[quote author=“cgallaga”]However all far east traditions and for the most part middle east (Remember the Abrahamic traditions are all eastern) are founded in an ineffable transcendent reality and source of all things…god.
And to ignore this type of god concept is to ignore some important eastern theologies, many that predate and some that are considered influential to modern Abrahamic concepts, including:
Thanks for bringing up these ‘esoteric’ sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Chris. There certainly are a few that embrace confused notions of god ... but they are FAR from mainstream in (western) culture. I think it’s a bit quick to say they all believe in a simply ineffable or unknowable sort of god. Some do, some don’t. (Although they do tend to use obscurantist forms of reasoning).
As for Tibetan Buddhism and Zen ... I studied a bit in grad school with a Tibetan Buddhist professor. It certainly is true that Madhyhamika Buddhism has penetrated very far into Tibet. However, I would not equate Madhyamika with an unknowable sort of god. Tibetan/Madhyamika Buddhists do not believe in ‘god’, and insofar as they do believe in supernatural deities or creatures, they only exist ‘conventionally’.
The closest philosophical school I can find in the west to Madhyamika is simply nihilism.
Zen Buddhism is a particularly difficult example, since Zen (or better, chinese Ch’an, where japanese Zen originated) was born from two conflicting schools of Buddhist thought: the Madhyamika and the ‘mind only’ Yogacara school. As these have conflicting philosophical structures, Zen writers tend to revel in contradiction and confusion, and really just reject philosophizing of any sort. Fair enough, but that’s sort of different from a western ‘negative theology’ of the sort that would say that (1) god exists, and (2) god is unknowable/ineffable.
Hindu philosophy ( Vedanta ) is really not similar to this sort of negative theology, and indeed is philosophically every bit as complex, nuanced and profound as western theology. There are many schools of Vedanta, each with different ontological presuppositions. A few may be somewhat similar to western negative theologians, but only a few.
As for Yoga , “yoga” in Sanskrit just means (basically) “practice” ... and so the Hindu “yogic” practices are basically various forms of physical worship, intended to bring one closer to a sort of nirvanic state of mind. None require any sort of negative theology. (Although they have been interpreted as such by some moderns).
Taoism is perhaps somewhat closer to the western conception of an ineffable deity ... although I don’t really know very much about the practices and beliefs of Taoists so can’t be sure. Perhaps you know some in China?