The Ultimate Synthesis of Advaita & Dvaita – achintya bheda abheda

There are a lot of different philosophies in the world. Some are just absurd, but some are partial truths. Instead of fighting over philosophies, one should try to understand the ultimate synthesis of philosophies – if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s called “Simultaneous Inconcievable Oneness and Difference” – the philosophy of Lord Chaitanya.

When it comes to philosophies, there are an infinite variety.

Some philosophies apply to life in the material world, and don’t extend to the spiritual realm. We will discard these philosophies, because they pertain to the temporary. It is not that they are devoid of value, but that for a spiritualist they are not of too much consequence in the long run, from the perspective of eternity.

Often, followers of various philosophies debate, quarrel, bicker, and disagree with each other in mild and severe forms. Sometimes, a difference in philosophy results in quarrels, enmities, violence, murder, and even war!

This article does not claim to list and explain all the different philosophies, but simply summarizes the chief ideas.

I wrote before about the chief philosophies that drive our modern world, such as voidism and randomness, which are merely imaginations.

Actually, when thinking of philosophies, one should consider the tale of the 6 blind men and the elephant.

Once upon a time, 6 blind men were taken to “see” an elephant… those who are blind in vision use their other senses to “see”… we don’t mean any offense to blind readers of this post, but this is how the story goes.

6 blind men and the elephant

One touched the side of the elephant.

The second touched the tail

The third touched the tusk

The fourth touched the trunk

The fifth, the ear of the elephant.

The sixth, the leg of the elephant.

Then they all came out and began to tell each other what the elephant is like. One said the elephant is like a wall (side), the second said it is like a stiff rope (tail), the third said it is just like smooth spear, and the fourth said it is like a snake (trunk). The fifth said it is like a smooth tray (ear) and the sixth said it is just like a tree trunk (leg).

All of them began to disagree with each other, and eventually got into an argument about what the elephant is like.

All the blind men were partially right, but could not synthesize their partial truths into one consistent whole.

Scholars looking at philosophies are just like those blind men.

In particular, there are 2 main spiritual philosophies

Advaita – This philosophy describes that all is one, and there are variants of these philosophies all the way from Kevaladvaita, Shuddhadvaita, Vishishtadvaita. This philosophy encapsulates practically all of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

Dvaita – This philosophy describes that God is one and the living entities are separate from God… and in some remaining ways describes the key difference between God and the living entity, between God and nature, and so on.

And scholars have fought over this for thousands of years.

So many philosophies… is there one that encapsulates and synthesizes them all?

Only God can establish something perfect…

धर्मं तु साक्षाद्भ‍गवत्प्रणीतं
न वै विदुऋर्षयो नापि देवा: ।
न सिद्धमुख्या असुरा मनुष्या:
कुतो नु विद्याधरचारणादय: ॥ १९ ॥

dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītaṁ
na vai vidur ṛṣayo nāpi devāḥ
na siddha-mukhyā asurā manuṣyāḥ
kuto nu vidyādhara-cāraṇādayaḥ

Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great ṛṣis who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyādharas and Cāraṇas.

In the 16th Century, God Himself appeared in the form of Lord Chaitanya and described the ultimate synthesis of all valid philosophies.

कृष्णवर्णं त्विषाकृष्णं साङ्गोपाङ्गास्त्रपार्षदम् ।
यज्ञै: सङ्कीर्तनप्रायैर्यजन्ति हि सुमेधस: ॥ ३२ ॥

kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair
yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ

In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Kṛṣṇa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.
Lord Chaitanya with His associates

Lord Chaitanya’s philosophy is as follows:

achintya bheda abheda – simultaneous inconceivable oneness and difference.

This philosophy is different from all the valid and invalid philosophies, but beautifully synthesizes the correct aspects of all valid philosophies.

I am just a humble servant of the servant of the servant ad infinitum of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. If anyone wishes to understand this in more detail, they are invited to thoroughly study the books of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (ask me how), and then, after understanding Srila Prabhupada’s books, into the famous writings of Srila Jiva Goswami, the 6 Sandarbhas.

Randomness is a Myth

Randomness is a myth. Randomness does not exist. But we can learn to free ourselves from the complexities of what appears to be random

You heard that right! Yes. Randomness is another one of those things that doesn’t exist, just like nothingness. Nothing is ever random. Randomness is one of these (or a variant) in every single case:

  1. A figment of imagination
  2. A sign of ignorance
  3. A device, tool, a starting point

Randomness as Imagination – it is very tempting, for someone who wants to pretend that their actions have no consequences, or someone who does not want to take responsibility for their actions, to pretend that the Universe is random. But of course, imagination goes only so far – it is not true.

Randomness as Ignorance – If I gave you an extremely complex mathematical formula, and asked you to show someone else the results of that formula with different hidden inputs, those results can very well appear to be random. But they are not random to someone who knows the equation and the inputs, in this case, you and me. So the outputs simply appear random, they are not so.

Randomness as a tool, a starting point – In many mathematical and scientific disciplines, just like the square root of -1, “i“, to pretend that the space is populated with random values helps to “seed” certain algorithms. This process implicitly acknowledges that randomness is simply a tool, a starting point to reach a model or understanding that is not random.

So if everything is not random, then why does it appear to be? Complexity. The laws of material nature, which are anything but random, are the creation of God, who is above the laws of material nature. The laws themselves are quite simple, but when the laws interact with themselves over and over again, the complexity they generate is mind-boggling.

Take a simple example of me planting one apple seed, just one seed. Not all seeds sprout but if/when this one does, it brings forth a seedling. Not all seedlings grow to be a tree, but if/when this one does, it bears flowers. Not all flowers turn to fruit, but some do. Not all fruits have seeds in them, but most of them do. When these seeds disperse, many sprout, give rise to trees, and this process endlessly continues, as long as the material circumstances are favourable.

After just a few decades, it will be impossible for a person who didn’t witness me planting the first apple seed to detect which apple tree was the first one. It will be impossible, even for me, to tell which tree an apple came from… or to tell for sure which specific seed caused which specific tree to grow.

Which brings us to the oft-heard saying, humans can count the fruits in a tree or the seeds in a fruit, but only God knows how many trees there are inside one seed. God is infinite, and therefore, it is possible for God to know all the permutations, with vision undisturbed by time.

Karma, the law of action and reaction has been described in the Vedic scriptures many millenia ago. A more recent rediscovery of the principles of Karma is by Isaac Newton “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction“. Sometimes, people say “what goes around, comes around“.

I heard that Lord Buddha said that if one were to stack the skeletons of all the bodies one soul has inhabited, those bones will block out the sun! Every soul inhabiting the material world has had many many actions (seeds), giving rise to many many beginning to sprout (seedlings), with many different resultant symptoms (flowers and fruits). It is hard to take one particular symptom of one’s life today and try to ascertain what specific action caused it. But just because it is hard doesn’t mean that randomness is the answer.

So what is the solution? How does one get out of the dense forest of karmic actions and reactions? The Bhagavad Gita defines a particular type of action and classifies it as “akarma” – “inaction”. This inaction is not some sort of inert “do nothing / sit still / renounce all action” practiced by the immature spiritualists or lazy materialists, but it is those actions that are spiritual in nature – that which serve to reconnect spirit to the Supreme Spirit, God.

The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is.” BG 4.17

There is no randomness, everything is actually quite ordered and structured, it is simply a matter of the choices we have made in the past. And just as our present circumstances may appear complex, we can unravel and simplify just as someone pieces together a jumbled up jigsaw puzzle, with time, patience, and determination.

aprarabdha-phalam papam
kutam bijam phalonmukham
kramenaiva praliyeta
Persons who are completely engaged in the devotional service of the Lord Vishnu the Personality of Godhead—becomes completely extinct from all sorts of vicious reactions which either potential, germinating, seedling or current by a gradual process. (from Padma Purana)
असत्यमप्रतिष्ठं ते जगदाहुरनीश्वरम् ।
अपरस्परसंभूतं किमन्यत्कामहैतुकम् ॥ १६.८ ॥
asatyam apratiṣṭhaṁ te
jagad āhur anīśvaram
kim anyat kāma-haitukam
They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. BG 16.8
कर्मणो ह्यपि बोद्धव्यं बोद्धव्यं च विकर्मणः ।
अकर्मणश्च बोद्धव्यं गहना कर्मणो गतिः ॥ ४.१७ ॥
karmaṇo hy api boddhavyaṁ
boddhavyaṁ ca vikarmaṇaḥ
akarmaṇaś ca boddhavyaṁ
gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ

The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is. BG 4.17

BG 4.17:
The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is.
BG 4.18:
One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities.

What could possibly be unknown to You, O master? With vision undisturbed by time, You witness the minds of all living beings. Nevertheless, on Your order I will speak. SB 10.64.11

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