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Agaliha
January 1st, 2007, 10:11 PM
Well some months ago I considered myself basically all Pantheist and I viewed the gods as concepts, personifications, symbols and whatnot created by humans to explain the world, universe and humanity (basically not literal and not really there).

Then I decided to give the gods a chance (again...because I can't seem to stop trying *sigh*) and I somehow got back on my Hindu influenced path that I was on when I first came to MW...that was about a month ago, but the thing is...it doesn't feel right. :sadman: Nothing feels right when it comes to theistic paths. I try to push the doubt and feelings I have away, but I can't. I get so frusturated because I really want to have faith and believe in it...I'd love to have a relationship with the gods like I hear people have on here, but I can't. I've talked to the gods, prayed to them, tried to tell myself that I believe in them...looked for any scrap of proof that they're there...but it really doesn't seem to help, not deep down. Superficially I can carry on with it...I can pray to them and do rituals and even talk myself into enjoying my momentary delusions, but it does nothing for me deep down. Just like a person who is depressed can put on a happy face for the world and tell themselves they're happy...but they're not. Not really.

So I guess I'm back to where I was before: Pantheism. At heart I am agnostic about the gods and I think I always will be. For some reason I keep talking myself into being theistic if only for a little while, then the delusion/illusion fades and I'm left confused, pissed and frustruated. Does anyone else here deal with this? When I was focusing on just Pantheism I kept feeling I was missing something...perhaps that's why I decided to try theism again. I don't know.

I don't think I'd ever find any peace in a theistic path--not fully. Hinduism is very close to my beliefs and I have read that Hinduism can be henotheistic, monotheistic and even pantheistic depending on the persons' view. How does pantheisic hinduism work? I don't know, I'd like to know though. I see the Hindu gods as energies and symbols, in fact their very images are often symbolic (their hand positions, what's in their hands, the color of the lotus, etc-- all symbolizes deeper meanings). Their myths are often symbolic of higher truths and wisdom. So I can see how a Pantheist could use Hinduism to view nature and the Universe...

So yeah. Sorry for the blabbering _inabox_
Do any fellow Pantheists have any advice on how to deal with these issues? Or do you experience the same thing? I'm wondering how to deal with that feeling of missing something when on a fully Pantheist path....I seem to have issues with that.

Besides that I glad I'm back...trying to be theistic causes way too much drama within myself :lol: I just need to figure out what to do about Hinduism...whether I could stick with it and be Pantheist or just walk away (again). I have been looking into Taoism, which is Pantheistic. Perhaps that'll fit me better...?

cheddarsox
January 2nd, 2007, 10:28 AM
I hope you'll read my latest post on the non theistic pagan thread, because it addresses some of this.

pans come in all flavors of practice, but I think at the heart, most of us have the same basic understanding of our relationship to the universe. We believe in What is...how we speak about it differs...some using god/goddess mythos, some using "nature" language, others using knocked together terminology (I'm guilty of that), to describe essentially the same thing.

And how we practice what we believe differs. Some go ecological, others mystical, others very practical, some with lots of color and bounce. I think that is the result of our personalities and cultures.

When I get into discussions with other pans, it is almost always the language that causes us to flame at each other, when we settle down and describe what we mean by the terminology...we often find out we were talking about the same thing...in our own terms.

The more we talk with each other, the more we'll understand how we are using terminology and symbolism to discuss the concepts.

I think different "schools" of pantheism are popping up, catering to these different styles/approaches to our understanding of our relationship to the universe. I find it a very exciting time.

cheddar

Xirian
January 2nd, 2007, 11:27 AM
I guess my question would be, what are you wanting to gain from being on a religious or belief-based path?

I had to ask myself similar questions this year and I realized that it's not the religious beliefs I'm interested in, it's the connection to my spiritual personality that I'm most interested in. This spiritual connection is developed and aided by my study of many different religious beliefs and philosophies, among many other things.

Currently, I practice and believe in no religion. I find that this really gives me the freedom to look at other religions in a more beneficial way in regards to my spiritual path. I find that all religions have beliefs or philosophies that can be beneficial to my spiritual growth and to deny that and pin all of my time on one religion or belief system and try to have faith in that religion alone, when I really feel that I should be having faith in my ability to learn more about my spirituality, was and is not productive for me.

I tend to look at the study of religion as a tool to further myself along my path. I know not everyone feels this way and some find it offensive that I look at religion in this way, but it suits me. I revere and communicate with, but do not worship deities. I practice witchcraft, but do not practice religion. This is of course contrary to many posts that I've made on this forum, but I'm also on a continuously changing path and have to go with the flow to gain the most benefit. This way of thinking also gives me the opportunity, should my path change, which is inevitable, to see if there is a religion that I might be interested in having faith in.

I guess, for me, it's all about what the benefit is in practicing a religion and if it's helpful to my path and growth, or just a hinderance.

If what I've said doesn't apply to what you are trying to get at, just ignore me. :D

Eleisawolf
January 2nd, 2007, 01:21 PM
What Xirian said...

Just for interest sake, I want to share with you the way I described my concept of deity in this thread (http://mysticwicks.com/showthread.php?t=139686). That kindof sums up how I think of it.

Being on a theistic path can be challenging if one doesn't connect with the idea of theism on a gut level. I have always communicated with something that had a face, but it never quite fit with anyone else's description of it. I discovered that it's my connection to the Great All in a way that my mind can best absorb it. Would it work for you to look on gods in that way? As a connecting symbol but not the actual thing you're connecting with itself?

Orthodox Christians and some Catholics actually put it a good way in relation to their concept of sainthood: the saints are a window through which they can communicate with God more clearly.

I've begun to see my concept of God(s) in that way--they are a window through which I connect and communicate with the Great Mystery more clearly.

Does that help at all?

Peace
:chatty:

Windsmith
January 2nd, 2007, 02:05 PM
Agaliha,

My question for you is this: could you still reverence gods and goddesses if you viewed them as projections of your mind?

Ever since I bucked up and admitted to myself that I don't believe in the literal existence of deities, I've had an easier time "communicating" with certain Divine forms, because I can just let go and enjoy their messages as messages from my subconscious. No more worrying about whether they "really" said this or "really" mean that. I'm a writer, so I'm used to having extra "people" in my head - characters who will never put a foot to the ground, and yet who are very real to me in an imagined way. The gods and goddesses have become, to me, the same.

What would it do to your practices and beliefs to view things this way?

equinox2
January 2nd, 2007, 02:15 PM
I know how you feel, and Iíve seen this same thing happen in several different people. Does it feel like this:


First, doubts about God(s) cause you to question the supernatural thing, which eventually causes you to see the world naturalistically (no gods).

Then, this feels a little empty and pointless. The empty and pointless feeling grows, and especially in times of depression or sadness, makes you long for the security and comfort of the God(s).

Finally it becomes too much, and so you explicitly either say you again believe in God(s), or say that you are trying to find ways to incorporate God(s) back into your spirituality. However, deep down, you still know that there is nothing there, and now what you think you can believe seesaws depending on your mood, the weather, daily events, or sometimes for no assignable cause.

Next, GOTO the start and repeat to this point, repeating the cycle at least once and up to a half dozen times, depending on the person.


Usually after a while the person involved gets tired of this, and finally sees the world as Naturalistic for good. Actually, they probably look back over the cycle and use that cycle as evidence for a naturalistic view, noticing that feelings and emotion is what was pulling them back to theism, while reason and evidence was what pulls them to naturalism. Iím sure some people become committed theists too, but I havenít seen that happen (and Iíve seen the Naturalistic result at least a half dozen times).

After that, the next step (which Iíve seen with myself and several others) is quite incredible:


They person begins to really, viscerally, look at the world naturalistically, and realizes what an unbelievably miraculous world we really have. Every atom becomes a wonder, every rock a hymn of praise. The deep time history of our world becomes a glorious saga of triumph, and the heavens and earth become a fascinating, unending novel to read.:fpraise: :fpraise: :fpraise:


The real story is much more amazing than any myth Ė as Feynman said:


It shows that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. For instance, how much more remarkable it is for us all to be stuck - half of us upside down - by a mysterious attraction to a spinning ball that has been swinging in space for billions of years than to be carried on the back of an elephant supported on a tortoise swimming in a bottomless sea.

From: http://www.phys.washington.edu/users/vladi/phys216/Feynman.html

Seeing the whole real universe as a God becomes not just compelling, but a heady, energetic charge that fills one with the desire to learn, Learn, LEARN, LEARN!! Your world is never dull, and life becomes a smorgasbord of awe and wonder.

And now Iím passing this wonder on to my kids Ė we got and are slowly seeing again the Cosmos series (now on DVD), and our basement science projects are a messy source of constant fun.

I also found this book to be useful to address the feelings you have:
http://www.amazon.com/Nonzero-Logic-Destiny-Robert-Wright/dp/0679758941/sr=8-1/qid=1167761496/ref=pd_bbs_1/105-5697355-2931647?ie=UTF8&s=books

Oh, and www.thegreatstory.org is a great resource.

May the stars light your path-

-Equinox

P. S. I can only use that farewell between Dec 21 and Jan 4th. : )

Eleisawolf
January 2nd, 2007, 02:25 PM
I know how you feel, and I’ve seen this same thing happen in several different people.

<snip>

Quote:
It shows that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. For instance, how much more remarkable it is for us all to be stuck - half of us upside down - by a mysterious attraction to a spinning ball that has been swinging in space for billions of years than to be carried on the back of an elephant supported on a tortoise swimming in a bottomless sea.



Heh... unless you're Terry Pratchett, who has an amazing capability to work with both imaginations... :lol:

cheddarsox
January 2nd, 2007, 05:38 PM
What Xirian said...

Just for interest sake, I want to share with you the way I described my concept of deity in this thread (http://mysticwicks.com/showthread.php?t=139686). That kindof sums up how I think of it.

Being on a theistic path can be challenging if one doesn't connect with the idea of theism on a gut level. I have always communicated with something that had a face, but it never quite fit with anyone else's description of it. I discovered that it's my connection to the Great All in a way that my mind can best absorb it. Would it work for you to look on gods in that way? As a connecting symbol but not the actual thing you're connecting with itself?

Orthodox Christians and some Catholics actually put it a good way in relation to their concept of sainthood: the saints are a window through which they can communicate with God more clearly.

I've begun to see my concept of God(s) in that way--they are a window through which I connect and communicate with the Great Mystery more clearly.

Does that help at all?

Peace
:chatty:

helps me!

cheddarsox
January 2nd, 2007, 05:42 PM
The process equinox describes fits me...except that gratefully, I didn't have to repeat it toooo many times before I "saw the light".

I refer to the universe and all its workings as The Divine, but in no way do I see it as supernatural..heck...what could be more awesome than What Is? So far, nothing I could dream up.

I have a faith that is constantly validated by everything I see and experience and is always worthy of awe. I'm hooked.

cheddar

cheddarsox
January 2nd, 2007, 05:44 PM
Agaliha,

My question for you is this: could you still reverence gods and goddesses if you viewed them as projections of your mind?

Ever since I bucked up and admitted to myself that I don't believe in the literal existence of deities, I've had an easier time "communicating" with certain Divine forms, because I can just let go and enjoy their messages as messages from my subconscious. No more worrying about whether they "really" said this or "really" mean that. I'm a writer, so I'm used to having extra "people" in my head - characters who will never put a foot to the ground, and yet who are very real to me in an imagined way. The gods and goddesses have become, to me, the same.

What would it do to your practices and beliefs to view things this way?

I'm envious. This is a place I hope to get to. At this time I am still keeping arms length from using any "deity" in my spirituality, even though there are some I'd like to investigate further. I'm like an alcoholic who needed to quit cold turkey. I don't know if or when I'll be able to take a "sip" and handle it.

sigh

Eleisawolf
January 2nd, 2007, 06:23 PM
helps me!

Glad to know.

:bubbles:

Agaliha
January 2nd, 2007, 10:58 PM
Wow, I wasn't expecting so many comments! Thanks :)
I'm going to try to comment and answer them all.

Xirian:

what are you wanting to gain from being on a religious or belief-based path?
Honestly I don't know, but for some reason I felt I needed one. I grew up in an anostic belief system and I never had the religious experiences many had. I'd look at all these people that were theistic and followed a religion and I felt I was missing something. When I was eleven I started my endless research and search of paths (everything from Baha'i to Santeria and various Pagan paths). I enjoy learning about religions in general, it's one of my hobbies. I find a lot of great things in all the religions and I have no problem taking what I learned and applying it to my life (the things that make sense to me). I can't ever become those religions. No matter how much I love (and boy do I love!) St. Nicholas' Catholic church at night with silence and candles and the rosary...I can never be a Catholic. I know this for a fact.
I wasn't really looking for a structure to follow though the rituals and aspects of the path did factor in, it was more about the emotional and spiritual connection to deity(ies). No matter what path I went on though, my feelings never changed. I couldn't really see deity in a literal sense found in most religions, but I sure did try. Heh.


I had to ask myself similar questions this year and I realized that it's not the religious beliefs I'm interested in, it's the connection to my spiritual personality that I'm most interested in. This spiritual connection is developed and aided by my study of many different religious beliefs and philosophies, among many other things.
Seems like we're similar in this area.

Eleisawolf:

Being on a theistic path can be challenging if one doesn't connect with the idea of theism on a gut level.
Totally.


I discovered that it's my connection to the Great All in a way that my mind can best absorb it. Would it work for you to look on gods in that way? As a connecting symbol but not the actual thing you're connecting with itself?


Well I sort of see the gods that way anyway. Here's a post (http://www.mysticwicks.com/showpost.php?p=2670703&postcount=2)where I talked about my beliefs before this last dip into theism.
Actually here's what I believe:

I used to believe in the gods...but I can't anymore. I've tried. Doesn't work for me. I've looked into over 11 faiths (besides Paganism) and tons within Paganism itself in about 7 years or more. I can't find a place anywhere.
About 6 months ago I had a crisis of faith and something...snapped. I lost all feeling, bonds and connections with the gods I thought I had.
I'd love to believe in them like you do, I really would...but something won't let me.
I'm an agnostic pantheist with who knows what else in the mix.
I believe in energies and spirits, but not gods.
I see all the known gods as created by humanity to describe various aspects of life on Earth-- from emotions, to nature and animals to the unknown of death and the universe. I see the known gods as symbolic, metaphorical, aychetypes, and personifications. Not real, literal beings.
Oh, I did want to add that I believe in a Source energy, not god...energy. I see it as something so vast we can't experience it...and there fore make gods to compensate.
I see the known gods as being part of us because they were created by us. For example, I see Seshet and Saraswati in every creator, artist, writer, poet...without people that did those things there would be no deity to become those things.
Even though I don't have any gods in my path now, I still look to them-- as role models, symbols, and guides. A lot of mythology has stories that can help people though hard times and can resonate with life experiences.
I love cats, I see Bast as a representation of that.
I love writing, reading, books, libraries and I see Seshet and Saraswati as representations of that.
Most of the gods I was drawn to her just outward representation of myself, interests or things I was lacking and needed.
I don't worship them, I just recognize them in myself and honor those aspects. I still love them for being them and I learn from them all the time...just not like you or other theists do.
I understand you don't agree with it, that's fine. I know your side because I was once there. I'm basing all this off my experiences, the gods proved themself not here to me. I tried and tried and tried. Nothing. Makes me think they were never there.
I just I don't know...right now this is what I believe, I'm open to the possiblity of change and perhaps I was wrong about them and they are there, perhaps I just wasn't looking to the right gods, perhaps they're punishing me and left...I have no idea.


Is that sort of what you were refering to-- looking at the gods as symbols of the world and the energy (aspects of it), but not literally it?

Windsmith:

My question for you is this: could you still revere gods and goddesses if you viewed them as projections of your mind?
Well here's something that just happened. I asked for guidance and the god Janus came to me-- 4 or 5 days ago. The name rather. I looked him up and found out that he was the god of doors, thresholds, beginning and endings, transitions and all that. I think it was symbolic of my ending of theism and my way of thinking and the beginning of my new, more truer (to myself) path. Not Janus literally calling to me.
Is that what you're refering to or something like it?

Equinox2:




First, doubts about God(s) cause you to question the supernatural thing, which eventually causes you to see the world naturalistically (no gods).
Then, this feels a little empty and pointless. The empty and pointless feeling grows, and especially in times of depression or sadness, makes you long for the security and comfort of the God(s).
Finally it becomes too much, and so you explicitly either say you again believe in God(s), or say that you are trying to find ways to incorporate God(s) back into your spirituality. However, deep down, you still know that there is nothing there, and now what you think you can believe seesaws depending on your mood, the weather, daily events, or sometimes for no assignable cause.
Next, GOTO the start and repeat to this point, repeating the cycle at least once and up to a half dozen times, depending on the person.
:lol: OMG. So right on. That sounds like me for sure.



After that, the next step (which Iíve seen with myself and several others) is quite incredible:
They person begins to really, viscerally, look at the world naturalistically, and realizes what an unbelievably miraculous world we really have. Every atom becomes a wonder, every rock a hymn of praise. The deep time history of our world becomes a glorious saga of triumph, and the heavens and earth become a fascinating, unending novel to read.
:) I'm starting to feel this actually and realize how much I was missing in focusing on theism and rituals and religions and the gods. I wasn't focusing on what I should have...the natural world and what was right in front of me all along.

Eleisawolf
January 2nd, 2007, 11:06 PM
Is that sort of what you were refering to-- looking at the gods as symbols of the world and the energy (aspects of it), but not literally it?

Not quite--I'm talking more along the lines of what Windsmith said. The Gods I experience aren't even symbols. They're images, windows, expressions of my own mind, through which I can begin to connect with that Huge Energy you seem to be referring to. And yes, it tends to bring those messages Windsmith was talking about, too.

As a matter of fact, Janus coming to you sounds much like it, but when my Gods appeared they brought the names from the prayer I knew.

That's the difference. I think Windsmith put it more clearly than I did...

Peace to you...

Windsmith
January 3rd, 2007, 02:04 PM
Well here's something that just happened. I asked for guidance and the god Janus came to me-- 4 or 5 days ago. The name rather. I looked him up and found out that he was the god of doors, thresholds, beginning and endings, transitions and all that. I think it was symbolic of my ending of theism and my way of thinking and the beginning of my new, more truer (to myself) path. Not Janus literally calling to me.
Is that what you're refering to or something like it?That's it - plus what Eleisawolf said.
They're images, windows, expressions of my own mind, through which I can begin to connect with that Huge Energy you seem to be referring to.Because I sometimes look through different god-windows, depending on the view I need. If I'm dealing with endings and beginnings, I could meditate to try to access the Janus-like part of my mind for ideas. If I'm dealing with communication issues, I could peer into the Shapshu part of my mind. I learn a lot from the stories humans tell about deities; they teach me a lot about myself, human culture, and how we interact with our world. I consider myself extremely fortunate that I can draw this from the stories without having to believe literally in the deities they portray.

equinox2
January 3rd, 2007, 04:34 PM
Agaliha wrote:

: ) I'm starting to feel this actually and realize how much I was missing in focusing on theism and rituals and religions and the gods. I wasn't focusing on what I should have...the natural world and what was right in front of me all along.

Welcome Home!:cheers:

Now comes the fun, though challenging part - making this a real part of your life. The groups mentioned (perhaps Ardentpantheism and the Naturalistic Pagan group linked to in my .sig) can help. For me, my wife and I have been building this into our family over the past few years, with great results. We now have family traditions around the 8 holidays of the wheel of the year (plus going to see the perseids in August), and the kids love it.:viking:

It's harder to find good resources/community for us Naturalists than for a more common spirituality too. Check out WPM, maybe UU, and maybe even spiral scouts (though not explicitly naturalistic) for that. Community helps you feel connected, plus is the logical way to help someone like you (but younger), who will need this path should theirs become a dead end.

Also, ritual can still be useful - just ask Cheddar - and need not be theistic.

Blessed be-

mydemand
January 19th, 2007, 08:57 PM
Wow, everyone!

I had been going through some similar troubles - my spiritual side felt a bit neglected and I wanted to go back to the Goddess/pantheist form of spirituality that I had in years past. But it just seemed so...empty.

This thread is very helpful though. Really acknowledging our connection in the whole picture. I just felt rather disconnected...I just have to connect myself again...

thank you everyone :)