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Author Topic: Pantheistic Practice  (Read 15546 times)
Zedd
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« Reply #30: August 12, 2008, 06:14:48 pm »

It's about a way of life, trying to live in harmony with nature/the Tao/the Unity/Spinoza's God/unified reality.  There's no personal immortality in pantheism, but being aware of my place within the world and within nature are enough. 

I have a few problems with the strictly pantheistic approach, perhaps you can help...Heidegger refers to something I have always felt to my core, that is an alienation from this existence. Heidegger called it unheimlich...das Nicht-zuhause-sein, "the uncanniness of not-being-at-home" (Being and Time, pg 188). This is a very common theme in the Philosphy of Religion, though it is not stated as that. One could argue that religion is man's attempt to 'get to his home'.

I ask this question to you that I have asked myself, do you(I) come to acceptance of this status (ie., trying to live in harmony...) and chose to live in harmony on this often misearable planet out of resignation to the inevitable fact that we exist here?

I have answered this to my satisfaction, but before I poisen the well, I would like to get your response.

At $107/copy, I would love to have you as a neighbor so I could read this interesting looking book.... Wink
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« Reply #31: August 12, 2008, 08:08:20 pm »

How are you defining "God"?

Brina

Sure, ask all the easy questions.

There are few main distinguishing factors I think of when I define gods:
*Gods are conscious, self-aware, and seemingly immortal.
*I don't think gods are omni everything, but I do think they can see more of what's going on than we can.  Their senses reach farther, so to speak.
*I think gods have the power to step in and interfere with our lives if they choose in ways we may think miraculous or impossible.

Of course these are only what I expect gods to be based on religious influences.  I have no personal experience.
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« Reply #32: August 12, 2008, 08:57:03 pm »

Sure, ask all the easy questions.

There are few main distinguishing factors I think of when I define gods:
*Gods are conscious, self-aware, and seemingly immortal.
*I don't think gods are omni everything, but I do think they can see more of what's going on than we can.  Their senses reach farther, so to speak.
*I think gods have the power to step in and interfere with our lives if they choose in ways we may think miraculous or impossible.

Of course these are only what I expect gods to be based on religious influences.  I have no personal experience.

I would agree with your definitions above, but then again so are angels...... I would suggest adding the following definition, gods are [fill in above] beings that have the ability to organize/create from the infinite what they will in accordance to the limitations necessary for their own existence. Spinozastically speaking, Gods are beings free to create autonomously from other beings, free from interference from other beings. MHO.
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« Reply #33: August 12, 2008, 09:27:14 pm »

I would agree with your definitions above, but then again so are angels...... I would suggest adding the following definition, gods are [fill in above] beings that have the ability to organize/create from the infinite what they will in accordance to the limitations necessary for their own existence. Spinozastically speaking, Gods are beings free to create autonomously from other beings, free from interference from other beings. MHO.

wait - does that make a hermaphrodite god?  because they can create a person without extra help?

I mean, I've created another being - took help from my husband, but I made one!  he's refusing to sleep upstairs .....
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« Reply #34: August 12, 2008, 09:45:06 pm »

I would agree with your definitions above, but then again so are angels...... I would suggest adding the following definition, gods are [fill in above] beings that have the ability to organize/create from the infinite what they will in accordance to the limitations necessary for their own existence. Spinozastically speaking, Gods are beings free to create autonomously from other beings, free from interference from other beings. MHO.

Not that I disagree with your interpretation of Spinoza, but I disagree with the conclusion.  Why is it necessary to be able to create ex nihilo to be a god?  In fact, I personally find creation ex nihilo to be at odds with pantheism or at least panentheism.  I think "creation" is a misleading term within pantheism--it's far more inclined towards existence proper being "uncreated," or on some level existing simply because it always has.

Even if you disagree with that inclination though, why is it necessary to distinguish gods from angels?  I've always pictured them as operating much the same way and on the same level.  If it is necessary, then I argue the distinction to be the matter of service.  Angels are beings inherently in service to another higher being, whereas gods may serve others if they choose.
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« Reply #35: August 12, 2008, 10:22:02 pm »

wait - does that make a hermaphrodite god?  because they can create a person without extra help?

I mean, I've created another being - took help from my husband, but I made one!  he's refusing to sleep upstairs .....


Smiley To answer your questions...
1) By hermaphrodite do you mean John of Salisbury's concern that courtiers were "[those who] engages in the trifles of the courtier and undertakes the obligations of a philosopher or a good man" or the zoological definition of the term used to define an animal with both male and female gonads. Two points, generally speaking, most animals with both sets of 'nads have protective functions that prohibit self-fertilization (slugs and snail apparantly being an exception). Second, were I said "[fill in the above]" I was referencing your statements,
 "*Gods are conscious, self-aware, and seemingly immortal.
  *I don't think gods are omni everything, but I do think they can see more of what's going on than we can.  Their senses reach farther, so to speak.
  *I think gods have the power to step in and interfere with our lives if they choose in ways we may think miraculous or impossible."
Thus, that greatly reduces the logical pool of candidates to be a 'god'.
2) Well, yes, I do believe each human being has the potential to become 'a god'. Makes you sort of special.
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« Reply #36: August 12, 2008, 10:32:33 pm »

Not that I disagree with your interpretation of Spinoza, but I disagree with the conclusion.  Why is it necessary to be able to create ex nihilo to be a god?  In fact, I personally find creation ex nihilo to be at odds with pantheism or at least panentheism.  I think "creation" is a misleading term within pantheism--it's far more inclined towards existence proper being "uncreated," or on some level existing simply because it always has.

OK OK you got me there...Smiley. I am used to using the term 'creation' when dealing with fundies, sb, etc..., technically, the bible uses the term "bara'", which is generally thought to mean reform or shape, implying there was something originally 'there' to form the universe from. I believe this is what Spinoza believed as well, that all the universe was a 'subset' of God.

Even if you disagree with that inclination though, why is it necessary to distinguish gods from angels?  I've always pictured them as operating much the same way and on the same level.  If it is necessary, then I argue the distinction to be the matter of service.  Angels are beings inherently in service to another higher being, whereas gods may serve others if they choose.
Again, technically angels are 'messengers' of God or god(s). While having all the abilities of God, they are generally thought of as being, as you said, in service to G(g)od.
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« Reply #37: August 12, 2008, 11:00:17 pm »

But I still just don't quite get it.  How is everything divine?  Maybe you can define what you mean by divine?  (These questions are open to everyone.)

I agree that the universe is beautiful and amazing and awe-inspiring, but to say that everything is God makes me go "huhhh?"
For me, there's a very definite difference between, "everything is divine," and, "everything is God" - the latter implies self-awareness and volition independent of, or at least distinct from, the (varying degrees of) self-awareness and volition of the things that make up the whole; whereas I consider the self-awareness/volition of That Which Is to be a function of, and dependent on, those qualities in the component parts.

As to why I consider it divine - that's a tough one to put into words.  As Shad said (a lot of what Shad's saying is fairly close to my POV; the main difference seems to be what I touch on in the first paragraph of this post), it's kind of indescribable.  I think the closest I can come right now is that it's so wonder-ful that "divine" seems like the best way to express that.  It's something that can be felt, the wonder-ful-ness and connectedness, but if one doesn't feel that, one might not consider the word "divine" to fit.

I could just as well say, "everything is sacred," meaning that nothing is unworthy/"fallen"/not-good-enough, but the word "sacred" has, IMO, even more problematic baggage than "divine" does.

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« Reply #38: August 12, 2008, 11:15:26 pm »

These folks have a very strict, scientific view of pantheism.  They also have a rather disturbing tendency to define pantheism for everyone.  They don't have any specific practices.

This one is very similar to the last, if slightly softer in tone.
<nod> I have no problem with scientific pantheism in and of itself - I've known many atheists who've suppressed their spiritual leanings/yearnings because they thought atheism required it, and like the idea of a middle ground where atheism and a sense of the spiritual can co-exist (especially as certain materialist atheists get louder, and more proselytic).  But I don't much care for scientific pantheists developing the same dogmatic/proselytic tendency - it smacks of rigid binary thinking and One-True-Way-ism, which doesn't fit all that well with a view based on rationality and observation rather than on theistic faith.

Quote
As a pantheist myself, I agree with the idea of nature as god.  I disagree with the hardline scientific pantheists that only that which is scientifically provable is "real" and thus worthy of reverence.  I've had experiences, met entities, and interacted with energies that lead me to believe there's more out there than what we can readily quantify.  Thusly, I'm more than a tad too "ooga booga" for the SciPans.  Wink

I've had to find my own way and work out my own beliefs and rituals.  I'm guided by my experiences and observations of the world.  Unless you can find others who believe as you do, I suspect you'll soon be in the same boat.  Which, I've come to realize, isn't such a bad thing.
Brina is also saying things that are fairly close to my POV.

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« Reply #39: August 12, 2008, 11:28:44 pm »

I was referencing your statements,

Actually, those were my statements, not Shads.   Smiley
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« Reply #40: August 12, 2008, 11:41:39 pm »

For me, there's a very definite difference between, "everything is divine," and, "everything is God"

Quote
As to why I consider it divine - that's a tough one to put into words. 
I think the closest I can come right now is that it's so wonder-ful that "divine" seems like the best way to express that.  It's something that can be felt, the wonder-ful-ness and connectedness,

I find myself nodding my head in agreement to these statements.  I'm not convinced either way about the existence of independent deities, I'm just not finding myself ready to work them at this time.  But I feel that I want to do something.  Do you have any regular/semi-regular practices you do (that do not involve independent deities)?
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« Reply #41: August 13, 2008, 12:10:18 am »

I find myself nodding my head in agreement to these statements.  I'm not convinced either way about the existence of independent deities, I'm just not finding myself ready to work them at this time.  But I feel that I want to do something.  Do you have any regular/semi-regular practices you do (that do not involve independent deities)?
The things I do/have done that are more pantheism-focused (as compared to, focused on one or more of my other descriptors, not that I really compartmentalize all my bits) tend to be pretty spontaneous and unstructured - mostly a matter of noticing things (small signs of seasonal shift - f'ex, today I was noticing that the green of the leaves is less bright, a more dusty color - or what phase the moon is in; stuff about human accomplishment, which also feeds my humanist side; being aware of the subtle underlying "heartbeat" of my city, which relates to the animistic/shamanistic part), appreciating it in whatever way seems appropriate, and training myself to be more mindful, more able to notice.  Sometimes "whatever way seems appropriate" is the noticing itself, or taking a moment to think about it.

If that's helpful but still vague, I'd add, ask yourself what sorts of things around you make you most aware of connectedness-to-the-All; those are the things to pay more attention to, to start with.  It could be literally anything, since everything is part of that whole - heck, pick something at random, and consider why it's wonder-ful and how it connects to other things.

It occurs to me that I'm recommending meditation - not as a "do it every day at the same time" discipline (though you could approach it that way), and not the "empty the mind" style, but as a spontaneous practice of meditating on something, for a few minutes at a time, "as the spirit moves" rather than on a set schedule, possibly several times a day if it works that way.

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« Reply #42: August 13, 2008, 12:17:17 am »

I find myself nodding my head in agreement to these statements.  I'm not convinced either way about the existence of independent deities, I'm just not finding myself ready to work them at this time.  But I feel that I want to do something.  Do you have any regular/semi-regular practices you do (that do not involve independent deities)?
I may be misreading you (inferring something you do not mean to imply), but you speak of 'deities' and ask a question of 'pantheistic practices'. While the two are not incompatible, they are certainly not the same. The LDS have been accused of being Pantheistic polytheists. This is probably literaly true. The LDS believe there are many Gods; they believe we might become like a god (though not God him/herself); they believe the universe is composed of an infinite amount of substance from which everything is formed (called intelligence for lack of a better word); though we believe in this universe we are interwoven/interconnected with God the Father. In the LDS religion prayer is considered direct communication (a two-way street) with God Himself.
  On the other hand many pantheists believe we are our own universe (aka Heidegger's feeling of alienation from others) and that we can 'worship' or 'practice' the belief of Pantheism by deep meditation. This deep mediation can take us to visit god-like creatures, though (in this belief structure) they are a creation of our own being sein.
  You have strict polytheists who worship gods and do not carry the beliefs of pantheism.
  You have strict pantheists who simply believe we are flotsam in the infinite sea foam of existence and do not do anything.
  These are but 2 of a virtual infinite amount of beliefs regarding this subject. There is NO common pantheism practice other than that of deep meditation (with the exception of those who do nothing...ha ha ha ha). That is the only practice any of these would have in common.
  As Paul said, work out your salvation with fear and trembling... Undecided
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« Reply #43: August 13, 2008, 07:45:46 am »

I find myself nodding my head in agreement to these statements.  I'm not convinced either way about the existence of independent deities, I'm just not finding myself ready to work them at this time.  But I feel that I want to do something.  Do you have any regular/semi-regular practices you do (that do not involve independent deities)?

are you looking for something like this? http://www.flamekeeping.org/?p=30

and then http://www.flamekeeping.org/?p=44 and http://www.flamekeeping.org/?p=46
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« Reply #44: August 13, 2008, 08:00:14 am »

You have strict polytheists who worship gods and do not carry the beliefs of pantheism.

You have strict pantheists who simply believe we are flotsam in the infinite sea foam of existence and do not do anything.

These are but 2 of a virtual infinite amount of beliefs regarding this subject. There is NO common pantheism practice other than that of deep meditation (with the exception of those who do nothing...ha ha ha ha). That is the only practice any of these would have in common.

Personally, I think part of the problem here is that pantheism really isn't a religion any more than Paganism is a religion. Pantheism is a general term describing a belief about deity. This belief itself does not have any practices associated with it. Individual religions that espouse this belief about God have practices associated with them.

[Side Note: Please separate your paragraphs with blank lines. Your posts will be much more readable. Thanks]
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