Conversation with ‘H’ – 5

M. … Of course, we know ‘we’ are primarily awareness where no distinctions whatsoever are valid, such as male/female. But something occurs to me just now, and is that prior even to the apparent multiplicity I mentioned above, and perhaps even more significant if not more real, is the presentation or exhibition in nature – amounting to a cosmological law – of the dichotomy or binary positive-negative, active-passive, static-dynamic, yang-yin, potentiality-actuality (this one an Aristotelian distinction). And, of course, male-female.

And, by extension or implication we have: angularity-roundness, left brain-right brain, etc. Someone I knew (a traditionalist or perennialist) wrote in one of his books that poetry is masculine and musicality and dance feminine… man is protector and woman nurturer; doctrine male, method female (in Buddhism it is the reverse, i.e. doctrine as prajna). Further, Sophia (wisdom) is female, represented by the goddesses Athena and Saraswati, also Minerva. And so on.

A final point: Is your metaphysical position, rather than pure non-duality, closer to the mitigated non-duality of Ramanuja (a great sage in the Indian philosophical tradition)? If so, who can find fault in that?


M. Dear H: Are matter and consciousness the same? You: ‘Matter and awareness not ontologically distinct categories’. How can two concepts or categories, as such, being mental products to begin with, be the same or equivalent? But, obviously, you mean ontologically the same, and here is where I object, for the distance between these two notions, their referents, rather, is very great, amounting to what is called a category mistake. Advaita Vedanta (AV) teaches that matter, a phenomenon or appearance – ‘nama-rupa’ (coinciding herewith the Buddhists) – at first go is other than consciousness, being an object to it. However, once further understanding has accrued, matter, and all phenomena, are seen as not other than consciousness, i.e., they are reducible to consciousness, the only reality there is – as form is to substance or accident is to essence. Remember what I said about the device that is superimposition, which is to be followed (methodically) by rescission – taking it back. This is a very important doctrine in AV, and there would be much to say about it, for it was at first not a device for teaching purposes but a discovery made by Shankara related to ordinary language: a double superimposition is at work: the unreal on the real, and the real on the unreal.

You (H): ‘Okay, we can call matter ‘phenomena’, but there we fall into the trap of suggesting it is one not the other – mind not matter, or a pure phenomenology. I am saying it is both, yet neither exclusively, in that ‘apprehending and the world both exist and are identical’. It is a multiplicity within, or one which ubiquitously pervades within, a unicity.’

Me (M): A1. It is not one or the other, or both. It (matter) is a phenomenon, like all others, called mythia in AV. A phenomenon (‘what appears’) is something relatively real, and all objects=phenomena  are such, so they are not just mind stuff, they are something, as you say, but since there is only one reality – Not Two – all phenomena are reducible to the noumenon that is awareness. More on this under A2.

You (H): ‘The quote which you say is “heavy with solidity and separateness” is only so due to being read if one discounts the unicity of ND awareness, which, as I said, pervades all things and does not stand localised outside of the localised tree, which is indeed spatially separated and existent as matter; nor does ND awareness stand localised to brain-dependent consciousness, which knows the tree as a concept.’ (my –M- underlining).

Me (M): A2. DUALITY ALL ALONG… Awarenes/things, /Awareness/ Consciousness.  You then continue: ‘The meaning is that ontologically distinct categories of mind and matter – mind/body Dualism or ‘Two-ism’ – is seen as a false mind-construct within ND awareness’. Correct, but the dualism I refer to and which you also seem to espouse is not that one, both limbs of which are ontologically on the same line or level, but awareness/mind and/or awareness/externally-existing-things. Some time previously you had said that ‘external’, etc. are only conceptual… ‘yet multiplicity is accepted in that matter exists, spatially separated things exist, yet all are pervaded by the non-local nature of ND awareness itself’.

How can ND awareness pervade spatially separated and physically existing things? Unless these are understood as intangible phenomena, that is. Phenomena which are arisings in consciousness (my take) or awareness (your take), this latter being noumenon. Noumenon is ontologically above phenomenon, you will agree, even though ultimately, essentially, phenomena are not other than, are reducible to, awareness, the root ‘cause’ or container of everything. I write ‘cause’ with apostrophes because Advaita Vedanta ultimately, that is, from the higher perspective, does not admit causes/causation as existing as such. They are mental constructs which annul themselves on right understanding.