The Problem of Nirvana

The following is adapted from the “College Preparation in Apologetics” lecture series by Greg Bahnsen, which, incidentally, I would highly recommend.

Person A: “Once you have realized that all distinctions are illusions, you can enter a state of Nirvana. You must learn to stop making distinctions.”

Person B: “So you’re saying that there is something I need to do (namely, stop making distinctions) in order to change from my present state to a state of Nirvana. Is that right?”

A: “Yes, that’s correct.”

B: “So I’m not yet in a state of Nirvana, but I could be if I would only stop making distinctions.”

A: “Yes.”

B: “But don’t you see that you’ve made a distinction between people who are in a state of Nirvana and people who aren’t? If all distinctions are illusions, then I am already in a state of Nirvana, because you can’t make the distinction between people who are and are not in a state of Nirvana. You can’t claim that all distinctions are illusions if your system then requires you to make distinctions.”

A bit cheeky, sure, but I think it adequately points out the self-referential incoherence of a fundamentally monistic philosophy.

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