The Monistic Theory
by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ
Preface | Chapters:
10 11 12
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
- Emanation Theory, according to the
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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