June 12, 2006

Christian Vedantist

In my view, only God is by definition unconditioned. As a Christian Vedantist, I believe that in our deepest ground we are Atman, and that Atman and Brahman are “not two.” But the Atman is not the personal soul, which is of course conditioned. Otherwise, all souls are identical, all souls are God, and there is no reality separate from God, which strikes me as a profound misunderstanding--an intrinsic heresy.
Yes, on some level we are not-two with God, but it does our soul no good whatsover to say that we are God until we realize the extent to which we are not God.In my reality--which is different from Copithorne’s reality--the entire purpose of any religious practice is to purify and elevate the soul. In other words, we are not perfect as we are. Far from it. This, in fact, is one of the divides between left and right. The left generally believes that man is basically good and that society is therefore perfectible.
Evolutionary traditionalists such as myself believe that human beings are neutral at best, but probably inclined to evil in their spiritually untutored, "horizontal" state. Our souls are anything but “unconditionally perfect” and not subject to purification, purgation, illumination, and growth. Orthodox Vedanta specifically holds that the soul incarnates in order to undergo evolution and growth. Orthodox Christianity maintains that the ultimate purpose of our existence is to undergo theosis, or the divinization of the soul. God became human so that humans might become God; likewise, Brahman becomes maya so that maya might become Brahman. I honestly don’t know where the contrary theological idea comes from.
I always assumed that it was one of those wacky new-age deviations with which I constantly do battle, but Copithorne comes along and informs me that I am actually a member of the new age Thomas Moore school of theology. Confusing. Again, all I can do is clarify our differences as sharply as possible and concede that we do indeed live in two different realities. However, I must insist that only one of these realities is the real one. Even I am not that much of a new age liberal. posted by Gagdad Bob at 8:03 AM 26 comments

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