Theodicy, Truth Scale, & 2 kinds of “In-effable”
To enliven a review of useful ACRONYMs that sketch out a “Truth Scale” we can use the much-avoided issue of Theodicy to illustrate a broad comparison between the items. The subtler topic: “2 kinds of In-effable” is a more central purpose here, even though it marks the distinction between only 2 categories. Those 2 categories also happen to be those most important to us, & the distinction between those 2 categories is itself the distinction most important to us as well.
Simply summarized, the enigma of Theodicy, is a mystery of Evil in the World, specifically in regard to the question: “How can a loving God let such bad things happen ?”
To a number of viewpoints questioned, various first answers to the Theodicy question could be offered. ACRONYM abbreviations sketch out a “Truth Scale” as follows:
1) UQD un-qualified duality practitioners of exoteric, organized, Dualistic religions [“un-qualified” as in not modified or “toned down” at all], these live in denial about how mean-spirited God would have to be to have eternal Hell, to leave the vast majority excluded from Calvin’s Predestination–Rapture, or whatever other Last Days elitist clubhouse. Pushing all that Theodicy under the rug first, they attempt to console themselves with “God’s will” & his “mysterious ways.” But when their young daughter is stricken with painful & fatal disease, or raped & tortured by a child molester, some understandably turn their backs on that God when their blind faith has thus been too sorely tested. War & evil of all sorts easily overwhelm the UQD practitioner, without any good answer or explanation.
[In a circular mutually modeling cycle, Crime & Punishment Legal systems mirror & inspire Crime & Punishment Theological systems, & vice versa. Venial Sin – Misdemeanors land one in Purgatory – County Jail; Mortal Sin – Felonies land one in Hell – with Last Judgment court dramas in either case. Whatever “divine justice” is supposed to accomplish, Civil Law provides only the crudest deterrent to crime. The grim enjoyment of revenge & retribution supposedly satisfy the grief of victim’s loved ones, & these offer precious little balm to innocent victims who suffer, & less to those who die. Karma, though similar, is more of an unconscious self-inflicted “learning experience” system.]
2) QD qualified-duality adherents back off some of the more Fundamentalist dogmas & may introduce Deist [no personal Big Man in the Sky – God], Naturalistic [most extreme as “tree-huggers”], or New Age [theosophical. etc.] themes. They are “soft on hell” but more rationally still find mystery in Theodicy, God’s dictates or justice, which includes the existence of Evil.
3) QND qualified-non-duality adherents include some who take a subtler but also weak position on Theodicy, & this QND subset itself can be well divided into 2 groups for clarity.
a) One still retains some metaphysical version of a RWOT real-world-out-there ranging from Spinozan Deism-to-Panentheism to all kinds of Gnostic & Theosophical hierarchies of planes & levels with many hierarchies of beings. Exoteric Buddhism & Hinduism, for instance, retain almost biblical heavenly hosts & demonic hosts, armies at war with each other like angels & demons. Levels of heaven & hell [though never eternal hell – resurrected from Zoroaster by Eusebius] & astral planes of all description are the scene for elaborate delineations of karma. Hopefully, mysteries of Theodicy get lost or forgotten in all the confusion. In a sense this strategy, at best, results in a plan of not getting distracted, dealing with what karmicly comes your way. One’s real job is primarily striving for union with God, the Buddha-Mind, or the Tao, but all in a less absolute sense.
b) The other QND sub-category approaches the next UQND category with a more cosmic theology but still maintains separate, Individual Souls created by a God, Saguna Brahman who Panentheistically constitutes the Universe as well. This other QND sub-category approaches the next UQND category but still stands distinct from UQND along lines of 2 Vedanta theories of Brahman:
i) Saguna Brahman or [Absolute Reality with Form] is the more objective aspect of or God which projects, dreams, or “like a spider extruding its web” somehow manifests a Universe out of its own substance. God’s Dream or Lila Sport, or Maya web of Illusion contains all of us as evanescent characters playing out multi-lifetime karma–learning. Karma dishes out rehabilitative sentences & R & R rewards on various heavenly, hellish, & other planes are determined by our thoughts, words & deeds that obscure the reality of God in & as it all. In this still QND category, Evil describes the wrong turns that we dream-characters take in our winding path. Victims of their own self-inflicted karma thereby fulfill retributive punishment from former transgressions recorded in the Akashic records or their own Mindstuff. But no matter how horrible, their suffering is expiative, like Purgatory on the fly. Ultimately, as generalized above, Union with God is the destiny of all these dream characters or projection/sparks with immortal souls, even if thousands or millions of lifetimes are required. ii) Nirguna Brahman or [Absolute Reality without Form] is the Buddha-Mind, Dharmakaya, most absolute Tao, is UQND un-qualified non-duality, mis-understood if we have a “Counting Problem” in that “there is only One even if it can seem that we are many.” Life & the Universe are illusions from which we awaken to rediscover that we are One all along. How this can happened remains a mystery as it must because the only resolution lies in the context of UQND non-qualified-non-duality where it just plain never happened. Evil, Suffering, & Theodicy are branded with the status of Illusion but this can still be weak solace to one who is suffering or who is or knows an innocent victim of Evil. Progressively, from the furthest advanced edge of QD through QND there is growing recognition that Ego is the selfish fount of misguided, ignorant Evil. Therefore, seeking Liberation, “erasing the Ego” is the only solution. Further into QND toward UQND, the surprise is no longer in the perverse depths of consummate Evil whenever it appears. Rather, in contemplating the inversion that is Ego, the seeker becomes surprised that with Ego at the “helm” that Evil is not even worse. Rather than feeling betrayed by God for “allowing” Ego, this seeker is grateful for the Grace that holds Ego Evil at bay, limits it, admits Goodness, & redeems in the end, all from Evil–
4) UQND un-qualified-non-duality alone has an answer for Theodicy, Evil, Ego, & all Suffering. Knowledge alone liberates, that is: Knowledge of the Self as Brahman, “1- without – a – 2nd.” Words cannot express UQND. Looking back across this brief Outline, we metaphorically see that needless suffering, Ego, Evil & such are the “fly in the ointment” for UQD, QD, & QND, the fatal flaw on the part of any one of them that belies UQD, QD, & QND posing as a complete understanding.
0) SPAM scientism-physicalism-atheism-materialism, needless to say, can only face Evil & Suffering with “fear & loathing” enough to inspire suicide in an adherent not living in Denial. In this “last” or “first” properly numbered, but listed-out-of-order entry, there is no God, so no Theodicy, no Divine Mystery or answer to Evil. Instead, Evil is trumpeted as a salient proof against the existence of God. Taking the lamest & least appropriate spokesmen for spirituality, the most obdurate Fundamentalists within UQD & their Bibles, all at face value, they see no answer forthcoming response at all to their question: “How can there be a God if he allows Evil & Suffering in the World ?” [Even Nature validates this SPAM in the screw-blow-fly, the guinea-worm, & a certain nasty fungus.]
Typically, the “allow” term in: “How can there be a God if He allows Evil & Suffering in the World ?” Objection carries a context of complete micro-management by special creations & miracles at all times, & a Legal Justice system context. The God of UQD has His fingers in every pie, all the time, or else He doesn’t exist, they would say. Any undesired outcome is “God’s will” & He is mean-spirited for intending & dictating the nasty ones. There “should” be no disease, no Evil, no Death, but only great family planning. God could not exist if He fails the criteria for fair play, good intentions, & support of life, liberty, & justice, & the American way, the pursuit if never finding of Happiness, & generally a good GDP & low unemployment rate for all. Then the fact that some of us are born weak, fat, sick, ugly, & impoverished is another issue but we’ll take that up another day. All goes to show that God is not very nice, even without the unspeakably insane Eternal Hell, so therefore He could not exist, so say SPAM adherents.
Thus for SPAM, Evil proves no-God. So again. the contradiction of Evil Theodicy is resolved only in the “all Form is unreal” absolute resolution of UQND just previously reviewed.
Less general a distinction than the Theodicy, our real point here is to compare QND & UQND around the issue of Reality being “In-effable”. Within the context of QND, Reality is “In-effable” because no attempted description can ever be quite good enough. Within the context of UQND, Reality is “In-effable” in principle because there is no verbal or mental description for the Absolute, Formless, Nirguna Brahman .
[The above themes & 1600 pages more are freely available as perused or downloaded PDF’s, the sole occupants of a Public Microsoft Skydrive “Public Folder” accessible through www.jpstiga.com ]