Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Letting the Spark Die

Scott Bradley


In ancient times, when I saw myself as a budding theologian, I wrote a paper entitled "Hinduism, Gnosticism and the Pauline Polemic." Not so foolish as to simply rely on the profundity of the title, I was careful to use the heaviest paper I could get; I still remember the satisfied smile of my prof as he weighed it in his hands.

My basic thesis was that Paul's polemics against the gnostic teachings which had already begun to find expression in Christian theology were equally valid for combating the teachings of Hinduism. Ah, those were the days — days of truth-knowing.

One manifestation of gnostic thinking in Christian theology was the refusal to identify Jesus as the incarnation of God. The reason for this was simple: Flesh is evil. So, Jesus had God in him in a special way, but his flesh was not God. God did not become human.

Because matter is evil, in the sense that it is the most impure and removed from spirit, it is necessary to posit in the human that which is wholly other than a body. This is the Divine Spark. This doctrine of the spark is absolutely rife in the world's religious philosophies. And it is both the expression of and foundation for a dualistic view of reality.

Nor did Paul escape that which he condemned; for Jesus was virgin-born and absolutely sinless, and his body was thus uncorrupted (though temporally corruptible). We, on the other hand, have a soul (a spark) which dwells in a very corrupted body, full of lusts and wickedness. Spirit is good; flesh is bad.

Were I to do a Jesus movie, I'd start with him shaking his dick after pissing against a tree. Or perhaps, as a young lad, waking with a wet crotch after a delicious wet dream. He was either fully human or he was not.

I suppose it's time to get to the point, which is this: a non-dual view of reality has no need to posit a divine spark within, something purer and truer than this body which decays and dies, dies and decays. How then can we be saved? What then is left that we might live beyond death? These questions most likely predate what is in effect their answer.

I will leave it to your own ruminations, should you wish to have them, as to how True Self, Original Nature, Buddha-nature, and the like may or may not be expressions of this same dualism of the divine spark, and whether they don't similarly put us at odds with our own concrete and experienced reality.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. 1) no idea you studied theology. if I knew then it had slipped my mind. it's great you have all that background information to go at.
    2) (poor joke) if matter is evil then all is OK as science has proven the universe is only 5% evil.
    3) I think the seeking for true self, Buddha nature and so on is dual yet they are very much nondual. seeking being the thorn. seeking enlightenment is attempting to force duality to be real.

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