I was in a discussion with a friend of mine the other day who finds eastern spirituality compelling; that is, he believes in a universal consciousness that exists in all things (including inanimate objects like rocks, for example).My friend also shared with me a moment where, when he was meditating, he felt like his “self” was dissolving and he was becoming one with all things in the universe – which simply affirmed his presupposition that when we die we return to this eternal consciousness and become one with it.

Now, my friend’s beliefs in the afterlife and the particular conclusions he draws from his meditative experiences raise an epistemological issue.  Does my friend have good justification for believing what he believes?  Of course this question applies to us all if we really want to discover whether or not there are good reasons to believe what we believe.

So my friend believes in a universal consciousness that exists in all things.  But how does he know this is true of reality?  What good reasons does he have to conclude such a thing?  My friend also believes that, when everyone dies, they return to this source of consciousness.  Again, how does he know this is true of the afterlife?

If you ask him, he appeals to his experiences meditating.  But this raises more questions:  Why should he trust his experiences meditating?  Whoever said that, whenever you meditate, your feelings must be trusted?  Our senses most certainly can be deceived in this reality, so why should we automatically trust them when it comes to the next?

Also, at face value there appears to be a problem with his experience.  If it were true that he was no longer his individuated self but one with all things, what does it mean to say, “I no longer was me?”  If there was an “I” experiencing anything in that moment then it necessarily follows that my friend did not dissolve his individuated self; his self was still there.  And if his self was still experiencing something then it stands to reason that he is mistaken in his conclusions about his experience.

Now, maybe I’m wrong about this.  But I believe these to be legitimate questions and concerns that remain unanswered from this particular worldview.  Anyone with a perspective on this is welcome to weigh in!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Nathan, hope all is well with you and your lovely family. I have tried contacting you through Facebook to no avail….In the words of DMX “get at me dawg….bark bark”…..
    The only way of getting through to you as I have limited resources is on here. Great site by the way very engaging. I figured I would respond to this post as I believe I am the friend referred too. So here it goes, first off I would like to say that you are well versed in biblical scripture and due to your exposure with people of various churches you most likely find an array of differing views regarding the same source (Bible). I have personally met christians that believe in many differing ideas of who Jesus was and the bible etc… It is actually the same way with Eastern “spirituality” as well. It seems to me that there is always a medium (body/prophet) that is graced with a more complete understanding of truth. Sometimes these people attract a crowd and teach this knowledge. Historically this truth gets passed down to friends, families, generations until the present moment arrives. I would view truth/reality much like crystal clear water, (untainted, pure, and reflects perfectly what is facing it). Now when this water flows from its pure state/source it collects various deposits, and through time gets dirty and muddy. People might look at this water and not see the true reflection from it, but a distorted image. I use this example because I believe you can agree that it relates to knowledge, truth and understanding. Jesus being the pure water in constant presence with his source, then having to communicate truth to people in a more impure state. In order to communicate to people with a “lower” understanding, he would have to use examples and words that could relate to their intellects. So now we have a message from Jesus that MUST intentionally be tainted (although very little) and taught to his closest circle for there level of understanding. Now as it goes and goes, due to the human condition, this truth gets even more sediments from peoples biases, likes and dislikes, so on and so forth. Now here we are in a world where there are thousands of differing opinions on what Jesus was actually communicating. If this weren’t so, everybody who read the new testament should all agree with the same interpretation. What is being sought throughout all religions and philosophy for that matter is truth. I hope you would agree that the word Truth could be replaced with God, Source, Reality, etc…. Much like you, I believe that if you want to better understand the truth, logic and reasoning must be used as a tool mostly for discrimination on what is truth and what is false. However one must agree aswell that there is also things that people do that show signs that they are using something far greater than just logic and understanding. When Jesus walked on water for instance, if he was just using his power of intellect, he would not have attempted to walk on a liquid substance. Jesus must have had a point of contact with “something” much more powerful than the intellect. Lets name it God or Source. I believe Jesus taught implicitly that this relationship with the “father” can be established through any human being, even stating that there will be “many more”. Now I am interested if you can agree on a few main points here:

    1) What people refer to as God is ultimately Reality/truth ie: what exists behind the veils of interpretation.

    2) God/Reality/Truth is perfect and untainted.

    Ultimately the real issue that seperates religions is the DEFINITION of God. Everyone wants to believe in an abstract God that fits there particular window of what they believe “good” is. Quite frankly I am surprised that most religious people I ask the question too cant even define God. Also, when they do attempt to define God it is always some abstract definition that doesn’t even make any logical sense. We are in an age of science and understanding that gives no excuse to believe in such a God. Hence the confusion in todays religions. I will do my best logically to define God as I know there has been a lot of confusion in our past discussions.

    God is simply a form of energy. Electromagnetic by nature, and consciousness by kind. Just like any other form of energy it engenders matter, according to Einsteins theory E=mc2. This matter is imbued with consciousness because the KIND of energy is consciousness. When this matter is engendered by the electromagnetic energy of consciousness, it comes into existence as matter that is electrochemical by nature and consciousness bearing by kind. Therefore every existing animal, object, creature and plant is a living battery (battery being a source of electrochemical energy). We know that a battery has a consciousness in its form of memory, and one form of consciousness is convertible into many other forms of consciousness through very complicated and complex biochemical reactions, either in nature or lab work. This pretty much sums up what the bible says “In the beginning there was the word and the word was with God and the word WAS God.

    This definition of God logically explains how there is no such thing as a God separate from creation/matter. A coin has two sides. Why would I have a problem believing in a God separate from creation? Because it completely takes logic and throws it out the window..It is Illogical to “believe” in “something” that created another “something” out of an apparent “nothing”. When we turn to beliefs, we shun logic and invite falsity.

    It is impossible to logically explain how matter was created by something/someone separate.

    What could this “God” have created matter out of? One would have to believe in 3 realities, God and matter and medium. I say medium because the mind must have been the means of communication. Also, How does this “mind” interact with matter? Again, I must say that we have to again throw logic out of the window to believe this type of thing.

    So there is some food for thought, and I invite anyone who reads this blog to challenge anything I have just stated,

    Goodnight,
    Colin

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