Falling in Love……..Non duality (Advaita) and duality

For many of us these words are somewhat unsettling, sound abstract and philosophical. When we try to dig deeper we may find some practical meanings to our lives. Upanishads of eastern philosophy extol advaitic philosophy and we see similar message in many of the parables of Jesus in Bible.

In non duality there is no sense of separateness and there is no distinction between me and you. For example a new born has no boundary, it cannot distinguish between itself and the rest of the world. But as it grows and experiences, a sense of “me” begin to appear.  Most of us aware of terrible two phase of a child when it becomes very self centered and finds omnipotence or the ego boundary of its own.  As the child grows further it comes to the reality of limitations and the child starts to break the boundary. It recognizes the need to cooperate in order to survive. Often this process is partial and many of us by nature try to remain staying within the boundary and we see the damage incurred to ourselves and the communities. In philosophical sense this type of attitude is duality or Dwaita in eastern culture.

Let us examine the aspect of non duality or advaita. Most sacred scriptures call for oneness with God or Universe and call that as real love. Eastern philosopher’s claim that is Bliss or enlightenment! Which is nothing but experiencing oneness? To many of us it may sound esoteric but it is true if someone tries to experience. Let me give a small example of such thing most of us have probably experienced. How about falling in love?  The boy and the girl equally (pardon me if you are into same sex relationship) become crazy about each other. There is almost a complete collapse of ego boundary. The boy and the girl each feel the oneness “cozy’ feeling. There is no “me’ thing, each reaches out to the beloved and heavily invests in each other. It is in fact a taste of Advaita!  The problem is it is short lived and temporary. Once the couple gets married often the boundaries snap back into place, when the boy asks for something girl says No!

Bible by saying man and woman are one recognizes the beauty of non dualism. Jesus calls us to come to him as children, when we have not developed ego boundary.

In the story of Garden of Eden oneness was very heart of God. It was only after eating the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve realized their nakedness or their self identity and Adam started to blame Eve, literally they FELL out of love in their dualistic minds.  The story does not end there. God threw them out of the garden and made them to walk the desert. Duality is painful. They could not go back to the garden as the door was closed and watched by cherub guards holding flaming swords. Since then we have been walking in the desert but looking out for a moment of oneness. We try a little drink or drug, short moments of nirvana or enlightenment, trying to fall in love again.



Satisfaction Doctrine or Penal substitution

“Jesus died for me” is the mantra of Christianity, expressing radical love of God. The questions are then why God needed the cross to save my life and How do we see Love in cross?

Cross is the weapon of killing. It sounds terrible and makes God cruel, murders his own son to appease his blood thirst? Cross may mean hurtful and fearful image of God leading to misunderstanding of the loving nature of the God.

Penal substitution was introduced in medieval time by St Anslem of Canterbury in a rational mindset. Rationalistic way of thinking started to appear at this time. This was based on legal model. For any sin or a crime law required payment or punishment, justice had to be done and debt had to be paid off. It was considered that the penalty for sin was death, penalty had to be paid. It is based on legalistic and business model. This idea influenced the Biblical thinking and the death of Jesus was considered as literal substitution for the sin of Adam and Eve. Someone  dying on behalf of the person who committed crime sounds profound and radical but also it depicts God as blood thirsty to take the life of his own son to pay up for our sin! It brings the questions:  “what happened to the Loving father? Was it not unjust?

When we read John 3; 16 For God so loved the world He gave his own son… we observe this is about love not about blood lust. The verse does not say that He loved the world so much by making His son to pay up for our sins by making him die. It is by giving life not by taking away His son’s life, God showed the world love. .

As mentioned earlier   Satisfaction doctrine or penal substitution or substitution atonement came from rationalistic thinking and it does not appear to be Biblical. The Bible is about relational not rational issue. It is about love which is irrational. Bible knows that human conditions cannot be fully expressed through rational thinking. If God is considered as Judge, He becomes impartial and detached in legal terms. We see opposite in Jesus. He defends the voiceless, oppressed and marginalized. He shows God is not detached, but Emmanuel, God is with us.

Justice in Bible is not about punishment but bring healing and reconciliation, through mercy, compassion and Grace.

Substitution theory does take sin seriously, but fails at the end because there is no Grace in it. It cannot reform inwardly. Punishment can only harden, and there is no transformation as we see in Grace and Love. The movie Les Miserable nicely highlights the power of Grace over the law.