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cheddarsox
October 8th, 2007, 06:40 PM
Is it an oxymoron to "practice" intentional pantheism in a faith that does not understand the Universe as "caring" what we do?

When I tell people my religion is pantheism I often get the response that it is essentially atheism, therefore there is no reason for me to practice it or bother about it, because, after all, the Universe neither cares nor demands it.

Yet I am a very intentional pantheist, after caring for my family, my faith is the thing I spend most of my time, energy, thought and effort on.

If nothing else, it serves me, which makes me more functional and useful in society.

So...do you "practice" your faith in an intentional, perhaps even religious way...Why?

(religion may be a crutch, but hey...things that stand on three legs tend to be very stable)

Eleisawolf
October 8th, 2007, 07:19 PM
Firstly, we can't know if the universe wants, needs, demands or not. But that's beside the point--assuming that it doesn't:

I do need that type of expression, and I'm part of the universe--honestly, I get depressed, ungrounded, and uncentered if I don't have some way of celebrating the reality and still undiscovered mysteries of the universe. Others, like you and the other Pantheists here, do too and also are. So, whether the whole universe needs it or not, part of the universe does need it. 'Nuff said, from my POV.

Peace
:ringaroun

Windsmith
October 9th, 2007, 03:34 PM
Yeah. What Eleisawolf said!

More intelligently (I hope): yes, to some extent my beliefs are atheistic. But where my pantheism parts ways from atheism, man, does it part company. Many atheists I know believe that that the human predisposition towards religion and religious belief is a pathology, like a tendency toward alcoholism or kleptomania, and that we should work to overcome it. But I believe that the need for religion is part of us. It's hard-wired into our brains. I want to celebrate that and embrace it as a part of myself, not shut it off. I just choose to turn it toward something I can actually see and hear and touch and taste and smell, rather than some bearded dude in the clouds.

My view towards pantheism as a whole is pretty close to my view of magic within pantheism. When I do magic, or celebrate a holiday, or meditate, the effect is completely mental. The only changes being wrought are on me. But anything that can change me can, ultimately, change damned near everything. I change myself, I change the way I interact with people and things in the world around me. That changes the way they interact with people and things around them. Who can say how far the ripples extend? Maybe the Universe itself isn't responding to my exertions, but parts of the Universe are - especially this part named Windsmith - and that's plenty for me.

Novembers River
October 10th, 2007, 02:47 PM
My husband is an athiest.

He believes: We are here. We are part of nothing.
I believe: We are here. We are part of everything.

We are all connected to everything. I choose to embrace and honor that connection through the rituals I do.

airmist
October 10th, 2007, 09:20 PM
Is it an oxymoron to "practice" intentional pantheism in a faith that does not understand the Universe as "caring" what we do?... after caring for my family, my faith is the thing I spend most of my time, energy, thought and effort on...If nothing else, it serves me, which makes me more functional and useful in society.


...we can't know if the universe wants, needs, demands or not...I do need that type of expression, and I'm part of the universe...whether the whole universe needs it or not, part of the universe does need it. Peace


... I believe that the need for religion is part of us. It's hard-wired into our brains. I want to celebrate that and embrace it as a part of myself, not shut it off. I just choose to turn it toward something I can actually see and hear and touch and taste and smell, rather than some bearded dude in the clouds... I change myself... Who can say how far the ripples extend? Maybe the Universe itself isn't responding to my exertions, but parts of the Universe are - especially this part named Windsmith - and that's plenty for me.

Terrific, and I've read enough before to know we have some different beliefs.

For me, pantheism is a descriptor of my belief type or form of spirituality, it is not a religion. I don't believe in the bearded dude (or hairy thunderer either if you're old enough to remember that song). I do believe that the "universe" or all of everything "cares". (Oh, I can hear the rationalist doors slamming.) Maybe it cares in a way I won't understand; I tend more to think it is like Windsmith's "the ripples extend" and Eliasawolf's "part of the universe needs it" as in we and the whole need our concern, care, participation.

Like Cheddarsox, my intentional participation in my spirituality by meditation, conscious contact (the term I prefer to prayer), ritual, is a major part of my life. It affects how I behave, how I respond to what happens in life, and it brings me a peace and contentment with what is that I cannot do without. And as Novembers River said, "We are connected to everything." And I, too, honor that connection.

cheddarsox
October 13th, 2007, 06:29 AM
When I started this thread, I really didn't know where I was going...what I was trying to get at, but thanks to your posts, input from other sites, and some observations...pieces are starting to fall into place.

I remember the moment I decided to stop practicing the faith I was raised in. How cheated and angry I felt. How I vowed to never again practice something I didn't believe or feel, to never again celebrate what wasn't.

I didn't have a name then form what I did believe, indeed, at that moment, I probably didn't think I believed anything, but once the drama died down, it became clear to me that I did believe something, always had, and had always, in my small way practiced it.

after a few years, I decided to become intentional about my practice. Not for it to be the private, quiet thing I hid inside, but to practice it outwardly, and to include family and friends. I also discovered, along the way, that what I believed was known as pantheism. So I went from practicing what wasn't to practicing What Is.

The holidays ceased to be something that was imposed on me. Now I celebrated what I authentically experienced as worthy of celebration, days, seasons and times that impacted myself, my family and my communities.

Through this, I actually came to understand the "old" holidays better, because instead of trying to feel what I was told was significant about those days, I now just felt what I felt. I sometimes there was a connection to what I experienced at that time of year, and the symbolisms that set holidays had, but without the load of other stuff that had previously clouded my way. It is as if, as years go by, I "get" more of what they are about...by merely living authentically. This hasn't worked for all of them.

Part of all this is not forcing the issue. I don't celebrate, when I don't feel it. I allow myself to experience that too. And sometimes, when a holiday/significant day passes "unobserved"...I end up wishing I did something, and other times, I'm glad I didn't. And as years pass, I'm figuring out so many things about my relationship to time, my faith, seasons, emotions, celebrations, etc.

Faith doesn't come like "a bed in a box"...everything a person needs to decorate and coordinate their life in twenty easy minutes. I used to fear that if I didn't "feel" something when a certain day came by...that it meant the path was no longer working for me, that I was drying up...etc. But now, I have more patience, to sit with myself and let it be what it is, and by doing so I keep moving forward. I see the point not in staying in a certain path, even when it feels a little cloudy. What matters most is being authentic, honest, and yes, for me...committed.

To write about faith, think about faith even when I'm feeling befuddled, to understand that as part of What Is...as part of the practice, not the antithesis of practice. Being a pantheist doesn't just look and feel one way, it is, what it is.

Some of my holidays fall on the wheel of the year holidays, but not all of them. And sometimes one falls off, and other times new one's join in. Evolution.

I guess intentional pantheism, to me is about paying attention to my connection to people, things, time, seasons, etc...and reacting, intentionally, accordingly.

cheddarsox
October 13th, 2007, 06:35 AM
A MW member, who is busy with real life...has a yahoo group, he's posted the link here before but I'm posting it again, because he recently wrote an awesome piece about this time of year which is all about observing what is and how we respond to it....

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naturalistic_paganism/

Xentor
October 13th, 2007, 07:29 AM
Why would practicing pantheism be an oxymoron, if not only when adhering to the law of similarity: 'they' practice a certain way, 'they' believe a certain way... I don't believe that way thus what I do can't be called 'practice'. It's a fallacy.

People on different paths practice in different ways. For instance, I don't pray. I know many Wiccans who do, and some who don't. I don't pray, because I don't worship. I believe worship superfluous.

I do celebrate. I celebrate the fact that I'm still alive, that I lead quite a happy life, and thank everything and everyone that helped to make that possible. I don't need a god to care, don't need a universe to care... because I care, and those around me care too. That's practice.

I also meditate. It keeps my mind uncluttered and focussed. It allows me to fall asleep and stay awake. That's practice.

I also heal. It's part of how I believe universal units are connected to each other. It's me caring for others. That's practice.

Does it differ from worshipping a sometimes caring, sometimes vengeful bearded old man? Perhaps. Does it matter when it does? I doubt it.

Eleisawolf
October 13th, 2007, 02:17 PM
This may seem like a non sequitur, but whenever we have these discussions, this comes to mind. It's from Spoon River Anthology by E.L. Masters:


Franklin Jones

IF I could have lived another year
I could have finished my flying machine,
And become rich and famous.
Hence it is fitting the workman
Who tried to chisel a dove for me
Made it look more like a chicken.
For what is it all but being hatched,
And running about the yard,
To the day of the block?
Save that a man has an angel's brain,
And sees the ax from the first!

Okay, so my point isn't based on the despair of the whole epitaph.
But it's based on this: we see the ax from the first. We have a mind to perceive life from an amazing perspective. We can imagine its beginning, foresee its end, and picture the whole of everything contained in between. We don't know of any other creatures that can do that (though they may exist--we're just unable to know what other critters can perceive, because we just don't have that kind of experience) but in any case it's an amazing capacity to have.

We see the whole system of which we are part, whether we fully understand it or not. It's easy to feel engulfed by it, and insignificant within it, but I always return to the ancient idea of microcosm and macrocosm. We are in the microcosm, and we are a part of it and affect it and make a difference within it. We have no idea how those ripples travel, or what they mean. Xentor's compassion, Cheddar's intention, Airmist's simplicity, our, as Pantheists, willingness to be present to everything we do and everything we touch may make a difference, or may not, to a supernova 300 million light years away... but what may be affected in the future by someone who knows of us, knows of that supernova, and somehow comes up with something out of the two that might change their world, the world as a whole, or the universe at large, somehow? Where in the macrocosm might the microcosm be reflected?

I tend along with Airmist, and sometimes annoy the more rationalist Pantheists because of it, I know. I also see the universe as caring, and I see many things I don't understand that seem to have a connection that could be thrown off as coincidence, but that affect me and those around me and the world itself enough to seem more than that. That's just my perception, and it could be wrong. But it makes me look more around me and notice things that have meaning to others, trying to build understanding, relationship, and connection, and I become a better person through that presence, I think. And as my old teacher once said, Thoughts ARE Things. They are made of the same stuff as we, and as the stars. That connection means something to me. Every change in matter and energy affects the matter and energy around it. How would our thoughts, beliefs, expressions, intention be an exception to that or oxymoronic?

Just MHO...
Peace

Novembers River
October 14th, 2007, 07:44 PM
And as my old teacher once said, Thoughts ARE Things. They are made of the same stuff as we, and as the stars. That connection means something to me. Every change in matter and energy affects the matter and energy around it.

Beautifully stated and I couldn't agree more.

We are part of everything and the energy of our thoughts and actions affect the universe and existence whether we realize it or not.

cheddarsox
October 15th, 2007, 05:07 PM
Those last few posts are not only beautiful and thought provoking, but sort of lead into another question that has been burning in my mind.

Is anything REAL?

this was brought up by some other threads on MW lately. Is there any such thing as Truth, I mean something that IS, no matter what we believe or understand about it (or don't believe or understand about it).

Or is everything just a matter of perspective?

I do believe that thoughts are made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe, and that they affect things, but I think that there are some things that are not just a matter of what we believe about them, that they have some objective reality beyond our belief or understanding of them.

Any thoughts on that?

airmist
October 16th, 2007, 06:37 AM
Cheddar, you ask some questions which are at the root, I think, of why and how we consider the types of things we have been discussing in some of the recent threads in this forum on pantheism. Some times the discussions lean to the spiritual (theological, if you will) and sometimes to the more philosophical considerations.

Those questions have been pondered for millenia. It is why there is philosophy. Diotima posted a definition or at least answer to the question what is philosophy in another thread. I'm quoting it here,

"My mentor had a definition I have treasured:

We [philosophers] are the voice of calm and reason in an excitable world. We are the voice of moderation in extreme times. We ask the unpleasant questions and we seek for truth that no one else believes to exist. We call lies and false claims for what they are when no one else does and defend what we know to be right, until proven that we were wrong ."

I hope others will contribute to the discussion, maybe you should start a new thread with your questions? I'll probably just lurk on this one. I've studied enough philosophy many years ago to have realized it has gone beyond my abilities. I'll stick with reading poetry. Thanks for the topic; it can be a great one.

~*Sacred*~
October 25th, 2007, 01:34 PM
Is it an oxymoron to "practice" intentional pantheism in a faith that does not understand the Universe as "caring" what we do?

When I tell people my religion is pantheism I often get the response that it is essentially atheism, therefore there is no reason for me to practice it or bother about it, because, after all, the Universe neither cares nor demands it.

Yet I am a very intentional pantheist, after caring for my family, my faith is the thing I spend most of my time, energy, thought and effort on.

If nothing else, it serves me, which makes me more functional and useful in society.

So...do you "practice" your faith in an intentional, perhaps even religious way...Why?

(religion may be a crutch, but hey...things that stand on three legs tend to be very stable)
I think that everything I do is reciprocated in the things around me. It's all caring to me.

~~there's my simple answer

Novembers River
October 25th, 2007, 03:17 PM
I do believe that thoughts are made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe, and that they affect things, but I think that there are some things that are not just a matter of what we believe about them, that they have some objective reality beyond our belief or understanding of them.


Physically, of course there are other sources of energy that things are made of. I think on the physical plane we can all mostly agree to that.

But beyond the physical it's tougher to define. Let's take Gods/Goddesses for example. Do they soley exist from the energy of our beliefs, of our worship? If not one single being believes in a God, does that God cease to exist? Does that God merely return to the whole of existence/divinity?

I would have to say.... yes.

Or are there other sources of energy that feed these Gods and enable them to manifest form out of the over-all, whole god-force of existence?