Nabokov’s advice

If I had known in 1970 what I know now of reformational philosophy, it is very, very doubtful that I would have pursued it. I was unaware of the bad blood, political infighting at the Free University of Amsterdam, and its atmosphere of theological narrowness. And, like everyone else, I wrongly assumed that Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd were saying the same thing. Nevertheless, I am not sorry that I have spent such a large part of my life studying Dooyeweerd, learning Dutch, and studying at various institutions. I am comforted by what Nabokov told his students:

“The more things we know the better equipped we are to understand any one thing and it is a burning pity that our lives are not long enough and sufficiently free of annoying obstacles, to study all things with the same care and depth as the one we now devote to some favorite subject or period. And yet there is a semblance of consolation within this dismal state of affairs: in the same way as the whole universe may be completely reciprocated in the structure of an atom,…an intelligent and assiduous student [may] find a small replica of all knowledge in a subject he has chosen for his special research….and if, upon choosing your subject, you try diligently to find out abut it, if you allow yourself to be lured into the shaded lanes that lead from the main road you have chosen to the lovely and little known nooks of special knowledge, if you lovingly finger the links of the many chains that connect your subject to the past and the future and if by luck you hit upon some scrap of knowledge referring to your subject that has not yet become common knowledge, then you will know the true felicity of the great adventure of learning, and your years in this college will become a valuable start on a road of inestimable happiness. “

I have indeed found many interesting byways and branching paths. By concentrating so much of my work on Dooyeweerd, perhaps I have found a small replica of all knowledge. I have discovered the sources of his philosophy in Christian theosophy, and I have been able to relate many of his ideas to nondualism. I hope that my work will be of help to others.

Designing this website

dscn0387Website design has been greatly simplified since I designed my first website in 2002, using Dreamweaver, which was one of the first WYSIWYG editors. I am impressed with the capabilities of WordPress and I recommend it for those wanting to start their own websites. The image of the ocean that I have used in the header has many associations for me. It is from my own photo collection from the north coast of Kauai. There is a wild beauty in this image of the ocean that reminds me of romantic paintings of nature by artists like Caspar David Friedrich. Any philosopher that takes nondualism seriously must integrate nature into his or her ideas and worldview. Conversely, any ascetic turning away from nature and the world is inherently dualistic. We are said to have our beginnings in the sea, and the sea is also used in many metaphors of unity of our self and God (although I believe that our individuality remains). Finally, just as there are dangers navigating in rough seas, so there are risks to philosophical self-enquiry. I hope that my writings have identified some of the shoals and reefs that we may encounter, and that even if what Karl Jaspers referred to as philosophical shipwreck is necessary if we are to overcome our previously limited ideas, we may have the hope of ultimate transcendence. Here is another image from nature in Kauai that I have used on the cover of one of my books: a rainbow eucalyptus tree displaying a prism of colour that reminds me of the prism of our many modes of consciousness that arise from the unity of our selfhood.

Christian Nondualism

Christian Nondualism is a mysticism that does not try to escape from the world. Instead, it seeks to fully experience the world, in both a theoretical and a pre-theoretical way, from out of our nondual center or heart. It seeks a nondual perspective for understanding the nature of our selfhood, of our relation to God, of our relation to others, and our relation to the world. In my books and on this blog, I compare this with other traditions, both eastern and western, and to understand what the specific dualisms are that each tradition seeks to overcome, such as the dualism between body and soul.  Click on the menu above for details on my books and for access to published papers on these and other topics.