Monday, March 20, 2006

Wholeness – From Advaita Vedanta to Quantum Physics

Wholeness – Greeks, Vedas & Quantum Physics

The concept of ‘Wholeness’ or ‘Oneness’ is more than 2000 years old, from Greek philosophers in the western civilization to the Vedic scholars in the eastern civilization. So, the debate over mind (Consciousness) and matter is not new. These concepts were broadly classified under Monism (in Greek ‘monos’ means single) and Dualism.

Monism and Dualism from Ancient Greek Philosophers

The term monism was first used by a German philosopher Christian Wolff (1679-1754) even though the philosophies date back to Ancient Greek philosophers. Parmenides a prominent Greek philosopher proposed matter and mind as a single entity. According to Monism the ultimate reality is made up of matter or mind (Consciousness) or a third substance or a combination of all.

Based on these, Monism is further classified into three.






Ernst Haeckel




Rene Descartes

George Berkeley

Baruch Spinoza


Immanuel Kant

Bertrand Russell


G W Hegel

Thomas Hobbes



G W Leibniz


1.Materialistic Monism says everything in the universe is made up of just one substance ‘matter’, and mind is a by product it.

2. Idealistic Monism says everything in the universe is based on Consciousness (mind), and matter is an illusion.

3. Neutral Monism says that both matter and mind can be reduced to form a new substance or energy.

· Substantival Monism (“One Thing”) is of the view that there is only ‘one thing’ and God, mind and matter is part of this ‘one thing’. The 17th century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) proposed this view. Along with western philosophers eastern mysticism also encourages similar views.

· Attributive Monism (“One Category”) is of the view that there is only ‘one thing’ however it is made up of different things like matter and the mind. It disagrees with Substantival monism emphasizing that reality is not made up of ‘one thing’ instead it is composed of multiple things.

In Hinduism Advaita Vedanta subscribes to Substantival Monism emphasizing the atomicity of the mind and the matter while in Buddhism all things are part of a connected world. Creationist philosophy supported the belief where God (Consciousness) and the creature (matter) is considered as two separate entities and God is the supreme, and ‘Idealism’ is the only monism which is theologically acceptable.

One should know that nature is an illusion (maya) and the Brahman is the illusion maker

- Svetasvatara Upanishad


Monism & Dualism in Eastern Mysticism

(work in progress………… watch out this space….)

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