Categories of Theism

People talk about thesists and atheists. I fear I don't belong to either of these. I belong to a third category:

When I am in a worship service - Christian, Hindu, Unitarian, or whatever - I melt into a transrational phase where I deeply feel a Something-Beyond, and an Unfathomable Mystery touches me deeply.  This also happens when I pray for an ailing or dying one for whose well-beibg I care. These are not pretend-words and motions to please neighbors or community, but genuine modes of my being.

Of course, all this may be explained in terms of cultural upbringing or neuron-misfiring now and again. I understand and accept that,  but that is irrelevant for me.

On the other hand, when I am debating with a scriptural literalist or sectarian fundamentalist I cast off my spiritual hat, and argue in the framework of physics, history, evolution, and science.

I am not complaining or feeling sorry for what others may regard as a problem or a predicament, On the contrary, I feel immensely enriched by this apparent schizophrenia, which I once described as bipetasian (two-hats) naturalism.

It is because of this personal experience that I tend to be sympathetic to those who have deep conviction in matters transcendental, even if they are not able to argue their case to the satisfaction of non-theistic naturalists.

Bewildered, confused, and utterly ignorant as I am (and have always been) about issues pertaining to the nature of God and post mortem possibilities, I can never be harsh and judgmental towards <believers>, since I happen to know many people of faith who are intelligent, learned, and scientific too; I myself derive much peace from participating in religious services. Nor can I decry unbelievers as misguided or evil: since I also know a good many of them who are bright, decent, and helplessly well-meaning in their categorical rejection of anything non-substantial.

If non-theists feel sorry for theistically inclined people, they forget that the latter have reciprocal feelings of sympathy towards those for whom the Transcendental is beyond reach. Or, as they sometimes say, how can the deaf ever know the glory of grand music?

Satyam, shivam, sundaram: Truth, Goodness, Beauty

Truth may be good or bad, beautiful or ugly.

Goodness may be true or false, but is always beautiful.

Beauty may reflect truth or not, but is always good.

In the Hindu theological/metaphysical framework, God is viewed as that which is a seamless synthesis of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

The Divine is thus described (in Sanskrit) as satyam-shivam-sundaram (Truth-goodness-beauty).

This (Hindu) triune principle for the Divine has found its way into Western writings where the notion is used in non-theological contexts, and hence becomes rightly questionable.

 If one shifts theological/spiritual categories into a lay framework and vice versa, contradictions and confusions may be expected.


<I have found it difficult to wrap my mind around monism when I conceive of a chain of causality that is simply linear, for, at some point, it seems that nature's givens and primitives are going to either totally mutate or totally elude me, approaching one singularity or another.>

As I understand the term in Western philosophy, both idealists and materialists are monists: One group regards mind as the only ultimate reality; the other regards matter as the only ultimate reality, each insisting, in keeping with Abrahamic tradition,  that the other is mistaken.

In the Hindu framework, monism (advaita: non duality) refers to the tenet that ultimately there is no distinction between the individual experiencing entities (jeevaathmans) and the cosmic experiencing entity (paramaathman).

As I see it, monism is the philosophical conviction that there is only one ultimate reality which manifests itself in countless modes. This seems reasonable, but I also regard this as an aesthetic predilection which may or may not have objective validity. Einstein's life-long commitment to his fruitless efforts to find a single <field> of which the gravitational and the electromagnetic are two different manifestations was inspired by this aesthetic prejudice: it had absolutely no empirical foundation whatever. The relentless search for a TOE by theoretical physicists is another manifestation of commitment to monism. The human mind seems to have an obsession for ONE, perhaps because it simplifies everything: it is better than zero, but not as complex as two or more. TWO is evoked only in conflict-contexts.

It is not clear to me why a chain of linear causality should stand in the way of subscribing to monism: All it means is that the single original ONE burst forth into countless multiple pieces because of the unleashing of the causal chain.

The choice for Nature (or the Creator) was between letting the One stay for ever and for ever with no plurality, and transforming it into a multitude through physical attributes (mass, charge) and the fundamental interactions (causality). I am glad (?) the latter course was chosen, because it has led to lots of fun-experiences for lots of people. And (I suspect) it has cut down on the boredom that must have been part of unmanifest Oneness for eons and eons before the eruption of the big bang.