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Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail?

This topic can be found at:
http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/15110765/m/614408711
8

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 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.
                               1
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?

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
                               2
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 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?
                               3
* 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 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 aspires to 1)
                                 4
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 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
                               5
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
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
                               6
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.

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?).




                                 7
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.



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.



I think some teachers on nonduality have misappropriated
Eastern traditions, in general, and, from what I've come
                               8
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 inter-religious 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.

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.
                               9
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
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
                              10
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 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!
                              11
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 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? intra-subjective? 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 above-paragraph, 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
                              12
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? 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 inter-subjective, 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-
                              13
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.

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.




                              14

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Nondual christianity

  • 1. 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/614408711 8 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 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. 1
  • 2. 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? 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 2
  • 3. 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 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? 3
  • 4. * 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 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 aspires to 1) 4
  • 5. 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 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 5
  • 6. 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 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 6
  • 7. 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. 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?). 7
  • 8. 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. 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. I think some teachers on nonduality have misappropriated Eastern traditions, in general, and, from what I've come 8
  • 9. 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 inter-religious 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. 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. 9
  • 10. 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 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 10
  • 11. 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 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! 11
  • 12. 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 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? intra-subjective? 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 above-paragraph, 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 12
  • 13. 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? 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 inter-subjective, 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- 13
  • 14. 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. 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. 14