Advaita (Nondualism) Moving Past Nihilism

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chuck.drake

#1
Interesting article for those interested in advaita/nondualism/idealism:

http://www.nakedminds.org/2014/06-advaitanihilism.html



Advaita is a system of philosophy, but it is a philosophy that points past philosophy towards non-conceptualisation. As a philosophy, it embraces nihilism. But as a practice, it goes beyond conceptual models and emotional states to a direct experience of awareness. And that experience is absolutely inclusive and accepting — it has to be — which is actually the very deepest definition of love. So the loving nature of Advaita is nothing to do with the philosophy of Advaita, but is a consequence of that philosophy in practice, taken out of the usual nihilistic milieu of depression, despair and destruction associated with over-intellectualism. The paradox here is that a nihilistic rejection of reality can lead to a loving inclusion of reality, if done in the right spirit. This is because absolute rejection and absolute acceptance are, on the deepest level, the same thing.


What is most remarkable about the modern Advaita movement is the scale of self-deception. In no other spiritual niche do so many believe that they are awake, even when it is patently obvious they are not, even by their own criteria. Self-deception in non-dual spiritual circles seems endless because their aspirations to non-existence of self and mind are contrary to the human condition. Self and minds exist whether we are spiritually awake or asleep, and trying to convince ourselves and others otherwise is always a losing battle.


We are born with minds that develop naturally to include a sense of separation, and thus appreciation. We develop a separate sense of self so that we become conscious — we self-reflect. And within that consciousness, if we are curious or lucky enough, we can eventually uncover the baseline of pure awareness. But to then deny the reality of the mind, or to vilify the separate sense of self, is a form of self-hatred and self-rejection. This is the scourge of nihilism… at its base is destruction. That is where the term an-nihilation comes from. When we focus on nothing, there is a tendency to reduce everything to nothing, and nothing to everything.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#2
Thanks Chuck. I feel sympathy for the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of that excerpt you quoted.

You seem to have some sort of grounding in Hindu philosophy. Would you happen to have a book to recommend that introduces the major schools of thought and philosophies? (Of Hinduism, mind you, not Buddhism.)
 
C

chuck.drake

#3
Thanks Chuck. I feel sympathy for the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of that excerpt you quoted.

You seem to have some sort of grounding in Hindu philosophy. Would you happen to have a book to recommend that introduces the major schools of thought and philosophies? (Of Hinduism, mind you, not Buddhism.)
Hello Ian!

My grounding in Hindu philosophy is limited to a religious studies class decades ago where the professor was, fortunately for me, obsessed with Hinduism. Other than that I have picked up a bit here and there, and lately through listening to Rick Archer, as he grounds most of his discussion in Hindu philosophy. And he generally explains a word when he uses it.

I'm guessing that even the main Wikipedia entries could give you a cursory overview. I'm sure there is probably a really good book that introduces the subject with the requisite amount of juiciness and style. I'm just ignorant of such book unfortunately.

My interest in Hinduism is purely practical at this point, gleaning what I can to enhance my experience. At least for me, none of the Eastern schools are entirely applicable to my Western self. I find I need an approach that is more integrated.

I'm reading again for the second time this year the enormous "The Inner Journey Home: Soul's Realization of the Unity of Reality" by A. H. Almaas. I personally can't praise any other writer higher than Almaas. His approach integrates a deep experiential understanding of the true nature of reality with an intense conceptual knowledge of most all esoteric thought including the East, Jung, Gurdjieff, etc. He then uses the lens of depth and ego psychology to present his Diamond Approach. Amazing stuff for me. Reading Almaas for me is like coming home. It is deeply conceptual, but behind the language rests a depth of experience that is dazzling. Just wonderful for me personally. In "The Inner Journey Home" he seems to dig relatively deep, but it is really just an introduction to the Diamond Approach which is fully elucidated in his entire series related to the Diamond Approach. I have read "Spacecruiser Inquiry" and just today got from the library "The Point of Existence: Transformation of Narcissism in Self-Realization." I can't wait to get started!

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of "The Inner Journey Home" (http://assets.ahalmaas.com/system/f...A0LzM1MS9pamhfY2hhcHRlci5wZGY/ijh-chapter.pdf) The ellipses in the excerpt indicate vast areas of missing text. I wish it was the whole first chapter, but it is not.
 
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Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#4
That sounds really, really interesting and your enthusiasm is catching, Chuck. Sounds like a really intriguing mix of precious deep experience with scholarship, and I like the bits I've read in what you linked . You've sold me on it and I'll put it on my wish list. :)
 
C

chuck.drake

#5
That sounds really, really interesting and your enthusiasm is catching, Chuck. Sounds like a really intriguing mix of precious deep experience with scholarship, and I like the bits I've read in what you linked . You've sold me on it and I'll put it on my wish list. :)
I'm glad, Ian. The book I'm reading now, "The Point of Existence: Transformation of Narcissism in Self-Realization" is really interesting. The basic idea which Almaas explores over 500+ pages is that different expressions of narcissism alienate one from an authentic experience of the true "self" or soul, which ultimately is an experience of Presence.

I'm only in the first section of the book, but Almaas spends considerable time defining narcissism, and reviews the various definitions of self given by Kohut, Hartmann, Mahler, Lowen, Kernberg, etc. Basically looking at the self as defined by depth, ego, self and object relations psychology.

Almaas then talks at length at the difference between our self-representation (which some branches of psychology come to accept as the true self) and a true experience of self-realization.

A little passage from the start of chapter 6:

"It is critical to understand the significance of the fact that the self-representation is not the actual self; it is the concept of the self. As we saw in the last chapter, this distinction is lost when psychological researchers use the concepts of self and self-representation interchangeably. It might be largely true that this differentiation is not significant for understanding and treating pathological narcissism, since this pathology is due largely to disturbances in the self-representation. Hence psychoanalytic theory tends not to attach importance to the differentiation between self and self-representation.

Without this differentiation, the common view is that a "realistic" self-image constitutes optimal health and development. However, it was made clear in chapter 3 that identification with anything other than one's essential presence is inherently narcissistic. Thus, models of psychological health that include identification with self-image will never get to the bottom of the narcissistic phenomenon."
So the gist of the book is how do we best utilize "spiritual" practice and the developments in ego and self psychology to uncover the true nature of the self.

Interesting stuff. But I think it is better to start with "The Inner Journey Home" as it gives the whole framework for the Diamond Method, where "The Point of Existence" is really just one spoke on the wheel of the method.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#6
Chuck, that's especially interesting given my considerable personal and professional involvement in self psychology (Kohut) and its more modern developments (intersubjectivity theory). Kohut rehabilitated the infant's natural "narcissism" from the moral condemnation that Freud, in a traditionally Judaic-Christian response, brought upon it.

See here for example:
http://books.google.ca/books?id=5iWOsXtd_2wC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=kohut and rehabilitating narcissism&source=bl&ots=CVvEoCXkwt&sig=Y3pOrogF65PC_21FKk0LH_kkLU4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DzvMU-usC5GkyATZxICYCQ&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=kohut and rehabilitating narcissism&f=false

I'm always interested in something that explores our capacity to break out of our self-centeredness, while not denying, and rather honoring, every person's self-needs (feeling understood, known, validated, appreciated, loved, esteemed, etc.). I seek forms of spirituality that share that wisdom, which I've found in some NDE accounts, Robert Schwartz' work with mediums, and other sources.
 
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Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#7
Interesting stuff. But I think it is better to start with "The Inner Journey Home" as it gives the whole framework for the Diamond Method, where "The Point of Existence" is really just one spoke on the wheel of the method.
I think I'll get myself a little primer on Hindu philosophies, to satisfy the geeky part of me that likes to put things in a historical-intellectual context, then I'll take your suggestion. :)
 
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