Criticizing the Oneness of Transcendental Idealism

Discussion in 'Extended Consciousness & Spirituality' started by Sciborg_S_Patel, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. Note - I'm basing this on others' criticisms from other threads, figure this is a good centralized thread for discussion.

    On a mundane level does this sense of "All is One" promote a collectivist ideology? Personally I don't think so and leave it to others to make that case.

    There is another level of criticism, that post-mortem survival in sense that one reunites with Mind @ Large is as much a journey to oblivion as brain-death in materialism would be.

    Beyond Physicalism goes into some other issues James had with Oneness:

    "Encouraged by Myers, Fechner, and Bergson, as described above, James now postulates the existence of still higher-order integrations, expressions of an ongoing, evolving process, the current highest stage of which is a tremendous conscious reality of some sort corresponding to the common person’s notion of God. But James’s is a finite, incomplete, and imperfect God that falls short of total integration and thus has some sort of external environment of its own. This allows, in James’s view, both for the possibility of evil that does not originate within God himself, and for the possibility of its eradication over time through the ethically grounded efforts of human beings equipped with free will. That highest-level reality might also be in some respects like us, for example in ignoring, forgetting, or failing to notice things going on at lower levels, thus affording a desirable sort of “intimacy.” For all these reasons James prefers his pluralistic doctrine to its main contemporary rival, absolute idealism as conceived by philosophic colleagues such as Royce and Bradley. Their doctrine just cannot be right, James (1909/ 1971) thinks: its “thin,” abstract, timeless, static, all-encompassing and already perfect One—“ the unintelligible pantheistic monster” (p. 271)— seems to him an abominable and alien fiction remote from real experience, the pernicious result of abstract intellectualizing unconstrained by empirical data."

    (2015-02-19). Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality (Kindle Location 9748). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.

    And also:

    For Bradley, the rationalist, what is ultimately real is the eternal Absolute, to which all experience past, present, and future is simultaneously present. The idea that time is real and the future genuinely open therefore seems an illusion, along with that of genuinely free will. For James, the empiricist, lived experience in the world of temporal becoming is the ultimate reality, and purposeful actions of his human players are both needed and not fully determined.[

    (2015-02-19). Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Spirituality (Kindle Locations 9795-9799). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2016
  2. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    Good stuff.
     
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  3. Raimo

    Raimo New

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    http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2009/05/the-simple-life.html

    I agree with Michael Prescott. This is the consequence of the Oneness ideology:

    I also agree 100% with this quote by Stephen A. McNallen:

    In The Afterlife Revealed, Michael Tymn deals with this topic. On page 119 he quotes some discarnate spirits. For Example, Silver Birch said:
    .
    I am not familiar with the copyright law, so I only posted a part of that quote.
     
  4. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    Some folks (Castaneda was one) wrote that those who don't follow the path of the "warrior" were destined to have their souls swallowed at death by the great eagle and basically return to oneness.
     
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  5. There is no contradiction between individuality and oneness. Oneness is not oblivion. We are already one, how is that a problem? The confusion arises because you can't understand something that is non-physical like consciousness by analogy to the physical things we know about, you have to experience it. Living people sometimes realize oneness and like it much better than being separate.


    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html

    Bernadette Roberts said:
    ...
    Lester Levenson ... wrote:
    Linda Stewart wrote about her near-death experience:
    ...
    [Silver Birch was quoted above, Leslie Flint is among the most reliable evidential mediums.]

    The spirit of Charles Marshall communicating through direct voice medium Leslie Flint said:
    https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/short_topics#short_topics_reincarnation

    Silver Birch had this to say:
    http://www.angelfire.com/ok/SilverBirch/lights.html

     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
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  6. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    Jim’s comment was excellent. As far as critiques of James’ pluralism, Alan Wallace has been writing excellent tributes to James for several decades, while making clear how the Dzogchen “Great Perfection” view goes beyond the pluralistic view without dissolving everything into a featureless “oneness”. Shankara’s mayavadin view probably comes closest to the modern misunderstanding of pure consciousness as some kind of meaningless, blob of nothingness, but even Shankara wasn’t quite that simplistic!

    in any case, I’d strongly recommend Sri Aurobindo’s integral non-dualism – which honors the richness of the theistic traditions while adhering to a non-dualistic view which has infinite room for the most fecund multiplicity (sorry for the complex words; when you write about Sri Aurobindo sometimes that kind of language sneaks in – to put it more simply, look at all this right in front of you – “Oneness” is not something that happens, it’s (at least claimed to be) already the case. So see – there is nothing but Unity, and yet all this multiplicity is.


    Get away from philosophizing and complex words and you find the experience is incredibly simple. Another analogy is a dream. Are you in two dreams at once? It’s “one” dream that has the capacity for infinite variations. Or listen to Bach’s Goldberg Variations – one them, 31 blessedly beautiful variations.
     
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  7. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I read Bernadette Roberts' book back in college when I was experimenting with Contemplative Prayer and mystical Christianity. Her book and the coinciding experiences I was having were extremely interesting to me, but for a while it scared me away from meditation and centering prayer and mysticism.

    One statement in particular was hard for me to swallow: (paraphrasing since its been over 10 years) "I realized that if there is no personal self there is no personal God." And if there is no personal God there is no personal love.

    And after that realization she entered what I would say is the last stage of PNSE where she lost all ability to care about anything or feel any emotion.

    What I was experiencing was fantastic, but did I really want to go there?
     
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  8. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    Hi Hurmanetar: Bernadette Roberts always struck me as a very strange, psychologically unbalanced person. I think people nowadays, getting into this stuff as 'newbies", don't realize the extent of experiences possible. Also, people don't realize it's possible to have apparently profound, amazing "spiritual" experiences and still be very neurotic and unbalanced (Krishnamurti used to talk about this a lot - and he had lots of his own problems too!)

    I wouldn't take too seriously what Roberts said. If you're feeling drawn to contemplation and mystical Christianity, there are 2000 years of rather amazing mystics (Meister Eckart - light years ahead of Roberts in every conceivable way, just to mention one) you can turn to for inspiration.
     
  9. Michael2

    Michael2 New

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    The central concept of "unification in multiplicity" is explored in depth by Henry Corbin as it relates to transcendence of the person without, at the same, losing ones identity as a person:

    Henry Cobrin, Apophatic Theology as Antidote to Nihilism, in Le Paradoxe Du Monotheisme, Eds. de l’Herne, 1981

    As well:
    Charles Stang, professor of Early Christian Thought, Harvard Divinity School, explores this theme further in Our Divine Double, Harvard University Press (March 7, 2016)

    Edit: changed "unity" to "unification" in intro sentence, unification is probably slightly more correct. That, or I'm splitting hairs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
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  10. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    Yes, beautiful. Similar in some ways to Sri Aurobindo's idea of the "individual" rooted in the "Real idea" at the transcendent "Vijnana" (or "supramental") level - or in some respects, beyond even that, at the highest level of the "para prakriti" - the Divine Mother, who is ultimately "one" with the Absolute.

    We can lose ourselves again in apparently arcane mythic or philosophic terms, or simply "see" in this moment, there is both infinite multiplicity and a unity - one abiding, unbroken field of Consciousness. All forms appearing as waves of That, both multiple and one and yet beyond both multiplicity and unity.

    This is an often quoted passage from Sri Aurobindo's "The Life Divine" which deals with the limitations of our human concepts of "one" and "Many":

    Stability and movement, we must remember, are only our psychological representations of the Absolute, even as are oneness and multitude. The Absolute is beyond stability and movement as it is beyond unity and multiplicity. But it takes its eternal poise in the one and the stable and whirls round itself infinitely, inconceivably, securely in the moving and multitudinous. World-existence is the ecstatic dance of Shiva which multiplies the body of the God numberlessly to the view: it leaves that white existence precisely where and what it was, ever is and ever will be; its sole absolute object is the joy of the dancing.
     
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  11. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    And I was talking recently with some folks familiar with Sri Aurobindo's writing, and we noted how much more 'sense" it makes when read as a poem:

    Stability and movement,
    we must remember,
    are only
    our psychological representations
    of the Absolute,
    even as are oneness and multitude.

    The Absolute is beyond stability and movement
    as it is beyond unity and multiplicity.

    But it takes its eternal poise in the one
    and the stable


    and whirls round itself

    infinitely,

    inconceivably,

    securely

    in the moving and multitudinous.

    World-existence is the ecstatic dance of Shiva
    which multiplies the body of the God
    numberlessly to the view:

    it leaves that white existence
    precisely where and what it was,

    ever is

    and ever will be;

    its sole absolute object
    is the joy of the dancing.
     
  12. Michael2

    Michael2 New

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  13. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    Kabir:

    THE river and its waves are one surf :

    where is the difference between the

    river and its waves ? When the wave rises, it is the water ;

    and when it falls, it is the same

    water again. Tell me, Sir, where

    is the distinction ? Because it has been named as wave,

    shall it no longer be considered as

    water ?



    Within the Supreme Brahma,
    the worlds are being told like beads :
    Look upon that rosary
    with the eyes of wisd
    om.
     
  14. Raimo

    Raimo New

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    Perhaps. Or maybe NDErs etc. confuse formless existence with oneness.

    In these experiences individuality is retained despite the "oneness":

    Jenny Cockell:
    http://paranormalia.com/

    Andy Petro:
    http://iands.org/research/publications/vital-signs/67-vs25no1petro.html?showall=&start=6

    William H:
    http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/william_h_nde_7340.htm


    I am familiar with Silver Birch's teachings. I agree with some of them, but I think that in this instance he is wrong. Perhaps he meant that he, his medium and the medium's wife are members of the same soul group.

    Silver Birch and Frederic Myers spoke about reincarnation, and they both thought that it doesn't happen. Frederic Myers:
    http://whitecrowbooks.com/books/page/the_road_to_immortality/

    In my opinion best reincarnation cases clearly negate this view. Some subjects remember the life and death of the previous personality, their life as a discarnate spirit and how they chose the parents for their present life. Some people remember lots of previous lives, and they remember, how they have always been the same I in all their lives.
     
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  15. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I believe there is truth to the non-dual oneness perspective but only if taken as poetry and only if balanced against multiplicity. Oneness is a non-sensical abstraction because one implies none and therefore also every other number. The oneness perspective is the realization that boundaries are mentally imposed lines on a singular fluid reality. It says that because these lines are "just" mental or imaginary, oneness is the ultimate reality. But if reality is imagination, then boundaries are also reality. So I think oneness is useful if played with in a serious manner like a psychedelic drug, but for those already edging close to the abyss of insanity it can push one over the edge.
     
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  16. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    When you're considering someone like Myers (who I have enormous respect for, by the way) you might want to consider the minimal discipline that Buddhists agree is necessary to remember past lives.

    here's the first steps:

    1. Can you sit quietly, eyes half closed, aware of thoughts passing through your consciousness without identifying with them? This is not really that hard, and as we see from thousands of people learning mindfulness, most people can do it without much practice for at least a few seconds.
    2. Now, if you've tried it, can you do it, effortless, unbroken, with not a single moment of distraction, for 60 seconds. Out of millions of people who try to meditate, very few can do this on a regular basis.

    Before you go on, actually try this for a minute, so you get a sense of how hard it is. if it wasn't too much of an imposition, I'd say try a minute of this daily for a few months, but hopefully, you get a feel for it.

    3. Now, they say, when you get to the point where you can do this for 4 hours, easily, any time you sit down to try, never once getting distracted, never losing focus, never identifying even with one thought, you're ready to go on to specific disciplines for recalling past lives.

    I'd be willing to wager a considerable sum that Myers never came close to this level of attentional development.

    We modern folks are very impatient and often can be quite condescending in regard to these ancient teachings. But they knew thousands of years ago that matter was not inherently real, and now we only have Alex and a half dozen others telling us this. Took us a few centuries to even begin to figure it out.

    I think this practice is going to tell us more about the nature of rebirth and individuality than a million speculations.
     
  17. donsalmon

    donsalmon New

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    Humanetar: "oneness" is not the same as non duality. Non duality has no meaning without boundaries. These concepts get our minds all tied up. Instead of trying to figure it out, try the "samata" exercise I described above. This is what Alan Wallace is teaching his "contemplative researchers", based on his 40+ years of extraordinarily disciplined research, reflection and practice.
     
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  18. Michael2

    Michael2 New

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    "
    The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
    nor is it bought with going to amazing places.


    Until you have kept your eyes
    and your wanting still for fifty years,
    you do not begin to cross over from confusion
    "

    Rumi -
     
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  19. So does the Oneness allow for a simultaneous plurality?

    Or is the free-willing, individual self an illusion?

    Because it seems if the individual self is illusory, or its actions across a lifetime are already known by someone viewing space-time from the outside, then the criticisms in the OP - which were not raised by me, I just gathered them from another thread - seem to hold?

    Did Myers ever try to remember past lives?

    Also some people seem to recall past lives spontaneously or through hypnotic regression?
     
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  20. Michael2

    Michael2 New

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    Small steps.

    You certainly ask the hard questions and the answer don’t come easy by any stretch of the imagination.

    When I read “oneness” I think of an undifferentiated unity of being, sameness throughout, which to my mind precludes everything, including the active-being, i.e. existence, which leaves me with exactly no-thing. How can I can contemplate anything without also contemplating its opposite? So for me oneness is undifferentiated from, and identical to, nothingness. The only recourse open to me is “unification (unity) in multiplicity.”

    Instead of “oneness” then, I have “multiplicities”. To me, the very possibility of “Existence” is dependent on differentiation into multiplicities. I think that is what is meant by the notion of the immanence of the One Reality is the possibility of existence on which individual-being depends. In this sense, it is this possibility of existence which is the unification in multiplicity of the One Reality.

    I could say, maybe ?, that without multiplicity there is no existence and hence no possibility of unification – important to note that unification is only ever a possibility, always something longed for, always receding, and never achieved. This then is the transcendence of the One Reality.

    In other words this is an active principle of eternal upward movement – the interplay between immanence and transcendence. ?
     
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