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May 10, 2007 11:16 PM
by danielhcaldwell

In a previous posting, I gave  Masters KH's and M's arguments 
concerning "God", advaita, pantheism, acosmism, etc.  See:

Compare these arguments with the following excerpts from the

CAPS have been added to certain KEY words in the text of each entry 
to emphasize those words and the concepts behind the words.

ADVAITA (Sanskrit: "Nondualism," or "Monism"), [is]
most influential of the schools of Vedanta, an orthodox philosophy of
India. While its followers find its main tenets already fully
expressed in the Upanisads and systematized by the Vedanta-sutras, it
has its historical beginning with the 7th-century thinker
Gaudapada. . . Gaudapada builds further on the Mahayana Buddhist
philosophy of Sunyava-da ("Emptiness"). He argues that there
is NO DUALITY; the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya
("illusion"); and only nonduality (advaita) is the final
truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance of illusion. There is
no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some
ONLY THE ATMAN (all-soul), in which individuals may be temporarily
delineated just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main
space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more
part of the main space.

The medieval Indian philosopher Sankara, or Sankaracarya (Master
Sankara, c. 700?750), builds further on Gaudapada's foundation, .
. . Sankara in his philosophy does not start from the empirical world
with logical analysis but, rather, directly from the absolute
(Brahman). If interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanisads teach
the nature of Brahman. In making this argument, he develops a
complete epistemology to account for the human error in taking the
phenomenal world for real. Fundamental for Sankara is the tenet that
the Brahman is real and the world is unreal. Any change, duality, or
plurality is an illusion. The self is NOTHING BUT Brahman. Insight
into this identity results in spiritual release. Brahman is outside
time, space, and causality, which are simply forms of empirical
experience. NO DISTINCTION in Brahman or from Brahman is possible.

Sankara points to scriptural texts, either stating identity
("Thou art that") or denying difference ("There is no duality
here"), as declaring the true meaning of a Brahman without
qualities (nirguna ). Other texts that ascribe qualities (saguna) to
Brahman refer not to the true nature of Brahman but to its
personality as God(Isvara). . . .


PANTHEISM in Hinduism
The gods of the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India (c.1200 BC),
represented for the most part natural forces. Exceptions were the
gods Prajapati (Lord of Creatures) and Purusa (Supreme Being or Soul
of the Universe), whose competition for influence provided, in its
outcome, a possible explanation of how the Indian tradition came to
be one of pantheism rather than of Classical Theism. By the 10th book
of the Rigveda, Prajapati had become a lordly, monotheistic figure, a
creator deity transcending the world; and in the later period of the
sacred writings of the Brahmanas (c. 7th century BC), prose
commentaries on the Vedas, he was moving into a central position. The
rising influence of this Theism was later eclipsed by Purusa, who was
also represented in Rigveda X. In a creation myth Purusa was
sacrificed by the gods in order to supply (from his body) the pieces
from which all the things of the world arise. From this standpoint
the ground of all things lies in a Cosmic Self, and all of life
participates in that of Purusa. The Vedic hymn to Purusa may be
regarded as the starting point of Indian pantheism.

In the Upanisads (c. 1000?500 BC), the most important of the
ancient scriptures of India, the later writings contain philosophic
speculations concerning the relation between the individual and the
divine. In the earlier Upanisads, the absolute, impersonal, eternal
properties of the divine had been stressed; in the later Upanisads,
on the other hand, and in the Bhagavadgita , the personal, loving,
immanentistic properties became dominant. In both cases the divine
was held to be IDENTICAL with the inner self of each man. At times
these opposites were implicitly held to be in fact identical?the
view earlier called identity of opposites pantheism. At other times
the two sets of qualities were related, one to the unmanifest
absolute Brahman, or supreme reality (sustaining the universe), and
the other to the manifest Brahman bearing qualities (and containing
the universe). Thus Brahman can be regarded as exclusive of the world
and inclusive, unchanging and yet the origin of all change. Sometimes
the manifest Brahman was regarded as an emanation from the unmanifest
Brahman; and then emanationistic pantheism?the Neoplatonic
pantheism of the foregoing typology?was the result.

Sankara, an outstanding nondualistic Vedantist and advocate of a
spiritual view of life, began with the Neoplatonic alternative but
added a qualification that turned his view into what was later called
acosmic pantheism. Distinguishing first between Brahman as being the
eternal Absolute and Brahman as a lower principle and declaring the
lower Brahman to be a manifestation of the higher, he then made the
judgment that all save the higher unqualitied Brahman is the product
of ignorance or nescience and exists (apparently only in men's minds)
as the phantoms of a dream. Since for Sankara, the world and
individuality thus disappear upon enlightenment into the unmanifest
Brahman, and in reality only the Absolute without distinctions
exists, Sankara has provided an instance of acosmism.

ACOSMISM [is] in philosophy, the view that God is the sole and
ultimate reality and that finite objects and events have no
INDEPENDENT existence. Acosmism has been equated with pantheism, the
belief that everything is God. G.W.F. Hegel coined the word to defend
Benedict de Spinoza, who was accused of atheism for rejecting the
traditional view of a created world EXISTING OUTSIDE GOD. Hegel
argued that Spinoza could not be an atheist because pantheists hold
that EVERYTHING is God, whereas atheists exclude God altogether and
make a godless world the sole reality. Furthermore, because Spinoza's
cosmos is part of God, it is not what it seems to be. He is
acosmistic insofar as "noncosmic" seems to deny the
cosmos?a position, however, very alien to Spinoza's thought.

Acosmism has also been used to describe the philosophies of Hindu
Vedanta, Buddhism, and Arthur Schopenhauer; and Johann Gottlieb
Fichte used the term to defend himself against accusations similar to
those leveled against Spinoza.
VAISHNAVISM also called Vishnuism, or Visnuism . . . [is] worship of
the god Vishnu and of his incarnations, principally as Rama and as
Krishna. It is one of the major forms of modern Hinduism?with
Saivism and Shaktism (Saktism).

A major characteristic of Vaishnavism is the strong part played by
bhakti, or religious devotion. The ultimate goal of the devotee is to
escape from the cycle of birth and death so as to enjoy the presence
of Vishnu. This cannot be achieved without the grace of God. . . .

The philosophical schools of Vaishnavism differ in their
interpretation of THE RELATIONSHIP between individual souls and God.
The doctrines of the most important schools are:

(1) visist advaita ("qualified monism"), associated with the
name of Ramanuja (11th century) and continued by the Srivais nava
sect, prominent in South India;

(2) dvaita ("dualism"), the principal exponent of which was
Madhva (13th century), who taught that although the soul is dependent
on God it is NOT an extension of God, that the soul and God are
SEPARATE entities;

(3) dvaitadvaita ("dualistic monism"), taught by Nimbarka. . .

(4) suddhadvaita ("pure monism") of Vallabha. . .

(5) acintya-bhedabheda ("inconceivable duality and
nonduality"), the doctrine of Caitanya. . .

DVAITA . . . (Sanskrit: "Dualism"), [dualism, or belief in a
BASIC DIFFERENCE in kind between God and individual souls] [is] an
important school in the orthodox Hindu philosophical system of
Vedanta. Its founder was Madhva. . . .

Already during his lifetime, Madhva was regarded by his followers as
an incarnation of the wind god Vayu, who had been sent to earth by
the lord Vishnu to save the good, after the powers of evil had sent
the philosopher Sankara, an important proponent of the Advaita
("Nondualist") school.

In his expositions, Madhva shows the influence of the Nyaya
philosophic school. He maintains that Vishnu is the supreme God, thus
identifying the Brahman of the Upanisads with A PERSONAL God, as
Ramanuja (c. 1050?1137) had done before him. There are in
Madhva's system THREE ETERNAL, ontological orders: that of God, that
of soul, and that of inanimate nature. The existence of God is
demonstrable by logical proof, though only scripture teaches his
nature. He is the epitome of all perfections and possesses a
nonmaterial body, which consists of saccidananda (being, spirit, and
bliss). God is the efficient cause of the universe, but Madhva denies
that he is the material cause, for God cannot have created the world
by splitting himself nor in any other way, since that militates
against the doctrine that God is unalterable; in addition, it is
blasphemous to accept that a perfect God changes himself into an
imperfect world. . . .

Madhva set out to refute the nondualistic Advaita philosophy of
Sankara (d. c. AD 750), who believed the INDIVIDUAL self to be a
phenomenon and the absolute spirit (Brahman) the ONLY reality. Thus,
Madhva rejected the venerable Hindu theory of maya
("illusion"), which taught that only spirituality is eternal
and the material world is illusory and deceptive. Madhva maintained
that the simple fact that things are transient and everchanging does
not mean they are not real. . . .

Madhva . . . belonged to the tradition of Vaisnava religious faith
and showed a great polemical spirit in refuting Sankara's philosophy
and in converting people to his own fold. . . . He glorified
DIFFFERENCE. Five types of differences are central to Madhva's
system: DIFFERENCE between soul and God, between soul and soul,
between soul and matter, between God and matter, and that between
matter and matter. Brahman is the fullness of qualities, and by his
own intrinsic nature, Brahman produces the world. The individual,
otherwise free, is dependent only upon God. The Advaita concepts of
falsity and indescribability of the world were severely criticized
and rejected.


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