Archives for posts with tag: Monism


The earliest Upanishads (knowledge of the self) arose in the explanations (Brahmanas) of ritualistic sacrifices and the hymns or Mantras attending them addressed to the Vedic gods of thunder, fire, sun and moon etc.The question arose as to where the chants emanated from and where they went in serving to fulfill man’s desires.

In this manner, the earliest somewhat naive speculations sought to explain the origins of the world and its substance, quite incidentally so to speak in the course of performing rituals of worship. The famous Creation Hymn of the Rig-Veda ( see previous post ) had already blazed a path by encouraging speculation in that direction. The earliest speculation was ( as also with the Greeks and Semetics) that the original substance was indeed Water. Thus the Chandokya Upanishad states:

” Atmosphere, sky, gods and man, animals and birds, grass and trees, beasts and worms, insects – all are just water solidified”

The concept of the soul (Atman) had also appeared equivocally, earlier conceived as emerging from water but later as having created the water itself and from its substance created the Cosmic Man and from its limbs created the different parts of the world.

Another postulate which gained currency was that the world arose from Space. Yet another supposition was that it arose from a Cosmic egg. In the beggining it was Non-Being and later turned into an egg. On splitting one part became the earth, the other the sky, its veins became rivers, its fluid the ocean.

Beyond the cosmogenic space and egg theories arose a more abstract and philosophical interpretation. Space arose from the Imperishable – From Non-Being arose Being.

Yagnyavalka the great sage replies his curious and persistant spouse thus:

”Verily O Gargi at the command of the Imperishable the sun and the moon arose…at (his) command the earth and the sky…the moments, the hours, the days, the nights, the fortnites, the months, the seasons and the years…at the command…some rivers flow…to the east, others to the west.”  – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Thus speculative theories moving from Water to Space and Golden Egg (Hiranyagarbh) finally arrived at the Imperishable and the speculations began to establish a single origin and connectivity which were the first stirrings of ‘Intelligent Monism’.

Towards the close of the Vedic period (Vedant) these diverse conjectuers were superceded by the emergence of the concept of Brahma or Brahman, a hint of which concept not yet named is already available in the Rig-Veda hymn of Creation:

”There was then neither being nor non-being…without breath breathed by its own power ‘That One’.

Thus we find that the evolving speculation arising from ritualism moved to philosophical and mystical interpretations which appeared to be heading towards  Monistic conclusion. While the ritualism and its theology was concerned with the extrovert physical world, propitiating the gods through sacrifice for earthly empowerment and mastery over the forces of nature, the transcendental philosophers had turned inwards, seeking and discovering the real source of that power rather than its superficial external evidence. Rather than channelizing this force externally for human use through magical rituals and incantations, they preferred to seek to discover its secret nature and in the process began a process of devaluing the ritualism and the gods which focussed on the external physical world, its goals and ambitions in favour of their quest for the innermost and fundamental truths.

The cosmological theories of Water, Space and Egg when compared with the emerging idea of Brahman as the source had a fundamental difference. Brahman unlike them had consciousness. Yet the concept of Brahman largely remained inconprehensible and unexplained. ( Brahman in Sanskrit loosely translated means Holy Power). While the old cosmologiies of Water, Space, Egg and even an Imperishiable entity were merely a source or origin from which  creation emerged, the new concept of Brahman became much more. The earlier theory of Brahman as the holy power had merely supplanted Water, Space and Egg. Then Brahman too while procreating the world ( procreating because Brahman felt lonely and willed that he had a consort and thus his female aspect appeared with whom he procreated the world) remained quite distict and apart from it.

But now suddenly according to the Taittriya upanishad ” having created it, into it he entered” and again we see in the Chandogya Upanishad ” That divinity thought to itself – ‘come let me enter these divinities( heat, water and food)” – thus from being the ‘One’ he progressed to being the ‘All’ No longer was Brhaman merely the creator but now he entered his own creation and became inseperable from it. We see this immanence of Brahman in the Chandogya Upanishad: ”Verily the whole world is Brahman.” This finally established the pantheism of the Upanishads which earlier had been only a latent concept. Later this was made more explicit in the Mundaka Upanishad:

” Brahma, indeed is this immortal, Brahma before,

Brahma behind, to the right and to the left,

Streched forth below and above,

Brahma, indeed, is this whole world, this widest extent.”

Again in the Manddukya upanishad:

”For truely, everything here is Brahma.”

Now, from the goals of extrovert ritualism to gain physical advatages and empowerment, the Upanishads moved to the Monist and Pantheistic conceptions of merging all objective phenomena into one unity.

The concept of Brahman had yet to take another leap in its transformation into a comprehensive concept, that of a Soul, on the one hand embracing all physical and spiritual realms as one immanent, ubiquitous supersoul and on the other as the individual soul within man. Of that, more in the next post.



Credit :

Credit :


Whether scientist, artist, philosophers, mystics, theologians or worshippers, all speak of the grand Unity of which we are a part – the splendid diversity of the glorious Unity. So I felt moved to compose a poem which I present for your enjoyment:


                       U  N  I  T  Y

To distinguish

The fish of the lakes and the sea,

To seek the similarity

In the features of our kin,

Of feather and fin;

To want to compare

The horse and the mare,

To contrast

The rabbit and the hare,

The difference

In egg and seed,

Hybrid, thoroughbred,

Infinite variety



Common threads





The Hindu view of the soul is that it is a spark of divinity within. Hindu culture and civilization revolves around this presumption and fundamental premise. The personality is the material garb which it dons to experience the physical plane and in the process refines its host to the level of its own perfection. At that point of the personality’s evolution it becomes synonymous with the soul, which then becomes liberated from the need to reincarnate.

The Christian and Judaic view is that the soul is the spiritual counterpart of the personality and acts through it on the physical plane. Unlike the Hindu view, here the soul is the actor and therefore assumes full responsibility for acts of omission and commission and upon the death of the personality, on the day of judgement it becomes answerable for them and is accordingly consigned to heaven or hell for all eternity. The soul is not the Spirit or the Holy Ghost and there is nothing divine about it.

The Hindu view stems from its Monism where divinity is ubiquitous and all is one and one is all. The Christian view arises from its Dualism where God alone is divine, whereas His creation  ( including the soul) is not. The Dualist view holds that the creator and his creation are distinct, whereas the Monist view is that the creator and His creation are one. For the Dualist the drop of water is separate from the ocean, for the Monist the drop becomes the ocean when it falls into it.

The New Age view proposed by writers like Gary Zukav veers towards the Hindu view with distinctive differences. New Age metaphysical thought (Fritzof Kapra, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake, Lynne Mc Taggart, Renee Weber and others) endorses the Monist premise ( unity of everything). New age thinking reflects the Hindu view that souls are fragments of the Godhead, as a cup of water is of the ocean.


Gary Zukav

Zukav pictures the  soul as an immensely powerful concentration of spirit outside time, directly emergent from Godhead. If we imagined an entity like our sun on the ethereal plane , it would match Zukav’s conception. This glorious entity of high resonance, vibration and clarity, for some reason develops negativities, corruption and splintering in a minute part of itself (like sun spots on the face of the sun).The New Age conception is indeed, that the soul is Spirit ( unlike the Christian concept) but not divine (unlike the Hindu concept) as it is capable of developing flaws and getting splintered. It then by choice, wanting to eradicate the mole and heal the fault, incarnates through a massive reduction of its power, on the physical plane to heal itself. The personality into which it incarnates is those parts of the soul that require healing plus some luminous parts like compassion and love that it lends to the personality to aid in the process of healing during a lifetime.

Zukav also gives a novel twist to the theory of Karma, moving away from its determinism, to freedom of soul’s choice in reincarnation. He holds that the Law of Karma has no ‘moral dynamics’ as the universe is not judgmental. Karma cures negativities and aberrations which develop and seeks to heal them by presenting challenges and opportunities which exercise and test the personality in ways which help the healing process. As we are not aware what is being healed in a beggar, those suffering pain through loss of a child, a spouse or a catastrophe, we are not to judge but merely react with compassion. The healing process he terms as ‘balancing energy’.

Zukav holds that animals have group souls – cat group soul, horse group soul etc. Only humans have individual souls. Their combined activity contributes to the evolution of the group soul. Beyond the souls incarnating on the earthly plane are the ‘advanced levels of light’: Teacher and Guide souls are from these levels, as are Angels – all unblemished and therefore not affected by the law of Karma. There are also consciousnesses that we could term as Masters after whom many religious movements have developed. Beyond are ‘realms of light’ that can be termed as God.

Souls also incarnate together to heal, in relationships of parent-child, siblings, loving partners, and even adversaries, healing themselves and one another in the process through the challenges that such relationships produce.

Temptations and addictions are tools for healing. The more a soul endeavours to heal, the greater will be the challenges it will confront. Temptation and addiction are the ‘compassionate response’ of the universe to assist the process of healing. As healing takes place there is rejoicing in the nonphysical world and the soul  moves to a higher frequency of light.

The goal of life is to align your personality with your soul, accepting the wisdom and expertise of Teachers and Guides that come through intuition and hunches. This leads to ‘authentic empowerment’ when energy is released only in love, trust, forgiveness and compassion. This enables one to have a clear understanding of the process through which souls are endeavouring to heal on the physical plane.

Zukav’s book turned him into a New Age guru of sorts, selling more than three million copies and gaining an impressive following. He then proceeded to write a sequel, ‘Soul Stories’ citing cases to illustrate his thesis. There is now a Seat of the Soul Institute on the net for those who wish to explore, learn and experience his findings in greater depth.

The book profoundly influenced my own thinking, despite my firm belief in the unquestionable divinity of the soul. The adjustment in thinking that I made was to regard his concept of the soul as the extended subtle body in Hinduism, which is still in a kind of physical plane and to regard the ‘higher resonating entities’ as divinity. But the Soul Stories and other conceptions were all relevant in many other ways, particularly the ideas about transformation in human consciousness now occurring, which resonate with Russel’s dawning of a Consciousness Age and Mc Taggart’s Zero Point Age. All in all I seemed to be getting further in my search for the soul.



Our tour has covered such luminaries both intellectuals and scientists as Peter Russel, Fritjof  Kapra, Gary Zukav, James Redfield, Renee Weber, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake and  Jose De Silva. I now propose to review the writings of the eminent journalist Lynne Mc Taggart and her painstaking investigations in her tour de force of the subject. In what I consider her path breaking book ‘The Field’ (1999 Harper Collins, New York, copyright Lynne Mc Taggart ), Mc Taggart launched on what she described as her quest to ascertain the ‘Secret Force of the Universe’.

    Her research into different disciplines focussed on detecting an underlying Field that connects us all and everything. We have already seen ( Science and Metaphysics: Bohm) that the eminent physicist David Bohm conceptualized the existence of an ‘Implicate Order’ from which the material world unfolds and into which it enfolds again as ripples in a wave. We also saw the insightful biologist Rupert Sheldrake (   Biology and Metaphysics : Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic fileds) postulate ‘Morphogenetic Fields’ to explain diversity and evolution in a purposeful Nature.

Lynne Mc Taggart

Lynne Mc Taggart

Mc Taggart’s concern was to investigate the range of observations and research by scientists to highlight the crystalization of ideas about a unifying and underlying reality which has been gaining greater acceptance despite resistance from the conservative scientific mainstream.

She presented and traced for the lay man, much like Capra and Zukav had, the movement in scientific thought from the mechanistic Newtonian world view and Darwinian theory of random evolution to the interconnected world of Quantum Physics and the dissatisfaction of some scientists with the lack of scientific interest in applying these findings to our macro level of existence. She dwelt on their efforts to investigate our connection with this apparently intentional force in the universe. Through her investigative journalism she sought to find the scientific basis for this evolving ‘revolution’ in thinking. Her concerns were however not confined to academic conjecture but appeared to be driven by a need to tap into the ‘Field’ to search for a kind of alternative medicine of psychic and spiritual healing and miraculous cures.

 At the heart of the premise was a Zero Point Field, the vibrations between particles which themselves are knots of energy. A ceaseless exchange of energy takes place sourced from this Zero Point Field and in turn replenishing this inexhaustible reservoir of energy.

We need not here go into the mysteries and complexities of Quantum phenomena, which she explains, such as ‘non-locality’ and the startling effects that the act of observation have on particles, beyond noting briefly that in the former case an electron is seen to influence another particle instantaneously over any distance without exchange of energy, implying that a connection once established is retained even after they are separated over a great distance. In the latter case the act of observation effects the particles behaviour. These curious phenomena suggest the idea of an interconnected world in which  we as observers  are active participants which produce the reality we observe  through the act of observing. This is not unlike the mystical view of the ancients that the universe exists when we look at it but disappears when we look away.

Fritz Albert Popp

Fritz Albert Popp

Mc Taggart dwells at length on the findings of Fritz-Albert Popp a German theoretical biophysicist who studied ‘ biophoton emissions’ of living organisms and even developed a machine for the purpose. Here again it is indicative of a force from which these emissions emerge, showing that at the macro level too there is a relevance of the quantum activity which we find at the micro level.

Mc Taggart’s investigations then move through the magical portals of ESP, linking its incredible feats and as yet unrealized potential also to the Zero Point Field.

She goes on to investigate research carried out at Stanford University to show the power of the mind to influence random outcomes in a machine deviced to study such phenomena. The effects of sacred sites and global interest in events portrayed on the TV on the machines in the programmes  appeared to change random outcomes to higher degrees of order, all indicative of the phenomenon of quantum mechanics being applicable at a macro level. The experiments appear to show that an act of will can affect the outcome and that by thinking we can create greater order out of random patterns. The question then arises whether the will can be applied to heal organisms. Research had shown that the will could be applied to affect bacteria, plants and cells. The conjecture was that all this was only possible because the Field, repository of all memory was being tapped into through these processes.

Some scientists had proposed that the brain itself was communicating through quantum processes within and consciousness was a global phenomenon occuring throughout the body, not merely the brain. Biology itself was a quantum process and as in Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields memory resided in the ZeroPoint Field with the brain merely retrieving the information from the Field. Creativity, insight and intuition were all representative of this phenomenon.

Intention could therefore affect the probability of events, pre-empt disease before it developed, change the course of our lives. The universe was instantly present, embracing all time and space at a point – a kind of continumm of presence. Precognition, distance viewing and the ability in some to look into the future were indicative of this (these conceptions appear to be in synch with the physicist David Bohm’s Implicate Order and and the biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields).

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Mc Taggart also examined experiments carried out by the Indian mystic Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi through his Transcendental Meditation (TM), mass meditation exercises to show how these affected  the graph of crime in specified areas which were the focus of participating meditators. Other phenomena observed were the affects of mass will on the environment and weather. More experiments showed the healing effects of prayer on controlled groups of patients. All these phenomena were shown as examples of tapping into the Field of benign energy, a store house of universal memory. Mc Taggart concludes that with growing interest in the phenomenon a Zero Point Age was emerging  ( much like Peter Russel’s Consciousness Age in his book  The Awakening Earth).

Mc Taggart, encouraged by the universal response to her book launched into her next book ‘The Intention Experiment’ which sought to engage enthusiastic readers in active participation on the net to affect an experiment in biology.

Her writings became an inspiration for the production of a popular documentary on quantum physics and its relationship to paranormal phenomena – ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ with interviews with scientists which illustrated some of  the complex phenomena investigated by her. 

Again I sat back to absorb the immensity of ideas proposed and to realign my thinking of the nature of the reality that surrounds us, shaping us as we too shape it.

Painting - Raja Ravi Varma / Wikipedia

Painting – Raja Ravi Varma / Wikipedia

Shankaracharya ( Shanker + Acharya – sage,seer ) is regarded as one of India’s most eminent and brilliant philosophers of the post-Vedic age. He lived in the early 9th century A.D. His brief career of 31 years was remarkable for consolidating Hindu thought contained in the Upanishads ( primal musings of sages in the forest on the nature of reality) the Bhagawat Gita (India’s most sacred religious text ), the Yoga Sutra (treatises on meditation) and Vedantic thought ( post-Vedic philosophy) in his  philosophy of Advait (non dualism). At the time Hindu thought and practices had become disparate, ritualistic, conflicting and full of superstition with the fringes even adhering to  atheism and gross materialism. The genius of an earlier age which had created great religious movements reaching out to far corners of the world had lost its dynamism, clarity and momentum and was beset by confusion and strife. His writings and debates turned much of this around breathing new warmth and life into thought, belief and practice and having a far-reaching influence in rejuvenating Hindu Philosophy and beliefs.

Shanker revived and reasserted with renewed vigour the Upanishadic premise of a grand unity underlying everything. The Upanishadic aphorism ‘thou art that’ (Tat tvam asi) became the central slogan of his Advait (non-dual) philosophical teachings which were contained in a systematic and consistent doctrine. The self (Soul – Atma) and the Universal Essence (Brahman) were the only reality, the rest of phenomenal existence and the world was illusory. The apparent reality of the ego and the cosmos was the result of ignorance. But ‘Ignorance’ indeed was a positive force with the power (Shakti) to create a grand illusion. The ego and the sheaths covering the Soul, together with the phenomenal world were like a mirage in the desert. Like a cloud covering the sun so too did ‘Ignorance’ cover up the Soul. To overcome the ‘Ignorance’ which produces the magic of phenomenality, the weapon was self-realization – getting to know the Soul

The practice begins with adopting a stern morality in life (ethical behaviour – Dharma), altruistic action without attachment towards results (dispassionate action of the Gita), Yogic practices to cleanse the mind and body (Yoga Sutras). To prepare himself he must first acquire knowledge of the scriptures, have unshakable faith and adopt a Guru to guide him and draw the road map.

According to Advait interpretation God with attributes is like a mask upon the sublime Universal Essence (Brahman), which is without attributes. The adept Vedantin seeker is warned that a stage will appear in his quest for truth and spiritual evolution when the vision of God incarnate will finally appear resplendent before him. This is the final stage of phenomenality and duality. The feelings of ecstasy and euphoria arising then have to be contained and the adept has to resist the temptation to remain in that state of bliss. For he has to move on in his search for the real truth, beyond the splendid vision, towards the sublime. silent, featureless one without attributes, one who cannot be an object for a subject. When he goes beyond this penultimate stage he finally dispels ‘Ignorance’ and attains enlightenment by realizing that ‘he is that’; there is no subject any more nor an object, there is only the One.

According to Advait, Brahman (Universal Essence) is ‘the one without a second’, the one which alone exists (Sat), which is pure consciousness (Chit), and is in a state of bliss(Anand). The Soul (Atma) does not merge with it because it never really separated from it. Brahman remains the one without a second (Advait) and the Atma’s separation is an illusion, the result of ignorance which when dispelled, produces enlightenment. The influence of Shanker’s doctrine of Advait on Hindu belief systems to this day remains far-reaching. Yet, succeeding philosophers like the sage Ramanuja in the 11th century dissented from this interpretation of Vedant philosophy, holding that the incarnated Souls were separate from the Divine Essence and only finally merged with it after the cycles of birth.

Likewise thinkers and poets of the Age of Devotion (Bhakti) of the 16th century believed in a God with attributes who became very tangible when incarnating as Avatar,  and was attainable simply through love and devotion rather than scholastic and intellectual meditation.  For them the Gita became tha main vehicle of inspiration with its qualified and deistic Monism, rather than the scholastic and esoteric path shown by Advait doctrine. Shanker never rejected devotional prayer (Bhakti) or denied its value for he held that it was a necessary but intermediate stage for the adept on his journey to the ultimate realization of the true nature of the Universal Essence.

Shankeracharya’s philosophy and doctrine was enshrined in four monastic centres (Maths) which he set up in different corners of India  surviving to this day at Sringeri (South), Govardhan (East), Kalika (West), and Jyoti (North). The heads of the four monasteries are revered in India, much as the Vatican’s Pope is in the Christian world.

In addition to his philosophical treatises Shanker wrote numerous brilliant poems which are sung and recited to this day. One of his most popular songs is recited as an aid to meditation by disciples and seekers.



At dawn I dwell on the essence

Of the shining self in my heart,

Truth, consciousness and bliss,

That Supreme Essence am I,

Indivisible, without parts,

Neither body, senses nor mind,

Not the vital breath nor intelligence,

I am not my ego

I am neither male nor female

Nor am I sexless,

Indeed I am the witness

Neither born nor ever dying

I am eternal,

The inner Self,

The blissful one.


A related inspirational Upanishadic riddle showing the relationship between the Soul and its host the body with its senses is cited below:

The blind one found the jewel;

The one without fingers picked it up;

The one with no neck put on;

And one with no voice gave it praise.

Shankaracharya statue



Guru RavidasRaidas was a 16th century mystic-poet who lived in north India. A cobbler by profession, his caste was at the bottom of the hierarchy. He courageously defied the orthodox establishment to lead a reform movement to ameliorate the plight of the downtrodden classes. Many of his songs and poems therefore were incorporated in the the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ the holy book of the  reformist faith Sikhism, in acknowledgement of their appealing message of equality, truth and devotion.

In the 16th century, a revolution in worship based on devotion, overriding the prevailing ritualistic Vedic practices of orthodox Hinduism, established henceforth in India the supremacy of love as the vehicle for spiritual communion.

Here in a popular and moving song he affirms the inseparability of God and his devotee, the unity of spirit and matter, the indivisibility of the creator and his creation, expressed through unremitting love –  in essence signifying the divinity of the soul within.



(Prabhuji tum chandan hum pani)


You are the paste of sandalwood, Lord

And I am water,

 Every limb becomes fragrant

As we mingle together.

You are the deep and dark forest

And I am in it a dancing peacock,

I am a love-lorn partridge looking at the moon

And you are my moon.

I am a wick

On which your flame burns

Making my lamp glow brighter every day.

I am a thread on which you are strung

As a pearl,

I am a bride

And you my golden ornament.

You are my master

And I your loving devotee.

Such indeed is the devotion

Which Raidas feels for you

Each day.

Ravidas' Memorial Varanasi

Raidas memorial at Kasi



Higgs Bottom - God Particle Credit :

Higgs Bottom – God Particle
Credit :

Hindu metaphysics is defined by western scholars as Transcendental Monism, a philosophical term which simply means the Oneness of everything, its indivisibility and grand unity. This is not Monotheism or the belief in a one and exclusive God without a second but indeed the oneness of both creator and creation. In other words, God is omnipresent and ubiquitous and the divine essence infiltrates every atom and particle of creation

. This divinity is present not merely at the spiritual plane but equally on the material and physical levels. Matter and Spirit are integrally conjoined and inseperable. The divine is thus universally present both as matter and spirit. Matter and Spirit, two facets of the Universal Essence or God, are not only inseperable and united but also exhibit attraction for one another by being in a state of perpetual interaction. While the material aspect is manifest, finite and perishable and recycled from creation to creation, the spiritual aspect is infinite, imperishable, constant and eternal.

Matter is passionately attracted to the presence of spirit and spirit never leaves matter alone either, probing, infiltrating and combining with it.

The Oneness of the pristine Universal Essence becomes disturbed when an introspective, self consciousness stirs within it, as if it asked ‘who am I’ or again it asserted ‘I am’. This ‘I am’ sounds like Aum the Hindu symbol of the sacred, the first primal sound resounding across the universe. This moment of acute self consciousness translates into what one may call the Big Bang of creation. At that moment the ‘Unity’ becomes splintered like our physical identity does in a dream. At that moment a tidal wave arises in the great Spirit’s oceanic Oneness and with the wave, uncountable millions of drops are thrown up in a cosmic splash seperating and rising up as sprays. The drops in the air are still parts of the ocean though apparently seperated by the creative force of the tidal wave of the self conscious assertion of ‘I Am’ and destined to fall back before long, back into the ocean, to resume their unity with it.

The figurative analogy of the ocean and the drops is employed repeatedly in Hindu thought to illustrate the complex metaphysical reality of the Universal Essence and its relationship to the  soul incarnate.. The seperated drops poised in the air momentarily, before they fall back into the ocean of the Universal Essence are the freshly generated souls. Thus we understand the origin of the soul.

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