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TygerTyger
September 30th, 2009, 03:01 AM
Mystic Zoe posed an interesting question.

Pantheism lacks the structure of many other religions, no bible, no commandments, no priesthood, etc. It is often seen as a very personal path, not least because the proof upon which it rests is experienced subjectively by each individual rather than in communion.

One of the consequences of this is that Pantheism can seem vague and that individuals can add elements of other belief systems freely, but does this change the nature of their Pantheistic beliefs?

If too much is added from elsewhere does the Pantheism become something else?

At what point might this happen?

Discuss.

mystic_zoe
September 30th, 2009, 07:09 AM
I was thinking some more about this.
I'm not about to answer my own questions haha just adding another thought.

Would it not depend on the definition you use to describe Pantheism? I googled it and you can get a couple different ones.
Maybe I am interpretting them wrongly, but surely thats bound to confuse people?

I go by the definition

"belief that God and the universe are identical," which i took from http://www.etymonline.com

I personally dont believe in God, just that the universe is on the same level but isnt God. Nothing supernatural or anything.

cheddarsox
September 30th, 2009, 07:56 AM
Here is my definition of pantheism "The belief that the Universe is the Ultimate Reality".

That is what I tell people when they find out I am a pantheist and they say "What is THAT?"

If someone believe the Universe is "God", as long as they believe it's the Ultimate Reality, I think they are a pantheist.

If they don't, then I think they are something else.

There is a lot of play room under the definition I use. It's not my intention to control the use of the term pantheism, or to keep anyone out of an exclusive club. It doesn't matter to me how they express their faith, or if they don't, or if they choose not to use the term faith at all. But I think if they believe that something other than the Universe is the Ultimate Reality,then that thing takes precedence and they are really something other than a pantheist.

That has gotten a lot of people angry with me, who have become attached to the term pantheist, and when I pointed out that when they described what they believed in it was known to the general population as humanism, or some other term. They accused me of trying to be the pantheist pope.

Words mean only and ever what the general population that uses the language understands them to mean. No one controls language enough to be able to dictate what any term can and can't be used for. I think that my understanding of what pantheism is, pretty much fits what most people I know who consider themselves pantheists understand it to mean.

*oonagh*
September 30th, 2009, 10:51 AM
well, i think that as long as one does not consider diety to be separate from that which exists then that person is a pantheist.

so, if one starts praying to gods/goddesses and what not...well that would not be in line with this path. i believe that arguments can be made to justify praying to gods/goddesses. but, i don't buy them.

i've asked the question in another thread about pantheism and the practice of witchcraft. does the practice of witchcraft pull someone away from pantheistic belief? i'm still not 100% sure about that one. witchcraft as the manipulation of energies makes me wonder. if diety *is* energy, how could we possibly manipulate it at source level? energy, or source, manipulates us.

i do not think that praying or ritual pulls someone away from pantheism as long as these prayers and rituals are mindful that diety is all that exists. for example, i mark the cycles in nature but with very simple ritual and not by praying to some god/goddess.

TygerTyger
October 2nd, 2009, 05:24 AM
My core belief is that God is Everything and Everything is God.

Sounds simple but the explanation is somewhat more difficult. For instance, I don't see God as a supernatural being, but rather as a being of immense dimesions, as in the universe, of which everything that exists is an attribute of God's existence.

Indeed, as nature is also an attribute of God then nothing supernatural could be said to exist as this would be outside the nature of God, which goes against the logic of my core belief.

The observance of this belief can take many forms, however, and this is where the original question needs to be considered. In this respect I am with oonagh, where God and Existence are not divisble there is the Pantheist belief. Anything that follows from that consideration remains Pantheist no matter how it might be expressed, worshipped or observed.

mystic_zoe
October 2nd, 2009, 05:49 AM
well, i think that as long as one does not consider diety to be separate from that which exists then that person is a pantheist.

I agree. To me Pantheism is the idea that god/deity and the universe/nature etc are the same sorta thing. Not separate.



so, if one starts praying to gods/goddesses and what not...well that would not be in line with this path. i believe that arguments can be made to justify praying to gods/goddesses. but, i don't buy them.

Well would that not depend on whether they see gods/goddesses as being literal or just as a representation or sumbol of the universe/existance?

If a person doesnt see them as being literal, only symbolic then they would be meaning the same thing?



i've asked the question in another thread about pantheism and the practice of witchcraft. does the practice of witchcraft pull someone away from pantheistic belief? i'm still not 100% sure about that one. witchcraft as the manipulation of energies makes me wonder. if diety *is* energy, how could we possibly manipulate it at source level? energy, or source, manipulates us.

i do not think that praying or ritual pulls someone away from pantheism as long as these prayers and rituals are mindful that diety is all that exists. for example, i mark the cycles in nature but with very simple ritual and not by praying to some god/goddess.

I dont see why prayer couldnt be a part of pantheism either. You could be praying to the universe, but with the understanding that nothing will be done about what you say or there is no "guy in the sky" listening...not meaning to offend or anything :)

As for witchcraft, well if the person sees the deity and universe as being one, then surely the would be manipulating energy from that source?
I suppose we are a part of the universe and everything, so we would be using energy from ourselves and everything?

I'm not necessarily the right person to comment on witchcraft since i dont practise it.

TygerTyger
October 2nd, 2009, 08:21 AM
[quote=mystic_zoe;4058198]As for witchcraft, well if the person sees the deity and universe as being one, then surely the would be manipulating energy from that source?
I suppose we are a part of the universe and everything, so we would be using energy from ourselves and everything?
quote]

We do manipulate energy, in fact we do it all the time, we just don't recognise many of the ways in which we use energy as 'witchcraft'.

*oonagh*
October 2nd, 2009, 08:34 AM
We do manipulate energy, in fact we do it all the time, we just don't recognise many of the ways in which we use energy as 'witchcraft'.

yeah...this is where i get confused. i'd like to say that pantheism and witchcraft don't jive. but, i think i'm wrong. i think there is nothing incorrect about calling yourself a witch even if you are a pantheist.

TygerTyger
October 2nd, 2009, 08:54 AM
yeah...this is where i get confused. i'd like to say that pantheism and witchcraft don't jive. but, i think i'm wrong. i think there is nothing incorrect about calling yourself a witch even if you are a pantheist.

I would argue that as long as your core belief remains intact then it doesn't matter if you also believe in witchcraft, or anything else for that matter.

Integrity of belief remains the key, representation of that belief maybe confusing to others but the unstructured nature of Pantheism, which I celebrate, means almost anything goes.

*oonagh*
October 2nd, 2009, 09:06 AM
Well would that not depend on whether they see gods/goddesses as being literal or just as a representation or sumbol of the universe/existance?

If a person doesnt see them as being literal, only symbolic then they would be meaning the same thing?


hmmm...i mean i have great regard for the concept of ma'at and of themis since they both represent the natural order or natural law of the universe (to put it simply). but i don't *pray* to them or use their names because i do not see them as divinity. i mean...does one *pray* to a concept?
just a thought.

*oonagh*
October 2nd, 2009, 09:10 AM
I dont see why prayer couldnt be a part of pantheism either. You could be praying to the universe, but with the understanding that nothing will be done about what you say or there is no "guy in the sky" listening...not meaning to offend or anything :)



i pray 2-3 times a day. so, i completely agree that prayer can be a part of the pantheistic path. however, i see it as simply putting the energy of my words out there (for lack of a better explaination). i use the term "great spirit" or "source" when i pray meaning that which is all things (i feel another thread coming <g>).

TygerTyger
October 2nd, 2009, 09:24 AM
I see prayer as a means of concentrating. It helps to focus the mind on the connexion that you feel at that point or, if necessary, to re-establish a connexion.

I don't pray often but when I see something of genuine beauty I often give into the urge. What do I pray to? Existence itself, it is the means by which we both experience and participate in being.

mystic_zoe
October 2nd, 2009, 04:26 PM
hmmm...i mean i have great regard for the concept of ma'at and of themis since they both represent the natural order or natural law of the universe (to put it simply). but i don't *pray* to them or use their names because i do not see them as divinity. i mean...does one *pray* to a concept?
just a thought.

well if divinity and the universe are the same thing or one in the same (if that makes sense) then surely you would be praying to the universe/existence?

at the same time maybe the gods/goddesses are concepts but it may be a way which is simpler or easier for people to relate to the universe?

not sure if ive totally confused myself lol

spiral
October 3rd, 2009, 04:19 AM
Interesting thread, sorry I've taken so long to get to it, I wanted to have a think about it first.

I agree with what's already been said, that at the core of pantheism is the idea that God=Universe.

But in reading your discussions about witchcraft, prayer etc, it occurred to me that we don't very often define what we mean by the 'universe'. I think the accepted definition is ourselves, everything around us, and the natural laws that govern the universe. For this reason we say that, as pantheists, we don't believe in something supernatural that violates those natural laws.

But is it possible to believe in something commonly understood as 'supernatural' if we believe it is a natural part of the universe? Say for example, that I believe in ghosts, and view them as something natural that we simply don't fully understand. Can I still call myself a pantheist, even though there isn't any evidence (in a scientific sense) that ghosts exist as a part of the universe? By the same reasoning, can I believe that my prayers for a person living thousands of miles away from me will directly help them, if this doesn't fit into our understanding of the laws of nature?

And if not, does this mean that another core belief of pantheism is that what constitutes the 'universe' is based on current scientific knowledge and understandings?

I hope that actually made sense...

TygerTyger
October 5th, 2009, 04:53 AM
well if divinity and the universe are the same thing or one in the same (if that makes sense) then surely you would be praying to the universe/existence?


at the same time maybe the gods/goddesses are concepts but it may be a way which is simpler or easier for people to relate to the universe?

not sure if ive totally confused myself lol

No, I donít think that you have. Many gods can be seen as interpretations of attributes of the universe. Some pantheons are pretty impressive, trying to include all aspects, others are simpler but with gods that possess many attributes. Personally I see such representations as one step removed from the truth as I see it.


Interesting thread, sorry I've taken so long to get to it, I wanted to have a think about it first.


I agree with what's already been said, that at the core of pantheism is the idea that God=Universe.

But in reading your discussions about witchcraft, prayer etc, it occurred to me that we don't very often define what we mean by the 'universe'. I think the accepted definition is ourselves, everything around us, and the natural laws that govern the universe. For this reason we say that, as pantheists, we don't believe in something supernatural that violates those natural laws.

But is it possible to believe in something commonly understood as 'supernatural' if we believe it is a natural part of the universe? Say for example, that I believe in ghosts, and view them as something natural that we simply don't fully understand. Can I still call myself a pantheist, even though there isn't any evidence (in a scientific sense) that ghosts exist as a part of the universe? By the same reasoning, can I believe that my prayers for a person living thousands of miles away from me will directly help them, if this doesn't fit into our understanding of the laws of nature?

And if not, does this mean that another core belief of pantheism is that what constitutes the 'universe' is based on current scientific knowledge and understandings?

I hope that actually made sense...

My Pantheism doesnít rely upon science for validation but it does reassure me that science seems to support my beliefs. Iíve always said that Existence is too large for us to fully experience, therefore, we should not limit ourselves to what science can either prove or theorise.

Supernatural is often defined as something beyond nature. This would be a contradiction to the core belief of Pantheism as if everything is contained in within Existence, which includes nature, then what could be beyond it? This also explains why I donít believe in God as a supernatural being, such a being would be beyond Existence when in fact I believe God IS Existence.

Ghosts might well prove to be residual energy of a deceased person that we can occasionally perceive. Our life force is energy after all and energy cannot be destroyed.

*oonagh*
October 6th, 2009, 10:15 AM
well, thoughts exist. everything that is, exists, including beliefs (in ghosts, gods and goddesses etc.). therefore, in my view, it is all divinity. whether or not we can explain what it is...well, to me, that's secondary. one day, we will know what everything is...we'll have the formula (so to speak). until then (and even after, i'm pretty sure) it doesn't matter. if it exists, in whatever form it exists, it is divinity.

TygerTyger
October 8th, 2009, 08:47 AM
one day, we will know what everything is...we'll have the formula (so to speak).

This seems to be am idea in current scientific thinking, referred to as the String Theory I believe, I'm not so sure myself.

First, the universe is massive and we can only perceive a very small part of it.

Second, our senses are limited, other species have more developed or even different sense to us so obviously we are not experiencing the universe as fully as we might. The development of extra sensory equipment helps, such as infra-red telescopes, but there may be, and I think probably is, other means of sensing the universe that we haven't even thought of yet.

Third, I think it would be almost arrogant to apply what we know from our small bit of existence and apply it exponentially, as it where, to the all the rest of what is out there when we can never validate it. Considering the size fo the universe there are probably many aspects of existence that we are yet to discover.

*oonagh*
October 8th, 2009, 04:27 PM
This seems to be am idea in current scientific thinking, referred to as the String Theory I believe, I'm not so sure myself.

First, the universe is massive and we can only perceive a very small part of it.

Second, our senses are limited, other species have more developed or even different sense to us so obviously we are not experiencing the universe as fully as we might. The development of extra sensory equipment helps, such as infra-red telescopes, but there may be, and I think probably is, other means of sensing the universe that we haven't even thought of yet.

Third, I think it would be almost arrogant to apply what we know from our small bit of existence and apply it exponentially, as it where, to the all the rest of what is out there when we can never validate it. Considering the size fo the universe there are probably many aspects of existence that we are yet to discover.

yes, i believe it is an aspect of string theory, though i'm not a student of it myself.

i do not think we are remotely close to figuring it all out. we have a *lot* of evolving to do. but, perhaps, one day we *will* understand how it all fits together.