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Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail?



This topic can be found at:

http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/15110765/m/6144087118



14 December 2011, 08:05 AM

johnboy.philothea

Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail?

Some of the following material was presented in the context of discussion of our political
dysfunctions and religious shortcomings in

this Shalomplace Discussion Board Thread.



I now present them here because they have implications in our living out of the Greatest
Commandment, both with regard to our contemplative practice (considered in this
Contemplative Practice Support forum) as well as in our experience of the various modes of
Christ's presence (personal, ecclesial, sacramental, cosmic, etc) in our

Growing in Christ.



The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires to
1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/persons
celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary being
whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functions
within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in human
authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby created
and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct.
The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the
truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships.



The dualistic (empirical, logical, aesthetical, practical & moral) approaches to reality
represent our imbibing of eternity from a temporal eyedropper that our finite existence
might not be drowned in God’s ocean of truth, beauty and goodness, a heavenly tsunami


                                              1
that no earthly finite reality could withstand or contain! Our dualistic approach does not
represent a theoretical capitulation or departure from our nondual aspirations, only a
compassionate and practical accommodation of our radical finitude, while we take the
transformative journey.



Dysfunctional religion presents in many ways, primarily from an overemphasis of the
dualistic and underemphasis of the nondual. For example, on the journey to intrasubjective
integrity, we recognize it as our clinging to the false-self. In moral theology, some have
overemphasized the procreative and under-emphasized the unitive dimension of conjugal
love. In spiritual theology, some have overemphasized the moral and ascetical at the
expense of the mystical and contemplative.



If we look through a Lukan prism, we might see a fivefold Christology, which recognizes that
Christ came to orient, sanctify, empower, heal and save us. As Luke’s narrative continues in
Acts, we see the Spirit continuing this divine work. A nondual approach inspired, indeed
inspirited, by a pneumatological (Spirit-related) imagination sees the Holy Spirit infusing
each realm of our temporal reality, always and everywhere, historically orienting
humankind, culturally sanctifying us, socially empowering us, economically healing us and
politically saving us. This is not to deny that, from time to time, place to place, people to
people and person to person, the Spirit’s work has been variously amplified or frustrated in
matters of degree; it is to affirm, however, that all good gifts have One Source, Who has
coaxed all of humankind along on the journey!

Less transparently, perhaps, but more clearly manifest through the eyes of faith one can
discern the Spirit orienting us not only, generally speaking, historically - but also
eschatologically , sanctifying us not merely culturally but also theologically , empowering us
not only socially but also ecclesiologically , healing us not only economically but also
sacramentally , and saving us not only politically but also soteriologically - as we
proleptically realize various eternal values. It is the gift of Third Eye seeing, which affirms
these eternal nondual aspirations and their proleptic realizations even while
compassionately accommodating our temporal dualistic situations within their historical,
cultural, social, economic and political contexts. It celebrates the fruits of our prayer that
the Kingdom will come, indeed, on earth as it is in heaven.

14 December 2011, 08:23 AM

johnboy.philothea

Implicit in the above-considered categories are answers to such questions as 1) What and
who is wo/man? 2) What is reality’s basic stuff? 3) What do we value? 4) How do we get
what we value? and 5) What and who is God?



                                               2
One could think of these questions in a manufacturing metaphor which would include,
respectively, 1) the end user 2) raw materials 3) end products, by-products & waste
products 4) processes and 5) the producer.



Alternatively, one could employ these categories: 1) people or anthropology 2) relationships
or phenomenology/ontology 3) values or axiology 4) methods or epistemology and 5)
hermeneutics or theology .




In discussions here as well as material one will encounter elsewhere in publications and
internet discussion forums, I would challenge the reader to further disambiguate each and
every use of the term, nondual, because, in jumping from one of these above-listed
categories to the next, it can take on very distinct meanings.



— When talking about people, it can refer to theories of consciousness: Is consciousness
another primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy or somehow emergent
therefrom? It could also refer to our conceptions of the soul: Is the soul physical or
nonphysical, temporal or immortal?



— When talking about ontology or metaphysics, it can refer to the nature of reality: Is all of
reality natural, physical, material? Does reality also include the supernatural and
immaterial? Does reality include one, two or even more kinds of thing, substance or stuff?



— In axiology, what are the categories of value? What about disvalue and evil?



— In terms of epistemology, is there more than one way of knowing reality? How does
science differ from culture, philosophy and religion?



— And, theologically, what might be dual or nondual about God?



Furthermore, one reason we don’t simply use Oneness in the place of nondual is that, in

                                              3
addition to the above-listed categories where it can take on distinct meanings, there is also
more than one way, by strict definition, to be nondual: Threeness, for example, works, as
well as an infinity of other numerical approaches. A nondual way of playing jacks, then,
would be to only skip twosies and nothing else! One needn’t play only onesies.



At the same time, who would want to abandon the dualisms of axiology as if true & false,
beautiful & ugly, good & evil, free & bound were simple illusions? However much anything
belongs, as they say, does not necessarily negate the need for either its transcendence or
transformation?



In my view, to realize reality’s values, one needn’t get to the bottom of all of these non/dual
riddles anthropologically, ontologically or even theologically.* note below. We already know
enough from evolutionary epistemology and our, more or less, universal human values to
live in relative abundance! So, in that regard, I believe we can seriously overstate the perils,
dangers and pitfalls that might result from our metaphysical errors and ignorance. As I see
it, our problems more so result, rather, from epistemological mistakes or what it is that we
erroneously imagine that we just positively know, thus frustrating our journeys from is to
ought, the given to the normative, the descriptive to the prescriptive. What is more so at
stake, rather, is our possible realization of superabundance , which is to suggest that the
onus is on various religious practitioners to demonstrate that they can journey toward
transformation (human authenticity) much more swiftly and with much less hindrance
precisely because of their formative spiritualities.



How, then, do different nondual approaches interface with your spirituality in your living
out of the Greatest Commandment? What difference do they make?



* note – Not to be coy, my survey of the inter-religious landscape does lead me to a
tripartite anthropology, triadic phenomenology, trialectical axiology, trialogical
epistemology and trinitarian theology (panSEMIOentheism), which is beyond our present
scope.

16 December 2011, 10:20 AM

Phil



  quote:

  The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it aspires

                                               4
to 1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different subjects/persons
celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of unitary being
whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as objects/functions
within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each subject/person’s growth in human
authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective indeterminacy whereby created
and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions present as also somehow distinct.
The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the
truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these different eternal relationships.




JB, I like these four approaches, but am not sure I understand some of them.

1. Intersubjectivity is about relationships between people, human subjects, I-Thou, as it
were, including relationship with God.

2. Intraobjectivity is about ??? Example, please.

3. Intrasubjectivity pertains to the Ego-Self dialogue and the quest for authenticity.

4. Interobjectivity means object-to-object, but I've never quite understood how one can
relate to other created things in this manner. It seems we're always relating as a subject, an
"I", unless I'm just not getting it, here. It's always seemed strange to me when someone
refers to themselves in the third person: e.g., LSU's ex-football coach, Jerry Stovall, used to
to this all the time, as did LSU pastor Richard Greene. Objectifying one's own Ego/self-image
in this manner is an odd way to communicate. E.g., "a Jerry Stovall team will always
emphasize defense . . ." or "Dick Greene is not here to cause division." (Actual statements I
remember these people saying.) I'm guessing that kind of weirdness is not what you mean,
however.

16 December 2011, 11:59 AM

johnboy.philothea



  quote:

  Originally posted by Phil:



    quote:

    The optimal nondual (contemplative) approach to reality is multifaceted in that it

                                               5
aspires to 1) intersubjective intimacy via our unitive strivings whereby different
subjects/persons celebrate coming together 2) intraobjective identity via our realization of
unitary being whereby all realities present as somehow intricately interconnected as
objects/functions within a divine matrix 3) intrasubjective integrity via each
subject/person’s growth in human authenticity or true-self realization and 4) interobjective
indeterminacy whereby created and Uncreated subjects/persons and objects/functions
present as also somehow distinct. The nondual approach is profoundly relational as it
seamlessly, hence optimally, realizes the truth, beauty and goodness that ensues from these
different eternal relationships.




  JB, I like these four approaches, but am not sure I understand some of them.

 1. Intersubjectivity is about relationships between people, human subjects, I-Thou, as it
were, including relationship with God.

  2. Intraobjectivity is about ??? Example, please.

  3. Intrasubjectivity pertains to the Ego-Self dialogue and the quest for authenticity.

   4. Interobjectivity means object-to-object, but I've never quite understood how one can
relate to other created things in this manner. It seems we're always relating as a subject, an
"I", unless I'm just not getting it, here. It's always seemed strange to me when someone
refers to themselves in the third person: e.g., LSU's ex-football coach, Jerry Stovall, used to
to this all the time, as did LSU pastor Richard Greene. Objectifying one's own Ego/self-image
in this manner is an odd way to communicate. E.g., "a Jerry Stovall team will always
emphasize defense . . ." or "Dick Greene is not here to cause division." (Actual statements I
remember these people saying.) I'm guessing that kind of weirdness is not what you mean,
however.




A couple of distinctions. Rather than any robust ontology or metaphysic, here, I am
employing, instead, a vague phenomenology that describes our phenomenal experiences
more so than any thing-in-itself or noumenon, to invoke a Kantian distinction. (But I do not
buy Kant, which is another discussion). But it would be silly to think that our phenomenal
experiences do not also say something meaningful about reality about which we could cash
out some real practical value, so I am suggesting a Goldilocks stance of not saying too much
but not saying too little either. So, here's another helpful distinction. There are some

                                               6
realities which we cannot successfully describe but that does not mean that we cannot,
perhaps, successfully refer to them. For example, something or someone caused that rock
to come over my fence and to smash through my window! We may not know whether it
was a kid who threw it or a lawnmower that launched it so as to describe the cause but
from the observed effect we can infer from and refer, vaguely, to the cause.



These categories, then, begin with our phenomenal experiences and take them seriously
even while only making vague references to rather than robust descriptions of the realities
to which they point. They impart strong intuitions about the nature of reality that have
practical consequences for our responses to reality. Like a myth, in some ways, they may
not convey literal truths but they may nevertheless evoke appropriate responses to
ultimate reality, responses that might be judged as helps or hindrances to our growth in
human authenticity.



So we're cool on the inter- and intra-subjective?



The intraobjective (does not describe but) refers to our intuition of the One, reality taken as
a whole, a single organism much like that suggested by pantheists or like some cosmic-level
Gaia hypothesis. It is the experience of reality as one self-subsisting impersonal thing, not
unlike Advaita, lacking an experience of a separate self, much less an ego. It experiences no
ontological discontinuities, which is to say that everything not only seems to consist of the
same basic stuff but is essentially the same basic thing without the limit and boundary
conditions we experience and refer to in ordinary experience.



You write: "Interobjectivity means object-to-object, but I've never quite understood how
one can relate to other created things in this manner."



Correct. To the extent there is any radical ontological discontinuity in reality where there
are different things consisting of wholly different stuff, how in the world could they
interact? Hence we speak of interobjective indeterminacy. What we do not want to do,
however, is to a priori rule out the possibilty of multiple ontologies or many worlds.



But there is a much larger issue here. What about God's essential nature? Why would your
critique not also apply there? If created things cannot relate to other created things
interobjectively, how could a created thing even begin to relate to an Uncreated Thing in
this manner? This is also to ask how can One to Whom we can only refer metaphorically and

                                               7
analogically ever interact efficaciously with physical reality if that One is wholly of another
substance, made wholly of different stuff, is wholly someThing else? So, I introduce this
category as a placeholder for God's indeterminate being, which refers to that nature of God
which would exist beyond His determinate being as Creator.



It could also serve as a placeholder for other worlds that would be ontologically
discontinuous and which we could not access in principle. It might also refer to aspects of
our own created reality that exist alongside known givens: primitives, forces and axioms but
which are radically unavailable to us epistemically. For example, if consciousness is a
primitive alongside space, time, mass and energy and therefore part of some implicately
ordered tacit dimension rather than an emergent reality born of biological evolution, then it
could conceivably be closer to us than we are to ourselves in a manner that would prevent
us from being able to even objectify it. Or what about putatively disembodied souls and
poltergeists that would occasionally manifest beyond our methodological and empirical
access?



To be clear, I use the category of interobjective indeterminacy for God's indeterminate
being and have no real use for it vis a vis the created order as I do not believe in
disembodied souls, ghosts or in consciousness as a primitive given. But neither would it rock
my worldview if they turned out to be real. If they did interact, then ontologically, they
would not be wholly discontinuous. We just cannot know a priori when it is that our
ignorance is caused by epistemic indeterminacy or ontological vagueness.

16 December 2011, 07:49 PM

Phil



  quote:

  So we're cool on the inter- and intra-subjective?




Oh sure. And on intraobjective as well; your explanation of it earlier is pretty much what I
thought you meant. It's a different way of putting it -- intra-objective -- and seems to be
what most people mean when they speak of nonduality or enlightenment.




                                               8
Interobjectivity? I need to think about this one some more. Seems similar to what Arraj is
describing on http://www.innerexplorations.com/catchmeta/mmm3.htm (see the little
graphic at the bottom of the page -- or maybe that fits the intrapersonal?).



Taken as a whole, however, your approach points to a much broader "gnosis" than most
teachers on nonduality are teaching these days. Some don't seem to have much use for the
intra- and inter-subjective approaches.

16 December 2011, 09:21 PM

johnboy.philothea



  quote:

  Originally posted by Phil:




  Interobjectivity? I need to think about this one some more. Seems similar to what Arraj is
describing on http://www.innerexplorations.com/catchmeta/mmm3.htm (see the little
graphic at the bottom of the page -- or maybe that fits the intrapersonal?).




I intend to be somewhat consistent with Robert Neville. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cummings_Neville especially where it discusses
indeterminacy and creatio ex nihilo as a solution to the One and the Many. Some of what
Jim was saying does sound similar.



  quote:

  Originally posted by Phil: Taken as a whole, however, your approach points to a much
broader "gnosis" than most teachers on nonduality are teaching these days. Some don't
seem to have much use for the intra- and inter-subjective approaches.




                                             9
Here's a broad oversimplification that some may see some truth in.



One of the important fruits of nondual realization in the East seems to be a compassion
born of a profound sense of immense solidarity.



In the West, we seem to arrive at compassion as a response to having been loved so very
deeply.



Epistemically, a nondual approach goes beyond problem-solving, empirical, logical, moral
and practical concerns and conceptualization processes to engage reality's truth, beauty and
goodness in pure raw awareness. In the robustly relational approach of intersubjective
initimacy, we're simply enjoying the wonderful (and ineffable) gift of another's mere
presence. In the intraobjective experience of unitary being, we're simply enjoying ineffable
solidarity.



You are right that many do not engage or emphasize all of these aspects or that they
overemphasize one or another at the expense of underemphasizing the others. And, in that
regard, they suffer, in my view, an impoverished gnosis.



Once we come to grips with these categories and whether or not we have established
distinctions that make a difference, the natural follow then, per our purposes here, is: HOW,
therefore, might we best pray or approach God? and love God per the Great
Commandment? What are the implications of our gnosis? or even agnosis?

17 December 2011, 09:20 AM

johnboy.philothea



  quote:

  Originally posted by Phil: Taken as a whole, however, your approach points to a much
broader "gnosis" than most teachers on nonduality are teaching these days. Some don't
seem to have much use for the intra- and inter-subjective approaches.




                                             10
I think some teachers on nonduality have misappropriated Eastern traditions, in general,
and, from what I've come across, a lot of these facile mischaracterizations come from
Americans, who are grappling with reform elements of the Japanese Soto school, which, by
many accounts, does not so readily accommodate devotional elements. It seems that many
were predominantly exposed to the Soto school, at least in the earlier years when inter-
religious dialogue was really taking off, and that they may have especially fallen prey to
caricaturizing the other living traditions of the East based on their very narrow exposure to
that “reform” element, which was otherwise somewhat aberrant and not truly
representative of the largest and most predominant Eastern traditions.



The Advaita Vedanta and Bhakti schools of Hinduism, and the Mahayana school of
Buddhism, are now the major (larger) schools of these great living traditions and all have
prominent devotional elements. While the dualist and modified nondualist Vedantic schools
are primarily associated with Bhakti thought, even the Advaitic school can be associated
with devotional elements through its founder, Shankara. Even in Zen Buddhism
(Mahayanan), both Chinese (Chan) and Korean (Soen) schools integrate devotional
elements.



Furthermore, in my axiological epistemology, which has a similar thrust to that of Neville, I
more broadly conceive gnosis and try to correct what has long been an overemphasis on
conclusions and an underemphasis on practices. In addition to what people are believing, I
ask also to whom is it they are belonging, what is it they are desiring and how is it they are
behaving, when they arise from their practices.



Finally, many in the West try to interpret Eastern literature through Western metaphysical
lenses and, in doing so, commit a major category error because a lot of the focus in the East
is much more so soteriological than ontological. In the East, there is a subtle distinction that
is drawn between ultimate or absolute reality and phenomenal or practical reality, such that
it is lost on many Westerners that various words/cognates, in fact, retain their conventional
or pragmatic usefulness. Even the Zen movement might be thought of as, first, suspending
our naive affirmations, then, subjecting them to philosophical scrutiny and, finally, returning
them back to their conventional understanding with deeper insights and with maybe a
hygienic hermeneutic of suspicion.




                                              11
I will share an old blog entry of mine:



In the story of Malunkyaputta, who queried the Buddha on the fundamental nature of
reality by asking whether the cosmos was eternal or not, infinite or not, whether the body
and soul are the same, whether the Buddha lived on after death, and so on, the Buddha
responded that Malunkyaputta was like the man who, when shot with an arrow, would not
let another pull it out without first telling him who shot the arrow, how the arrow was made
and so on. Thus the Buddha turns our attention to the elimination of suffering, a practical
concern, and away from the speculative metaphysical concerns.



This story of Malunkyaputta might thus help us to reframe some of our concerns, both
regarding Buddhism, in particular, and metaphysics, in general. For example, perhaps we
have wondered whether, here or there, the Buddha was ever 1) “doing” metaphysics or 2)
anti-metaphysical or 3) metaphysically-neutral. In fact, we might have wondered if the
soteriological aspects of any of the great traditions were necessarily intertwined with any
specific ontological commitments.



In some sense, now, we certainly want to say that all of the great traditions are committed
to both metaphysical and moral realisms. However, at the same time, we might like to think
that, out of fidelity to the truth, none of our traditions would ever have us telling untellable
stories, saying more than we know or proving too much.



One interpretation of Malunkyaputta’s story, then, might suggest that it is not that the
Buddha eschewed metaphysics or was even ontologically neutral; rather, it may be that the
Buddha just positively eschewed category errors. This would imply that the Buddha would
neither countenance the categorical verve of yesteryear’s scholastics nor the ontological
vigor of our modern fundamentalists (neither the Enlightenment fundamentalists of the
scientistic cabal nor the radical religious fundamentalists, whether of Islam, Christianity, Zen
or any other tradition).



Thus we might come to recognize that our deontologies should be as modest as our
ontologies are tentative, that we should be as epistemically determinate as we can but as
indeterminate as we must, that we should be as ontologically specific as we can but as
vague as we must and that our semantics should reflect the dynamical nature of both reality
and our apprehension of same, which advances inexorably but fallibly. The Buddha seemed
to at least inchoately anticipate this fallibilism and, in some ways, to explicitly preach and


                                              12
practice it.

17 December 2011, 02:06 PM

Phil



  quote:

   Epistemically, a nondual approach goes beyond problem-solving, empirical, logical, moral
and practical concerns and conceptualization processes to engage reality's truth, beauty and
goodness in pure raw awareness. In the robustly relational approach of intersubjective
initimacy, we're simply enjoying the wonderful (and ineffable) gift of another's mere
presence. In the intraobjective experience of unitary being, we're simply enjoying ineffable
solidarity.




Lots of cards now on the table, JB, but I want to comment on this observation of yours, for I
think you have, here, affirmed the value of nondual awareness as understood in both East
and West. Where I disagree with many is in their emphasis on this as the highest state of
consciousness, or, in the case of Wilber, the highest stage of development. I disagree
because the human spirit has potential for more than simple, non-reflective appreciation.
Would that this were our default manner of perceiving, our manner of Being Attentive, a la
Lonergan. We are nevertheless created to also question, understand, and act upon our
perception, the latter movement of consciousness entailing far more commitment and
responsibility than simply attending. For Aquinas, the highest form of spiritual activity was
the apprehension of truth through the process of reflection -- the fruit of Being Intelligent
and Being Reasonable, Lonergan's 2nd and 3rd movements of consciousness, with the
reality of spirit being demonstrable through our ability to perform intellectual activities
several removes from sense perception. Hence, through the ages, Theology was considered
the queen of all disciplines. Nowadays, the kind of intellectual activity involved in "doing
theology" (which, as you know, is not easy) is considered precisely the kind of thing that
stands in the way of nondual consciousness, which is thought to be "higher." Indeed, some
of these Easternish approaches seem anti-intellectual; some of our Western writers on
nonduality do as well, but they're usually doing little more than mimicking Easterners.



As noted above, Lonergan views "Being Responsible," the 4th movement of consciousness,
as the highest expression of the human spirit as it flows from the previous three
movements. In light of Christian revelation, he would summarize the goal of our human

                                             13
journey as "being in love," which entails a 1.) Being attentive to reality and to God's loving
presence; 2.) being intelligent and 3.) reasonable in our inquiries into all truth; and 4.) being
responsible by letting love guide our decision-making. This being-in-Love is thus the human
spirit operating in cooperation with God's loving Spirit. This is quite a different goal than the
kind of nonduality so emphasized these days.



I shared the following quote by William Johnston on the philothea.net blog, as I think it says
a lot about Christian nonduality. Johnston was very fond of Lonergan, and had also studied
zen in Japan.



  quote:

  “So love is the way to Christian enlightenment and there is no other. This love has a
twofold thrust: love of God and love of neighbour. In either case it is ecstatic. That is to say,
my consciousness expands and I go out of myself–I go out to all men and women who have
ever lived or ever will live, to the whole material universe of moons and stars and planets,
to every blade of grass and every grain of sand, to every living creature, and to the great
mystery at the centre of all, the great mystery we call God–and God is love.”

  - Letters to Contemplatives




I like that very much!

17 December 2011, 03:30 PM

johnboy.philothea

A few more things to think about ---



It is important that we be able to offer an apologetic for any given stance toward Ultimate
Reality on its own terms, stating, so to speak, what it is that we are for, what it is that we
value.



At the same time, because of our finitude and the way we are evolutionarily wired to
process reality via fast & frugal heuristics, it can also be helpful to engage other perspectives
as a foil to help deepen our self-understanding as well as to help us self-critique. Toward
that end, before moving too quickly into the practical implications of our nondual heuristic

                                               14
for a contemplative stance, we might consider what happens when we variously
overemphasize or underemphasize different approaches. For example, an overemphasis on
the speculative and kataphatic results in rationalism, on the speculative and apophatic,
encratism, on the affective and kataphatic, pietism, on the affective and apophatic,
quietism.



What happens, do you think, when we over- or under-emphasize the inter-subjective? intra-
subjective? intra-objective? or inter-objective? approaches to Ultimate Reality? with our
dialectical and/or analogical imaginations? For descriptions of the dialectical and analogical
as well as other helpful distinctions, see http://www.wrmosb.org/schem2.html



Also, another distinction regarding our use of the word primacy. Sometimes, primacy might
indicate merely what comes first, temporally; at other times, it might indicate what is most
valued? In an integralist or holistic approach, such as when I distinguish between belonging
(community), desiring (cult), behaving (code) and believing (credo) in my axiological
epistemology, we might ask whether or not any given aspect merely comes first,
developmentally, as well as whether or not it must necessarily thus come first, or we might
ask whether or not saying that one or another aspect enjoys primacy otherwise would
indicate that it is the most important value to be realized.



Now, in my view, in most axiological epistemology paradigms, such as the one in the above-
paragraph, where it is that any given person will begin and how it is that they will then
proceed is not necessarily fixed because different humans are differently-situated (external
environs) and also differently-wired (internal organism). Ordinarily, its seems that belonging
precedes desiring which precedes behaving which precedes believing. This might be
especially true for those faiths that practice infant baptism, for example. For those who
come to the faith later in life, a more philosophic analysis of competing credos might come
first. For all, though, it would be expected that, optimally, each would make one's way
around the horn, integrally and holistically. For any given human value-realization
movement, there do seem to be three indispensable methodological moments: 1) What is
that? - descriptively , 2) What's that to us? - evaluatively , and 3) How might we best
acquire/avoid that? - normatively . It is nonsensical, in this case, to ask which moment is
most important, axiologically or value-wise, because the entire movement is required for a
distinctly human value to be realized. Optimally, a 4th moment asks 4) How do we tie all of
this together (re-ligate)? - interpretively .



Now, let's look at the different categories of phenomenal experience and ask questions of
primacy there. What might come first for most people, temporally and developmentally?

                                             15
Why? Would we say that any given category enjoys primacy in the sense of being most
highly valued: inter-subjective, intra-subjective, intra-objective, inter-objective? [To further
elucidate the inter-objective theologically, this is the God of apophatic theology, Who, in His
essential nature, beyond what has been revealed through creation, generally, and through
revelation, specially, remains unknowable, the indeterminate ground of being, wholly
transcendent, Whom our eyes, even when glorified, will not see .] If there does exist an
axiological primacy of some sort, would there be any difference in what aspects of
experience are most highly valued, now, in our temporal existence, versus what we might
experience vis a vis primary and secondary beatitudes, eternally, as our summum bonum in
heaven ?



We certainly need a modicum of intra-subjective integrity vis a vis human authenticity to
enjoy beatitude but, in the end, how much we grow or how holy we get is very much God's
affair. Beyond that, in my view, both now and forever, the experience of the inter-
subjective, both vis a vis our primary beatitude of being happy with God and our secondary
beatitude of being happy with our fellow creatures, is our highest good and to be most
highly valued. Our experience of unitary being vis a vis a realization of our intra-objective
identity will certainly round out and enhance our other experiences integrally and
holistically and can even protect us from certain errors (overly dialectical imagination,
deism, rationalism, pietism, etc). But I suspect that, because it usually follows in the
temporal order of things, developmentally, for many in the West, who were not thus
formed, some may erroneously imagine that it must therefore be more highly valued,
axiologically, and to be sought after at the expense of our unitive strivings, intersubjectively.
That would be quite heterodox and simply not true. It just happens to come last for many,
not at all for most, because of its general lack of Western inculturation.

17 December 2011, 04:05 PM

johnboy.philothea

HA!!! We cross-posted.



See, though, the resonance of our general thrust.



While you addressed the category that focuses more on epistemology and method or
rationality (empirical, logical, moral, practical, aesthetical, prudential, rational, pre-rational,
trans-rational), I addressed the category of phenomenology and relationships. We both
addressed intra-subjective integrity and precisely in Lonerganian terms of human
authenticity, which you fleshed out more completely.



                                                16
Our thrusts were the same, however, as we discussed which aspects of epistemology and
phenomenology we might more highly value. And there is a parallel insofar as we used East
and West as foils to highlight the points we wanted to make.



I think the cautionary note we both sounded was a caveat emptor not to become so
enamored with the gifts of the East, which, while novel to many of us and helpful to all who
would thus avail themselves, should supplement not supplant the riches of our Christian
heritage. Over the years, we have exhaustively addressed what often seems to be an
embrace of the arational and an esteem of the nonrational in some of Wilber's writings, for
example. Similarly, we have cautioned against any notion that Enlightenment realizations
are in any way more valuable (or even as valuable) than (as) Christian unitive living. We
have not always used the same theological and metaphysical paradigms; for example, I
don't much employ a natural-supernatural distinction or Thomistic metaphysics/Aristotelian
epistemology but inhabit a more vague phenomenological perspective/Scotistic
epistemology that is still otherwise robustly pneumatological, but our more essentially
theological conclusions are the same.

17 December 2011, 04:19 PM

johnboy.philothea

An oversimplification that I think is helpful, anyway:



1) Many make the mistake of imagining that what comes last, developmentally or
temporally, is necessarily more valuable, axiologically.



2) Many Westerners experience Eastern enlightenment AFTER their Western spiritual
formation and erroneously conclude that it therefore is more valuable or HIGHER .



3) This is analogous to the pre-trans fallacy and I would call it the post-trans fallacy whereby
one believes one thing necessarily transcends another merely because it follows the other
thing.

17 December 2011, 05:46 PM

johnboy.philothea

From a tad different angle, this may evoke for some the medieval musings regarding the
primacy of knowledge/theoretical and the primacy of love/practical, which Bonaventure

                                              17
resolves triadically via wisdom/sapiental.



  quote:

  In this line, we could also say that the highest category for St. Thomas is the true, while
for St. Bonaventure it is the good. It would be mistaken to see a contradiction in these two
answers. For both the true is also the good, and the good is also the true; to see God is to
love and to love is to see. It is a question therefore of different accents in an essentially
shared vision. In both the accents have formed different traditions and different
spiritualities and thus they have shown the fecundity of the faith -- one in the diversity of its
expressions.



Pope Benedict XVI On Theology According to Thomas and Bonaventure March 17, 2010



From a phenomenological perspective, most of Western Christianity is properly formed in
the intersubjective stance BUT it is questionable how many are optimally realizing these
intersubjective values because so many remain developmentally stalled at early stages of
formation with dualistic, problem solving mindsets and do not move beyond to the nondual,
relational approach, or, to put it another way, they get the moral and the practical and the
logical, but they lose sight of the value to be realized in the relational, in intimacy, which is,
indeed, a higher good. That's what we mean by the, sometimes funny, euphemism - to
know someone in the Biblical sense. Knowledge of God must be in the Biblical sense,
nothing less than Divine intercourse. Who is interested in anyone else's knowledge of their
wife vis a vis her vital statistics, weight, height, hair color, eye color, metaphysical origin or
other empirical, logical, practical or even moral measures? We are talking, rather, of an
encounter with an Imago Dei who has an unfathomable depth dimension in whom we can
swim around forever in love - a love we cannot begin to explain via apologetics. At the same
time, our spousal love must not be arational or wholly nonrational but must be, instead,
transrational. Once again, my mantra beyond but not without applies in that we must go
beyond the problem solving dualistic mindset but not without it when we embrace the
nondual, robustly relational approach to another person or Person, thereby realizing what is
indeed a higher good.



This is why I explicated elsewhere why we need to disambiguate nondual from category to
category. In realizing the values of our intersubjective intimacy, it is a higher good vis a vis,
for example, Bernardian love and love of God/other for sake of God/other [In this sense the
dual vs nondual is analogous to the difference between eros vs agape, imperfect vs perfect
contrition and what the dualistic approach, eros and imperfect contrition have in common,


                                               18
here, is mere problem-solving for self/ego.]



This message has been edited. Last edited by: johnboy.philothea, 18 December 2011 10:08
AM

18 December 2011, 12:19 PM

Phil



  quote:

  Once again, my mantra beyond but not without applies in that we must go beyond the
problem solving dualistic mindset but not without it when we embrace the nondual,
robustly relational approach to another person or Person, thereby realizing what is indeed a
higher good.




Good exchanges, JB, and it does seem we're on the same wavelength, which should be of no
surprise to either of us after all these years. Beyond-but-not-without is much like trascend-
and-include, which is one of my favorite phrases.



I mentioned earlier that I was not clear about the meaning of interobjectivity and you wrote
a response, so I want to go back to that exchange for a bit. Your clarification included
references to "multiple ontologies or many worlds" and "placeholder for God's
indeterminate being" along with a few heavy phrases like "epistemic indeterminacy or
ontological vagueness." For those who might not be familiar with such terms, I'm wondering
if you could come up with as concrete an example as we can for the other three approaches
you mentioned?



To my understanding, as noted above, interobjectivity is object-to-object or, better, it-to-it.
As we are both subjects of our own consciousness and "its" in the sense that, objectively,
we exist as a something, it seems we can relate to other people and even to God as one "it"
to another. This isn't very "personal," grant you, but I suspect the deist relates to God as
such, and often husbands and wives to each other as well, along with a whole other host of
possible human relationships. We can say much about such relationships, objectively


                                               19
speaking, but I don't see much potential there for nondual mysticism.



Then there is the matter of the non-subjective aspects of reality: termites to each other,
termites to wood, hydrogen to oxygen, etc. We can describe all these relationships, and
there are some profound intimacies we can recognize, though we have no means of
accessing the interiority of these. Still, hydrogen and oxygen must be pretty "cozy" with
each other in a water molecule! Wink



Finally, there is another approach you did not mention: subject-to-object. E.g., I have a
relationship with many objects, like my iMac, which I dearly love. Smiler But it is obviously
just an object and cannot enter into an inter-subjective relationship with me. I do feel
connection with it, however, as I do the birds that come to my feeder, the sky, trees, etc.
This is not the kind of intrapersonal resonance with reality you mentioned above. My Ego is
still quite intact, and yet there I am reaching out with my consciousness to apprehend and
appreciate other "objects." See what I mean? What would this be called. Inter-
sub/objectivity?

18 December 2011, 02:38 PM

johnboy.philothea



18 December 2011, 03:23 PM

johnboy.philothea



  quote:

  Originally posted by Phil: To my understanding, as noted above, interobjectivity is object-
to-object or, better, it-to-it. As we are both subjects of our own consciousness and "its" in
the sense that, objectively, we exist as a something, it seems we can relate to other people
and even to God as one "it" to another.




That is what inter-objective means in its strict etymological sense. However, what I am
talking about is more specifically inter-objective indeterminacy, so it more narrowly refers
to such objects as we infer might exist but which we can neither fully determine among a

                                             20
set of possibilities much less specify vis a vis any known probabilities. Not even metaphors
and analogies illumine this putative realm. It invites apophasis with a capital A ! It evokes
our mysterium tremendum et fascinans as our propositional theologies and kataphatic
affirmations surrender to unfathomable, incomprehensible mystery. It mostly helps us
qualify our references to God. It would also apply, however, in very highly speculative
metaphysics.



Intra-objective identity, though, would include many of the it-to-it examples you gave in
your last post because, again, beyond any focus on the adjectival intra-objective, I am
talking also about an identity of sorts. In this case, I mean to refer to an ontological identity,
albeit vague, such that we are talking about the same kind of stuff . Physically, it would refer
to all things in the space-time-mass-energy plenum, for example, as they belong to one
cosmic system. Metaphysically, it would refer to all things to which we might relate vis a vis
any given root metaphor such as substance, being, process or experience, even if only
analogically or metaphorically. As you noted, this is a rather impersonal interaction. It
includes positivist science, metaphysics and natural theology, because God, while utterly
incomprehensible, as a whole, is still eminently apprehensible, in part, and infinitely
intelligible, especially once His personal nature has been revealed and our natural theology
is transcended by our poetic theologies of nature!



Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail?



This topic can be found at:

http://shalomplace.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/15110765/m/6144087118



18 December 2011, 04:17 PM

johnboy.philothea

Nondual Christianity - what could THAT possibly entail?



  quote:

  Originally posted by Phil:

  Finally, there is another approach you did not mention: subject-to-object. E.g., I have a
relationship with many objects, like my iMac, which I dearly love. Smiler But it is obviously
just an object and cannot enter into an inter-subjective relationship with me. I do feel

                                               21
connection with it, however, as I do the birds that come to my feeder, the sky, trees, etc.
This is not the kind of intrapersonal resonance with reality you mentioned above. My Ego is
still quite intact, and yet there I am reaching out with my consciousness to apprehend and
appreciate other "objects." See what I mean? What would this be called. Inter-
sub/objectivity?




If you look at my graphic, you'll see that the intra-objective, intra-subjective and inter-
subjective are aspects of phenomenology. For the most part, when humans "accomplish"
subject-object cleavage, that's the very essence of epistemology and is primarily how we go
about problem-solving : describing, evaluating, norming and interpreting reality. This
subject-object cleavage is the hallmark of dualistic thinking and where it gets its name as we
divide the whole and distinguish its parts.



Our dualistic approach is MERE problem-solving and our nondual approach is problem-
solving PLUS . The nondual sleight of hand, here, whether we are talking anthropology,
phenomenology, axiology, epistemology or theology, involves our use of a mediating
thirdness. In this sense, our nondual tripartite anthropology , triadic phenomenology,
trialectical axiology, trialogical epistemology and trinitarian theology do all represent a
higher value realization across the board, existentially, as, in each case, we go beyond but
not without or transcend but include.



Unfortunately, this is not what many nondual teachers advocate. Their mistake is rather
straightforward: even though they may say they are transrational, what they are doing is
(ironically, dualistically) according the nondual both an axiological primacy and an
axiological autonomy, which, as I see it, makes their approach arational . What we are
saying, rather, is that, while the nondual does, indeed, enjoy an axiological primacy (being
the most valuable moment in our various hermeneutical cycles, epistemically), it is also
axiologically integral (does not realize its value apart from the other approaches, being
autonomous only in a methodological sense).



That's straightforward but not simple. Put another way, the nondual moment is a necessary
but not sufficient element of our nondual approach. Unless properly integrated with our
problem-solving, dualistic approach, our distinctly human values will not be realized. The
nondual moment is but one note in our nondual epistemic symphony. (Cf. Phil's discussion


                                              22
above re: Lonergan)

18 December 2011, 04:22 PM

johnboy.philothea

re: the intra-subjective integrity



I equate that with Lonergan's conversions as expanded by Don Gelpi: intellectual, affective,
moral, socio-political and religious. Think, here, of Fowler's faith development, Kohlberg's
moral development, Erikson's personality development, Maslow's hierarchy and other stage
and development theories. Think classical formative spirituality: purgative, illuminative and
unitive paths.



Keep in mind that I am not setting forth a systematic approach only a heuristic account,
providing some conceptual placeholders, disambiguating some terms, mapping some
concepts, categorizing reality, introducing some alternative language, stimulating some
conversations, hopefully.




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