Q (Martin): Was Plato a monist or a dualist?
I am not so sure. At the top of the pyramid of knowledge, the summum bonum or supreme Good reigns by Itself: it is the supreme archetype (arché) or nous. Plato’s is a scalar ontology, the lower steps or hypostases being subservient to the higher ones (like the 5 koshas of Vedanta and the 5 levels in Sufism). Contemplation only can afford such view. I think that would make Plato a monist – or non-dualist.
A (Tom McFarlane): Despite Plato’s Theory of Forms, which is widely viewed today as a form of dualism, there is good reason to believe that Plato was not a dualist and did not view his Theory of Forms as his final position.
In fact, none other than Plato himself demolished the Theory of Forms in his Parmenides dialogue. In the first half of that dialogue, he has the character of Parmenides point out to the young Socrates all the problems and contradictions that result from such a dualistic theory.
Q: One of the things that bothers me massively is that certain Indian masters are so popular that people start to worship them as if they are divine beings. I run away from that because I don’t feel comfortable while seeing that on YouTube. On the other hand, I talked with people who were on a retreat with such a master, and they had gained a lot of insights in his presence. They also experienced authentic moments of deep recognition and clarity. So, I am a bit hesitant about how I should cope with this. I feel I have a deep desire to devote myself to something or someone. I am attracted to go and see such gurus, but I also have some pride inside me. What would my husband and colleagues say if they would see me bowing for an Indian master? What is going on in these places?
JK: You see, this is a nice example to illustrate the difference between duality and dualism. Duality is the difference between the person in the front who is the teacher, say of mathematics, and his or her audience, the pupils listening to him or her to learn the basics of mathematics. From an outsider’s point of view, the teacher is standing in front of the classroom and the pupils are sitting in the rest of the room. That separation is duality. And it is totally fine. In spiritual circles, a similar situation may occur. There is a duality between the master on the one hand and the followers on the other hand. That is again totally fine, it is just a distinction made by the mind. And if there are a lot of followers, it is normal that the teacher is sitting on a platform so that everybody can see him or her. When a spiritual leader like the Dalai Lama gives a speech to the United Nations, it is also similar. And people can be touched by his words on many levels as well. Continue reading
Q: What happens to creativity (writing painting music… ) when you awake from the dream of dualism ?
A (Peter): What happens to waves when they are known to be nothing but water? Do all waves lose their distinctiveness? Do they suddenly freeze mid-motion?
It is an error to believe that either there is a blank, distinctionless ‘non-duality’ or a rich, exciting, variegated universe. There is only consciousness and every exciting, beautiful thing – gross and subtle – is an expression of it. The painting, the act of painting, the impulse to paint, the paint, the brush, the painter are all an expression of the secondless, non-dual consciousness. Continue reading