Nondual christianity 2011 dec 18
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Nondual christianity 2011 dec 18 Nondual christianity 2011 dec 18 Document Transcript

  • Shalom Place Community Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail? This topic can be found at: http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/15110765/m/6144087118 14 December 2011, 08:05 AM johnboy.philothea Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail? Some of the following material was presented in the context of discussion of our political dysfunctions and religious shortcomings in this Shalomplace Discussion Board Thread. I now present them here because they have implications in our living out of the Greatest Commandment, both with regard to our contemplative practice (considered in this Contemplative Practice Support forum) as well as in our experience of the various modes of Christ's presence (personal, ecclesial, sacramental, cosmic, etc) in our Growing in Christ. The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires to 1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/persons celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary being whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functions within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in human authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby created and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct. The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships. The dualistic (empirical, logical, aesthetical, practical & moral) approaches to reality represent our imbibing of eternity from a temporal eyedropper that our finite existence might not be drowned in God’s ocean of truth, beauty and goodness, a heavenly tsunami 1
  • that no earthly finite reality could withstand or contain! Our dualistic approach does not represent a theoretical capitulation or departure from our nondual aspirations, only a compassionate and practical accommodation of our radical finitude, while we take the transformative journey. Dysfunctional religion presents in many ways, primarily from an overemphasis of the dualistic and underemphasis of the nondual. For example, on the journey to intrasubjective integrity, we recognize it as our clinging to the false-self. In moral theology, some have overemphasized the procreative and under-emphasized the unitive dimension of conjugal love. In spiritual theology, some have overemphasized the moral and ascetical at the expense of the mystical and contemplative. If we look through a Lukan prism, we might see a fivefold Christology, which recognizes that Christ came to orient, sanctify, empower, heal and save us. As Luke’s narrative continues in Acts, we see the Spirit continuing this divine work. A nondual approach inspired, indeed inspirited, by a pneumatological (Spirit-related) imagination sees the Holy Spirit infusing each realm of our temporal reality, always and everywhere, historically orienting humankind, culturally sanctifying us, socially empowering us, economically healing us and politically saving us. This is not to deny that, from time to time, place to place, people to people and person to person, the Spirit’s work has been variously amplified or frustrated in matters of degree; it is to affirm, however, that all good gifts have One Source, Who has coaxed all of humankind along on the journey! Less transparently, perhaps, but more clearly manifest through the eyes of faith one can discern the Spirit orienting us not only, generally speaking, historically - but also eschatologically , sanctifying us not merely culturally but also theologically , empowering us not only socially but also ecclesiologically , healing us not only economically but also sacramentally , and saving us not only politically but also soteriologically - as we proleptically realize various eternal values. It is the gift of Third Eye seeing, which affirms these eternal nondual aspirations and their proleptic realizations even while compassionately accommodating our temporal dualistic situations within their historical, cultural, social, economic and political contexts. It celebrates the fruits of our prayer that the Kingdom will come, indeed, on earth as it is in heaven. 14 December 2011, 08:23 AM johnboy.philothea Implicit in the above-considered categories are answers to such questions as 1) What and who is wo/man? 2) What is reality’s basic stuff? 3) What do we value? 4) How do we get what we value? and 5) What and who is God? 2
  • One could think of these questions in a manufacturing metaphor which would include, respectively, 1) the end user 2) raw materials 3) end products, by-products & waste products 4) processes and 5) the producer. Alternatively, one could employ these categories: 1) people or anthropology 2) relationships or phenomenology/ontology 3) values or axiology 4) methods or epistemology and 5) hermeneutics or theology . In discussions here as well as material one will encounter elsewhere in publications and internet discussion forums, I would challenge the reader to further disambiguate each and every use of the term, nondual, because, in jumping from one of these above-listed categories to the next, it can take on very distinct meanings. — When talking about people, it can refer to theories of consciousness: Is consciousness another primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy or somehow emergent therefrom? It could also refer to our conceptions of the soul: Is the soul physical or nonphysical, temporal or immortal? — When talking about ontology or metaphysics, it can refer to the nature of reality: Is all of reality natural, physical, material? Does reality also include the supernatural and immaterial? Does reality include one, two or even more kinds of thing, substance or stuff? — In axiology, what are the categories of value? What about disvalue and evil? — In terms of epistemology, is there more than one way of knowing reality? How does science differ from culture, philosophy and religion? — And, theologically, what might be dual or nondual about God? Furthermore, one reason we don’t simply use Oneness in the place of nondual is that, in 3
  • addition to the above-listed categories where it can take on distinct meanings, there is also more than one way, by strict definition, to be nondual: Threeness, for example, works, as well as an infinity of other numerical approaches. A nondual way of playing jacks, then, would be to only skip twosies and nothing else! One needn’t play only onesies. At the same time, who would want to abandon the dualisms of axiology as if true & false, beautiful & ugly, good & evil, free & bound were simple illusions? However much anything belongs, as they say, does not necessarily negate the need for either its transcendence or transformation? In my view, to realize reality’s values, one needn’t get to the bottom of all of these non/dual riddles anthropologically, ontologically or even theologically.* note below. We already know enough from evolutionary epistemology and our, more or less, universal human values to live in relative abundance! So, in that regard, I believe we can seriously overstate the perils, dangers and pitfalls that might result from our metaphysical errors and ignorance. As I see it, our problems more so result, rather, from epistemological mistakes or what it is that we erroneously imagine that we just positively know, thus frustrating our journeys from is to ought, the given to the normative, the descriptive to the prescriptive. What is more so at stake, rather, is our possible realization of superabundance , which is to suggest that the onus is on various religious practitioners to demonstrate that they can journey toward transformation (human authenticity) much more swiftly and with much less hindrance precisely because of their formative spiritualities. How, then, do different nondual approaches interface with your spirituality in your living out of the Greatest Commandment? What difference do they make? * note – Not to be coy, my survey of the inter-religious landscape does lead me to a tripartite anthropology, triadic phenomenology, trialectical axiology, trialogical epistemology and trinitarian theology (panSEMIOentheism), which is beyond our present scope. 16 December 2011, 10:20 AM Phil quote: The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires 4
  • to 1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/persons celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary being whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functions within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in human authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby created and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct. The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships. JB, I like these four approaches, but am not sure I understand some of them. 1. Intersubjectivity is about relationships between people, human subjects, I-Thou, as it were, including relationship with God. 2. Intraobjectivity is about ??? Example, please. 3. Intrasubjectivity pertains to the Ego-Self dialogue and the quest for authenticity. 4. Interobjectivity means object-to-object, but I've never quite understood how one can relate to other created things in this manner. It seems we're always relating as a subject, an "I", unless I'm just not getting it, here. It's always seemed strange to me when someone refers to themselves in the third person: e.g., LSU's ex-football coach, Jerry Stovall, used to to this all the time, as did LSU pastor Richard Greene. Objectifying one's own Ego/self-image in this manner is an odd way to communicate. E.g., "a Jerry Stovall team will always emphasize defense . . ." or "Dick Greene is not here to cause division." (Actual statements I remember these people saying.) I'm guessing that kind of weirdness is not what you mean, however. 16 December 2011, 11:59 AM johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: quote: The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it 5
  • aspires to 1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/persons celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary being whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functions within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in human authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby created and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct. The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships. JB, I like these four approaches, but am not sure I understand some of them. 1. Intersubjectivity is about relationships between people, human subjects, I-Thou, as it were, including relationship with God. 2. Intraobjectivity is about ??? Example, please. 3. Intrasubjectivity pertains to the Ego-Self dialogue and the quest for authenticity. 4. Interobjectivity means object-to-object, but I've never quite understood how one can relate to other created things in this manner. It seems we're always relating as a subject, an "I", unless I'm just not getting it, here. It's always seemed strange to me when someone refers to themselves in the third person: e.g., LSU's ex-football coach, Jerry Stovall, used to to this all the time, as did LSU pastor Richard Greene. Objectifying one's own Ego/self-image in this manner is an odd way to communicate. E.g., "a Jerry Stovall team will always emphasize defense . . ." or "Dick Greene is not here to cause division." (Actual statements I remember these people saying.) I'm guessing that kind of weirdness is not what you mean, however. A couple of distinctions. Rather than any robust ontology or metaphysic, here, I am employing, instead, a vague phenomenology that describes our phenomenal experiences more so than any thing-in-itself or noumenon, to invoke a Kantian distinction. (But I do not buy Kant, which is another discussion). But it would be silly to think that our phenomenal experiences do not also say something meaningful about reality about which we could cash out some real practical value, so I am suggesting a Goldilocks stance of not saying too much but not saying too little either. So, here's another helpful distinction. There are some 6
  • realities which we cannot successfully describe but that does not mean that we cannot, perhaps, successfully refer to them. For example, something or someone caused that rock to come over my fence and to smash through my window! We may not know whether it was a kid who threw it or a lawnmower that launched it so as to describe the cause but from the observed effect we can infer from and refer, vaguely, to the cause. These categories, then, begin with our phenomenal experiences and take them seriously even while only making vague references to rather than robust descriptions of the realities to which they point. They impart strong intuitions about the nature of reality that have practical consequences for our responses to reality. Like a myth, in some ways, they may not convey literal truths but they may nevertheless evoke appropriate responses to ultimate reality, responses that might be judged as helps or hindrances to our growth in human authenticity. So we're cool on the inter- and intra-subjective? The intraobjective (does not describe but) refers to our intuition of the One, reality taken as a whole, a single organism much like that suggested by pantheists or like some cosmic-level Gaia hypothesis. It is the experience of reality as one self-subsisting impersonal thing, not unlike Advaita, lacking an experience of a separate self, much less an ego. It experiences no ontological discontinuities, which is to say that everything not only seems to consist of the same basic stuff but is essentially the same basic thing without the limit and boundary conditions we experience and refer to in ordinary experience. You write: "Interobjectivity means object-to-object, but I've never quite understood how one can relate to other created things in this manner." Correct. To the extent there is any radical ontological discontinuity in reality where there are different things consisting of wholly different stuff, how in the world could they interact? Hence we speak of interobjective indeterminacy. What we do not want to do, however, is to a priori rule out the possibilty of multiple ontologies or many worlds. But there is a much larger issue here. What about God's essential nature? Why would your critique not also apply there? If created things cannot relate to other created things interobjectively, how could a created thing even begin to relate to an Uncreated Thing in this manner? This is also to ask how can One to Whom we can only refer metaphorically and 7
  • analogically ever interact efficaciously with physical reality if that One is wholly of another substance, made wholly of different stuff, is wholly someThing else? So, I introduce this category as a placeholder for God's indeterminate being, which refers to that nature of God which would exist beyond His determinate being as Creator. It could also serve as a placeholder for other worlds that would be ontologically discontinuous and which we could not access in principle. It might also refer to aspects of our own created reality that exist alongside known givens: primitives, forces and axioms but which are radically unavailable to us epistemically. For example, if consciousness is a primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy and therefore part of some implicately ordered tacit dimension rather than an emergent reality born of biological evolution, then it could conceivably be closer to us than we are to ourselves in a manner that would prevent us from being able to even objectify it. Or what about putatively disembodied souls and poltergeists that would occasionally manifest beyond our methodological and empirical access? To be clear, I use the category of interobjective indeterminacy for God's indeterminate being and have no real use for it vis a vis the created order as I do not believe in disembodied souls, ghosts or in consciousness as a primitive given. But neither would it rock my worldview if they turned out to be real. If they did interact, then ontologically, they would not be wholly discontinuous. We just cannot know a priori when it is that our ignorance is caused by epistemic indeterminacy or ontological vagueness. 16 December 2011, 07:49 PM Phil quote: So we're cool on the inter- and intra-subjective? Oh sure. And on intraobjective as well; your explanation of it earlier is pretty much what I thought you meant. It's a different way of putting it -- intra-objective -- and seems to be what most people mean when they speak of nonduality or enlightenment. 8
  • Interobjectivity? I need to think about this one some more. Seems similar to what Arraj is describing on http://www.innerexplorations.com/catchmeta/mmm3.htm (see the little graphic at the bottom of the page -- or maybe that fits the intrapersonal?). Taken as a whole, however, your approach points to a much broader "gnosis" than most teachers on nonduality are teaching these days. Some don't seem to have much use for the intra- and inter-subjective approaches. 16 December 2011, 09:21 PM johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: Interobjectivity? I need to think about this one some more. Seems similar to what Arraj is describing on http://www.innerexplorations.com/catchmeta/mmm3.htm (see the little graphic at the bottom of the page -- or maybe that fits the intrapersonal?). I intend to be somewhat consistent with Robert Neville. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cummings_Neville especially where it discusses indeterminacy and creatio ex nihilo as a solution to the One and the Many. Some of what Jim was saying does sound similar. quote: Originally posted by Phil: Taken as a whole, however, your approach points to a much broader "gnosis" than most teachers on nonduality are teaching these days. Some don't seem to have much use for the intra- and inter-subjective approaches. 9
  • Here's a broad oversimplification that some may see some truth in. One of the important fruits of nondual realization in the East seems to be a compassion born of a profound sense of immense solidarity. In the West, we seem to arrive at compassion as a response to having been loved so very deeply. Epistemically, a nondual approach goes beyond problem-solving, empirical, logical, moral and practical concerns and conceptualization processes to engage reality's truth, beauty and goodness in pure raw awareness. In the robustly relational approach of intersubjective initimacy, we're simply enjoying the wonderful (and ineffable) gift of another's mere presence. In the intraobjective experience of unitary being, we're simply enjoying ineffable solidarity. You are right that many do not engage or emphasize all of these aspects or that they overemphasize one or another at the expense of underemphasizing the others. And, in that regard, they suffer, in my view, an impoverished gnosis. Once we come to grips with these categories and whether or not we have established distinctions that make a difference, the natural follow then, per our purposes here, is: HOW, therefore, might we best pray or approach God? and love God per the Great Commandment? What are the implications of our gnosis? or even agnosis? 17 December 2011, 09:20 AM johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: Taken as a whole, however, your approach points to a much broader "gnosis" than most teachers on nonduality are teaching these days. Some don't seem to have much use for the intra- and inter-subjective approaches. 10
  • I think some teachers on nonduality have misappropriated Eastern traditions, in general, and, from what I've come across, a lot of these facile mischaracterizations come from Americans, who are grappling with reform elements of the Japanese Soto school, which, by many accounts, does not so readily accommodate devotional elements. It seems that many were predominantly exposed to the Soto school, at least in the earlier years when interreligious dialogue was really taking off, and that they may have especially fallen prey to caricaturizing the other living traditions of the East based on their very narrow exposure to that “reform” element, which was otherwise somewhat aberrant and not truly representative of the largest and most predominant Eastern traditions. The Advaita Vedanta and Bhakti schools of Hinduism, and the Mahayana school of Buddhism, are now the major (larger) schools of these great living traditions and all have prominent devotional elements. While the dualist and modified nondualist Vedantic schools are primarily associated with Bhakti thought, even the Advaitic school can be associated with devotional elements through its founder, Shankara. Even in Zen Buddhism (Mahayanan), both Chinese (Chan) and Korean (Soen) schools integrate devotional elements. Furthermore, in my axiological epistemology, which has a similar thrust to that of Neville, I more broadly conceive gnosis and try to correct what has long been an overemphasis on conclusions and an underemphasis on practices. In addition to what people are believing, I ask also to whom is it they are belonging, what is it they are desiring and how is it they are behaving, when they arise from their practices. Finally, many in the West try to interpret Eastern literature through Western metaphysical lenses and, in doing so, commit a major category error because a lot of the focus in the East is much more so soteriological than ontological. In the East, there is a subtle distinction that is drawn between ultimate or absolute reality and phenomenal or practical reality, such that it is lost on many Westerners that various words/cognates, in fact, retain their conventional or pragmatic usefulness. Even the Zen movement might be thought of as, first, suspending our naive affirmations, then, subjecting them to philosophical scrutiny and, finally, returning them back to their conventional understanding with deeper insights and with maybe a hygienic hermeneutic of suspicion. 11
  • I will share an old blog entry of mine: In the story of Malunkyaputta, who queried the Buddha on the fundamental nature of reality by asking whether the cosmos was eternal or not, infinite or not, whether the body and soul are the same, whether the Buddha lived on after death, and so on, the Buddha responded that Malunkyaputta was like the man who, when shot with an arrow, would not let another pull it out without first telling him who shot the arrow, how the arrow was made and so on. Thus the Buddha turns our attention to the elimination of suffering, a practical concern, and away from the speculative metaphysical concerns. This story of Malunkyaputta might thus help us to reframe some of our concerns, both regarding Buddhism, in particular, and metaphysics, in general. For example, perhaps we have wondered whether, here or there, the Buddha was ever 1) “doing” metaphysics or 2) anti-metaphysical or 3) metaphysically-neutral. In fact, we might have wondered if the soteriological aspects of any of the great traditions were necessarily intertwined with any specific ontological commitments. In some sense, now, we certainly want to say that all of the great traditions are committed to both metaphysical and moral realisms. However, at the same time, we might like to think that, out of fidelity to the truth, none of our traditions would ever have us telling untellable stories, saying more than we know or proving too much. One interpretation of Malunkyaputta’s story, then, might suggest that it is not that the Buddha eschewed metaphysics or was even ontologically neutral; rather, it may be that the Buddha just positively eschewed category errors. This would imply that the Buddha would neither countenance the categorical verve of yesteryear’s scholastics nor the ontological vigor of our modern fundamentalists (neither the Enlightenment fundamentalists of the scientistic cabal nor the radical religious fundamentalists, whether of Islam, Christianity, Zen or any other tradition). Thus we might come to recognize that our deontologies should be as modest as our ontologies are tentative, that we should be as epistemically determinate as we can but as indeterminate as we must, that we should be as ontologically specific as we can but as vague as we must and that our semantics should reflect the dynamical nature of both reality and our apprehension of same, which advances inexorably but fallibly. The Buddha seemed to at least inchoately anticipate this fallibilism and, in some ways, to explicitly preach and 12
  • practice it. 17 December 2011, 02:06 PM Phil quote: Epistemically, a nondual approach goes beyond problem-solving, empirical, logical, moral and practical concerns and conceptualization processes to engage reality's truth, beauty and goodness in pure raw awareness. In the robustly relational approach of intersubjective initimacy, we're simply enjoying the wonderful (and ineffable) gift of another's mere presence. In the intraobjective experience of unitary being, we're simply enjoying ineffable solidarity. Lots of cards now on the table, JB, but I want to comment on this observation of yours, for I think you have, here, affirmed the value of nondual awareness as understood in both East and West. Where I disagree with many is in their emphasis on this as the highest state of consciousness, or, in the case of Wilber, the highest stage of development. I disagree because the human spirit has potential for more than simple, non-reflective appreciation. Would that this were our default manner of perceiving, our manner of Being Attentive, a la Lonergan. We are nevertheless created to also question, understand, and act upon our perception, the latter movement of consciousness entailing far more commitment and responsibility than simply attending. For Aquinas, the highest form of spiritual activity was the apprehension of truth through the process of reflection -- the fruit of Being Intelligent and Being Reasonable, Lonergan's 2nd and 3rd movements of consciousness, with the reality of spirit being demonstrable through our ability to perform intellectual activities several removes from sense perception. Hence, through the ages, Theology was considered the queen of all disciplines. Nowadays, the kind of intellectual activity involved in "doing theology" (which, as you know, is not easy) is considered precisely the kind of thing that stands in the way of nondual consciousness, which is thought to be "higher." Indeed, some of these Easternish approaches seem anti-intellectual; some of our Western writers on nonduality do as well, but they're usually doing little more than mimicking Easterners. As noted above, Lonergan views "Being Responsible," the 4th movement of consciousness, as the highest expression of the human spirit as it flows from the previous three movements. In light of Christian revelation, he would summarize the goal of our human 13
  • journey as "being in love," which entails a 1.) Being attentive to reality and to God's loving presence; 2.) being intelligent and 3.) reasonable in our inquiries into all truth; and 4.) being responsible by letting love guide our decision-making. This being-in-Love is thus the human spirit operating in cooperation with God's loving Spirit. This is quite a different goal than the kind of nonduality so emphasized these days. I shared the following quote by William Johnston on the philothea.net blog, as I think it says a lot about Christian nonduality. Johnston was very fond of Lonergan, and had also studied zen in Japan. quote: “So love is the way to Christian enlightenment and there is no other. This love has a twofold thrust: love of God and love of neighbour. In either case it is ecstatic. That is to say, my consciousness expands and I go out of myself–I go out to all men and women who have ever lived or ever will live, to the whole material universe of moons and stars and planets, to every blade of grass and every grain of sand, to every living creature, and to the great mystery at the centre of all, the great mystery we call God–and God is love.” - Letters to Contemplatives I like that very much! 17 December 2011, 03:30 PM johnboy.philothea A few more things to think about --- It is important that we be able to offer an apologetic for any given stance toward Ultimate Reality on its own terms, stating, so to speak, what it is that we are for, what it is that we value. At the same time, because of our finitude and the way we are evolutionarily wired to process reality via fast & frugal heuristics, it can also be helpful to engage other perspectives as a foil to help deepen our self-understanding as well as to help us self-critique. Toward that end, before moving too quickly into the practical implications of our nondual heuristic 14
  • for a contemplative stance, we might consider what happens when we variously overemphasize or underemphasize different approaches. For example, an overemphasis on the speculative and kataphatic results in rationalism, on the speculative and apophatic, encratism, on the affective and kataphatic, pietism, on the affective and apophatic, quietism. What happens, do you think, when we over- or under-emphasize the inter-subjective? intrasubjective? intra-objective? or inter-objective? approaches to Ultimate Reality? with our dialectical and/or analogical imaginations? For descriptions of the dialectical and analogical as well as other helpful distinctions, see http://www.wrmosb.org/schem2.html Also, another distinction regarding our use of the word primacy. Sometimes, primacy might indicate merely what comes first, temporally; at other times, it might indicate what is most valued? In an integralist or holistic approach, such as when I distinguish between belonging (community), desiring (cult), behaving (code) and believing (credo) in my axiological epistemology, we might ask whether or not any given aspect merely comes first, developmentally, as well as whether or not it must necessarily thus come first, or we might ask whether or not saying that one or another aspect enjoys primacy otherwise would indicate that it is the most important value to be realized. Now, in my view, in most axiological epistemology paradigms, such as the one in the aboveparagraph, where it is that any given person will begin and how it is that they will then proceed is not necessarily fixed because different humans are differently-situated (external environs) and also differently-wired (internal organism). Ordinarily, its seems that belonging precedes desiring which precedes behaving which precedes believing. This might be especially true for those faiths that practice infant baptism, for example. For those who come to the faith later in life, a more philosophic analysis of competing credos might come first. For all, though, it would be expected that, optimally, each would make one's way around the horn, integrally and holistically. For any given human value-realization movement, there do seem to be three indispensable methodological moments: 1) What is that? - descriptively , 2) What's that to us? - evaluatively , and 3) How might we best acquire/avoid that? - normatively . It is nonsensical, in this case, to ask which moment is most important, axiologically or value-wise, because the entire movement is required for a distinctly human value to be realized. Optimally, a 4th moment asks 4) How do we tie all of this together (re-ligate)? - interpretively . Now, let's look at the different categories of phenomenal experience and ask questions of primacy there. What might come first for most people, temporally and developmentally? 15
  • Why? Would we say that any given category enjoys primacy in the sense of being most highly valued: inter-subjective, intra-subjective, intra-objective, inter-objective? [To further elucidate the inter-objective theologically, this is the God of apophatic theology, Who, in His essential nature, beyond what has been revealed through creation, generally, and through revelation, specially, remains unknowable, the indeterminate ground of being, wholly transcendent, Whom our eyes, even when glorified, will not see .] If there does exist an axiological primacy of some sort, would there be any difference in what aspects of experience are most highly valued, now, in our temporal existence, versus what we might experience vis a vis primary and secondary beatitudes, eternally, as our summum bonum in heaven ? We certainly need a modicum of intra-subjective integrity vis a vis human authenticity to enjoy beatitude but, in the end, how much we grow or how holy we get is very much God's affair. Beyond that, in my view, both now and forever, the experience of the intersubjective, both vis a vis our primary beatitude of being happy with God and our secondary beatitude of being happy with our fellow creatures, is our highest good and to be most highly valued. Our experience of unitary being vis a vis a realization of our intra-objective identity will certainly round out and enhance our other experiences integrally and holistically and can even protect us from certain errors (overly dialectical imagination, deism, rationalism, pietism, etc). But I suspect that, because it usually follows in the temporal order of things, developmentally, for many in the West, who were not thus formed, some may erroneously imagine that it must therefore be more highly valued, axiologically, and to be sought after at the expense of our unitive strivings, intersubjectively. That would be quite heterodox and simply not true. It just happens to come last for many, not at all for most, because of its general lack of Western inculturation. 17 December 2011, 04:05 PM johnboy.philothea HA!!! We cross-posted. See, though, the resonance of our general thrust. While you addressed the category that focuses more on epistemology and method or rationality (empirical, logical, moral, practical, aesthetical, prudential, rational, pre-rational, trans-rational), I addressed the category of phenomenology and relationships. We both addressed intra-subjective integrity and precisely in Lonerganian terms of human authenticity, which you fleshed out more completely. 16
  • Our thrusts were the same, however, as we discussed which aspects of epistemology and phenomenology we might more highly value. And there is a parallel insofar as we used East and West as foils to highlight the points we wanted to make. I think the cautionary note we both sounded was a caveat emptor not to become so enamored with the gifts of the East, which, while novel to many of us and helpful to all who would thus avail themselves, should supplement not supplant the riches of our Christian heritage. Over the years, we have exhaustively addressed what often seems to be an embrace of the arational and an esteem of the nonrational in some of Wilber's writings, for example. Similarly, we have cautioned against any notion that Enlightenment realizations are in any way more valuable (or even as valuable) than (as) Christian unitive living. We have not always used the same theological and metaphysical paradigms; for example, I don't much employ a natural-supernatural distinction or Thomistic metaphysics/Aristotelian epistemology but inhabit a more vague phenomenological perspective/Scotistic epistemology that is still otherwise robustly pneumatological, but our more essentially theological conclusions are the same. 17 December 2011, 04:19 PM johnboy.philothea An oversimplification that I think is helpful, anyway: 1) Many make the mistake of imagining that what comes last, developmentally or temporally, is necessarily more valuable, axiologically. 2) Many Westerners experience Eastern enlightenment AFTER their Western spiritual formation and erroneously conclude that it therefore is more valuable or HIGHER . 3) This is analogous to the pre-trans fallacy and I would call it the post-trans fallacy whereby one believes one thing necessarily transcends another merely because it follows the other thing. 17 December 2011, 05:46 PM johnboy.philothea From a tad different angle, this may evoke for some the medieval musings regarding the primacy of knowledge/theoretical and the primacy of love/practical, which Bonaventure 17
  • resolves triadically via wisdom/sapiental. quote: In this line, we could also say that the highest category for St. Thomas is the true, while for St. Bonaventure it is the good. It would be mistaken to see a contradiction in these two answers. For both the true is also the good, and the good is also the true; to see God is to love and to love is to see. It is a question therefore of different accents in an essentially shared vision. In both the accents have formed different traditions and different spiritualities and thus they have shown the fecundity of the faith -- one in the diversity of its expressions. Pope Benedict XVI On Theology According to Thomas and Bonaventure March 17, 2010 From a phenomenological perspective, most of Western Christianity is properly formed in the intersubjective stance BUT it is questionable how many are optimally realizing these intersubjective values because so many remain developmentally stalled at early stages of formation with dualistic, problem solving mindsets and do not move beyond to the nondual, relational approach, or, to put it another way, they get the moral and the practical and the logical, but they lose sight of the value to be realized in the relational, in intimacy, which is, indeed, a higher good. That's what we mean by the, sometimes funny, euphemism - to know someone in the Biblical sense. Knowledge of God must be in the Biblical sense, nothing less than Divine intercourse. Who is interested in anyone else's knowledge of their wife vis a vis her vital statistics, weight, height, hair color, eye color, metaphysical origin or other empirical, logical, practical or even moral measures? We are talking, rather, of an encounter with an Imago Dei who has an unfathomable depth dimension in whom we can swim around forever in love - a love we cannot begin to explain via apologetics. At the same time, our spousal love must not be arational or wholly nonrational but must be, instead, transrational. Once again, my mantra beyond but not without applies in that we must go beyond the problem solving dualistic mindset but not without it when we embrace the nondual, robustly relational approach to another person or Person, thereby realizing what is indeed a higher good. This is why I explicated elsewhere why we need to disambiguate nondual from category to category. In realizing the values of our intersubjective intimacy, it is a higher good vis a vis, for example, Bernardian love and love of God/other for sake of God/other [In this sense the dual vs nondual is analogous to the difference between eros vs agape, imperfect vs perfect contrition and what the dualistic approach, eros and imperfect contrition have in common, 18
  • here, is mere problem-solving for self/ego.] This message has been edited. Last edited by: johnboy.philothea, 18 December 2011 10:08 AM 18 December 2011, 12:19 PM Phil quote: Once again, my mantra beyond but not without applies in that we must go beyond the problem solving dualistic mindset but not without it when we embrace the nondual, robustly relational approach to another person or Person, thereby realizing what is indeed a higher good. Good exchanges, JB, and it does seem we're on the same wavelength, which should be of no surprise to either of us after all these years. Beyond-but-not-without is much like trascendand-include, which is one of my favorite phrases. I mentioned earlier that I was not clear about the meaning of interobjectivity and you wrote a response, so I want to go back to that exchange for a bit. Your clarification included references to "multiple ontologies or many worlds" and "placeholder for God's indeterminate being" along with a few heavy phrases like "epistemic indeterminacy or ontological vagueness." For those who might not be familiar with such terms, I'm wondering if you could come up with as concrete an example as we can for the other three approaches you mentioned? To my understanding, as noted above, interobjectivity is object-to-object or, better, it-to-it. As we are both subjects of our own consciousness and "its" in the sense that, objectively, we exist as a something, it seems we can relate to other people and even to God as one "it" to another. This isn't very "personal," grant you, but I suspect the deist relates to God as such, and often husbands and wives to each other as well, along with a whole other host of possible human relationships. We can say much about such relationships, objectively 19
  • speaking, but I don't see much potential there for nondual mysticism. Then there is the matter of the non-subjective aspects of reality: termites to each other, termites to wood, hydrogen to oxygen, etc. We can describe all these relationships, and there are some profound intimacies we can recognize, though we have no means of accessing the interiority of these. Still, hydrogen and oxygen must be pretty "cozy" with each other in a water molecule! Wink Finally, there is another approach you did not mention: subject-to-object. E.g., I have a relationship with many objects, like my iMac, which I dearly love. Smiler But it is obviously just an object and cannot enter into an inter-subjective relationship with me. I do feel connection with it, however, as I do the birds that come to my feeder, the sky, trees, etc. This is not the kind of intrapersonal resonance with reality you mentioned above. My Ego is still quite intact, and yet there I am reaching out with my consciousness to apprehend and appreciate other "objects." See what I mean? What would this be called. Intersub/objectivity? 18 December 2011, 02:38 PM johnboy.philothea 18 December 2011, 03:23 PM johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: To my understanding, as noted above, interobjectivity is objectto-object or, better, it-to-it. As we are both subjects of our own consciousness and "its" in the sense that, objectively, we exist as a something, it seems we can relate to other people and even to God as one "it" to another. That is what inter-objective means in its strict etymological sense. However, what I am talking about is more specifically inter-objective indeterminacy, so it more narrowly refers to such objects as we infer might exist but which we can neither fully determine among a 20
  • set of possibilities much less specify vis a vis any known probabilities. Not even metaphors and analogies illumine this putative realm. It invites apophasis with a capital A ! It evokes our mysterium tremendum et fascinans as our propositional theologies and kataphatic affirmations surrender to unfathomable, incomprehensible mystery. It mostly helps us qualify our references to God. It would also apply, however, in very highly speculative metaphysics. Intra-objective identity, though, would include many of the it-to-it examples you gave in your last post because, again, beyond any focus on the adjectival intra-objective, I am talking also about an identity of sorts. In this case, I mean to refer to an ontological identity, albeit vague, such that we are talking about the same kind of stuff . Physically, it would refer to all things in the space-time-mass-energy plenum, for example, as they belong to one cosmic system. Metaphysically, it would refer to all things to which we might relate vis a vis any given root metaphor such as substance, being, process or experience, even if only analogically or metaphorically. As you noted, this is a rather impersonal interaction. It includes positivist science, metaphysics and natural theology, because God, while utterly incomprehensible, as a whole, is still eminently apprehensible, in part, and infinitely intelligible, especially once His personal nature has been revealed and our natural theology is transcended by our poetic theologies of nature! Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail? This topic can be found at: http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/15110765/m/6144087118 18 December 2011, 04:17 PM johnboy.philothea Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail? quote: Originally posted by Phil: Finally, there is another approach you did not mention: subject-to-object. E.g., I have a relationship with many objects, like my iMac, which I dearly love. Smiler But it is obviously just an object and cannot enter into an inter-subjective relationship with me. I do feel 21
  • connection with it, however, as I do the birds that come to my feeder, the sky, trees, etc. This is not the kind of intrapersonal resonance with reality you mentioned above. My Ego is still quite intact, and yet there I am reaching out with my consciousness to apprehend and appreciate other "objects." See what I mean? What would this be called. Intersub/objectivity? If you look at my graphic, you'll see that the intra-objective, intra-subjective and intersubjective are aspects of phenomenology. For the most part, when humans "accomplish" subject-object cleavage, that's the very essence of epistemology and is primarily how we go about problem-solving : describing, evaluating, norming and interpreting reality. This subject-object cleavage is the hallmark of dualistic thinking and where it gets its name as we divide the whole and distinguish its parts. Our dualistic approach is MERE problem-solving and our nondual approach is problemsolving PLUS . The nondual sleight of hand, here, whether we are talking anthropology, phenomenology, axiology, epistemology or theology, involves our use of a mediating thirdness. In this sense, our nondual tripartite anthropology , triadic phenomenology, trialectical axiology, trialogical epistemology and trinitarian theology do all represent a higher value realization across the board, existentially, as, in each case, we go beyond but not without or transcend but include. Unfortunately, this is not what many nondual teachers advocate. Their mistake is rather straightforward: even though they may say they are transrational, what they are doing is (ironically, dualistically) according the nondual both an axiological primacy and an axiological autonomy, which, as I see it, makes their approach arational . What we are saying, rather, is that, while the nondual does, indeed, enjoy an axiological primacy (being the most valuable moment in our various hermeneutical cycles, epistemically), it is also axiologically integral (does not realize its value apart from the other approaches, being autonomous only in a methodological sense). That's straightforward but not simple. Put another way, the nondual moment is a necessary but not sufficient element of our nondual approach. Unless properly integrated with our problem-solving, dualistic approach, our distinctly human values will not be realized. The nondual moment is but one note in our nondual epistemic symphony. (Cf. Phil's discussion 22
  • above re: Lonergan) 18 December 2011, 04:22 PM johnboy.philothea re: the intra-subjective integrity I equate that with Lonergan's conversions as expanded by Don Gelpi: intellectual, affective, moral, socio-political and religious. Think, here, of Fowler's faith development, Kohlberg's moral development, Erikson's personality development, Maslow's hierarchy and other stage and development theories. Think classical formative spirituality: purgative, illuminative and unitive paths. Keep in mind that I am not setting forth a systematic approach only a heuristic account, providing some conceptual placeholders, disambiguating some terms, mapping some concepts, categorizing reality, introducing some alternative language, stimulating some conversations, hopefully. 23