The pseudo pantheism of Vedanta1
Below a simplistic diagram of the fundamentally dualist, therefore pseudo pantheist Upanishad notion-as-abstraction of the relationship, as seeming non-difference, between the inference of ‘fine essence’,2 i.e. the atman, of a (i.e. any) defined and that of the undefined as universal fine essence, i.e. the Brahman.3
The black circle3 represents the anatman, i.e. what is not ATMAN. Anatman is described as neti, neti, i.e. ‘not this, not this.’ Whatever anatman is highlights and so identifies the presence of atman. The anatman, including the atman, represents ‘one whole world.’ The ellipse5 represents the unlimited universe as aggregate of all whole worlds.
The colour inside the black circle6 is understood as the essence of the circle, namely the atman. It is identical to the colour outside the circle which is described as both the universal ATMAN and BRAHMAN = the universe.
The Vedantic pseudo pantheist7 model8
The radical pantheist model
Here the black circle9 has been eliminated. The mauve coloured disc10 (here darkened to create an albeit false contrast) represents one ‘whole world’ as not different from the aggregate of all whole worlds.11 Here there is no anatman, therefore no fundamental difference between a (any) world and its essence.12 Indeed, the disc/world, standing for all discs/worlds, emerges as mere turbulence of the essence.13
© 2019 by Victor Langheld
1. Vedanta is the name given to a vast collection of orthodox (because connected to the Veda) speculations about the basic (or ground) architecture (now called Operating System) of life, i.e. of identifiable reality. It consists of between 230 and 400 scriptures, called the Upanishads, produced over a period of about 1000 years. The earliest, about 13 in number, are deemed foundational. The originators of the Upanishads, like the Greek pre-Socratic philosophers, attempted to solve their problem by means of the application of what is now called ‘scientific method,’ that is to say, by applying discrete observation (of specifically human nature), abstraction, fragmentation, reduction, compression, analysis, generalisation, inference and deduction, indeed rationality and logic as such, + geometry, mathematics and grammar and so on. Like their (juvenile) pre-Socratic equivalents they represented early modern man and who was emerging from the magical (infantile) past (of gods and demons) into the dawn of the factual present. And like their pre-Socratic cousins the Upanishad inventors moved a few steps forward, then got stuck and were swallowed up again by the majority still existing in the magical past and needing magical solutions (and where the vast majority if Hindus still abide).
2. The ‘fine essence’, presupposed to be unlimited (Sanskrit: ananta) reality (Sanskrit: sat = truth), intelligence (or consciousness) Sanskrit: cit) and bliss (Sanskrit: ananda), is represented with the colour mauve.
3. i.e. the anatman as surround (or body) of the atman, conceived as either awareness or controller, and which is the universal ATMAN and identical with universal BRAHMAN.
4. The black circle represents the transient (thus unreal, not intelligent (Sanskrit: avidya), not blissful), in fact the unessential surround (or event horizon or body) of the essential ‘fine essence.’
5. Fundamentally unlimited but here limited by the page.
6. Because the definition-as-limitation of anatman of the undefined atman is conceded, albeit by the Brahmin glossator Shankara as illusion (Sanskrit: maya), this architecture can be variously interpreted as dualist, qualified dualist (Sanskrit: dvaita), unqualified dualist (Sanskrit: advaita) or (almost) pure monist (so Vallabha). Indeed, the 5 major and numerous other glosses of Vedanta emerged because the Upanishads are notionally and verbally fuzzy, internally contradictory, indeed incoherent, inconclusive, incomplete, deriving from unproven pre-suppositions (i.e. dodgy inferences), and therefore wholly uncertain.
7. On the face of it, apodictic assertions such as ‘I am Brahman’, ‘This whole world is Brahman’ and ‘Life itself is Brahman’ are true pantheistic statements. But that’s because the context of the assertions has been deleted. When the context is added back all the former emerge as dualistic, whereby the Atman (as self-regulator) and the Brahman (as self-creator) actually perform completely different functions (despite the reflexive pronoun ‘self’, and which they have in common. What initially appears as monist (Sanskrit: advaita) turns out to be dualist (Sanskrit: dvaita), hence merely pseudo monistic.
8. The very fact that the seekers of liberation (i.e. jivanmukta) are selected only from the ranks of the twice-born and must demonstrate selected qualifications or qualities, such as moral purity, truthfulness and so on as pre-requisite for attaining liberation, reveals classic Vedanta as dualist.
9. i.e. what is not Atman/Brahman, to wit, the anatman. In radical (or pure) pantheism the anatman is understood/experienced as the Atman/Brahman (i.e. GOD) in/as a turbulated (Pali: vana) state or mode (so Spinoza), hence as identical. In radical pantheism all worlds are ‘iti, iti’, i.e. ‘Is, Is.’ In short, the alleged anatman is nothing other than a ‘storm (Pali: vana) in a tea-cup.’ Nir’vana is attained (i.e. recovered) when turbulence ceases.
10. The magnified mauve disc represents one selected whole world as identifiable reality.
11. Outside of Vedanta, possibly in Buddhism, it was realised every ‘world’ (i.e. the mauve disc) happens as both transient and dynamic, thus going through (i.e. pulsating as) the phases of emergence (i.e. arising) and de-mergence (i.e. declining). The 2 phases were iconised with the swastikas
12. Elsewhere called ‘self’, ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, whereby all the former terms remain as yet undefined. Indeed each real world emerges as localised ‘essence’, ‘essence’ in the 21st century being understood as ‘constrained (thus ordered, hence in packets) energy.’
13. The Brahmin glossator Vallabha (1479–1531 CE) deduced an almost ‘pure’ monism, hence pantheism, from the Upanishads but dared not go the whole way by attributing ‘warts and all’ to the Brahman (i.e. GOD). He practiced the bhakti of Krishna (as saguna Brahman) worship, thus an idealised iconised Tantra, as means to ec-stasy, thus liberation. Ec’stasy as means to ecstasy (i.e. as intoxication with bliss (Sanskrit: ananda) proved far more popular (viz. the Hari Krishna zombies) than the austere path of renunciation and sweaty toil (Sanskrit: tapas) preached by the Upanishads and, later on, by Shankara and more recently Vivekananda.