Among the holders of these different views the dualistic, the pluralistic, the qualified monistic, even the monistic (although I consider the last to be pseudomonists) there are some who maintain that a person holds a certain view according to his temperament. For instance, one who is devotional in his heart would like to be a dualist or a qualified monist; he would not like to be a monist, because monism, as you must have understood, implies that the distinction between the soul and God can no longer remain; all become one. Many there are who do not like this self-absorption in God. Some say, What is the benefit of that in which I lose my own consciousness? If I become one with God, I will no longer be a separate entity. After all these struggles, in the end I just die!’ It is as if a person had been searching for vast wealth and eventually discovered a treasure, but the moment he touched it he died. What good were all those years of search, what good his finding this treasure? No good. Some have taken that view; they have said they like to remain distinct and separate from God and love Him eternally. Or there are some who are so conscious of the majesty and lordship of God that it is very difficult for them to think there is even a basic unity between themselves and God. They feel that the soul, this individual man, is utterly separate from God; God is the Creator and he is a creature, and creature and Creator can never be one in any sense. In itself the soul has not the power to see God or attain to that state of beatitude. But through His grace God grants something to the soul at the proper time, and with the help of that, the soul can have the vision of God. Those are dualistic views.
There are of course various versions of dualism in different religions, but they all have more or less the same idea: there is no connection between God and the soul so far as essence is concerned. Those who like this view think of God as the Lord, the Giver of gifts, the Protector. He is infinitely more powerful than the most powerful individual on earth; He is the Lord of all time, of all laws, of all space, of all forms; all things that happen, happen according to His wish; He is the Giver of rewards as well as punishments. Such devotees generally take the attitude, I am Thy servant, O Lord, Thou art my Master. Grant me that I may serve You faithfully, that I may have the privilege of serving You.
Others feel a little closer to God; they like the qualified monistic view. They want to remain distinct, and yet they recognize a basic connection between themselves and God, as son and father, as friends; sometimes they take the attitude God is my child. You see how temperament plays its part. The differences in ideals are determined by the differences in the temperaments of the people who are seeking God. All these ideals are equally valid. That’s one idea.
Another idea is that, allowing for all these differences of temperament and so on, there is a gradation of experience. You see, devotees do not know what will happen to them when their realization of God becomes extremely intense. It has been found in the lives of devotional mystics that there have been periods in which they became so much at one with God in the intensity of their love that they did not have distinct consciousness left in them. Monists ask them, Brother, wasn’t that a monistic experience? When all distinctions and differences were wiped out, could you say that you perceived God at that time?’ ‘No, I couldn’t say that, because the perceiver himself was gone; I was lost in Him. Well, what was He like?’ Oh, most exquisite, most exquisite! This is all I can say just incomparable! That is all I can say, nothing more. The monists have concluded that devotional mystics are just stubborn people; they deny their own experience. They had^the monistic experience, but they won’t try to explain it. They will say, I just swooned away in love. I just lost myself in God, but they don’t understand what they are talking about. Of course, devotees are emotional, you must admit that, and they do not want to be too logical or thoughtful; but however that may be, there is the philosophical view that as dualists and qualified monists reach higher and higher states of realization, eventually they will all end in the realization of monism.