Monism

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Cause, Principle, and One eternal
From whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
And which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
To whatever is in Heaven, on Earth, and Hell… ~ Giordano Bruno

Monism is a philosophical and cosmological stance which posits an ultimate Unity of all things, and that all apparent differences, distinctions, divisions and separations are ultimately only apparent or partial aspects of an ultimate whole. It has arisen and developed with many diverse forms of emphasis, in widely diverse and distinct philosophical, mystical, religious and scientific traditions, and is a primary element of most forms of Perennial Philosophy.

See also:
Holism
Unity
Listing of Monists

Quotes[edit]

Anything we take in the Universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way, the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it. ~ Giordano Bruno.
  • There are many monisms. What they have in common is that they attribute oneness. Where they differ is in what they target and how they count.
    • In Monism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (19 March 2007). Retrieved on 5 January 2014.
Eternity maintaineth her substance throughout time, immensity throughout space, universal form throughout motion. ~ Giordano Bruno
The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love. ~ Meister Eckhart
The Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. ~ Jesus
There is a thing inherent and natural, which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless, It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme. ~ Laozi
Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. ~ Isaac Newton
Inside most people there's a feeling of being separate — separated from everything. … And they're not. They're part of absolutely everyone, and everything. ~ Victor Salva, in Powder
No self is of itself alone. It has a long chain of intellectual ancestors. … This is not mere allegory, but an eternal memory. ~ Erwin Schrödinger
  • Cause, Principle, and One eternal
    From whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
    And which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
    To whatever is in Heaven, on Earth, and Hell
    ;
    With sense, with reason, with mind, I discern,
    That there is no act, measure, nor calculation, which can comprehend
    That force, that vastness and that number,
    Which exceeds whatever is inferior, middle, and highest;
    Blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
    Deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
    Crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
    Will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
    Will not place the veil before my eyes,
    Will never bring it about that I shall not
    Contemplate my beautiful Sun.
    • Giordano Bruno, in De la Causa, Principio e Uno [Cause, Principle, and Unity] (1584), "Of Love", the dedicatory poem, as translated in The Infinite in Giordano Bruno : With a Translation of His Dialogue, Concerning the Cause, Principle, and One (1978) by Sidney Thomas Greenburg, p. 89
    • Variant translation:
    • Cause, Principle and One, the Sempiterne,
      On whom all being, motion, life, depend.

      From whom, in length, breadth, depth, their paths extend
      As far as heaven, earth, hell their faces turn :
      With sense, with mind, with reason, I discern
      That not, rule, reckoning, may not comprehend
      That power and bulk and multitude which tend
      Beyond all lower, middle, and superne.

      Blind error, ruthless time, ungentle doom,
      Deaf envy, villain madness, zeal unwise,
      Hard heart, unholy craft, bold deeds begun,
      Shall never fill for one the air with gloom,
      Or ever thrust a veil before these eyes,
      Or ever hide from me my glorious sun.

      • As quoted in "Giordano Bruno" by Thomas Davidson, in The Index Vol. VI. No. 36 (4 March 1886), p. 429
  • It is manifest... that every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused throughout immensity... The power of each soul is itself somehow present afar in the universe... Naught is mixed, yet is there some presence.
    Anything we take in the universe, because it has in itself that which is All in All, includes in its own way the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.
  • The universal Intellect is the intimate, most real, peculiar and powerful part of the soul of the world. This is the single whole which filleth the whole, illumineth the universe and directeth nature to the production of natural things, as our intellect with the congruous production of natural kinds.
  • Our philosophy… reduceth to a single origin and relateth to a single end, and maketh contraries to coincide so that there is one primal foundation both of origin and of end. From this coincidence of contraries, we deduce that ultimately it is divinely true that contraries are within contraries; wherefore it is not difficult to compass the knowledge that each thing is within every other.
    • Giordano Bruno, in De innumerabilibus, immenso et infigurabili(1591); usually referred to as De immenso, as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • The one infinite is perfect, in simplicity, of itself, absolutely, nor can aught be greater or better, This is the one Whole, God, universal Nature, occupying all space, of whom naught but infinity can give the perfect image or semblance.
    • Giordano Bruno, in De immenso (1591); II 12 as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • The single spirit doth simultaneously temper the whole together; this is the single soul of all things; all are filled with God.
    • Giordano Bruno, in De immenso (1591); IV 9; as translated by Dorothea Waley Singer (1950)
  • Before anything else the One must exist eternally; from his power derives everything that always is or will ever be. He is the Eternal and embraces all times. He knows profoundly all events and He himself is everything. He creates everything beyond any beginning of time and beyond any limit of place and space. He is not subject to any numerical law, or to any law of measure or order. He himself is law, number, measure, limit without limit, end without end, act without form.
    • Giordano Bruno, in De immenso (1591); VIII 2, as quoted in The Acentric Labyrinth (1995) by Ramon Mendoza
  • The man who abides in the will of God wills nothing else than what God is, and what He wills. If he were ill he would not wish to be well. If he really abides in God's will, all pain is to him a joy, all complication, simple: yea, even the pains of hell would be a joy to him. He is free and gone out from himself, and from all that he receives, he must be free. If my eye is to discern colour, it must itself be free from all colour. The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love.
    • Meister Eckhart, in Meister Eckhart’s Sermons (1909), Sermon IV : True Hearing
  • The Godhead, according to Eckhart, is the universal and eternal Unity comprehending and transcending all diversity. "The Divine nature is Rest," he says in one of the German discourses; and in the Latin fragments we find: "God rests in Himself, and makes all things rest in Him." The three Persons of the Trinity, however, are not mere modes or accidents, but represent a real distinction within the Godhead. God is unchangeable, and at the same time an "everlasting process." The creatures are "absolutely nothing"; but at the same time "God without them would not be God," for God is love, and must objectify Himself; He is goodness, and must impart Himself. As the picture in the mind of the painter, as the poem in the mind of the poet, so was all creation in the mind of God from all eternity, in uncreated simplicity. The ideal world was not created in time; "the Father spake Himself and all the creatures in His Son"; "they exist in the eternal Now" —"a becoming without a becoming, change without change." "The Word of God the Father it the substance of all that exists, the life of all that lives, the principle and cause of life." Of creation he says : "We must not falsely imagine that God stood waiting for something to happen, that He might create the world. For so soon as He was God, so soon as He begat His coeternal and coequal Son, He created the world."
    • William Ralph Inge in Light, Life, and Love: Selections from the German Mystics of the Middle Ages (1904), p. xx
  • Reduced to their most pregnant difference, empiricism means the habit of explaining wholes by parts, and rationalism means the habit of explaining parts by wholes. Rationalism thus preserves affinities with monism, since wholeness goes with union, while empiricism inclines to pluralistic views. No philosophy can ever be anything but a summary sketch, a picture of the world in abridgment, a foreshortened bird's-eye view of the perspective of events. And the first thing to notice is this, that the only material we have at our disposal for making a picture of the whole world is supplied by the various portions of that world of which we have already had experience. We can invent no new forms of conception, applicable to the whole exclusively, and not suggested originally by the parts. All philosophers, accordingly, have conceived of the whole world after the analogy of some particular feature of it which has particularly captivated their attention.
  • Pluralism lets things really exist in the each-form or distributively. Monism thinks that the all-form or collective-unit form is the only form that is rational. The all-form allows of no taking up and dropping of connexions, for in the all the parts are essentially and eternally co-implicated. In the each-form, on the contrary, a thing may be connected by intermediary things, with a thing with which it has no immediate or essential connexion. It is thus at all times in many possible connexions which are not necessarily actualized at the moment. They depend on which actual path of intermediation it may functionally strike into: the word 'or' names a genuine reality.
  • I believe that the Universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of one organic whole. (This is physics, I believe, as well as religion.) The parts change and pass, or die, people and races and rocks and stars, none of them seems to me important in itself, but only the whole. This whole is in all its parts so beautiful, and is felt by me to be so intensely in earnest, that I am compelled to love it and to think of it as divine. It seems to me that this whole alone is worthy of the deeper sort of love and there is peace, freedom, I might say a kind of salvation, in turning one's affections outward toward this one God, rather than inwards on one's self, or on humanity, or on human imaginations and abstractions — the world of spirits.
    I think it is our privilege and felicity to love God for his beauty, without claiming or expecting love from him. We are not important to him, but he to us.
    • Robinson Jeffers, in a letter to Sister Mary James Power (1 October 1934); published in The Wild God of the World : An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers (2003), edited by Albert Gelpi, p. 189; also partly quoted in the essay "Robinson Jeffers, Pantheist Poet" by John Courtney
  • If those who lead you say, "See, the Kingdom is in the sky," then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, "It is in the sea," then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.
    • Jesus, as quoted in Gospel of Thomas : Saying 3
    • Variants:
    • His disciples said to Him, "When will the Kingdom come?"
      Jesus said, "It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'Here it is' or 'There it is.' Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it."
    • And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
  • The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name.
    Non-existence is called the antecedent of heaven and earth; Existence is the mother of all things.
    From eternal non-existence, therefore, we serenely observe the mysterious beginning of the Universe; From eternal existence we clearly see the apparent distinctions.
    These two are the same in source and become different when manifested.
    This sameness is called profundity. Infinite profundity is the gate whence comes the beginning of all parts of the Universe.
    • Laozi, in Tao Te Ching, Ch. 1, as translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904)
    • Variant translation:
    • The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
      The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
      The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

      The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
      Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
      Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
      These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
      this appears as darkness.
      Darkness within darkness.
      The gate to all mystery.
      • Tao Te Ching, Ch. 1, as translated by Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English (1972)
  • Since before time and space were,
    the Tao is.
    It is beyond is and is not.

    How do I know this is true?
    I look inside myself and see.
    • Laozi, in Tao Te Ching, Ch. 21, as interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1992)
  • There is a thing inherent and natural,
    Which existed before heaven and earth.
    Motionless and fathomless,
    It stands alone and never changes;
    It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted.
    It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
    I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme.
    • Laozi, in Tao Te Ching, Ch. 25, as translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904)
  • The "concept" of the One is not, properly speaking, a concept at all, since it is never explicitly defined by Plotinus, yet it is nevertheless the foundation and grandest expression of his philosophy. Plotinus does make it clear that no words can do justice to the power of the One; even the name, "the One," is inadequate, for naming already implies discursive knowledge, and since discursive knowledge divides or separates its objects in order to make them intelligible, the One cannot be known through the process of discursive reasoning (Ennead VI.9.4). Knowledge of the One is achieved through the experience of its "power" (dunamis) and its nature, which is to provide a "foundation" (arkhe) and location (topos) for all existents (VI.9.6). The "power" of the One is not a power in the sense of physical or even mental action; the power of the One, as Plotinus speaks of it, is to be understood as the only adequate description of the "manifestation" of a supreme principle that, by its very nature, transcends all predication and discursive understanding.
  • The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics. In 1925, the world view of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable interacting material particles. During the next few years, Schrodinger and Heisenberg and their followers created a universe based on super imposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent with the Vedantic concept of All in One.
  • Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
    • Isaac Newton, in Rules for methodizing the Apocalypse, Rule 9, from a manuscript published in The Religion of Isaac Newton (1974) by Frank E. Manuel, p. 120, as quoted in Socinianism And Arminianism : Antitrinitarians, Calvinists, And Cultural Exchange in Seventeenth-Century Europe (2005) by Martin Mulsow, Jan Rohls, p. 273
    • Variant: Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.
      • As quoted in God in the Equation : How Einstein Transformed Religion (2002) by Corey S. Powell, p. 29
  • There is one story left, one road: that it is. And on this road there are very many signs that, being, is uncreated and imperishable, whole, unique, unwavering, and complete.
  • No self is of itself alone. It has a long chain of intellectual ancestors. The "I" is chained to ancestry by many factors ... This is not mere allegory, but an eternal memory.
    • Erwin Schrödinger, in writings of July 1918, as quoted in A Life of Erwin Schrödinger (1994) by Walter Moore
  • The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the way.
    • Erwin Schrödinger, as quoted in The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Mysticism and Science (1981) by Amaury de Riencourt
  • The Soul appears to be finite because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed the Self which does not admit of any multiplicity truly reveals itself by itself: like the Sun when the clouds pass away.
  • Like bubbles in the water, the worlds rise, exist and dissolve in the Supreme Self, which is the material cause and the prop of everything.
  • He who renouncing all activities, who is free of all the limitations of time, space and direction, worships his own Atman which is present everywhere, which is the destroyer of heat and cold, which is Bliss-Eternal and stainless, becomes All-knowing and All-pervading and attains thereafter Immortality.
  • When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in Him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.
    The briefness of a letter and want of time do not allow me to enter into my opinion on the divine nature, or the questions you have propounded. Besides, suggesting difficulties is not the same as producing reasons. That we do many things in the world from conjecture is true, but that our redactions are based on conjecture is false.
The fear of infinity is a form of myopia that destroys the possibility of seeing the actual infinite, even though it in its highest form has created and sustains us, and in its secondary transfinite forms occurs all around us and even inhabits our minds. Georg Cantor.
  • My opinion concerning God differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by modern Christians. For I hold that God is of all things the cause immanent, as the phrase is, not transient. I say that all things are in God and move in God, thus agreeing with Paul, and, perhaps, with all the ancient philosophers, though the phraseology may be different; I will even venture to affirm that I agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one may judge from their traditions, though these are in many ways corrupted. The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus the unity of God and Nature (meaning by the latter a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous.
    As regards miracles, I am of opinion that the revelation of God can only be established by the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles, or in other words by ignorance.
  • All is the Self or Brahman. The saint, the sinner, the lamb, the tiger, even the murderer, as far as they have any reality, can be nothing else, because there is nothing else.
  • All that is real in me is God; all that is real in God is I. The gulf between God and me is thus bridged. Thus by knowing God, we find that the kingdom of heaven is within us.
Religious Pluralism:Catholic church, Mosque and Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosanska Krupa, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Pluralism and monism, philosophical theories that answer “many” and “one,” respectively, to the distinct questions: how many kinds of things are there? and how many things are there? Different answers to each question are compatible, and the possible combination of views provide a popular way of viewing the history of philosophy.
    • By The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica in pluralism and monism. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved on 5 January 2014.
  • The ancient Hindu philosophers stated as a fundamental truth that the world of our sense-experience is all illusion (maya), that change, plurality, and causation are not real, that there is but one reality, God. This is metaphysical Monism of the idealistic-spiritual type, tending towards mysticism.
    • In Monism. New Advent. Retrieved on 5 January 2014.
  • The thought of the Gita is not pure Monism although it sees in one unchanging, pure, eternal Self the foundation of all cosmic existence, nor Mayavada although it speaks of the Maya of the three modes of Prakriti omnipresent in the created world; nor is it qualified Monism although it places in the One his eternal supreme Prakriti manifested in the form of the Jiva and lays most stress on dwelling in God rather than dissolution as the supreme state of spiritual consciousness; nor is it Sankhya although it explains the created world by the double principle of Purusha and Prakriti; nor is it Vaishnava Theism although it presents to us Krishna, who is the Avatara of Vishnu according to the Puranas, as the supreme Deity and allows no essential difference nor any actual superiority of the status of the indefinable relationless Brahman over that of this Lord of beings who is the Master of the universe and the Friend of all creatures. Like the earlier spiritual synthesis of the Upanishads this later synthesis at once spiritual and intellectual avoids naturally every such rigid determination as would injure its universal comprehensiveness. Its aim is precisely the opposite to that of the polemist commentators who found this Scripture established as one of the three highest Vedantic authorities and attempted to turn it into a weapon of offence and defence against other schools and systems. The Gita is not a weapon for dialectical warfare; it is a gate opening on the whole world of spiritual truth and experience and the view it gives us embraces all the provinces of that supreme region. It maps out, but it does not cut up or build walls or hedges to confine our vision.”
Adi Shankara with Disciples propounding knowledge of absolute as of primary importance
  • The Bhagavadgita combines many different elements from Samkhya and Vedanta philosophy. In matters of religion, its important contribution was the new emphasis placed on devotion, which has since remained a central path in Hinduism. In addition, the popular theism expressed elsewhere in the Mahabharata and the transcendentalism of the Upanishads converge, and a God of personal characteristics is identified with the brahman of the Vedic tradition. The Bhagavadgita thus gives a typology of the three dominant trends of Indian religion: dharma-based householder life, enlightenment-based renunciation, and devotion-based theism.
  • The Bhagavadgita may be treated as a great synthesis of the ideas of the impersonal spiritual monism with personalistic monotheism, of the yoga of action with the yoga of transcendence of action, and these again with yogas of devotion and knowledge.
Guru Nanak, Founder of Sikhism
  • ...in Sikhism epistemological idealism also leads to metaphysical idealism. Sikhism starts with plurality of objects and ends in monism. It evolves a comprehensive metaphysical system of absolute dynamic non-dualist view of the Reality.
  • In the context of Sikhism it [Metaphysical monism] considers atman (spiritual element) and body (material element) as inseparable aspects of a single spiritual cosmic spiritual continuum.
    • In “Philosophy of Sikhism: Reality and Its Manifestations”, p.2
  • Sikhism lays more emphasis on dynamism, non-dualism and social involvement. Reality imply that Sikhism puts forth a dynamic metaphysical system.
    • In “Philosophy of Sikhism: Reality and Its Manifestations”, p.3

External links[edit]

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