Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Trinity Doofus

Nick Peters sent me a copy of a comment he got on his blog which is ironically funny just now as I complete my TektonTV video on the Trinity (the star of that vid is pictured to the left – call that a promo). This doofus who commented is apparently a bit of a mystic who is into Hinduism, and thinks that there are trinities in other religions too.

Well, no, there aren’t – not that I have yet found. But for fun, when I release the vid tomorrow, come back and compare what the doofus wrote to these lines straight from the film. Ironic indeed.

Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles of Buddhism speak of Trikaya,
or three bodies: Nirmanakaya is the Buddha in human form, Sambhogakaya is celestial Buddha and Dharmakaya is the formless essence, or Buddha-nature. The Theravada primarily addresses the historic Buddha.

“No, I’m sorry. That’s the modalist heresy! NEXT!”

The “Three Jewels” are the Buddha, the dharma (his teachings) and the sangha (the community of monks and nuns).

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”

Christianity has its Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit referring to God, Jesus Christ and their spiritual bond of unity (unlike the Nicene Creed).

No line here, but this one’s a patent misunderstanding. The Trinity fits right in with the Nicene Creed (link below).

In Christian mysticism, the three ways of the spiritual life are the purgative in being purified from sin, the illuminative in true understanding of created things, and the unitive in which the soul unites with God by love.

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”

Hinduism’s trimurti are the threefold activities of Brahman: in Brahma as creator, in Vishnu as sustainer and in Shiva as destroyer.

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”

Saccidananda are the triune attributes or essence of Brahman:
sat, being, cit, consciousness and ananda, bliss.

That actually comes closest of all – except it’s a quadrinity, not a Trinity. Didn’t do that one in the film because I don’t know of any heretics who make that mistake. But even then, none of the attributes are persons.

The three major schools of yoga are bhakti, devotion, and jnana, knowledge and karma, the way of selfless action.

“No…that’s more like a trio, not a Trinity!”

In Islam, nafs is the ego-soul, qalb is heart and ruh is spirit.

Might qualify as a quadrinity again, depending on the anthropology they use – if they were all persons.

In the Kabbalah of Judaism, sefirot – sparks from the divine – have three fulcrums to balance the horizontal levels of the Tree of Life: Da`at (a pseudo-sefirot) is knowledge combining understanding and wisdom; Tiferet is beauty, the midpoint of judgment and loving kindness; Yesod is the foundation for empathy and endurance. They also vertically connect, through the supreme crown, the infinite and transcendent Ein Sof with its kingdom in the immanent Shekhinah.

That wasn’t quite coherent – but it sounds like another trio.

Enjoy the new vid – it could be up today or tomorrow; I’ll post a link here when it is up. Bottom line for now though is that there’s a pile of ignorance about this doctrine – and I think this wacko may be responsible for about a third of it.



  1. Regarding Saccidananda, he technically has a point, in a limited sense. Shankara described nirguna brahman, the Absolute beyond attributes as 'saccidananda' - "Being-Consciousness-Bliss". Shankara himself did not intend this as any sort of Trinitarian statement, since the very nature of Advaita Vedanta prevents a critical interpreter from supposing that Shankara ever meant these to be personal at all, let alone distinct persons.

    However, what our insane commenter may not be aware of is that it's Christian theologians in India, such as the eminent Brahmabandhav Upadhyaya, who have latched on to this notion and filled it with Trinitarian significance, as Upadhyaya does in his famed Sanskrit hymn 'Vande Saccidanandam', wherein he identifies Sat as the Father, Cit as the Son (appropriate in light of the Son as Logos), and Ananda as the Holy Spirit. But this is a Christian adaptation of Advaita Vedanta, best understood in light of Upadhyaya's creative synthesis of Advaita Vedanta and Thomism as a means of culturally translating orthodox Christian theology into an Indian context. (One could argue that God providentially ensured that the various cultures of the world would each have conceptual categories upon which Christian theologians could draw to rearticulate the gospel afresh among each ethnos.)

    The relevant point, however, is that the concept of saccidananda is not an influence on the Christian notion of the Trinity - and, indeed, could not possibly be, since Shankara who coined the description did so in the ninth century AD. But who ever let facts of fundamental chronology get in the way of a parallelomaniac's rote litanies?

  2. Ron Krumpos, right? I saw him post that exact same comment on another blog.

  3. I didn't pay attention to the name but somehow it makes sense that it was a spambot.

  4. Ah, sarcasm. I was adept at that in college, but grew out of it (I'm now 71).

    Trinity is 1+1+1=1 three aspects of the same One.

    A trio is 1+1+1=3 hopefully singing in harmony.

    Then there are the three blind men asked to describe an elephant while one held the trunk, another an ear and the third the tail. Each of you may have sight, but none of you seems to have insight (at least one this site).

    In distorting the quote from my ebook, you neglected to mention my opening statement: There are “trinities,” of sorts, in various faiths. Each was described from the perspective of mystics of each religion, e.g. Meister Eckhart in Christianity. Many religious people are bewildered by mysticism and some aggressively reject it because it upsets too many of their own cherished beliefs.

    Sorry to have upset you.

  5. "Ah, sarcasm. I was adept at that in college, but grew out of it (I'm now 71)."

    And you're still this ignorant? Amazing.

    "Then there are the three blind men asked to describe an elephant while one held the trunk..."

    That stupid analogy again? News flash -- it's still an elephant in reality, regardless of limited sight...of SOME. And it begs the question of blindness. Additionally, the perspective you give claims to see what all the blind men are missing.

    "In distorting the quote from my ebook, you neglected to mention my opening statement"

    Your opening statement doesn't improve anything. You're still confusing trios and trinities and equivocating terminology.

    "Sorry to have upset you."

    You didn't You made us laugh. But sorry you're so stupid.