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Tat Tvam Asi - Universal Mind?

How many minds are there? One Universal Mind or many fragmented minds?
Is the mind of God separate from the minds of His creatures?   Do we all have a spark of divine mind?  How many minds does God have? How many Gods does God have? Is He the ultimate God?

  • Atheists don't think there are any divine minds.
  • Unitarians and monotheists think God has only one mind.
  • Most Christians think there's between three and five divine minds - Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Mary and maybe the Devil - with the Father being the ultimate boss and the Devil the drop-out of the family.
  • Feminist theologians disagree and think that Mary is the ultimate boss because she's the Mother of God and the Bible says ' Honor your father and mother'.
  • Polytheists believe there are many hundreds of divine minds, often arranged in a hierarchy.

Seriously though, all this stuff isn't just academic. Wars have been fought, persecutions launched and heretics burned over these issues.

'Intolerance is something that arose with monotheism. As soon as human beings allowed themselves to say, 'There's only one true God, and that's mine, so I have the right to annihilate anyone who doesn't  believe in him', the cycle of intolerance and religious wars began. [REF1]

Innumerate theologians
Buddhists regard these theological arguments as a bit pointless.  They can demonstrate that asking how many minds there are, divine or human, is ultimately a meaningless question.

There is a Buddhist teaching known as 'The extreme of singularity and the extreme of plurality'. This applies to physical things and also to minds,

Extreme of singularity and extreme of plurality in physical systems
If we dissect any piece of matter into its ultimate parts we don't find a single entity or point-like monad.  Instead, a subatomic particle smears out into a plurality of probabilities and virtual semi-existent subcomponents, which can be inferred but never observed (quarks). The extreme of singularity leads to paradoxes.

If we therefore accept  that everything consists of a plurality of particles then we are equally mistaken. For every particle in the observable universe exercises forces (at least gravitational and maybe also electromagnetic) on every other particle.  It's all one single physical system.

Extreme of singularity and extreme of plurality of mind(s)
The paradox of the two extremes is most easily demonstrated in the case of mind(s).  Set theory proves that the entire number system, from zero to infinity,  is generated purely and simply by the play of mind on emptiness, in the complete absence of the need to refer to any objects being counted.

The theological implication of these findings is that mind ontologically precedes number. In other words in the ground of being, mind is more fundamental than number. Asking 'How many minds are there?'  is equivalent to asking 'What is the color of electromagnetism?'

The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics
Mind and emptiness are the ontological roots of  mathematics. Mind, emptiness and the mathematics of fundamental particles are the ontological roots of the physical universe. This is the reason why the physical universe is so (comparitively) easy for our minds to understand in mathematical terms. (see Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics)

The innumerate enumerating the innumerable.
If the theologians of the last 2000 years had been more numerate, they would have realised that applying any concept of number to God or Mind(s) was putting the cart before the horse. This would have avoided many of the holy wars, persecutions and auto-da-fes carried out by  the monotheistic religions.

Mind(s) is/are the source and origin of enumeration. It/they therefore cannot  be enumerated.  Understanding that the multiverse neither has the extreme of one mind, nor the extreme of many minds, makes Buddhist practices such as tantra, exchanging self and others, receiving blessings from enlightened beings, and generating great compassion easier to understand. It also explains why the operations of the mind are non-computable (ie non-algorithmic).

- Sean Robsville

See Also:

Meditating on emptiness
'....For a qualified meditator single-pointedly absorbed in emptiness, there is no difference between production and disintegration, impermanence and permanence, going and coming, singularity and plurality - everything is equal in emptiness and all problems of attachment, anger, and self-grasping ignorance are solved...'

Arguments against Buddhism
' People get spiritual experiences under the influence of electromagnetic fields such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS),   and from psychedelic drugs such as mescalin, LSD, Psilocybe semilanceata and Amanita muscaria. All these transpersonal experiences are simply delusions caused by disruption of the normal electrochemical activity of the neurones.'

'  -  Yes and No. There's no doubt that people experience other realms of reality under the influence of TMS  or psychoactive drugs. In these conditions the functioning of the brain is indeed abnormal.  But - you've got to ask yourself - what is the purpose of the normal functioning of the brain?

The brain is a device which has evolved by selection of the fittest (not the most truthful) to project the delusion of the inherently-existing self onto the mind. This delusion of a permanent, unchanging self is 'imputed' over the ever-changing transitory collection of biochemical building blocks that makes up the physical aspects of a sentient being. Disruption .... by biochemical or biophysical agents, enables the mind to temporarily push the doors of perception ajar and peek beyond mundane biologically-determined appearances. '

The Mind is not the Brain
'...scientific and philosophical evidence that the mind is a non-evolved, non-biological and non-physical entity. '

' The mind cannot be an emergent property of the brain or any other physical system, since emergent properties and emergent phenomena are psychological in origin, and require the pre-existence of an observer's mind in order to become manifest.'

Mind, Soul and Afterlife in Christianity and Buddhism
' A High Bodhisattva, as Jesus undoubtably is, has the obligation to rescue all sentient beings. One of the Boddhisattva Vows is 'Never to abandon any sentient being'   Christian thealogians appear to be putting their own limits on Christ's abilities and intentions.'

The Three Poisons in Buddhism
Rage, Greed and Irrationalism

Buddhist Teachings
on the mind, personal relationships, meditation and the spiritual path.

[REF 1]  'The Monk and the Philosopher' Revel, J-F and Ricard, M. Tr. Canti, J. Publ. Thorsons/HarperCollins, London, 1998. ISBN 0 7225 3649 6,  Page 115.

If we regard Buddhism as a combination of a philosophy, psychology and religion, then how much mileage can we get from the first two aspects before we have to start invoking religious faith?

Christian versus Buddhist worldviews

Buddhism in Everyday Life
The Daily Meditation