Being and Becoming (response to e-mail)

Russell Minick philosophy 4 Comments

My core view (right now) is more or less as follows:

1. There is something; not nothing (reality is real – unlike Hinduism etc.).
2. This something (world, etc.) includes me, a self-aware being.
3. As a self-aware being I have personhood and relate to other persons.
a. Personhood is that self-awareness that includes options of choice and the history of choices
4. Personhood has a source, and it would seem to be in greater personhood, not in non-personhood (personhood from matter/energy would seem to be necessarily deterministic and not personhood as we experience it. If we were just delusional in perceiving choice even though it doesn’t exist, then even my ponderings are determined and the discussion is moot).
5. The “I AM” of Israel is the most compelling candidate for this source of my personhood.
6. Jesus as the Messiah who is the “I AM” and serves the “I AM” resonates as the most complete explanation of the source (and at another level, the compelling question of unity AND diversity).
7. Therefore I follow Jesus the Messiah as my way of being loyal to my source of being and I try to become what I should become by exerting choice based on wisdom derived from humility based diligence.

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Comments 4

  1. Snap! I am stunned by the elegance and brevity of your “core view.” Bravo.(Your music post was solid as well, and although I really like mannheim steamroller, I agree that “frosty” is a pretty awful song.)

  2. your comments are generous. My core view is unpolished. If you come across a concise and/or thorough argument of determinism for a material universe please share it! No offence to Mannheim Steamroller; some things work, others don’t. Believe it or not I think Coltrane’s version of “a few of my favorite things” is brilliant!

  3. Regarding point 1: The point of Hinduism of the Advaita tradition (and others) is an emphasis on maya as in contrast to atman. Atman is the Brahman-stuff that could best be translated with “God”, so atman is both spirit as well as what we call “life” in a human bodies, translatable as soul. Hence maya is the illusion that this “world” (in Jesus and Paul’s sense) is all there is, but as we know it is not all there is. thinking it is all there is, is illusion. So they tell us that we have to look for the real stuff, from “God” which they called Brahman and paramatman.
    Point 2: The “you” in your case is a “born by the Spirit”-you, but that being born by the spirit is not true for everyone. While there is an awareness of oneself, there is a difference if this self is having the Spirit of God or not. Ina rough generalization, think of it as a frame work, Hindu traditions and Buddhist traditions have pointed out that there is something not right with people, something is missing. See your cartoon, what is missing, once the plug is pulled (by Adam during the fall) is the spirit.
    Point 3: Personhood is not denied but it not seen as ultimate.
    Point 4: While Brahman is seen as not personal (as source), paramatman is personal. Keep in mind, a personal “God” is part of the Good News, really. The more interesting question is: Why do they think of the ultimate as not a person? Because in the midst of godlings, the purity has to be made clear, and a completely pure, person as a god was not imaginable in a world ruled by “powers and principalities”. Think of how a difficult time the disciples had when they asked “Show us the Father”, why? And they had the whole OT with more direct revelations from God than any other.
    Point 5: Now go and find traces of the “I AM” in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Keep in mind that they did not have full revelation, and that the Jews who had full revelation did not recognize the son of God when he showed up. With grace growing in abundance for them, re-read their scriptures for those traces. And be amazed!
    Point 6: Bring this Jesus to them in a way they can embrace it without joining your religious club. (Nothing against you or the club, but that basically is their perspective on Christianity). We are here to proclaim Jesus, not a false gospel of social community change. build on that revelation that theses Hindus and Buddhists have. It’s your responsibility to “become”, theirs to “remain” (not become and switch to the circumcision group).

    All in all, I like your post. I pointed out that your view is not in opposite to theirs. (Thinking it is just shows a lack of knowledge of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but no one is to blame as who understands it really, seriously). Once we see God’s hand pulling them, we are less inclined to contrast.

    1. Post

      My shortist worldview list:
      1. Pantheism – matter is mind
      2. Materialism – mind is matter
      3. Theism – mind precedes matter, but both are real and meaningful

      Within each of the 3 broadest worldview options there is a lot of variation in specific traditions. Those variations often are functionally borrowing from other worldview constructs. I’m happy to engage people where they are at vs. pretend they are consistent to the purest implications of their root worldview.

      IMHO: Theravada Buddhism is often very practically incarnational but ultimately clear on the impermanence of matter and personhood. Mahayana and Vajrayana are much more “compromised” in terms of adapting to the intuitive realities of lasting differentiation.

      I am not as well acquainted with Hindu traditions. I see them functioning in ways that are much more like you describe, but my belief is that in doing so it is a modification of the essence of the moksha problem as total delusion about the existence of any distinctiveness.

      My post was a scribbled articulation of internal self-talk (how I think) rather than a treatise on engaging others. Your comment helps to develop the implications and to call for more precision. Thanks!

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