Around this time, on the Indian Sub-Continent, certain religious philosophers were cultivating the idea of Monism. After reading texts on the subject and getting a severe migraine, I discussed all this at some length with a Hindu scholar, nodding my head wisely at every pause for nearly an hour before I finally gave up and said “Wut???”
The scholar closed his eyes, apparently making an effort to not strangle me, or ‘dumb-down’ concepts so I could understand them, or both.
In a few moments, he opened his eyes and tried again. Monism, he quietly re-explained, takes two different forms: ‘Stuff Monism’ and ‘Thing Monism’. The first is the idea that everything in the Universe is made of the same basic stuff (modern physics, as a parallel, holds that everything is made of energy.) ‘Thing Monism’, by contrast, is the idea that the universe is a single enormous thing, which can’t be broken down into entirely separate components. These ideas form the basis of Hinduism and the earliest forms of Buddhism, along with the concepts of Dharma, and Karma. Dharma is difficult to define: it is “actions in accord with the flow of life”, and includes such things as learning from teachers, adherence to law, meditation, yoga, and being virtuous. Karma can be thought of as a concept of fate: the accumulated actions, good and bad, in this life and all previous ones, which define the conditions of the next life …
At this point in the discussion I began a mantra of “Wut, wut, wut, wut …” Which, oddly, seemed to please the scholar, who announced that to acknowledge ignorance was to take the first steps of wisdom, and directed his own steps away, leaving me to meditate on the wisdom of my ignorance. Fortunately, while Hinduism and Buddhism are enormously important religions, they have very little effect on western history, so that’s about as much as I plan to say on this subject.
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