Sunday, March 04, 2007

Really Real Dualism: God as Other

I'm not very good at thinking this way. To me, "God" makes good sense, but not as a Being separate and apart and distinct from the fabric of existence, or, for that matter, separate and apart and distinct from the life I see around me, or (god forbid) in me.

I have dear friends who insist that my logic is seriously messed up. That my use of language is imprecise and meaningless. That I'm wrongly seeing monism where there is dualism.

My vision intrudes into my talks with my dualism-perfected friends, and sometimes it leads to misunderstandings. Mistrust. They talk of God. I talk of God. We spell the words the same way. But from their perspective, we aren't talking the same language.

I see the devotion of bhakti yoga as a monistic exercise. My friends insist that I'm not getting something pretty important if I don't understand their prayers to God as really real communications with a Real God who is really different and distinct from them.

I don't know if they're right about what I'm missing. But they're certainly right that I see something different than they do -- at least when I look through "my" eyes, rather than theirs.

That different sight sometimes leads to fundamental, but often imperceptible misunderstandings -- the use of the words sounds right to each set of ears, but mean different things to them.

Here's my point: I wonder to myself sometimes if the messy similarity in verbiage is really an accident, or whether it has something to do with the way the dualistic and monistic ideas tend to interrelate to one another, or whether one group or the other decided to adopt sneakily identical language to describe related-but-distinct ideas, as a kind of fifth columnar code.

Whatever the answer to that question, my friends see their experience of praying to God as profoundly different, not just in manner, but in substance, from my use of yoga to express the devotion of myself (the Self?) to God, God in the form of the Teacher, God in the form of Creation, God in the form of the non-point center of stillness, God in the form of gravity, God in the form of existence. I'm not sure whether it's the idea of a One separate from the pray-er that they see as the key distinction, or whether it's the alien-ness (to them) of a God embodied in everything.