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How to Uncover Basic Flaws and Hidden Lies in Attacks against the Christian Faith

29. Answering the religious worldview of transcendent mysticism -- HINDUISM

These are worldviews that believe reality is beyond our understanding and our experience, the physical world we live in is illusory, and reality itself is unknowable to us in our current illusory state. A good example of this is the pantheistic sects of Hinduism which suppose that ultimate reality (Brahman) is an impersonal oneness that transcends all distinctions, and that humans - along with the rest of the universe - are a continuous extension of Brahman. Thus our illusory individuated selves (atman) are one with the impersonal cosmic consciousness, and the goal of humanity is liberation from an endless cycle of death and reincarnation (samsara). Liberation (moksha) from samsara is attained, when we realize that our individual selves are an illusion and all is one. Until such enlightenment is achieved, the law of karma dictates that our deeds in previous lives determine whether we are reborn as man, monkey or mosquito; woman, walrus or wasp.*

So according to this worldview, we do not have a separate existence. As long as we are caught up on the wheel of life and don’t understand the true nature of reality, we will continue to be reincarnated.* After we live our life, we will come back in another form in another life until we have practiced yoga perfectly and become enlightened.

* Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life (Bhagavad Gita 16:19).

Such a worldview has already refuted itself; on the one hand I am asked to do all these things to get out of “Maya” and reach “Nirvana;” On the other hand I am told “all is one” and my original problem is that I am thinking of distinction, and I should give up that way of thinking and realize that the individual self is an illusion.

You can’t have it both ways. If “all is one”, then there can’t be any distinction between where I am now and Nirvana; but according to the claim of Hinduism I am not in Nirvana. That assumes a distinction between where I am now and Nirvana, which means that all is not one. Of course the only path for an adherent of such a worldview is to renounce consistency and embrace contradiction.

A dialogue with a follower of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (here abbreviated with: "Hare Krishna" = a pantheist branch of Hinduism) may go something like this:

Hare Krishna: You’re not in Nirvana; you’re in a world of Maya. You are on a wheel of life and if you don’t get things right, you’ll be reincarnated to a lower life form until you finally get enlightenment.
Christian: The real problem in my life is that we draw artificial distinctions when in fact ultimate reality is one.
Hare Krishna: Yes.
Christian: And I haven’t entered into Nirvana because I keep drawing these distinctions and I need to be enlightened and give up that way of thinking.
Hare Krishna: Yes.
Christian: Then I am already in Nirvana.
Hare Krishna: No, you’re not, because you are still here in this world that sees things in an illusory way.
Christian: Wait a minute, you said that there is a distinction between Maya and Nirvana. If there is a distinction between Maya and Nirvana, then you must be wrong that ultimate reality has no distinctions.
Hare Krishna: You must be a philosophy student! You’re trying to trap me in your logical debate games.
Christian: No, no. I was just trying to follow along with what you told me about there being no distinctions, so I can’t accept the distinction that I’m not in Nirvana.
Hare Krishna: The whole problem of your mentality is that you want to think in terms of logic!
Christian: Oh, you have a worldview that renounces logic. If you renounce logic, then you can’t be upset with logical contradictions.

As you can see, the presuppositional approach looks for and uses the Achilles’s heel in an opposing worldview. A Hare Krishna in the previous dialogue is dead in the water; he can’t appeal to what his worldview rejects but he needs it to defend his worldview, and thus he is in fact opposing himself (2 Timothy 2:25). The Bible describes such people in this way: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

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