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cheddarsox
May 9th, 2007, 04:40 PM
What has Pantheism brought into your life that is a gift to you?

cheddar

Birdy
May 9th, 2007, 09:59 PM
This is a really big question for me.

Because I've had chronic depression literally my whole life (like my parents and their parents before) I honestly don't know how on Earth I would have survived without my... "spirituality" is the wrong word, the pantheist version of that. I tried one day thinking of a better word, it was a day I had dragged myself out of bed and gone to a quite remote park and literally sat on a windy rock the whole day. Coming back to the city, free and happy I settled on a term, "the [love] affair" (and that goes beyond aesthetics and senses though they are part of it)

Pantheism has given me, at various times, a way to bypass depression, a reprieve from it, the ability to feel, healing, the ability to say DAMMIT I want to live, love, a part of an identity that's positive... I could probably think of more.

Eleisawolf
May 10th, 2007, 11:52 AM
Pantheism has given me the gift of knowing that I am the one in charge of my relationship with the universe and everything in it--not some pontiff, not some non-material being who sets the terms, not some other being on whom I can foist the responsibility for my life--mistakes or successes!

For some, perhaps it's more freeing to be able to put the onus on another being to make their decisions about life for them and tell them what they have to do. I have come to know the joy and freedom of knowing that the onus is on me and me alone. I am responsible for my life, and for how I relate to the lives and existence around me. And I take that responsibility seriously. It's an honor to have it.

Peace

cheddarsox
May 10th, 2007, 05:00 PM
This is a really big question for me.

Because I've had chronic depression literally my whole life (like my parents and their parents before) I honestly don't know how on Earth I would have survived without my... "spirituality" is the wrong word, the pantheist version of that. I tried one day thinking of a better word, it was a day I had dragged myself out of bed and gone to a quite remote park and literally sat on a windy rock the whole day. Coming back to the city, free and happy I settled on a term, "the [love] affair" (and that goes beyond aesthetics and senses though they are part of it)

Pantheism has given me, at various times, a way to bypass depression, a reprieve from it, the ability to feel, healing, the ability to say DAMMIT I want to live, love, a part of an identity that's positive... I could probably think of more.

My relationship with my faith, and the universe is very much as you describe yours. When I start getting "hung up" on "supposed to bes"..I relax into my faith...and see there are no supposed to bes...there just is..what is. And I hang with it, knowing that ultimately...it is OK, and nothing, certainly not I, will last forever. I am part of something larger, and I recommit to playing my part, whatever that is.

the gift is how it keeps me aware of the paradoxes, the glorious absurdity. And I am, like you, in a love affair with the universe.

cheddar

Windsmith
May 10th, 2007, 05:32 PM
For so many years, I tried to force myself into the box of what I thought I was "supposed to" believe, but nothing ever fit quite right. Pantheism turned me around and said, "Here, I think you were looking for this." To find a word and a set of terminology that reflected back to me what I'd struggled so long to articulate was a great gift.

When I was trying to be "just" a Pagan, I felt off, like some High Council of Paganness was going to tell me I was "doing it wrong" and banish me from the religion. Now that I'm a Pagan Pantheist, I do what feels right in the moment to honor this amazing Cosmos and the wonderful things and relationships in it and feel confident that the act is sacred simply by being, not because it's written down on someone's list of pre-approved holy acts.

Accepting that I don't believe in literal deities has given me the gift of becoming more appreciative of the world as it is. When sunset paints the sky a brilliant red, or the kids in my building create elaborate make-believe scenarios, I can watch it, observe the details, and be aware of its inherent wonder. I don't have to pull myself out of the moment to give thanks to some goddess or god for their world. By realizing that I don't believe in the Creator, I am more present to the creation.

Pantheism has allowed me to let go of a lot of my anger at the ways of the world. Everyone always told me that everything happened for the best, or everything was God's/the gods'/the Goddess's will, according to their ineffible plan. And every time one of my relatives was diagnosed with a hideous disease, or one nation bombed the bejeezus out of another, I railed against the Heavens and wondered how any deity could let crap like this happen. But at the same time I felt bound and impotent - if this was Divine Will, I was powerless to do anything about it. Now, though, I believe that sometimes pooperiffic things just happen. Sometimes they happen because I screwed up, or someone else screwed up, and sometimes they just happen for no reason. Some people might find that depressing and see more comfort in the "God's will" theory, but Pantheism has been so personally empowering for me. Instead of waiting for God to swoop in and fix my situation, I'm becoming more likely to say, "Yup, this sure sucks. What am I going to do about it?" Finding pantheism has untied my hands, and that's a gift, too.

Eleisawolf
May 11th, 2007, 11:19 AM
Windsmith's words put more thoroughly what I was trying to say. Thanks, Windsmith! :)

And Cheddarsox and Birdy brought out a big part of it, too. I'm in love with the universe. I adore what is simply for what it is. Whatever meaning is out there is the meaning that I choose to find, not something that has been superimposed on it. And recognizing that allows me to find a deeper beauty in all of it, because there's nothing telling me what is beautiful and what isn't!

Peace

cheddarsox
May 11th, 2007, 04:18 PM
Everyone always told me that everything happened for the best, or everything was God's/the gods'/the Goddess's will, according to their ineffible plan. And every time one of my relatives was diagnoses with a hideous disease, or one nation bombed the bejeezus out of another, I railed against the Heavens and wonder how any deity could let crap like this happen. But at the same time I felt bound and impotent - if this was Divine Will, I was powerless to do anything about it. Now, though, I believe that sometimes pooperiffic things just happen. Sometimes they happen because I screwed up, or someone else screwed up, and sometimes they just happen for no reason. Some people might find that depressing and see more comfort in the "God's will" theory, but Pantheism has been so personally empowering for me. Instead of waiting for God to swoop in and fix my situation, I'm becoming more likely to say, "Yup, this sure sucks. What am I going to do about it?" Finding pantheism has untied my hands, and that's a gift, too.

At lunch today I was sitting listening to the people at my lunch table have this sort of discussion...about "blessings" from God when you serve him and do his will and how no evil will befall those who do so...so...fine, today we are all healthy and the sun is shining...but what does that imply about your relationship with God tomorrow when the dog gets hit by a car, and you are diagnosed with cancer? Hmmm...

I was flooded with joy at how much I love the universe..my faith...the fact that I don't have to do those mental and emotional gymnastics any more.

I did point out to them that Jesus did everything God wanted...and he too was blessed (in their words) more than he could stand. A blessing...isn't always an easy thing to take.

cheddar

Windsmith
May 11th, 2007, 06:23 PM
sometimes pooperiffic things just happenY'know, if they had to edit out my naughty word, I'm kind of glad "pooperiffic" is what they chose to replace it with. Don't think that's how I would've spelled it, though, left to my own devices...


Windsmith's words put more thoroughly what I was trying to say. Thanks, Windsmith! :)Uhhh...you're welcome!


I'm in love with the universe. I adore what is simply for what it is. Whatever meaning is out there is the meaning that I choose to find, not something that has been superimposed on it.Yes, yes, yes! Some days I feel like there's no meaning in the Universe - and that's OK, too.


And recognizing that allows me to find a deeper beauty in all of it, because there's nothing telling me what is beautiful and what isn't!Dang. I hadn't even realized that until I read this post. Many religions do put those boundaries around the world. Wow. That's sad.


so...fine, today we are all healthy and the sun is shining...but what does that imply about your relationship with God tomorrow when the dog gets hit by a car, and you are diagnosed with cancer? Hmmm...And the really crazy thing, at least for me, is that in most cases they're not doing anything differently today when these things happen to them than they were yesterday when everything was great. And yet they're going to spend so much time and effort trying to figure out how they've displeased God...it seems like there are so many better ways to spend your energy.


A blessing...isn't always an easy thing to take.That has truth on so many different levels, cheddar. I'm going to have to go and ponder it for a while and be in awe...

ravenscape
May 14th, 2007, 02:45 PM
Pantheism gave me peace again, only this time it's a more joyful peace.

When I deconverted from Christianity 20 years ago, I took up the label "agnostic", but my experience was more about what I no longer had than about where I might be going. I ignored spirituality for a long while because I associated spirituality with a religion I now found to be contradictory, troubling, and discomforting. Agnosticism was peaceful by contrast, but unfullfilling in many ways. The more I woke up to the Numinous around me and beyond me, the less comfortable I became with the label "agnostic".

Paganism came easy in some ways, but was no more comfortable in others. I felt out-of-place for having such an amorphous concept of the Divine. I never knew what to say to people who told me to wait...that the Goddess would find me and make Herself known to me in time. I wasn't waiting, and I felt fullfilled. I felt that I had been found by myself in the process of reaching out and opening up to experiential Paganism. I was still waiting for an emptiness to be filled long after it was no longer empty.

Calling myself a Pantheist is empty in some ways. Pantheist is a label - calling myself one makes it a little easier for me to describe myself spiritually to others. "Raven is a Pantheist". But, it's a hollow term, and doesn't convey a great deal to others. It's an easy answer that allows me to slip out of conversations I don't want to pursue because I haven't found the words to explain what I do and don't believe. Even when I feel that a particular word is resonant for me, it may not be of any use in commuicating to others.

Windsmith
May 15th, 2007, 12:12 PM
I never knew what to say to people who told me to wait...that the Goddess would find me and make Herself known to me in time. I wasn't waiting, and I felt fullfilled. I felt that I had been found by myself in the process of reaching out and opening up to experiential Paganism. I was still waiting for an emptiness to be filled long after it was no longer empty.Ravenscape, this is a hugely important point you make. I was darned near jumping up and down as I was reading it.

So many times, new Pagans arrive at MysticWicks or in real-life Pagan communities talking about how they haven't felt "the call" or "the touch" or "the presence" or however they want to talk about experiences with personal, anthropomorphized deity. Recently, in particular, newcomers have mentioned that they're transitioning from atheism or agnosticism and that they're having trouble "making" themselves believe in gods and goddesses. Others pop in and tell them to be patient; give it time; sometimes it takes years; blah blah. I sometimes feel like the only voice saying, "Yes, patience is a noble virtue for any spiritual pursuit, but why force yourself into believing anything? The touch of the Goddess isn't for everyone who calls themselves Pagan, and it may not be for you." Goodness knows I tried to cram that hat onto myself for enough years before I realized that it's just not the right shape for my head.

I hear you say that "Pantheism" is a term that's missing a lot of substance for you, but this is yet another gift that Pantheist spirituality has given me: the realization - and the confidence to tell others - that, like you, I'm not waiting for anything, and I'm not missing anything. I have all the divinity I need.

ravenscape
May 15th, 2007, 02:25 PM
That was a difficult post to write, because when I try to discuss my beliefs, I feel like I'm writing all around what I'm trying to say.

I'm too "touchy-feely" to fit in well in a community of non-theists who subscribe to strict metaphysical naturalism - unless I don't talk much about what I believe. I'm too rationalistic (as opposed to rational) to fit in well in any sort of community of theists - unless I don't talk about what I believe.

I've gotten used to staying quiet about my beliefs, because otherwise I find myself in debates that I find overly semantic, and short on actual exchange of ideas. As a result, I've stunted the growth of my ability to share information -- to communicate -- about a vitally important part of who I am.

cheddarsox
May 15th, 2007, 05:32 PM
That was a difficult post to write, because when I try to discuss my beliefs, I feel like I'm writing all around what I'm trying to say.

I'm too "touchy-feely" to fit in well in a community of non-theists who subscribe to strict metaphysical naturalism - unless I don't talk much about what I believe. I'm too rationalistic (as opposed to rational) to fit in well in any sort of community of theists - unless I don't talk about what I believe.

I've gotten used to staying quiet about my beliefs, because otherwise I find myself in debates that I find overly semantic, and short on actual exchange of ideas. As a result, I've stunted the growth of my ability to share information -- to communicate -- about a vitally important part of who I am.

Well, I hope that this forum is an exception to the rule for you, and a place where you can talk about this vitally important part of who you are.

I think you've hit the nail on the head about what pantheism is...something different from theism, or atheism. It is it's own thing. Someday, people will "get" that. And they won't keep trying to get us to take sides. I live in a dualistic culture, you are either for their God, or not...they don't even conceive other possibilities. Maybe our part to play is to live our faith, so that people begin to see there are other options.

cheddar

Eleisawolf
May 15th, 2007, 06:02 PM
It is it's own thing. Someday, people will "get" that. And they won't keep trying to get us to take sides. I live in a dualistic culture, you are either for their God, or not...they don't even conceive other possibilities. Maybe our part to play is to live our faith, so that people begin to see there are other options.

Hear hear. I've had that problem from the atheist side of the coin lately. Someone I know said recently that we must choose between subjectivity and objectivity--between utility and truth. I just don't buy that. Colors are too pretty to stick with black and white. But on either side of the coin, theist or non-theist, there's so much of a need to believe that there aren't other options... it's strange.

Thanks, Cheddar. Living who we are is the best we can do in that case. Showing that there's a place for both the subjective and the objective is all we can do...

Peace

ravenscape
May 15th, 2007, 08:33 PM
Yeah, I think that's the crux. We live in a dualistic culture, but the binary condition just doesn't cut it. spiritually. It's a co-option of the phrase, but "living between the worlds" is one way to point toward other options.

Birdy
May 15th, 2007, 11:22 PM
I'm too "touchy-feely" to fit in well in a community of non-theists who subscribe to strict metaphysical naturalism - unless I don't talk much about what I believe. I'm too rationalistic (as opposed to rational) to fit in well in any sort of community of theists - unless I don't talk about what I believe.


I know exactly how you feel. Theists would be offended by my skepticism and atheists would just laugh at me.

Birdy
May 15th, 2007, 11:26 PM
Someone I know said recently that we must choose between subjectivity and objectivity--between utility and truth.

..when both are necessary and important parts of being human. That's sad.

It also sums up the problem quite nicely.

Windsmith
May 16th, 2007, 12:15 PM
I live in a dualistic culture, you are either for their God, or not...they don't even conceive other possibilities. Maybe our part to play is to live our faith, so that people begin to see there are other options.You mean...we get to be the pebble in everybody's shoe? Oh, Cheddar, you just made my whole week!

cheddarsox
May 16th, 2007, 04:58 PM
You mean...we get to be the pebble in everybody's shoe? Oh, Cheddar, you just made my whole week!

you're my kinda people!

cesara
April 12th, 2008, 02:20 PM
This is a great thread. Thanks, all of you, for your contributions. :)

RavenStars
April 13th, 2008, 01:54 AM
I don't have a "place" in the world. No fate. No plan. The world I live in is both ordered and chaotic. And somehow the Divine is the glue that holds it all together. Isn't that wonderful?!

airmist
April 15th, 2008, 06:41 AM
...somehow the Divine is the glue that holds it all together....

That is one of the best definitions of the divine as I understand it that I've seen. What a start to my day! Thanks.

TygerTyger
April 15th, 2008, 08:28 AM
The gift of Pantheism for me was that it brought me a degree of contentment. It allowed me to make sense of my place in the world and the misfortune of being born with two disabilites and then developing Hay Fever as well, which really spoils my summers!

Because I feel a part of the whole I no longer feel victimised by an anthropomorphic deity fashioning us all after his image and getting me wrong. I have reasoned that my disabilities are caused by the very same function that allows someone to be born with a fantastic voice, or the ability to paint, or to be an exceptional athlete. This is a natural function, a part of the evolutionary process maybe, and is totally impersonal like so many of the processes in this universe.

As I feel a part of it all I feel no jealousy towards those who did better than me when their parents mixed up their DNA. I benefit from such gifted people being in the world as much as anyone else. Indeed, Iíve learnt that we are all gifted in one way or another.

I may be a little bit more imperfect than most but I am still an important part of something really vital; existence!