Monday, 11 October 2010

a kind of polyunified panentheism

For me, divinity is at the core of our reality, and it is also 'the whole', the unity of all nature and everything. I call this my 'is-ness' of being.

I agree (in part) with the Buddhists that the world we know is in constant flux and change, and individual existences are the temporary waves that appear on the surface of the ocean, but beneath the surface of the waves is an infinite depth. The divine is not 'something', it is isn't a 'self' . From the human perspective, it is emptiness yet not pure nothing ness.It defies categorisation. I feel it is yet not impersonal (because after all the universe contains persons, and so cannot be less than personal) but somehow involves a transpersonal cosmic consciousness. [And I say 'transpersonal', but have no real idea what I mean, just it 'feels' very true to me!]

I don't go the whole way into only identifying the divine with the physical world i.e. pantheism because to my mind, this view point sees only the 'surface of things' as divine - just the physical alone - and does not 'capture' the full essence of the divine. I believe there are more 'subtle' and 'immaterial' aspects of nature in deeper (or 'higher') dimensions of reality, and this is my understanding of 'transcendence' - not as something 'outside' of nature, simply the supreme reality is not just corporeal, or physcial or limited by the finite: it extends beyond space-time as we know it. So my God is not 'outside' nature (how can anything be so as nature is everything?) but the full reality of divinity is still ''beyond' what we humans understand as nature and can realise with our everyday senses.

Fundamentally we are all, at the level of reality where quantum physics operates, just dancing patterns of energy'..and that moving energy itself and the 'field' and 'current' and potentiality is the life of God. God is Spirit and Spirit is simply 'being(or essence), life, and consciousness'. However a truly holistic, pantheistic cosmic divinity is very hard, perhaps impossible to conceive of, except in some mystic's ectasy. Soon the idea gets muddled up with a notion of a personal supreme being. My take on this misunderstanding is that the ancients had many 'gods' some crudely understood, but the best of the ancient mystics saw that true divinity was 'cosmic' in scope. Unfortunately the panentheist divinity and the crude character of the local chief' god of a tribe or nation was often conflated, resulting in the worst excesses of monotheism: a cruel local god with cosmic pretensions. So I shy away from this kind of monotheism.

I'd better explain that I have been around 'polytheistic' pagan traditions for some years, which indicates my very long personal journey away from my rigid Christian upbringing. This 'paganism' has informed my viewpoint. So I tend to believe 'God' is most fully encountered and 'felt' in the numinous in particular places and times, and through the forces of nature, and through examples excellence, holiness and beauty. Many different cultures through the wonders of the human imagination personify these 'theophanies' or 'outworkings' of the cosmic divine. Thus the cosmic divinity really manifests pluralistically, as a poly-unity, becoming the many different 'gods' of actual religious worship. So each god or gods really is approximately, a real concrete example, of an aspect, an appearance, of the cosmic divinity. That said, I think we too, in our little lives, are or can become, an 'aspect' of actualised cosmic divinity - through a well lived life, where we must make the hidden Godness potential shine through!

And I love nature, which means I strongly tend to panpsychism - that mental (though not necessarily cognitive) abilities are found in all living creatures, even allegedly 'inanimate' beings have the raw material of consciousness.

Sunday, 10 October 2010


I am not finding 'polytheism' easy going. In fact i find it does not mesh with my 'core spirituality' at all well. I'm also put off by reading stuff written by contemporary hard polytheists. Dealing with the first point first, hard polytheists seem to pick and choose their gods in a typically post-modern 'consumerist' fashion. One can add any 'god' to one's basket depending on one's particular life situation, likes, feelings. Even if they can 'hold' to one pantheon (for today at least) polytheists are generally unable to explain how their pantheon can be related to other 'pantheons' e.g. Greek to Norse to Vedic to Egyptian to Semitic and so on. This is leading me to realise that polytheism is no more necessarily conducive to religious pluralism than any other religion in principle. Only the attitude of polytheists is necessarily tolerant, I suppose because every belief is, and, must remain 'available' for purchase. The only significant ancient god that doesn't get a look in among those pushing such hard polytheistic eccleticism are Yahweh.

So what is my 'core spirituality'? Well, first I note that my encounters with polytheism are helping me define what I can believe in. My tendencies are toward:

  • monism - there is unity underlying all reality. On the mind/matter debate I am a 'neutral monist' i.e. 'mind' and 'matter' are two 'sides' of the same coin of fundamental 'stuff'
  • panpsychism - I tend toward the believe that all things have mental properties, though only certain animals are show cognitive life, and having mental properties could involve a state of 'unconsciousness' relative to sentient creatures. This belief also flows from having since childhood a sense of the 'spirits of place' or the 'vibe' of a location
  • a love of nature, and a sense that the forces of nature are 'divine'
  • a sense of 'transcendence', that there is a 'higher realm' or 'higher reality' distinct from but encompassing the physical world.
  • I am impressed by arguments for a 'first cause and necessary being' and the apparent 'fine tuning' of the universe. These point to a 'cosmic God'
  • I accept there may be some fundamental 'plurality' of deity as manifest (so a willingness to accept a 'soft' polytheism. The plurality wanted though is a poly-unity
  • Evil in the world is such that I do not believe in a benevolent divinity who can intervene in the world.
  • My religiosity must have less problems of coherence or irrationality than the religion I have left behind. I have fully absorbed the naturalistic objections to the latter.
Some form of Pan-en-theism or Pandeism seem to be a better 'fit'. However there is no 'tradition' of religious practice to draw upon.