Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

10 What Is Monistic Theism?§


Like our faith, the red ball is unique. It has been adorned with the symbol of Saivism. The three white stripes are made with holy ash, called vibhuti. Ochre-colored sandalwood & red bindu are at the center.§


Monistic theism is the combination of two concepts: monism and theism. Monism is the doctrine that reality is a one whole. It holds that everything is God. Theism is the belief that God exists as a loving, personal Lord and creator. These are like two sides of a coin, present in most Hindu systems. Our Saiva Siddhanta philosophy is a form of monistic theism. We see God as our personal Lord; as the essence of all that exists; and also as Absolute Being, Parasiva, beyond all form. In our theistic practices, we worship God and the Gods in the spirit of devotion and humble submission. In our monistic practices, we meditate deeply to experience the essence of our soul, which is identical with God Siva’s essence, which is present throughout the universe. Siva has both a monistic aspect and a theistic aspect. Through our two-sided practice we honor and draw close to both. The most complete and perfect path requires both monism and theism. The opposite of monism is dualism, which teaches that God and creation are separate realities. Dualists believe that God, like a potter, creates the universe (a pot) from “clay,” cosmic matter which has always existed and is not part of Him. In Saiva monism, Siva is all and in all: the potter, the clay and the resulting pot. Some forms of Hindu monism do not include much theism. Ours does. We worship Siva as the God of love, Parameshvara, Siva as creator, preserver and dissolver, Siva as separate from us, who loves us as His creation. That is the theism part. Yet we know that, on another level, He is not separate from us. He is within us as Parashakti, pure consciousness flowing through all form, and as Absolute Reality, Parasiva. That is the monism part.§


GURUDEVA: Monists, from their mountaintop perspective, perceive a one reality in all things. Dualists, from the foothills, see God, souls and world as eternally separate. Monistic theism is the perfect reconciliation of these two views.§