Friday, January 14, 2005

Analogical Bridges to Divine Tri-unity

Henry Verheggen writes:

You suggest the need for some analogical bridges with regard to thinking about "binity" and "trinity". It is my understanding that in Hindu "mystical theology" that consciousness, or preferably awareness, is a unity, even while manifesting in different individuals. What distinguishes different individuals is the content of awareness, but awareness stripped of content has no differentiating features. So all awarenesses are actually the same awareness. (And it is God's awareness too.) There appears to be no logical contradiction in this.

BV: You have done a nice pithy job of presenting the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, nondualistic Vedanta. But there dualistic schools such as that of Ramanuja. So we need to be careful with the broad term 'Hindu.' That quibble aside, the question arises whether the doctrine just described, which I agree is prima facie logically noncontradictory, is sufficiently analogous to the Trinity to help us past the prima facie logical contradictoriness of the latter.

I don't think your analogy works. All awarenesses are the same awareness only in the sense that there is exactly one awareness, with all distinctions, all plurality, falling on the side of the objects of awareness. That is distinct from saying that numerically distinct persons are one and the same person -- which is what the doctrine of the Trinity seems to imply. For if F, S, and HS are each persons, and each is identical to God, and God is a person, then three persons are one person, which is a prima facie contradiction.

There is also the problem that you are using something dubious (the Advaitic theory of awareness) to elucidate something dubious (the Trinity). What we need is something mundane and relatively indisputable that is case of binity or trinity. If there is at least one binity or trinity in nature, then we are on our way to building an analogical bridge to the Trinity. I will then be in a position to refute the estimable John Ray for whom the Trinity is "a most awful load of codswallop," i.e., is blatantly and self-evidently self-contradictory.

In the Hindu "lives of the saints" we find this doctrine enacted in practice in the numerous gurus and saints who had the ability to read people's minds. In other words the apparent separation between minds was negated.It manifests in another way as the mystical experience of unity, of the individual's awareness being "spun off" from the universal awareness.If I have time, I will try to write something about another "binity", the quantum mechanical duality between particle and wave. It is a bit more difficult to write about.

BV: I would like to hear what you have to say about wave/particle duality which may well be a case of binity (bi-unity) and hence helpful for present purposes. Are you familiar with Erwin Schroedinger's Mind and Matter (Tarner Lectures, October 1956)? Chapter 4 is entitled, "The Arithmetical Paradox: The Oneness of Mind." It may be right up your alley