Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eastern Religions, Nonduality and the Bible

Sometimes, inspiration strikes in the most random ways while doing the most mundane tasks. Tonight was one such night. I was driving to the local convenience store to run a quick errand, not really thinking about anything more than the task at hand. All of a sudden, I heard a voice in my mind's eye quoting scripture (a throwback from all the times I listened to my father quote scripture as a child).

The quote is from the book of Genesis in the beginning of the old testament. "God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness." (Gen. 1:4 NIV) When I heard the statement, what really hit me was the fact that it says God separated the light from the darkness. In other words, in order to create the earth God had to separate the elements of dark and light. Prior to this, light and dark would have been one and the same!

Christianity teaches there is a good and a bad, a right and a wrong, a dark and a light. These things are clearly defined in detail in the Bible. Sinning is thought to be making bad or wrong choices (whether intentional or not). This separateness seems to be at the core of many Christian values and beliefs. Because of its two-sided nature, Christianity is sometimes called dualistic.

Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, teach something other than separation--the concept of nonduality. This is the idea that everything is ultimately One. The goal of life is thought to be to progress to the state of Nirvana, or Oneness with the Divine. These religions recognize life on earth is dualistic in nature. The goal is to rise above it to obtain a state of peace and wholeness.

Look at the problems facing the world today: wars, genocide, poverty, greed. Yes, these problems create untold misery for countless people. How do we choose to deal with these problems? We pick a side and stand up for it or fight for it. Does this stategy work? Do we still have wars, genocide, poverty and greed?

The problem with choosing sides is that keeps us in a state of separation. Choosing sides fortifies the belief we have to fight. Choosing sides inherently creates problems. Albert Einstein once said, " We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them", yet when we choose sides that is exactly what we are doing!

Duality came into being when the earth was created, but that is not our natural state! We came from a place of nonseparation according to the Bible--a state of Oneness. As Christians, it seems to go against everything we are taught about right and wrong, but that is exactly how we need to go about solving the problems of today.

There may be some concepts worth learning in eastern traditions after all.      

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