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Religion, transcendence, and dogmatic exclusion

The Grey Man

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The occasion for this thread was @onesteptwostep and @Puffy's discussion in @EndogenousRebel's thread:

Since the above-mentioned thread is about transcendence in general, I didn't want to treat specifically religious transcendence in detail there, but the topic that Puffy and onesteptwostep broached is one of such immense spiritual importance as to warrant its own thread. I am referring to the mutual exclusion of religious dogmas. See especially these quotes:

If the transcendent exists, there must be some bridge or way of dialogue between worldly experience and the transcendent or some means of moving from worldly experience towards the transcendent. Otherwise it's essentially a non-concept and pointless to spend any time contemplating as you'll never get any closer to it. It would fundamentally not even be possible to have any evidence of the transcendent's existence. Even people saying they had an experience of God would be redundant as it wouldn't be possible for them to have such experience by your definition.
That bridge is Jesus. Welcome to Christianity.
At issue here is the exclusivity of religious transcendence to Christianity, which Puffy disputes:

My main issue with that position, as someone who personally believes in spiritual or metaphysical things, is that it implies that Jesus is the only evidence of the transcendent and the only human who had access to the transcendent in human history. I think there's a lot more evidence than that which would contradict that position.
As an alternative, Puffy suggests the immanentism of the neo-Platonists, according to which we are all bridges to the transcendent, at least potentially:

Reading the theological model of Plato and Neo-Platonists like Plotinus inspired me a lot years ago and I'll just give it as a counter-example to what you've suggested. In that, the world and the transcendent are not separate as the world is an emanation of the transcendent like an object casting a shadow. The world is an image of the divine and is mental in nature; like characters originate as thoughts in the minds of artists like Shakespeare, so are we actors or thoughts in the mind of the transcendent. This means that by studying the world, and through worldly experience, we can infer things about the transcendent. And as we are emanations or projections of the transcendent that means we are the transcendent at our origins.
This is prima facie a plausible alternative, but Christianity already has a long and complicated relationship with Platonism. Neo-Platonist or Gnostic interpretations of Christianity are almost as old as Christianity itself, having been condemned by the First Ecumenical Council in A.D. 325. On one hand, such interpretations attractively explain the Son as the personification of a transcendent, deifying gnosis (jnana in Sanskrit) that is possible for us and even in this life (since "the kingdom of God is within you"); but, on the other hand, they reduce Jesus Christ to a particular historical phenomenon, thereby undermining the credibility of Christianity as the exclusive bridge to the transcendent, the "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church". The doctrine that Jesus is an embodiment of the Logos, but not necessarily the embodiment, is indeed compatible with a religious pluralism that accepts the equal status of Mahavira or Gautama, but incompatible with any dogmatism that affirms the legitimacy of just one revelation. In this sense, Gnosticism is a natural enemy of not only ecclesial Christianity, but any religion insofar as it is based on exclusivist dogma.

This mutual exclusion of dogmatic religions presents us with a trilemma: either we can deny that any of the religions are true except one, or we can deny that any of them are true at all, or we can deny that any of them are absolutely true because dogma is essentially incapable of expressing truths directly due to the separative polarity that exists between any doctrine and what it expresses. These alternatives may be called religious dogmatism, reductionism, and relativism respectively. Religious relativism may be further differentiated into either qualified relativism or unqualified relativism, according as we either believe that the diversity of religious doctrines belies the unity of their meanings in absolute religious truth or not.

I favour qualified religious relativism, better known as perennialism, because it affirms the unity of religions on an esoteric, gnostic level without denying their obvious plurality on an exoteric, dogmatic level, thereby retaining the strengths of dogmatism and unqualified relativism while avoiding their weaknesses. Dogmatists will complain that relativism, whether it is qualified or not, attenuates the validity of dogma, and reductionists will object that God (the absolute Truth; al-Haqq) as the ground of the esoteric unity of religions is an unjustifiable assumption, but it wouldn't be a trilemma if I could satisfy everyone.
 

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The Grey Man

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@Animekitty I always expect crackpot nonsense when I see a diagram like that, but that one is actually accurate. I might have to look at this "iawwai" website.
 

Puffy

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From my understanding of your post I think I basically agree with you, OP. I lean a lot towards a perennialist position and like your diagram as well AK.

The way I personally hypothesise it is that all people can potentially serve as bridges to what we're calling transcendental experience. As that potential exists everywhere, that means people from every culture inevitably make contact with the transcendental and as a result it has a strong effect upon and symbiosis with the evolution of that culture.

Each culture's "religion" and its dogmas is the outer form of that culture's communion with the transcendental and the way that the transcendental is revealed in dialogue with that culture; the dogmas are possibly developed around it as attempts to codify and create rules by which a culture sustains its communion with the transcendental, similar to how Plato sought to design a society around "the form of the good". Possibly also as a means for ruling classes to control a population under the proclaimed authority of the transcendental. But cross-culturally it's possible to see that the transcendental that all cultures are in communion with is the same thing just in different cultural clothing.

One of my big interests is in what could be called metaphysical science. One way that could be approached is by generalising from the multiplicity of appearances of the transcendental to more general principles that underly those appearances, e.g. Plato's forms.

I'm not a big fan of relying on religious dogma personally for one's communion with the transcendental because I think in many cases it can serve to obstruct people's direct access to it. I know many Christians, for example, who have never had any direct experience and don't feel they need it as they have the dogma. They're in essence following the dogmas set in place by other's who had direct experience. That's better than nothing but to me the latter have a more primary form of faith as they're closer to the source material, where the former will always remain secondary in comparison.
 

onesteptwostep

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I don't think I really understand how that diagram works. Mainstream Christianity views Gnosticism as heretical. Just another silly conjecture trying to transhumanise experiences as if one has experienced them all. Religion is not math, it is a treasure of knowledge from billions upon billions of life experiences in the past. Humanism has more of a direct root than what the diagram portrays. Humanism is just another way to make sense of the world through patterns. Maybe it can generalize, but it cannot go beyond appearances. Religion on the other hand..
 

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In principle, it is possible to know something or it is not.
Dogmatism views it as impossible to know always.
It is hostile to thinking on such matters.
If it is impossible then the speculation is just evil.
Free thought is evil, knowing is evil, dogma must repeat repeat repeat.
 

Animekitty

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Prophecy would be impossible without knowing.
Knowing is privileged by God in the relationship.
What we know and what God knows has overlap.
 

onesteptwostep

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If knowledge is required to have salvation, then it is definitely not Christianity, but a Gnosticism. Knowledge does not save, faith in Christ does. Salvation is for everyone and anyone who believes, it isn't a matter of knowing.
 

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Can't you think of any other purpose besides salvation Gnosticism is for? Gnosticism is not for salvation it is what happens when you start to know how spiritual things work. How things work and original sin absolvement are not going to compromise each other just because of interpretations. Salvation does not deny how things work and how things work does not deny salvation works in a certain way. It is a false dichotomy.
 

Animekitty

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You're more than welcome to make your canoe. I'm just saying there's another one.

That is completely besides the point.
It's not one or the other.
You still present a false dichotomy. On purpose?
Knowledge is amoral, you don't use knowledge as a substitute for salvation.
Knowledge is simply knowledge. What do you think it is?
Gnosticism is about spiritual knowledge.
Gnosticism is not defined as something to save you.

Logos is defined as the principle of the universe. There is one Logos (Jesus). If Jesus is the one principle then eventually it all leads to Love. Gnosticism is not in conflict with this. Knowledge is amoral.
 

onesteptwostep

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You believe in a syncretism. I am offended when you use Christian language to purport your syncrecity. I am making damn sure you know how fruitless and redundant it is. If this is your rasion d'etre, I have news for you, wake up.
 

The Grey Man

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There's nothing syncretic about acknowledging the fact that humans are endowed with both intelligence and will. Christians generally do view Gnosticism as heretical, but this proves nothing, for Gnostics have always claimed that the orthodox Christianity is heretical. Dogmatism is a valid approach to the trilemma of dogmatic exclusion, as I've already explained, but it is by its very nature unresponsive to the problem of the legitimacy of other religions, so there is no reason to be surprised if some find it unsatisfactory.

Logos is defined as the principle of the universe. There is one Logos (Jesus). If Jesus is the one principle then eventually it all leads to Love. Gnosticism is not in conflict with this. Knowledge is amoral.
Yes, intelligence and will have a common origin and end, which is why the path of knowledge and the path of works lead to the same place. Western Christianity is peculiar in its deprecation of the intellect. This is not just a Protestant phenomenon: even St. Thomas Aquinas vigorously denied the possibility of gnosis in his controversy with the Averroists. The Greek Church seems to be less rigid in this respect.
 

Old Things

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Logos is not what Christianity amounts to. Rather, Christianity subscribes to the Trinity. Jesus was/is the Logos, but there is also God the Father and the Holy Spirit which makes Christianity unique.

@The Grey Man, how do you differentiate between qualified and unqualified relativism? Seems these are arbitrary categories.
 

Animekitty

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I believe God is the highest power. This power resurrects the dead. This power resurrected Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with finding common truths in religion. Truth is truth.

It is good to be reasonable, dogma is not the highest truth.

Sometimes I feel God sometimes I don't. I am very lonely yet still, believe.

We are heading toward a scifi future with VR and intelligent machines.

Everything will come alive. Everyone will be able to feel God.

Feeling God is important because it is optimum for energy circulation in one's system.

God is love, everyone will be loved in the future.
 

Animekitty

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Logos is not what Christianity amounts to. Rather, Christianity subscribes to the Trinity. Jesus was/is the Logos, but there is also God the Father and the Holy Spirit which makes Christianity unique.

All I am saying is that unless you understand how things work you are just spouting meaningless words. That is what dogma is, vain repetitions with no understanding and rejection of what may clarify things.

That is why we need Gnosticism (spiritual knowledge). We don't need dogma (vain repetitions)
 

The Grey Man

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@The Grey Man, how do you differentiate between qualified and unqualified relativism? Seems these are arbitrary categories.
They're different ways of understanding the relativity of dogma. According to an unqualified relativism, the relativity of dogma implies the relativity of religious truth because the principles that define one dogmatic system cannot be applied to determine what is true in another system. Perennialists think that dogmatic systems can be analogically superimposed as different schematic representations of the same reality, the same truth. Christianity is not Hinduism any more than a circle is a triangle, but just as triangle can be inscribed within a circle so that the sides of the former meet the circumference of the latter, so can different systems with different postulates be mapped onto each other.
 

onesteptwostep

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I find it ridiculous to see people think they know or understand dogma. Vain repetitions? Really? Actually educate yourself on Christianity before you rabble on like rutless teenager. Your problem isn't knowledge, it's emotional. Wake the f*** up.
 

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If you want to know how things work Dogma is only a first step. We live in a scientific age, you can figure out things or remain ignorant. Dogma is not an explanation it is a definition. With no scientific context, it is all meaningless.
 

Animekitty

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It is not that it is all meaningless, I do believe there is a scientific explanation.
What I don't buy is that it is all random because that denies God's will.
Dogma only says what happened or defines something. It does no explain how.
Dogmatists say no scientific explanation is possible. They are wrong.
 

Animekitty

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Christianity is not Hinduism any more than a circle is a triangle, but just as triangle can be inscribed within a circle so that the sides of the former meet the circumference of the latter, so can different systems with different postulates be mapped onto each other.

Isomorphism​

 

The Grey Man

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Isomorphism​

This is where mathematics and religion meet. There is a higher-order analogy/isomorphism between analogy in one domain and isomorphism in the other. Both are manifestations of unity in diversity.

 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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I'm not too sure about perenialism, or that "all religions are one at an esoteric level"
While I, perhaps, do believe that there are mystical states accessible to all humans given the right conditions and there are several commonalities among the more mystical sides of all (or most) religions which is suggestive of a "single true mystical experiece" giving insight to the same "one true reality"; I don't think that the story simply ends there.

There are possibly multiple types of "mystical" or non-standard consciousness (and non-conscousness)-based experiences. Some of them may share features (like self-dissolution, union, unitiveness), some may not share those features. I am also not sure that these experiences, in itself, has some "inherent insight". We may have a pre-disposition to "intepret" some of these experiences in certain ways, and some of these experiences may be "interpretable" only after getting "out of it", and only in the context of a philosophical framework which may not be so commonly shared.

While it can be possible to "pick and choose" the cross-culturally similar sounding accounts from different religions to argue for perenialism, but that would be a bit dishonest.

Take Buddhism, for instance. It's not clear why in that diagram, Vajrayana is within the "inner circles". Vajrayana is a later development. To say Vajrayana is a more "truer Buddhism" in some sense, would be like saying original Buddhism is less of a Buddhism. Vajrayana may have more elements of trantras and magick, but that doesn't make it metaphysically and philosophically substantially different from Mahayana\Theraveda in their core aspects.

Furthermore, what is even "void" in Buddhism?
If you are talking about Nagarjuna's emptiness, that's a notoriously difficult subject to interpret. The standard understanding is that Nagarjuna's emptiness refers to "emptiness of substantiality --- nothing has its own existence--- everything owes existence to something else by being dependent on something else. It's also not a linear chain of causation leading to God -- the ultimate cause to which all owes their existence; because Buddhist schools allow mutual dependency. This leads nothing being really real in a strong sense, and nothing being real, dependency itself can't be real, and emptiness itself becomes empty. It also leads to a form of global fictionalism under some interpretation".

Normally, it has nothing to do with a particular experience, or some metaphysical substance (God) which goes directly against the anti-foundatalism of Nagarjuna, although experiential meditative practices are used to deepen the understanding of emptiness.

While sometimes, "Buddhist meditators", may talk about experiences that correlates with mystical experiences or philosophies from other schools, and while it's even possible to interpret and find aspects in different variants of Buddhism to correspond more closely to the perenialist ideas, the question would why should we "pick and choose" them? Are they really any more "esoteric" than the experiences and philosophies that doesn't fit in as well with the standard perenialist narrative? Are they more true simply because they are experienced more frequently world-wide? (But that could be also because they require less skill to experience, for example).

Also, take objectless consciousness (pure consciousness) for example. People like Robert Forman makes a big deal out of it (Pure Consciousness Event) -- about how this is present and reported in various mystical schools, Buddhism, Hinduism etc. For Robert Forman it is sort of like the ultimate experience; "enlightenment" itself, or close to it (I think he also suggests that a more integrated way of being, or a more extroverted experience with untitive pure consciousness endowed in day to day living is a higher thing, but anyway let's just consider introverted mysticism for now -- in Stace et al. sense).

But is it really the "ultimate experience"? In Buddhist literature, there are reports of "infinite consciousness", "nothingness", and "neither perception nor non-perception" --- these are high level "formless jnanas" borne out of high concentration meditation (samadhi). To me, it seems like any of them could be interpreted as a form of "objectless consciousness". The pattern here is that progressively you are losing more and more stuff from your experience.

But none of them really are the "ultimate state" in Buddhism. These are simply altered states borne out of concentration. Nothing much. Furthermore, there is also a "9th Jnana": Nirodha Samapatti --- where consciousness, perception, space,time everything disappears. It could be also interpreted as affirming the truth of emptiness at a phenomenal level -- "everything phenomenal, including consciousness, is conditioned". Admitting Nirodha Samapatti as real instantly throws out all narratives about "how there is some pure unconditioned-consciousness as the basis of things".

Furthermore, Buddhism also isn't about merely getting into the "9th Jnana", but it is about developing "insight". And even the jnanas are to be traveled with the proper skill and "insight", always on the look out for non-self, impermanence, and unsatisfactoriness.

There are also hints about something similar to Nirodha in other schools. For example, Nisargadatta Maharaj often talks about something "prior to consciousness". For him, that which is prior is The Absolute -- the true basis of consciousness where consciousness arises. I can imagine, someone arising from a similar Nirodha-based experience but having a completely different framework they intepret it as completely dfferently.

There are also suggestions all around about different hierarchies and layers of mystical and\or altered experiences. But, I doubt you can straightforwardly defend and construct a hierarchy (what makes one more "advanced" than "other"). People may not even experience them in a linear order of hierarchy depending on their frameworks of practice.

Also take hinduism for instance. What even is "Trantra Upanishad"? Different Upanishads have been developed in different time. Some may even be influenced by Buddhism itself. There are lots of thing going on at the philosophical level. In west, Vedanta and downgraded forms of Advaita Vedanta is pretty popular, but there had been multiple orthodox schools of thoughts in interpreting Upanishad and affirming and organizing different mystical experiences and the underlying philosophical interpretations. Again, to argue about perenialism, you have to approach everything with a certain bias, and pick-and-choose elements that makes most sense to your narrative.

While to some extent Perenialism may be partly true but what it suggests may need further and more severly qualified.
 

ZenRaiden

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If God created Universe we live in everything in this Universe is true of God.
Denying reality in favor of Dogma is not true faith.
If you look away from reality and don't learn how can God help you. He cannot.
If you go against your mind and intellect in favor of dogma because you are lazy to use the very mind that God has given you don't ask for help.

Many religions reduce their act of will to dogma cannot even theoretically ask God to be on their side. Makes zero sense.
An atheist who looks to the world has more God in him than those who use Bible as a way of avoiding their path to God, instead they console in the word, but avoid its true meaning. Thus they remain religious in spirit, but defect from their nature which is sourced by God himself. Its self sabotage at it finest.
 

Animekitty

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Time is a recurrent feedback loop. And so are you.
It has the capacity to self modify. And so do you.
Materialism and idealism both simply channels, rivers in time.
The branches go into the roots of the world tree allowing free will.

-

There is a universal physics all religions must obey.
The conditions may be different but the rules are the same.
 

The Grey Man

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@DoIMustHaveAnUsername? Some picking and choosing is necessary if we are to avoid an uncritical particularism that accepts all accounts of religious experience, however far-fetched and idiosyncratic, as equally credible. If our aim is to understand religious phenomena, we need to postulate general laws to make particular events intelligible as so many applications of these laws. Procrusteanism and confirmation bias are certainly characteristic hazards of perennialism, but I think that facts that don't fit some narrative should be taken as evidence that this particular framework is inadequate and not a sufficient reason to abandon attempts at a unifying narrative in general. As with natural science, empirical data need mathematical synthesis and vice versa.

As an aside, I think the diagram is meant to say not 'Tantra Upanishads', but Tantra and the Upanishads. What they have in mind by the latter is probably Shankaran Advaita Vedanta, which is a perennial favourite of perennialists (though I hear it's not popular in India).
 

Old Things

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Logos is not what Christianity amounts to. Rather, Christianity subscribes to the Trinity. Jesus was/is the Logos, but there is also God the Father and the Holy Spirit which makes Christianity unique.

All I am saying is that unless you understand how things work you are just spouting meaningless words. That is what dogma is, vain repetitions with no understanding and rejection of what may clarify things.

That is why we need Gnosticism (spiritual knowledge). We don't need dogma (vain repetitions)

I don't think hardly anyone actually believes they are doing what you call dogma. People do retepitious things and this need not mean doing those things are meaningless. For example, Jesus probably meditated on the Bible. And meditation of the Bible is repeating to yourself what is in the Bible (conversely to eastern religions on what meditation means). I don't think Jesus thought he was being dogmatic, but rather, he did what was repetitious in order to forward some goal, that being the memorization of scripture. I'm sure you probably do some things that might be considered dogmatic by other people, such as eating breakfast every day, or visiting this site everyday, or any number of things you do on a regular basis.
 

Old Things

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@The Grey Man, how do you differentiate between qualified and unqualified relativism? Seems these are arbitrary categories.
They're different ways of understanding the relativity of dogma. According to an unqualified relativism, the relativity of dogma implies the relativity of religious truth because the principles that define one dogmatic system cannot be applied to determine what is true in another system. Perennialists think that dogmatic systems can be analogically superimposed as different schematic representations of the same reality, the same truth. Christianity is not Hinduism any more than a circle is a triangle, but just as triangle can be inscribed within a circle so that the sides of the former meet the circumference of the latter, so can different systems with different postulates be mapped onto each other.

I would say the similarities to all these different belief systems are superficial and not foundational. In other words, they come from vastly different viewpoints on what something means to be true. An atheist is going to have a completely different PoV of things than almost any other religion for the simple fact that religious persons largely believe in the supernatural and atheists are naturalists. Now, that doesn't mean there are not people who might consider themselves agnostic towards God but believe in the supernatural, but it should be clear by the pureness of forms in what I am saying in how Theists are completely different than Atheists. So you would have to work Atheism into the calculation of super imposed belief systems and that's something that becomes problematic at the get go.
 

The Grey Man

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@Old Things It's not necessary to go looking for isomorphisms between naturalism and religion because religion already contains naturalistic doctrines in the form of traditional cosmology. This won't satisfy atheists who think that traditional cosmology is irreconcilable with and discredited by modern science and that naturalism is an effective substitute for religion, but again, I'm not aiming to satisfy everyone because that's impossible.
 

Old Things

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@Old Things It's not necessary to go looking for isomorphisms between naturalism and religion because religion already contains naturalistic doctrines in the form of traditional cosmology. This won't satisfy atheists who think that traditional cosmology is irreconcilable with and discredited by modern science and that naturalism is an effective substitute for religion, but again, I'm not aiming to satisfy everyone because that's impossible.

Unfortunately, this is not going to satisfy the religious folk either since there are cosmological arguments for God's existence. I just watched a video yesterday that had about 150 arguments for God's existence and a lot of them were cosmological arguments. So it seems you are using your own belief of naturalism to super impose supernatural events onto a naturalistic PoV and this is something religious folk would have a problem with.
 

The Grey Man

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I believe in God and reject naturalism, if that wasn't clear. My position is probably not Christian enough for most Christians and too Christian for most atheists, but I don't know what to do about that.
 

Old Things

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I believe in God and reject naturalism, if that wasn't clear. My position is probably not Christian enough for most Christians and too Christian for most atheists, but I don't know what to do about that.

That's interesting. So do you believe that "dogmas" in the way you have been talking about them are similar to the way @Animekitty is using them? It seems like you are saying these dogmas are more or less naturalistic means to achieve some transcendence. But I don't want to assume anything. So if you could make your position more clear on your view of dogmas and/or practices being naturalistic or not and how that relates to transcendence that would be great. I'm wondering if, perhaps, you have a certain belief about Christianity similar to what Jordan Peterson has. Now, I disagree with Peterson's view of Christianity because, as far as I know, he doesn't make a firm stance on Christ resurrecting from the dead (but I have not been paying attention to Peterson lately).
 

The Grey Man

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@Old Things I don't know much about Jordan Peterson, and I tend to distrust public intellectuals in general because they oversimplify. My influences are chiefly perennialist philosophers, some of them Kantian (Rudolf Otto, W.T. Stace), some of them anti-modernist (René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon). I think that religious doctrine and practice are natural because religion pertains to man as he is and not as he would be or should be. Transcendence is the destination of religion, but its point of departure is immanence.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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@DoIMustHaveAnUsername? Some picking and choosing is necessary if we are to avoid an uncritical particularism that accepts all accounts of religious experience, however far-fetched and idiosyncratic, as equally credible. If our aim is to understand religious phenomena, we need to postulate general laws to make particular events intelligible as so many applications of these laws. Procrusteanism and confirmation bias are certainly characteristic hazards of perennialism, but I think that facts that don't fit some narrative should be taken as evidence that this particular framework is inadequate and not a sufficient reason to abandon attempts at a unifying narrative in general. As with natural science, empirical data need mathematical synthesis and vice versa.
While picking and choosing may be necessary, it needs to be a "principled" picking and choosing. The difficultiy is in finding that said principle; and we have to be very careful here. We cannot go on and say "we choose this, because it fits our narrative".
A better approach may be to "collect" all the different accounts of experiences, and "cluster" them according to their similarities, then look at the biggest cluster -- see how prevalent they are in different religions, atleast in mystical sides of them, how similar they are and so on. Where there can be a more principled direction in this regards, it's not clear what insight we would get from this, or if we can get something totally conclusive. For example, the reason why certain sets of experiences are more common may not be because they are "more true", but because they are relatively more "accessible" given diverse concentration-related conditions (devoted prayers, concentration meditations, transcendental meditations) present cross-culturally.
While you can attempt to construct general laws, there can be multiple explanations to make the particularities intelligible. And even if you succeed without bias, it may not exactly support the vanilla perenialist narrative. Besides, before taking into account all these concerns, we cannot claim much strongly about either way. Another problem is that to truly understand these phenomena, one should attempt to exprerience them themselves, however it's rare to find a union between a mystic and a scholar (and philosopher),
Anyway, the point is, before all these are done properly, I don't think you can treat perenialism anything more than a hypothesis. Prima facie, with some basic understanding, for example in between the differences between just two religions - Buddhism (even schools within Buddhism itself) and Hinduism, it doesn't look too good for perenialism to me. Sure you can have comparative elements, or a very weak form of perenialism, probably, but I don't know if it can go beyond that.

You can potentially have some unifying narrative in terms of some general laws, but it need not be of a pereneliasist style positing some common truth being affirmed underlying all religions.


"As an aside, I think the diagram is meant to say not 'Tantra Upanishads', but Tantra and the Upanishads. What they have in mind by the latter is probably Shankaran Advaita Vedanta, which is a perennial favourite of perennialists (though I hear it's not popular in India)."

That makes sense, but not sure why Upanishads is exactly an inner circle. Upanishads, Gita, Vedas are pretty much the Bible of Hinduism. So saying Upanishads is in an inner circle is like saying Bible is in the inner circle.
Although there is some merit to classifying it as such, because in India, if you go around invading the homes of various Hindus you probably will not find Upanishads, Gitas or Vedas in most of them. They aren't really active matters of study in folk-culture. Not many knows much about them, at least not that deeply. Still they are not totally esoteric either. Openly available to study.Most people know they exist.

Upanishads are a series of texts. Whereas Advaita Vedanta is a school of thoughts involving a certain interpretation and understanding of the texts. Advaita Vedanta is one of the orthodox schools which accept the Vedas, Upanishads, and Gita as authoratitive.

In terms of popularity, Advaita Vedanta may not be really popular in India, but then agan, I don't think anything really is. Philosophically folk-culture-religion seems to be really niether here nor there.

Comparatively, it's still strong, I think. There were a few Ramkrishna missionaries from where I lived. They have a strong religious presence. They are based on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda whose philosophies integrates Advaita Vedanta with stuffs. So through them Advaita Vedanta is still relatively popular, at least in some regions, or at least (may) have a stronger presence than other schools (transcendental shaivism?).
 

Animekitty

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@Old Things The trinity is OK I guess but I don't know how it works. I have ideas how the natural and supernatural interface. I believe there is a mechanism. I believe there is one physics, not one natural one supernatural. Everything is a perspective but not a global perspective. But the global perspective explains relative perspective. That perspective is the mechanism of the spiritual realities. The one physics. Which I think is recurrent time. The past present and future are connected together simultaneously. Superposition is in limbo until wave collapse when a timeline is chosen. The past does not exist until it is observed. Superposition happens when the past disconnects from the present. An open chain allows probability. Time loops explain how God can have cognition without a body because God is atemporal.
 

Old Things

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@Old Things I don't know much about Jordan Peterson, and I tend to distrust public intellectuals in general because they oversimplify. My influences are chiefly perennialist philosophers, some of them Kantian (Rudolf Otto, W.T. Stace), some of them anti-modernist (René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon). I think that religious doctrine and practice are natural because religion pertains to man as he is and not as he would be or should be. Transcendence is the destination of religion, but its point of departure is immanence.

Again, interesting. I poked around on Wikipedia on the Perennial Philosophy. What my question is based on is what you would consider orthodox religion. It seems problematic on the face of it that there would be such thing as something being orthodox at the same time only a "part of a whole" relating to other orthodox religions. It seems to be that orthodox is removed of meaning since on the face of it all the orthodox religions end up at the same place thereby making the idea of orthodox completely arbitrary.
 

Old Things

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@Old Things The trinity is OK I guess but I don't know how it works. I have ideas how the natural and supernatural interface. I believe there is a mechanism. I believe there is one physics, not one natural one supernatural. Everything is a perspective but not a global perspective. But the global perspective explains relative perspective. That perspective is the mechanism of the spiritual realities. The one physics. Which I think is recurrent time. The past present and future are connected together simultaneously. Superposition is in limbo until wave collapse when a timeline is chosen. The past does not exist until it is observed. Superposition happens when the past disconnects from the present. An open chain allows probability. Time loops explain how God can have cognition without a body because God is atemporal.

Also interesting. There's a lot of ideas in here.

I guess the biggest question here from my PoV regarding what you have said here is if you think free will is a necessary consequence of God existing.

--Edit-- I see you may have already answered this as you stated you believe in free will. My question then is if you are aware that many neurologists have made the claim that the way the brain operates is deterministically. There are some completing views on this, but they are mostly in philosophy or the philosophy of neurology and not so much the neurology field itself.

So I would ask how you answer this supposed conclusion that the brain works deterministically.
 

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I don't separate free will from having a conscience. They are the same thing.
 

Old Things

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I don't separate free will from having a conscience. They are the same thing.

So you would say our orientation towards good and evil is essentially the same thing as our free will? So would you say people are inherently good or inherently evil?
 

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So would you say people are inherently good or inherently evil?

It depends. I see this as somewhat of a gray area. Not exactly but sometimes black and white. People are a mix of good and bad. Some more virtuous others less.
 

The Grey Man

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@Old Things I don't know much about Jordan Peterson, and I tend to distrust public intellectuals in general because they oversimplify. My influences are chiefly perennialist philosophers, some of them Kantian (Rudolf Otto, W.T. Stace), some of them anti-modernist (René Guénon, Frithjof Schuon). I think that religious doctrine and practice are natural because religion pertains to man as he is and not as he would be or should be. Transcendence is the destination of religion, but its point of departure is immanence.

Again, interesting. I poked around on Wikipedia on the Perennial Philosophy. What my question is based on is what you would consider orthodox religion. It seems problematic on the face of it that there would be such thing as something being orthodox at the same time only a "part of a whole" relating to other orthodox religions. It seems to be that orthodox is removed of meaning since on the face of it all the orthodox religions end up at the same place thereby making the idea of orthodox completely arbitrary.
I think that the concept of orthodoxy is legitimate for the same reason that the diverse religions are legitimate, notwithstanding the unity of religious truth: since religion takes man as he is and not as he would or should be, it must accommodate him in all of his forms, conveying him to the truth by varying means according to the cultural and linguistic requirements of different times and places. What I said before might be qualified by saying that the destination of religion is transcendent unity, but its point of departure is immanence and plurality. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are what take us from the periphery to the centre.
 

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since religion takes man as he is and not as he would or should be,

I'm not sure this is true for Christianity. There is always an "end goal" with Christianity which is to experience God in some capacity. IDK if this would be true for other religions like Judaism and Islam which seem to be focused more on what you do whereas Christianity, even in the early church, was about being reconciled back to God. There are of course competing views on how this is done in Christianity, such as Universalism vs other forms of what the Atonement accomplishes, but these other forums, and Universalism, is about humans being reconciled back to God in some capacity. Naturally, there is some manner of "reward" system in place in all of these, which are more based on the condition of the heart which is where a "saved" person will be reconciled to God based on what God does and not us. So in the sense of a "destination" that would be the New Heavens and New Earth which comes after the judgement. And after the judgment that is what happens to us based on how we lived on earth.

Christianity is about how man has fallen from Grace and how God restored that Grace to us. So the Bible has a lot to say about what we should do. I would imagine this is the same for the other Abrahamic religions as well at least.

So you might ask, "How should humans be?" based on Christianity and that would require quite a long answer, but the answer is basically summed up in the greatest two commandments. In other words, I don't know how you square with Christianity, or other religions for that matter, on the distinction between "Where we are now, and where we are headed." because I think religions of all sorts have a lot to say about both and not just one or the other.

Help me see what you mean by this statement, is what I am asking here.
 

The Grey Man

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@Old Things Each religion has plenty to say about what man should be or ought to become, but their commandments would be superfluous if man always and unerringly chose good over evil without assistance. If man were perfect, he would not need religion to bring him closer to God because he would already be God, which is why I say that religion takes man as he is, manifesting in various forms that mirror the varieties of mankind. The difference between unqualified and qualified religious relativism is that the latter affirms the unity of the truth that is God notwithstanding the diversity of its dogmatic expressions, which is my answer to your initial question.
 

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@Old Things Each religion has plenty to say about what man should be or ought to become, but their commandments would be superfluous if man always and unerringly chose good over evil without assistance. If man were perfect, he would not need religion to bring him closer to God because he would already be God, which is why I say that religion takes man as he is, manifesting in various forms that mirror the varieties of mankind. The difference between unqualified and qualified religious relativism is that the latter affirms the unity of the truth that is God notwithstanding the diversity of its dogmatic expressions, which is my answer to your initial question.

Okay, let me know if I got this right.

Qualified Relativism is basically that you affirm all of these differences in different religions and more or less say they are all valid. Is that right? I don't know why I didn't ask this earlier, but sometimes religions are mutually exclusive. Jesus claimed to be the ONLY way to God, so I don't know how you square that.
 

The Grey Man

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@Old Things Religious doctrines are indeed mutually exclusive, which brings us back to the problem of dogmatic exclusion, which is the topic of this thread. Jesus and the Buddha contradict each other by each saying that 'I am alone the Way', and there are three ways to explain this contradiction: we can say that either Jesus or the Buddha is right and the other is wrong (dogmatism), that both are wrong (reductionism), or that neither is absolutely right because verbal expression is essentially relative to a certain axiomatic framework (relativism). I further distinguish between unqualified and qualified relativism because the diversity of expressions of a truth does not imply that the truth expressed is not one. I favour qualified relativism because the phenomenon of analogy or isomorphism demonstrates the possibility of 'horizontal' translation between axiomatic systems, besides the 'vertical' movement within each system from its principles to their applications. My position will, of course, not satisfy dogmatists who believe that Jesus is alone the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that the Buddha is a fraud, but, as I said at the beginning of the thread,

it wouldn't be a trilemma if I could satisfy everyone.
 

Old Things

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@Old Things Religious doctrines are indeed mutually exclusive, which brings us back to the problem of dogmatic exclusion, which is the topic of this thread. Jesus and the Buddha contradict each other by each saying that 'I am alone the Way', and there are three ways to explain this contradiction: we can say that either Jesus or the Buddha is right and the other is wrong (dogmatism), that both are wrong (reductionism), or that neither is absolutely right because verbal expression is essentially relative to a certain axiomatic framework (relativism). I further distinguish between unqualified and qualified relativism because the diversity of expressions of a truth does not imply that the truth expressed is not one. I favour qualified relativism because the phenomenon of analogy or isomorphism demonstrates the possibility of 'horizontal' translation between axiomatic systems, besides the 'vertical' movement within each system from its principles to their applications. My position will, of course, not satisfy dogmatists who believe that Jesus is alone the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that the Buddha is a fraud, but, as I said at the beginning of the thread,

it wouldn't be a trilemma if I could satisfy everyone.

Pluralism (relativism) has a lot of problems with it, such as going against the logical rule of no contradiction. It's fairly established in philosophy that you can't just go around saying "it's true for you, but not for me" for obvious reasons.

In any case, I think we have found where we disagree.
 

The Grey Man

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@Old Things No one is more aware of the problems of alethic relativism than I. Qualified relativism is supposed to avoid these problems by restricting the contradictions of dogma to the domain of oral and written doctrine, which is how I am able to favour it as a solution to the problem of dogmatic exclusion despite not being a relativist in the strict sense. Unlike the dogmatists and reductionists, I think that both Christianity and Buddhism are true, but their truth is not at the level of literal meanings, where Jesus tells us that we must hate our father and mother and the Buddha tells us that all of our sense organs are on fire. The esoteric, anagogical meaning is what matters.
 

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@onesteptwostep I've travelled to the Andes in Peru a few times. What's obvious from being there is that they are very deeply Catholic. At the same time, they've synthesised that with the spirituality of the Incan culture that existed prior to the Spanish conquest. Their Christianity is a synthesis of the colonial culture with their original culture. At the same time, it's really obvious that the Catholics there are deeply passionate about their faith and are just as much Christian as any Western Orthodox.

Someone can likewise be a Gnostic and a Christian. It's not an insult, spiritual culture is a living thing that evolves and adapts with the times. Did Protestantism always exist? Or Catholicism? Or Mormonism? Christianity now is not the same thing it was 2000 years ago and it's interpreted in a multiplicity of ways. Likewise, there are many spiritual cultures that once existed and are extinct to the world now. I personally see no reason to assume the spiritual cultures of today will last forever either and that they won't be replaced by other spiritual cultures.

What's most important to spirituality, in my view, is that there exists an authentic living communion with the sacred. Much more powerfully so when that communion is shared by a community. That aspect of spirituality appears to me timeless regardless of the culture through which that relationship is facilitated. To me, that co-creative living relationship should drive the form that communion takes and the culture it emerges through, which people codify as dogmas. When communion becomes dictated by the dogmas and the sacred cannot be felt in them anymore that's a good sign that that communion is dead and needs revitalising.

I would agree that this communion involves Faith as a fundamental aspect. Where I differ is that I see Faith as leading to this living relationship with the sacred which also leads to dialogue, experience and knowing of the sacred, that grows in its dimensions, depths, and transformations, as one delves deeper into it. As long as the intellect doesn't overshadow other aspects it can be a servant in this process; the mind has many unique gifts to surrender to love in service.

I have been Christian and while I do think I still had a communion then it's not the same as it is now. I've found dogma to be a consistent barrier to this relationship, also with my involvement in other forms of spirituality like Western esotericism or South American shamanism, as then I'm just relying on the words & rituals of others without having a living relationship with what those words & rituals are pointing to. Without that living relationship spirituality is just a dead and empty husk, someone else's words on paper. Sometimes prioritising my relationship to the sacred has meant abandoning dogmas in order to follow what that has led me to, and generally it's been closer to that than what I had before.

In retrospect, being a part of and leaving Christianity was a necessary thing for me to grow on my own spiritual path. From a perennialist lens, I'm able to appreciate that as me leaving Christianity doesn't mean my spiritual path has come to an end, my relationship to it has simply transformed into a different form. Also from a perennialist lens, I'm simultaneously able to respect that others might be led to Christianity and that that might be a good thing for them and something which facilitates a communion with the sacred for them. My Mum is Christian, for example, and I know her conversion helped her tremendously in overcoming the trauma from her abusive upbringing and forgiving her family. So I at the very least try to be respectful of Christianity and other positions Grey Man describes as dogmatic exclusivist as I recognise them as valid paths in their own right.

My issue with dogmatism is that it's forced to exclude any other possibility as a threat to its existence. It's not able to explore any of the possibilities I might point to without calling it 'heresy' or an 'insult.' This shuts down the processes of creativity, discovery and exploration, which is just as much a part of spirituality as something to be explored, discovered, lived. If someone doesn't resonate with the dogma it gives them no choice but to adopt it, sometimes forcefully as history would show, as the only option even if it feels inauthentic to them. It's not possible to dialogue with dogmatism as it's not able to recognise other choices as valid. Basically there's no room for me to have a conversation with dogmatism so generally I should know better and not write posts like these. I generally try to restrain myself and just observe dogmatism from a distance.
 

Old Things

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@Old Things No one is more aware of the problems of alethic relativism than I. Qualified relativism is supposed to avoid these problems by restricting the contradictions of dogma to the domain of oral and written doctrine, which is how I am able to favour it as a solution to the problem of dogmatic exclusion despite not being a relativist in the strict sense. Unlike the dogmatists and reductionists, I think that both Christianity and Buddhism are true, but their truth is not at the level of literal meanings, where Jesus tells us that we must hate our father and mother and the Buddha tells us that all of our sense organs are on fire. The esoteric, anagogical meaning is what matters.

Seems dicey to pick and choose what you consider "relative" and what you consider "dogma". Clearly, not everything in a particular religion is allegorical. The very foundation of what some people believe is based on dogmatic exclusion.

But suppose I want to be generous with my interpretation of what you are saying. A steelman if you will, as best I can.

You are saying what is said and written in a praticular religion should not be taken with a literal interpretation, but more a principled interpretation as far as the principle represents a dogma that may or may not be literally true as far as its literal dogma represents itself, but there is still a relative truth about the dogma that may or may not be known relatively. Would you say this would be an accurate way of saying it?
 
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