Scott mentions the Bengali-Indian “spiritual personality” Anandamayi Ma in relation to our continuing interrogation of None-ism. Indeed, he dubs her the “greatest of all Nones,” and describes her own response to the question of her own religion:
[She]… used to ask people who asked her what her religion was “What religion do you want me to be?” And she would be that.
“And she would be that” seems to me a compact version of what I was trying to get at with my rendition of, approximately, breakfasting as a Jew, lunching as a Christian, dining as a Muslim, retiring a panentheist, though in each instance the only one asking “what my religion was” would be an imaginary “I to myself.”
Taken as the presence of an idea, even as an idea of multiple ideas, rather than as the absence of an idea; taken as an “ism,” not an “anism,” this crypto-ideology or immanently ideological poly-theological experience that the pollsters call “spiritual but not religious” becomes “spiritual and religiously promiscuous” or “spiritual and multi-religious.” I wonder if the right term for None-ism is the more precise “anismism,” a word that is in wide enough use to require or allow for dictionary entries, but that occurred to me independently when I was a young man, as I suspect it must also frequently to other young people with developing philological tendencies.
As far as I know, there is no single prophet of anismism, and that lack of a prophet may be appropriate if not inevitable for this particular anti-ideological ideological stance. If there could be such a prophet, however, Anandamayi Ma on first glance seems to fill that role well, which is to say incompletely and therefore completely, paradoxically and therefore simply, because her anismism extended crucially to the question of her own existence as a self.
The non-declarable anismistic faith is an underlying unity in plurality of all faiths, even in their in some sense merely apparent rather than essential mutual contradictions and exclusions. This mode of absolute unity of faiths can be explained in terms of “absolute knowledge” and in relation to the non-destructive, synthesizing refutations of Hegelian logic. Strictly on the basis of quotations and stories collected by Wikipedists, Anandamayi Ma reads at times like a Bengali Hegel:
How can one impose limitations on the infinite by declaring this is the only path—and, why should there be so many different religions and sects? Because through every one of them He gives Himself to Himself, so that each person may advance according to his inborn nature.
When she refers to herself on the matter of her individuality, she evokes a classical idea of the soul as embodiment of a trans-corporeal divine unity in truth or reason:
My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, I was the same. As a little girl, I was the same. I grew into womanhood, but still I was the same. When the family in which I had been born made arrangements to have this body married, ‘I was the same… And, Father, in front of you now, I am the same. Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change around me in the hall of eternity, I shall be the same.
Her broader remarks with a biographer offer the same theme mentioned by Scott (he may have encountered the statement on religion in the book that is referenced):
In “Mother as Revealed to Me” Jyotish Chandra Roy noted that when asked who she was [Anandamayi Ma] would respond something akin to “whatever is said, that”. Roy also noted her utterances in what became known in English translation as “Mother Reveals Herself”, in which she stated she was able to see the future with the ease in which people look in a mirror and could also recall the exact events at her birth from memory.
Other devotees noted that when asked who she was, she responded that because she had no Aham-Buddhi (literal existence-experience of ‘I-am’) she could not say who or what she was, therefore was whatever the questioner thought she was.
This statement of “having no Aham-Buddhi” resembles the subjective result of the contemplation of metaphysical individualism and ego-continuity as constructs – self contemplating self contemplating self contemplating self… – where the inwardness of any “one” approaches indistinction with “any” and eventually “all”: a way of pointing to one idea indicated by the word “God,” an idea that has only indirectly to do with the crudely anthropomorphic deity-concepts that vulgar atheists are fond of ridiculing.
Since non-anthropomorphic God concepts appear as old as God concepts generally, and indeed may be called as old as God (if “God” is as old as God for useful definitions of “old” and “is”), there would seem to be little reason to expect them to solve the anthropomorphic problem now, either for atheists or for theists. The stubbornness of the issue, apparently as stubborn as history itself, may be connected to the same difficulty that admirers and would-be acolytes of figures like Anandamayi Ma encounter in any effort to emulate “her” (however she conceived of herself, however we conceive of her), or in integrating “her” perceptions or beliefs with “their” own concepts of self and belief.
It may be then that the word “God” may be at least as much obstacle as useful label. It’s just not the matter of anthropormorphzing, but the implication of Creator and the implicit sense of relatonship between god/nongodness and maybe not an ego-ized “I” but continuing consciousness that is the same at all times and within all relatonships.