|Highest Reality||Personal God||Impersonal Absolute|
|authority||Teachings founded by a prophet who is the messenger of God for this age (Moses, Mohammad, etc), or by the supreme incarnation of God (Christ, Krishna, etc)||Teachings founded by an
Enlightened being (e.g.
Buddha, Shankara, etc)
who has realised the
by the supreme Absolute
|scriptures||Sacred scriptures and religious doctrine have
absolute validity - revealed once and for all time by God as a manual or guide-book for the universe.
|Sacred scriptures and doctrine are a useful
teaching device to help
one attain Self-Realisation - nothing more.
|Teacher||usually, Prophet or Saviour a historical figure totally beyond the level of normal people.||Ideally, Enlightened being an example who points the
way so others can follow
and attain his state.
|practice||Prayer - supplicating or calling upon an external higher power||Meditation - contemplat
ing and attuning to the Light and Divinity within
|reality/ world-view||Dualistic view of reality (God and the Supernatural order separate from the visible cosmos and the self)||Monistic view of reality
(Absolute Reality not separate from the cosmos or the Self)
|Time||Time and history conceived of as linear (the unfolding
of the Divine Plan)
|Time and history conceived as cyclic; ahistoric.|
|Nature of the Cosmos||The Cosmos is totally real.||The Cosmos is ultimately illusory (Acosmism).|
It is important to emphasise howver that this comparison is of two extremes - many forms of esoteric theism - Sufism, Kabbalah, etc - combine both the monistic and the theistic postions.
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