Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

An open letter to TENYEARS/Canute/Rader: NONDUALITY

  1. Feb 11, 2004 #1
    please explain the philosophy of nonduality. we have much to discuss.

    parallel discussions are taking place here:
    and here:
    http://goshopthailand.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2611#2611 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 14, 2004 #2
    This is the best discussion on the topic I have ever witnessed, may it continue.
  4. Feb 14, 2004 #3
    i'm finding it stimulating how one can try to approach it academically or from "the inside."

    i never knew that this was discussed in the hindu system. my friends literally thought i was totally insane for going around saying "we are all one person, dammit!"

    i loved kitten's explanation (on ne plus ultra) for the apparent multiplicity being due to ignorance. something about that i find unsettling though maybe you can provide an explanation as to why we percieve multiplicity. to me it is so i can function and communicate; so the multiplicity is willed on my part. i sometimes slip into a state where i refer to myself as i like "i regret saying this..." when it was 'actually' someone else who said it; and i don't bat an eye. i know it sounds crazy but apparently these ideas have been around for millenia.

    i'm reminded of the gospel of thomas where jesus apparently said this
  5. Feb 15, 2004 #4
    phoenixthoth, I was refering to the conversation on this PF thread at PF which has been going on for three days.
  6. Feb 15, 2004 #5
    indeed! there really isn't much to say, is there.
  7. Feb 17, 2004 #6

    Only just found this one. Can you unpack your question a bit? I don't want to head off in the wrong direction.
  8. Feb 17, 2004 #7
    i suppose volumes could be written about nonduality.


    like narrow down?

    can you expound on the concept of brahman and atman, how that concept relates to nonduality and the ego and atman, and maybe tell me which of these are buddhism, hinduism, or your own synthesis...

    what may not interest others is that i just wrote a reply to something i just read. it is on one of the threads i linked to in my opening post.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2004
  9. Feb 18, 2004 #8
    The relation between Buddhism and Hinduism is complex and I don't know much about it, other than that they have co-evolved and cross-fertilised in many ways and seem to be very similar in their ultimate teachings about existence. Ego and atman I know nothing about.

    I'll have a go at 'non-duality' but it's almost impossible to avoid saying the wrong things about it. The topic is too big to say anything much, but I'll make a start and maybe it'll throw up specific issues.

    'Nondual philosophy' is any philosophy based on the principle that the cosmos (at the level of reality) is non-dual. This ultimate 'substrate' of existence is 'eternal mind' or 'true mind'. This mind, (in its ultimate or true state), is non-dual, thus beyond truth and falsity, beyond subject and object, beyond spacetime, and beyond any illusion of self. It is what must exist, and therefore the reason anything at all does. We are all part of this mind and all have access to it. This is roughly what Buddhists mean by saying that we all have our 'Buddha-nature'. Buddhists (and others) experience this state (to varying degrees) through meditation (and eventually as their normal state).

    It is not really a philosophy, and not properly even a metaphysic. Both are not quite correct terms. Adherents call it an 'affirmation', meaning that they affirm it to be the truth based on personal experience. This 'truth' is the basis of Buddhism but is affirmed by all sorts of people who are not Buddhists. It turns up everywhere from the early Greek philosophers to the Christian gnostics and mystics to Spinoza to the Jesus of the Thomas Gospel), Hinduism and elsewhere. It gives rise to an explanation of existence that is without all the paradoxes and contradictions of 'dual' theories (materialism etc). It should not be confused with 'ontological monism',(it often is) since monism is actually a dualistic theory on analysis.

    'Non-duality' is a difficult idea to get to grips with intellectually. As all concepts and percepts are dual an understanding of it requires direct experience. (This is why Buddhism is a practice and cannot be 'learnt' second hand). However this does not mean that it is impossible to think about. It means just that the idea doesn't seem to make much sense in the absence of some experience.

    The non-duality of ultimate reality (ontologically what lies outside of Plato's cave, beyond the world of appearances, epistemologically the meta-system that lies beyond all possible formal systems of reasoning) entails that all assertions about reality are false. Thus this ultimate mind (or emptiness/fullness, Nirvana, Brahman, eternal bliss etc) cannot be said to exist, since there is a strong sense in which it does not. However it does not not-exist either. This is a 'substance' which transcends existence and non-existence. (For this reason non-dual thinkers do not find it odd that science cannot prove the existence of consciousness except by first-person direct knowledge. They would be very surprised if it could).

    It is possible to talk about non-duality in 'academic' terms (in relation to 'western' philosophical and scientific issues), and as such it gives rise to a coherent and rational world-view. (For instance Bertrand Russell considered it the most coherent of world-views). However direct experience is all that really counts, which is why enlightened Buddhists tend to throw out their books.

    This is waffle. I can post some good links if it would be helpful. Otherwise it would be easier to focus on some particular issue and take it from there. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that current scientific and philosophical findings virtually prove that existence arises from a non-dual source. Very little research is being done on this because the idea is assumed to be mystical, or as failing to make testable predictions. However neither assumption seems to be correct.

    Sorry, brain's not really in gear today.

    Last edited: Feb 18, 2004
  10. Feb 18, 2004 #9
    roots of non-dualism

    To my knowledge, this train of thought of non-dualism, appeared in several cultures at about the same time. The Greek culture has made the main influence upon western culture until now.

    The roots of physics, as of all Western science, are to be found in the first period of Greek philosophy in the sixth century B.C., in a culture where science, philosophy and religion were not seperated. The sages of the Milesian school in Ionia were not concerned with such distintions. Their aim was to discover the essential nature of things whïch they called physis. The Milesian school had a strong mystical flavour. The Milesians were called "hylozoists", or those who think matter is alive, because they saw no distinntion between animate and inanimate, spirit and matter. They considered all forms of existence as a manifestation of the "physis," endowed with life and spirituality. The Greek, Thales declared that all things to be full of gods and Anaximander, saw the universe as a kind of organism which was supported by "pneuma", the cosmic breath. The monistic and organic view of the Milesians was a very close to that of ancient Indian and Chinese philosphy, and the parallels to Eastern thought are even stronger in the philosphy of Heraclitus of Epheus. Heraclitus believed in a world of perputal change, of eternal "Becoming". For him all static being was based on deception and his universal and all was in continuous flow and change. Heraclitus taught that all changes in the world arise from the dinamic and cyclic interplay of opposites and he saw any pair of opposites as a unity. This unity which transcends all opposing forces, he called Logos.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2004
  11. Feb 19, 2004 #10
    If no one does bad willingly, then is it possible that when people learn to lie around age 5 and maintain a clear conscience they are learning in effect to divide themselves into a good person who they can be proud to be and maintain a halo and a bad person that helps get more of the things they want just like everyone else is doing? Yet, what is the cost of a clear conscience, or the cost of not having one?
    This observation came to me after getting hit on a bicycle twice in one week and seeing first hand how seemingly good people probably couldn't tell the truth to save their own lives and were quickly willing to lie to get out of feeling a little guilt instead of admitting to their errors and correcting their mistakes.
    If some people are more truthful, I think they are the real problem since most people prefer to be a little dishonest and selfish and get along just fine in life without having to spend years meditating to purge oneself of all negative emotions or whatever they call it although to me it's more likely that they've learned how to think themselves into getting high, maybe some day Mars could be colonized by these malcontents, so that like the Matrix the one's who don't want the fantasy world win and the ones who do win and the machines are happy to let the rebellious ones go.
  12. Feb 19, 2004 #11
    That makes the world deterministic. Personal experience contradicts that perception.
  13. Feb 19, 2004 #12
    To answer this question for yourselves there can only be one solution. You would have to be both placed into a boxing ring slugging it out until the final blow occured. What would the result of this fight be?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook