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MONISM Linga Raju

Monism is the western term that refers to a view that Reality is basically one. The Reality encompasses the whole universe as we know it and everything else in it, including the worldly existence. Atheism is a belief that there is no God, and theism is a belief in the existence of a God or Gods. Monotheism, then, is a belief that there is only one God, but that does not necessarily mean that there is only one Reality. Monotheism usually implies duality, meaning that there are two Realities. It refers to the belief that God and the individual are two separate and distinct entities. Thus monotheism is not monism. The Sanskrit word dvaita refers to a person who believes in two realities (duality). Although the dvaita could be an atheist, the term usually applies to a monotheist who believes that God and the individual are two different entities. Advaita/advaitin is a person who believes in only one Reality. Advaitism is non-dualism or monism. This oneness philosophy of Advaitism is the belief that all is God and the Self is God (1). Hinduism accommodates both theistic and atheistic ideas. It has six major philosophical systems and many more other systems with differing views and belief systems. All these are so diverse that each one may qualify to be a separate religion. Thus Hinduism can be considered as not one religion but a group of many related religions. In general Hinduism is a religion of one God; outwardly it is monotheism and inwardly it is monism (1). In the Oneness belief system, the Absolute Reality is simply referred to as ‘THAT’. The most common term used for this Reality is ‘Brahman’. It is also referred to as Parabrahman or Paramātman. Only three positive descriptions are used for Brahman: Sat, eternal existence or being; Ĉit, pure knowledge or Consciousness; and Ānanda, infinite bliss - Sat-ĉit-ānanda – Saĉĉidānanda. Otherwise, it is stated as ’not this, not this, not this’. In this system of the Absolute Reality, Brahman is impersonal, meaning that Brahman is not a personal God. Therefore this system is the Non-theistic Monism. Vīraśaivas believe in the Oneness Philosophy. They use the term Śūnya for this Absolute Reality. Literal meaning of Śūnya is void or emptiness. It conveys the meaning that there is nothing, yet there is something. It is at once Naught and Aught, Non-being and Being. It is neither form nor formlessness, neither time nor timelessness, neither cause nor consequence. It is indivisible, without a second, existenceconsciousness-bliss, eternal and perfect. The Śūnya of Vīraśaivas is the ‘Infinite’ or the ‘Absolute’. Other terms used interchangeably by them are Liṅga, Paraśivabrahman, Paraśiva, or simply Śiva. Vīraśaivas also believe in the personal God Śiva/Liṅga, and therefore Vīraśaivism is a Theistic Monism. Buddhists also use the term Śūnya or Śūnyatā for their highest principle, but the concept is entirely different. Śūnyatā is the character of what exists of the dharmas. All dharmas are intimately bound up with cause and effect (karma), and everything hinges on this karma. Existence is an intricate succession of momentary things or dharmas which do not themselves exist and resemble the delusion of magic, or the reflection in a mirror. So existence is unreal. The soul is also not real; it is nothing but a complex of transitory elements (skandhas) which do not exist in themselves but are void. There is no difference among things and among the characters of things. Things are void because there is no real origin of things. If no origination, then, there is no destruction. Not being produced, not being destroyed, things are from the beginning quiescent; they are naturally in nirvāṇa. Buddhists assert that the universe is unreal, imaginary and false, and that there is nothing permanent or real. Since the universe and existence are unreal, there is no Creator or Creation (2). Thus, Buddhism is atheism. 15

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VSNA Newsletter Baandhavya March 2013  

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