November 08, 2006

Hwa Yen, Sri Aurobindo and A.H. Almaas

alan kazlev Says: November 6th, 2006 at 5:53 pm Remember the Theosophists and Neo-Theosophists say exactly the same thing (regarding the Astral Plane”) as the above, but still retain an ontology of gradations...I wonder if this aversion to ontological realities as described in traditional and esoteric cosmologies is due to Wilber’s influence, or just a generic physicalism derived from the contemporary “creation story” (scientism)
Ignoring the apologetic tendency to try to fit in with the creation story of western materialism, Tibetan Buddhism actually posits a Buddhist cosmology which has six realms of rebirth accepted as objectively real, as well as a hierarchy of heavens, each with its own category of gods etc. To call that “premodern” is to create a linear elitist model of history (as Wilber does, Meyerhoff has taken him to task on this) which has modern western secular understanding at the top, above all those superstitious prescientific ancients.
alan kazlev Says: November 6th, 2006 at 10:43 pm But just because Nagarjuna didn’t concern himself with ontological realities, that does not prove that such realities don’t exist. Only that from Nagarjuna’s (and the Shunyavada) perspective they don’t. In Hwa Yen Buddhism there are the four Dharamadhatus or “Realities” - Shih (phenomena, the relative, the physical and i would say also the supraphysical), Li (the Absolute, nirvana, atman, whatever), No contradiction between Li and Shih (both are real and of the same nature, the world is Relative but also Absolute, the two perspectives are equally valid), and no contradiction between Shih and Shih (so even different relative and opposite things are the same)
I’m not saying that shunyavada and Nagarjuna’s superb dialectic has to be slotted into one of those four categories, only that to take one perspective and claim that is the only true one is a very limited approach. In effect the Hwa Yen (Avatamsaka) school was the first “integral theory” because they explained how all perspectives are equally valid...
Not scientific materialism, i agree (and you have already shown on another thread on this forum that Wilber acknowledges supra-physical realities, a point i concede in my new essay). But inspired by the “creation story” that is Scientism. The rejection of ontology is to me a one-sided stance that is inspired by the scientismic rejection of things that cannot be physically proved or measured; the continuation of the rationalistic tendency of the “physical mind”. Were one to adopt a Hwa Yen approach, one could see physicalism and the perspective of scientism as one dharamadhatu, occultism as another, Shunyavada as another, and so on, with some dharmadhatus including others, while other dharamdhatus are completely distinct and only reconciled at a much higher level.
For me the Integral approach has to transcend all limited and intellectual perspectives. Even Shunyavada is just one perspective; it isn’t the totality. I argue that Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy does this, just as Hwa Yen does, but in a different manner. For example the Three Poises of the Supermind. Teachings that encompass and incorporate multiple perspectives are, imho, more integral than those that only encompass a single perspective, no matter how profoundly they may do so.
alan kazlev Says: November 7th, 2006 at 2:46 pm KW and I disagree as to the nature of those ontological realities that is inseperatble from epistemology. We also differ as regards our respective understanding of epistemology. And obviously you add another perspective, and others add other perspectives again.
alan kazlev Says: November 7th, 2006 at 6:12 pm Although one can say everything is an illusion, but not even Shankara went that far; everyone misinterpets him. In fact Shankara considered the gross world, God, the subtle and causal worlds, etc to be all empirically real.
So from one perspective I agree, there is only the Supreme. From another perspective there is relative reality. Then there are realities that embody both; e.g. inner spiritual reealities, as described by Sri Aurobindo and A.H. Almaas (I talk about this in my new essay).
My position is that supra-physical realities are just as real as physical reality. In asmuch as these realities can be interpreted gradationally (with the physical as the \”densest\” memeber of the spectrum) they are referred to as \”planes\”. Again, this will all be described in my essay (and in my book in progress)
OTOH if you are saying that physical reality is \”real\” but supra-physical reality is not (or may or may not be) then to me that is either physicalism (a monistic physicalism that includes the Absolute, i.e. Pantheism) or else spirit (the Absolute)-matter dualism...
I understand the argument, however the reply is that the \”ideoplasticity\” you speak of is part of the gradation that is immediately above the physical, what Theosophists call the \”astral plane\”. Also there is the fact that even physical experiences are distorted through misconception. On the astral level this distortive effect is far greater. For the rest, I maintain my thesis that this sort of scepticism is the result of adherence to the \”creation story\” of the secular West.

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