist than Ramanuja, although Ramanuja has his admirers - if I recall correctly, the early 20th-century Jesuit Fr. Pierre Johanns ("To Christ through the Vedanta", written in 1932) among them.

    "On a side note, it's so interesting to me that the Perennialist writers had so little to say about the schools of Vedanta other than that of Shankara's."

    That's a major reason Guenon's "Man and His Becoming According to the Vedanta" was not accepted as his Ph.D. dissertation. Perennialists unfortunately can be sloppy scholars.

    I can't comment on Madhvacharya because I only know him through his critics. My fear would be that dvaita would end up entailing not classical theism but rather theistic personalism - turning God into a being to set aside another being, rather than Being Himself. Then again, a consistently nondual viewpoint would see nonduality between the nondual and dualist positions, instead of a real contradiction.

    I am familiar with Borella, only through his published writings. "Guenonian Esoterism and Christian Mystery" was a difficult book to get my hands on without purchasing - my alma mater was able to borrow the Library of Congress' copy for me - but well worth the effort.

  9. Regarding the Stoddart quote, it is illuminating to always remember the chief point Schuon made against Guenon about Christianity - that it resists the exoteric/esoteric distinction and *in its exoteric form* properly lies on the esoteric side of the distinction. Schuon's argument was simple - esoteric lineages are characterized by initiatory mysteries, and the initiatory mysteries are not Templar rituals or other historically dubious events lost to history but rather the actual Christian mysteries of baptism, chrismation, and Holy Communion. In light of that theologically it seems hard to avoid the implications regarding the Incarnation (not just as an archetypal idea manifested uniquely by a particular religion, but as THE event of salvation) and the uniqueness of the Church taught by orthodox Christianity. I'm kind of okay affirming "extra ecclesia nulla salus" while still recognizing God's special action not only in individuals outside the visible bounds of the Church but even through esoteric lineages outside the visible bounds of the Church.

    Schuon's biggest problem is that he particularizes Christianity, whereas an authentically nondual awareness would have recognized that clumping together categories of rigidly distinct "religions" is ultimately artificial and illusory. The Church is not defined by a set of beliefs assigned strictly to a particular historical context rigidly isolated from any influences from Hellenic or Indian philosophy or from any other religious experience; the Church is defined by Christ (by the Eucharist, by baptism, by the presence of the action of God, etc. - by Her supernatural source, not by sociohistorical boundaries related to the origin of human ideas and practices). Athens has much to do with Jerusalem - and with Benares - and there is always continuity of ideas and influences within human intellectual and spiritual history.

    Schuon's other problem is that he fails to see the transcending of the esoteric/exoteric division by Christianity in the Church after Vatican II, in which point Borella (who understands the mission of the Church as evangelization, whereas Schuon only sees it as gnosis) departs from Schuon. One can certainly see where Schuon is coming from, in the liturgical wasteland and crisis of dissent in the aftermath of the Council in the West, and it's not surprising that Ananda Coomaraswamy's son Rama became ordained a priest by a sedevacantist bishop without fundamentally changing his Perennialist outlook towards world religions one bit.

    But gnosis and mystical union are ultimately the work of God and of a grace beyond the pay grade of the Church. The Church's mission is to bring souls to Jesus, so that they can be born again in baptism, and to be sanctified and made Christ-like. If a banal, mundane, and practically un-liturgical liturgy fails to automatically induce a state of contemplative prayer or nondual union, the Church has not ceased to be the Church. The New Evangelization (which Borella spoke favorably of) lays the groundwork for spiritual ascents God will lead us through later, and as Cardinal Danielou reminded us, even the most mundane housewife who is baptized into God's grace is higher than the most advanced yogini with all his mystical experiences who is not. (I think Danielou's words are correct in one sense and not in another.)

  10. Hi Seraphim,

    You've given me a whole lot to reflect upon. Despite my intentions, it looks like I haven't done a good job in containing my comments from drifting about. I want to zone in on what you said regarding Schuon's particularization of Christianity. Isn't that in accordance with the central Perennialist claim? That each Tradition is a "deployment" or "form" of the formless, each suited to a particular human receptacle?
    (It just occurred to me that the Perennialist view might actually resemble that of Aristotle's moderate realism) The Perennialist doesn't claim that there is a "super" religion (like Plato's Third Realm), but that each Tradition is an instantiation of the Universal). Also, I'm not sure how the Schuonian view feautures "clumping together categories of rigidly distinct religions". As I understand it, the Perennialists have always taken a firm stance against syncretism. Or am I totally missing your point? I suspect I am.

    I think the Perennial Philosopher would totally agree with what you said about the mission of the church and gnosis. At the end of the day, any authentic religion is about the saving of souls, or as Schuon always said, about the one thing needful.

    Here is a question that is foundational to me - do you think there is, indeed, a Perennial Philosophy ( a la the Traditionalist School)?

  11. Hi Seraphim,

    I've been thinking about your point about particularity. It reminded of a conversation I had with a Catholic friend who moved away from a spiritual/universalist position to a specifically Christian one. Here's what he had to say....

    'The insistence that esoterism "transcends" theology is, in my view, a meaningless statement. What is actually, de facto, being asserted by the Traditionalists is that the clams made by theology aren't really true. Christian theology has long claimed that Jesus of Nazareth is the decisive revelation of God, not a particular manifestation of the Absolute. When I pointed this out some time ago, a commentator dismissed it as a "confessional bias." Well, the "confessional bias" is the very heart of Christianity. By the Perennialist's lights, these central theological claims may be "relatively true," but that strikes me as a vacuous statement. The end result, as I see it, is that Perennialism relativizes ("transcends") theology in such a way, that the words of Christianity no longer mean what they say.

    I find much of the Traditionalist writing vis-a-vis metaphysics "transcending" theology to be the ultimate exercise in trying to have one's cake and eat it too. What is really, de facto, going on is that the Western religions are being Easternized, the vociferous protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. After all, how else is one to characterize reinterpreting Christianity in Vedantic terms?

    If there is one more point I'd make, it would be the Incarnation. If God did become man (or "Atman became maya" if you prefer,) in the course of history (a basic datum prior to our interpretation of what this Divine embodiment might mean), it should give one pause that the Incarnation occurred in Judaism and not the East, that the Apostles and the Fathers- who were closer to the event than ourselves- interpreted it in manner that we now call "exoteric". I think it tests the limits of reason to believe that, basically, everyone misunderstood the nature of the Incarnation until the Perennialists finally arrived to explain to us what the Incarnation really means. I'm not the first to make this argument- Peter Kreeft did before me- but I reiterate it because I think it has a genuine bite to it. If the Incarnation took place in history, than surely when and where it occurred matters. And it makes sense to accord a certain privilege to the understanding that unfolded in history following the event, vs new interpretations from other worldviews that are not applied until centuries later....I find the arrogance inherent in the esoteric interpretation of Jesus of Nazareth to be a major strike against such views.'

    I think my friend does a pretty good job in laying out some of the basic problems with regards to this subject. But, I wonder if he has got something wrong. He referred to the "basic datum" of the Incarnation. Can there be such a thing? The Incarnation, as I understand it, is already an interpretation; one that germinates from within a particular metaphysic. The absolute uniqueness of Jesus Christ only makes sense (I think) within the context of a specifically theistic spiritual universe in which differences are real (resting upon that rock-bottom dualism/difference of Creator and creation). So, ultimately, the root issue is one of worldview. But as my friend pointed out, why should we start from the view that unqualified nondualism represents the "highest" or "supreme" Truth in the first place?

  12. I agree as strongly as you do that Kreeft's right. The ones who understand Christianity correctly are the exoteric ones; they do not need esotericists to come along and explain it correctly to them (and I do not think that Schuon, for his part, believes they do).

    You said "He referred to the "basic datum" of the Incarnation. Can there be such a thing? The Incarnation, as I understand it, is already an interpretation; one that germinates from within a particular metaphysic. The absolute uniqueness of Jesus Christ only makes sense (I think) within the context of a specifically theistic spiritual universe in which differences are real (resting upon that rock-bottom dualism/difference of Creator and creation)"

    To realize that the Incarnation is already an interpretation is illuminating; I had not thought of it in quite those terms before.

    " But as my friend pointed out, why should we start from the view that unqualified nondualism represents the "highest" or "supreme" Truth in the first place?"

    For most of us, including myself, that isn't going to be the *starting*-point, but rather something we come to realize on an experiential basis (and one, incidentally, that I take on the words of others rather than myself) as well as on philosophical grounds (cf Parmenides).

  13. Any info on sat chit ananda and holy trinity? Christ unique incarnation consist about the kenosis directory from brahman nirguna , nothing to do with an avatar.
    Very interesting bit how divine energies van ne saguna brahman?