The dualism/monism PARADOX is a problem that is repeatedly encountered in theology and spirituality, and which can sometimes lead to deep confusion, and even states of depression for those who encounter it.
First, some clarification of terms:
Monism states that there is only UNITY in REALITY, and that anything that is NOT-THAT is an ILLUSION.
Non-Dualism is a somewhat lighter version of Monism that does not absolutely state that there is ONLY ONE, but that NOT TWO exist (a very subtle nuance).
Nihilism is the idea that everything is ultimately meaningless, a state that can often result from monistic or non-dualistic modes of thinking.
Dualism states that there is a SEPARATION between aspects of REALITY, so that many things are THAT, and are indeed REAL.
Pantheism is the concept that GOD is present within ALL that is MANIFEST within a Multi-verse.
Manicheism represents the classic doctrine of opposition between LIGHT and DARKNESS, GOOD and EVIL, GOD and SATAN, etc.
Philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel sought to address PARADOX via what is now known as Hegel’s Dialectic. This method suggests we articulate a THESIS, then challenge it with a strong ANTITHESIS, and then seek any possible SYNTHESIS that may be elucidated between the two.
Later, psychiatrist Carl Jung prescribed the “holding the tension of the opposites,” that is, learning to simply tolerate ambiguity and ambivalence in our daily lives. In this way, we eventually become more desensitized to seeming conflictual thoughts and feelings, and learn to find the ‘middle path.’
HOLISM, however, can take these methods a step further. By allowing, when possible, both considerations to be true situationally, we do not have to choose one over the other, and we can actually learn to avoid conflict and the confusion that results. More often than not, more than ONE thing CAN be true about many things.
A HOLISTIC approach to philosophical metaphysics, and to most anything else for that matter, is therefore the acceptance of BOTH paradigms simultaneously, and to learn to practice a ‘sustained neutrality’ between them.
Sri Chimoy presents this wonderful explanation of a HOLISTIC approach to God:
“In the field of manifestation, God is many. But in the field of realisation, God is One. In the Universal Consciousness, God is many. In the Transcendental Consciousness, God is One.”
There is also this from Nisargadatta Maharaj:
“Wisdom tells me I am nothing,
Love tells me I am everything.
Between the two my life flows.”
The bottom line is that God is GOD, and is consequently not subject to the limitations of human knowledge and language. It is WE who set up the paradoxes when we try to fit God into the framework of our finite understanding.