EASTERN PANTHEISTIC MONISM – Thou Art That

Eastern Pantheistic Monism is a worldview that represents certain forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, though not all Hinduism or Buddhism. “EPM” is the belief that there is nothing apart from the cosmos or Brahman (“God”). The soul of each human being is a part of “The One” and our most important goal is to recognize and embrace this oneness (hence the term monism).

KEY POINTS / BELIEFS

  • Brahman is ultimate reality. Brahman is the infinite “god” that is the totality of everything that exists. Brahman is eternal but impersonal.
  • Nothing exists outside of Brahman. There is not distinction between the seen and unseen world. It is all part of “THE ONE” Brahman.
  • Every human being is a part of Brahman. Humans must seek to realize and experience their oneness with “The One” and pass beyond personality and individuality so that they can realize Atman (the self) is Brahman (the cosmic self). Humanity is ordered in a hierarchy. The closer a person is to realizing unity with “The One” the higher up in society they are. This plays itself out in India through the caste system.
  • Death is the end of an individual, personal existence, but it changes nothing essential in an individual’s nature, because Atman (the Soul) continues on and is indestructible. All souls are eternal and are reincarnated in the world based on “Karma.” Karma is the notion that one’s present situation or fate is a result of past actions.
  • To realize your oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond knowledge. Monism rejects knowledge in favor of experience.
  • To realize your oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond good and evil, for the cosmos is perfect at every moment. However, because this position is almost unlivable, EPM religions function based on Karma in order to reward or punish our individual actions.
  • To realize your unity with the cosmos is to pass beyond time. Time is unreal, history is cyclical and not headed to a specific goal.
  • The core commitment is to do whatever it takes to realize your own oneness with “The One.” Each person chooses his/her own path, and works towards escaping the cycle of reincarnation. That being said, no matter what path you choose eventually all rivers (paths, religions, worldviews) lead to the same ocean (oneness).

WHAT MAKES IT ATTRACTIVE / RELEVANT?

There is much less urgency and pressure because all paths lead to salvation. The oneness of everything makes the world seem it seem simple to understand and relate to others. Sin is not defined as breaking some external standard, but rather as a lack of internal awareness. There is no limit to the chances we get to realize your oneness with The One, since you will be reincarnated until you find that truth. And finally, who wouldn’t want to realize that they are actually divine and a part of God?

RUBS WITH CHRISTIANITY

LOGICAL RUB = Is your worldview logical?

  • It is human tendency to describe that which is above in terms of what we already know. Because we have no perfect analogy to God’s being, the tendency is to describe God as featureless and non-concrete. Pantheists conclude that God is diffused or concealed in all things and therefore a universal medium rather than a concrete separate personal entity.
  • But we must not think of God as a featureless generality. If God exists at all, he must be the most concrete thing there is, the most individual, organized and personal entity that exists. Because individuality and personality can’t come from non-personality. Our difficulty in speaking about God is not due  to God being “indefinite” but by being “too definite” for the imperfect vagueness of human language. It is better to say that God is trans-physical and trans-personal; which is to say above our idea of these things.

SPIRITUAL RUB = Is your worldview biblical?

  • Romans 12:1-8 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfectFor by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

    • “Do not be conformed” is the goal, not conformation to the world.
    • “Your mind” is real and distinctive, and you are responsible to “renew” it. This means that emptying your mind of substance is the opposite of the goal of the Christian.
    • “The Will of God” — God is not an impersonal essence, but a specific, distinguishable, personal life-giving spirit with a personal WILL and volition.
    • “Good and acceptable and perfect” — There is distinction between good and evil, perfection and non-perfection. They are not all one in the same and they are grounded in God’s personal character.
    • “Sober judgment” — We need to be realistic when thinking about ourselves. We are not gods.
    • “In one body we have many members” — Yes, there is still unity to be had for the Christian, but it is not at the expense of the individual. There are “many (individual) members” who “do not all have the same function.” But we are also united in “one body” with one mission led by one Spirit of God. But this unity does not obliterate the many recognizable distinctives of the members within the body.
    • “One body in Christ and individually members” — We come to our fullness in Christ, not by denying our uniqueness, unique gifts and unique personalities, but by living fully and humbly into those distinctives for Christ and for the community of God’s people.

GOSPEL RUB = Is your worldview gospel-centered?

Pantheistic Monism tells us that union with God means becoming one with the impersonal universe — giving away personality and individuality. And salvation is not the advancement into a better reality, but is the acceptance that this world is as good as it gets. EPM also teaches that salvation begins by the realization of our present “already” connectedness and oneness with Brahman, the ultimate reality.

>> But the Gospel of Jesus teaches..

  • That union with God does not mean losing oneself and personality, but finally finding oneself in Christ.
  • That this world is not as good as it gets. God wills so much more for us and he was willing to act in the world to secure a better future for us, and the rest of creation.
  • That salvation begins by the realization of our present disconnectedness and lack of oneness with the one personal God, who is the ultimate reality. This is the problem that was fixed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Only through Jesus can the disconnection be restored to connectedness. We cannot save ourselves by effort or enlightenment.

NEXT STEPS…

  • Engage in deep and meaningful conversations.
    • What is the purpose of personality and individuality?
    • Is this world really as good as it gets?
  • Honestly reflect on how your worldview may be affected by Eastern Pantheistic Monism. Do you tend to think about God as a featureless generality or part of nature?
  • Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.
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