The Monistic Theory

by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ

TOC | Preface | Chapters: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19



I graduated M.D. in the Faculty of Medicine in Hanoi in 1952. Since 1956, I am initiated to philosophy by a profound religious experience, one that placed me in the presence of the Holy and left a distinct imprint on my life.

One afternoon, I suddenly began to understand the two first verses of The Doctrine of the Mean: "What God has conferred is called the Nature, the realization of this nature is called Religion, the illustration of this Religion is called Instruction. This Religion may not be severed from us even for an instant. If it could be severed, it would not be a Religion." I interpreted this as follows: Our Nature is divine, Religion is to follow this Nature, what people are now teaching were called Instruction and not Religion. Religion can never be severed from man even for an instant, because it is natural.

At that time, I have a clear distinction that Man is tripartite: Spirit or God, Soul and Body and that Religion is in our self. We have not to seek it outside. I pledge to study all the religions in the world to see if they or their Scriptures are teaching that Man is tripartite, and that true Religion was already in our self. I found out rapidly that many religions in the world teach that Man is only composed of Soul and Body, and that Religion was a system of teachings taught by some religious leaders. I rejected this assumption as untrue, because for me, true Religion is to be found in our self. I have a very strong feeling that God is not far from us, but is already in the innermost of our self, and immanent in us.

Before this experience of the sacred, I know almost nothing about philosophy, I read philosophical books very little. After this experience, I began to read very avidly, and stayed awake until 3 A.M. to meditate and to write. I have written many books in form of poems. From 1956 to 1975, I have written about 30 books, all in Vietnamese. Many of them are still in the status of manuscripts. Meanwhile, I have delivered many speeches in Saigon. My life is completely changed: I realize that the Doctrine of the Mean taught us how to find the Eternal Center or God in our self. I have spent many years, to study the meaning of the Circle and the Center.

In 1962, I found out that The Center in man is the Third Ventricle of our brain.

In 1976, I discovered the Monistic Theory meaning that everything in the universe emanates from the One, and must return finally to the One. The Emanation is the Extrovertive way, or the Monistic Theory. The Return to the One is the Introvertive way, or Mysticism. In 1966, I was invited to teach Oriental philosophy in the Faculty of Letters in Saigon. In 1970, I was invited to teach Oriental Philosophy in Minh Duc University in Saigon. I taught until 1975, when Communism came in the South. It provided for me an occasion to make known to people my ideas. I thought that I had an intuition of being, an experiential glimpse of what it is to be. And all my researches proved to me that I was in a right way. So, since I began studying comparative religions from the year 1956, I am convinced that we can have only one truth in this world. Truth cannot take adjectives. There cannot be a Lutheran truth, a Mormon truth or a Catholic truth. So I pledge to find out this truth.

After a rather long period of incubation, until 1976 - I was then in Vietnam - I could elaborate a philosophical theory, embracing all the highest trends of thoughts of East and West; past and present. I baptized it as:

- Monistic Theory, using the Oriental parlance,

- Emanation Theory, according to the Western terminology;

- Emanation and Division Theory, in conformity to the style of the Yi Jing (Dịch Kinh).

The Monistic Theory was the common heritage of Brahmanism , Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianis and of the Yi Jing (Dịch Kinh). Our Vietnamese ancestors were well aware of that, since their basic ideas were:

The Three Religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism) are from the same Source.

All Religions derive from one Principle.

All converging roads lead to the same destination.

The Monistic Theory, under the guise of the Emanation Theory, was, and still is, the main creed of various Western Occult Societies in the past, and of many sects and cults in the present, such as Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Alchemy, Tarot, Astrology, Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, Theosophy, Transcendentalism, The Divine Science, The National Spiritualist Association of Churches, The Arcane School, the New Thought, the Liberal Protestantism, the Islamic Sufism etc.

I began to study all the religions of the East, and next, the religions of the Near-East, Islam and Zoroastrism. Afterward, I studied Judaism, Catholicism, and all the Protestant denominations. At last, I studied all the main secret societies of the Middle-Ages, such as Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, Theosophy etc.

I found out, rapidly, that there are two main streams of ideas in Religions: the Monotheistic philosophy, and the Monistic theory. The Monotheistic philosophy comprises Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and maintains that everything in this world is created by God.

The Monistic theory maintains that everything in this world proceeds from the One, and returns to the One. The Monistic theory embraces the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), Sufism (Islamic mysticism), Catholic Mysticism, all the oriental religions: Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and all the main secret societies of the West (Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, Alchemy, Theosophy etc.)

It appears clearly that the monotheistic philosophy differs from others of the same group: While Judaism and Islam are strictly monotheist, Catholicism is a triune monotheism. Judaism and Islam do not accept that Jesus Christ is God. Islam declares emphatically: That God is eternal, He begets not and is not begotten. (Quran, Surate CXII).

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and the subtle disputes of monophysites and monothelites are absolutely incomprehensible to Islam and to Judaism. If it is so, these religions cannot be the holder of the truth. The monistic theory is rather uniform in its assertion. It claims that everything proceeds from the One and will return to the One. It declares that the true way to be united with God is in our self. The introversion way is declared to be the only way to be united with God.

There are two ways in this world: The extroversion, and the introversion. The former can be called the creative way: The One proceeds to the Many, the descent of God to men. The latter can be called the re-creative way: The Many will be reduced to the One, the ascension of man to God.

I accept the Monistic theory because it is very simple. For it, the world has only two aspects: The Eternal and the Transitory. The Eternal is the Noumenon, the Transitory is the Phenomenon. The Eternal is the "Quintessence", the Transitory is the "Veil". The Eternal is the Marrow; the Transitory is the Husk. One is Necessity; the other is Contingency. One is the Absolute; the other is the Relative. The two are bounded solidly to each other. One has only to develop these two ideas, to know the mystery of the "unicity of the Real". Eckhart said that "if thou wouldst reach the kernel, thou must break the shell." For me, the truth must be simple, must be accepted by everyone, must be the same always. "Quod est ubique, quod est semper, quod est ab omnibus." There cannot be East and West. The truth then must spring forth since time immemorial from our heart. History is not meaningless. It is but an evolution, a rope, leading to the revelation of pure absolute spirit, or the "true man," at the end of the time. All of the great philosophers such as Hegel, Nietzche, Teilhard de Chardin, and Marx strove for an ultimate transformation, and for a reversal of the historically conditioned state.

The Monistic theory is, in fact, an United Field Theory that can explain everything. Lincoln Barnett in his book entitled The Universe and Dr. Einstein has written about the United Field Theory as follows:

"The United Field Theory touches the "grand aim of all sciences" which as Einstein once defined it, is "to cover the greatest number of empirical fact by logical deduction from the smallest possible number of hypothesis or axioms". The urge to consolidate premises, to unify concepts, to penetrate the variety and particularity of the manifest world to the undifferentiated unity that lies beyond, is not only the heaven of sciences, it is the loftiest passion of the human intellect. The philosopher and mystic as well as the scientist, have always sought through their various disciplines of instrospection to arrive at the knowledge of the ultimate, immutable essence that undergirds the mutable illusory world. More than twenty three hundred years ago, Plato declared: "The true lover of knowledge is always striving after being... He will not rest at those multitudinous phenomena whose existence is appearance only. (Loco citato, p. 122)

We can say that everything in this world proceeds from the One to the Many, from the Homogeneous to the Heterogeneous; then the reverse will take place: The Many will be gradually returned to the One. For instance, if we look at our self, we will see that we are composed of trillions of cells now, but at one time we were just a single cell. Yet, as a single cell, we were informally complete and unique, with sufficient content to fill one thousand volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannicas. In other words, before we were an adult, we were an adolescent, and before that a child, and before that a infant. Before we were an infant, i.e., before we were born, we were a fetus, and, before that, one embryo. Before we were an embryo, around the time of our own implantation, we were a blastocyst, and, before that, a morula, and before that a zygote of fertilized ovum. Therefore, while life is continuous, our life began when the nucleus of our father's sperm fused with the nucleus of our mother's ovum, or at fertilization.

After that, we will see that decay comes progressively. Illness, old age, and death will take place. And we regress to the One.

The same is true for stars, plants, and animals.

The Monistic Theory helps us discover The Sophia Perennis or Religio Perennis which is the timeless metaphysical truth underlying the diverse religions. It helps us to get rid of everything man-made, of everything superstitious in religion, and discover what is divine, what is permanent, what is natural, carved in our own heart.

From the religious standpoint, the Monistic Theory provides us with a sublime insight: The Deity is not far from man, but is within man. Man, as partaker of the divine essence, or divine nature, is endowed with infinite but still latent potentialities. He must then resort to his own efforts, profit by the help of the universe, and the collaboration of his congeners, and of other beings, to develop, at the utmost extent, all his capabilities. By proper introspection, concentration and meditation, man can re-discover his divine nature and regain his divine status. Man and other beings in the world partake of the same divine essence. If so, man must love all other beings and cooperate with them. At the end of the spiritual evolution, with a transformed consciousness, elevated to cosmic proportion, man will merge again in the Cosmic Consciousness. This final at-one-ment is called: Moksa, Liberation, Nirvana, or Yoga by Hindus and Buddhists, or Union with God by various saints and seers. In sum, the Monistic Theory, is effectively the common heritage of all saints and seers of the world, East and West, past and present. The core of the theory is one; its expression can be influenced by historical or geographical or cultural contexts. But its main features are always recognizable.

This astounding human consensus - that saints and seers of all ages, and of all nations bequeathed to us, must be considered as the perennial truth. It must serve as a key to open doors leading us to natural and spiritual kingdoms, and as a beacon for our Self-Realization. In this case, we find that Religion will become the new frontier of the social sciences. We have learned a great deal about its breadth, but not about its depth. Religion must make believers the happiest, the most charitable, tolerant, ethical and socially concerned.

I wrote the English version of this book in October, 1990, after I became handicapped. I had a stroke in September, 1989, that left my right hand paralyzed. I must use my computer with my left hand. I write this book by the encouragement of my lovely wife, Yen Thi Le. I am happy that I can accomplish this task. I must thank her very much in so doing.

As for the proof-reading, I must thank my best friend and neighbor, Mr. Max Hess, who has spent much time helping me. I hope that this book will help people find out the perennial truth, and enable them to live happily in this life.

Tho Van Nguyen

March, 1992