Saturday, 11 June 2011

Pantheism with a twist

My current spiritual ideas are not of course original to me...they include a dab of neo-platonism, a spoonful of Kabblah, a  lump of Hegelianism, some Advaita, some Jung,  a little Tielhard de Chardin, a  dollop of process philosophy, and a helping of evolutionary spirituality, stewed in the juices of a neutral monism and nature mysticism and boiled vigorously in a naturalistic pressure cooker. Finally decorated with elements of  modern neo-paganism.

Basically I imagine that our Cosmos (or indeed the multiverse if there is such) manifests the ever evolving divinity, which is conceived of pantheistically as a non-personal or transpersonal absolute and dynamic power and will to be and to create that always has a corporeal form Spirit is Being  (the 'isness-of being') rather than a being, it is Life rather than any particular living thing, and Consciousness (including the Unconscious or yet to be conscious) rather than any particular self or mind. So this Spirit is formless no-thing but paradoxically manifests as all things and forms. This Spirit is not a mind, but it manifests as many minds. We provide its cognitive consciousness, and all sentient beings in the Cosmos are incarnating Spirit, we are its mind, eyes, ears, mouths, hands and feet. Spirit ultimately seeks expression as a unity of the many, as unity in diversity, and a common blessedness of enjoyment, freedom and communion. Because of the unity behind all things there can be 'love' and 'justice' and the symmetry-harmony that we understand as 'beauty'. Because this unity is not a unity above or opposed to plurality but a unity within plurality, within diversity everything in nature is important. However Spirit is not the same as Goodness. Spirit's laws, its 'fate' is inexorable and its physical evolution is the struggle that is red in tooth and claw. There is constant sacrifice, death and re-birth, a returning to the formless and the emergence of new forms. If our planet suddenly became uninhabitable, Spirit would be temporarily frustrated, but there are other worlds and probably other universes.  Indeed once it has reached its maximum, its 'omega' of blessedness and knowledge, the physical universe will dissolve over aeons and the process will no doubt begin again, an eternal cycle.

I envisage three states of being, modes of reality that are not hierarchical 'levels' one above the other  but might be represented as concentric circles with  pure Spirit at the 'centre', though this picture may also be misunderstood in hierarchical or simple 'emationist' terms. Perhaps three intersecting circles is a still better representation. The notion then is of  the 'different dimensions' of being.

  • The 'circle' of  'Pure' Spirit; this is the absolute beyond conception, form etc,and a pure essence. This is a state of being that mystics can attain to..  Pure Spirit is experienced as both an embracing the unifying principle behind reality, that interpenetrates its, and is beyond all duality, and also as a 'void'. It is the 'thing-in-itself'. Its physical correlate is the 'quantum vaccuum'.
  • The 'circle' of 'Archetypal Reality' - the forces, powers, and principles that shape our reality that have both physical and psychic 'modes/correlates'. This 'circle' is the unus mundus of Jungian speculation. Here also are  the Gods of Neo Platonism, the Sefiroth of Kabbalah and the 'Divine Energies' of Orthodox Christianity. The archetypal forces precede their 'imaging' and personification in the mental and cultural expressions found in myth and symbol.
  • The 'circle' of  Ordinary Reality - that can be explored by empirical science. This is the explicit order, the other two circles represent an implicit order. As individuals we  live from time to time in all three circles of being.
My spirituality is ultimately a pantheism. There is only 'nature' but nature is not necessarily simply the forms of matter and energy and space and time which we are most familiar with i.e. it is not a crude materialism. There is not a supernatural substance distinct from 'matter' i.e. this is not a crude dualism. My pantheism seems the flowering of life and sentient civillisations as the 'incarnation' of  Spirit, its highest form. I imagine  a teleological but not inevitable or predetermined process behind natural evolution, a movement to greater complexity then to great consciousness and knowledge (though not requiring humans beings per se, just sentience). This process is random yet the overall trajectory is inevitable rather as rivers must flow to the sea, though the water can take innumerable paths. I see spirit 'at work' in self organising processes but not as a elan vital or something special in the physical. It is the physical.

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