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Tue May 22, 2012, 03:23 PM

Food for thought about panentheism

This idea comes naturally out of the search I've been on for the last few years:

I started life as a positivist atheist, but after a while almost blew out psychologically from the lack of any sense of the sacred to anchor my life.

When I went looking for it, I found quite a bit of that sense of the sacred in Deep Ecology (all life has intrinsic value), then more of it in pantheism (God is identical with the natural universe). Both of these are naturalistic ideas that didn't ding my veneer of rationalism too hard.

Next on the menu were non-dualist philosophies like Zen and Taoism. Further along the non-dualist path, Advaita teaches that we are identical with Brahman and Jnana yoga teaches that we "are" consciousness.

Following that path towards the sacred led me to this recent conclusion. I am actually a panentheist for whom Consciousness is the supreme sacred manifestation, identical to what others call "God".

The key for me is that in traditional panentheism, God acts both in the world and outside it; creates reality yet works within it; is both transcendent and immanent at the same time. In David Bohm's terms, God both enfolds the implicate order and unfolds the explicate order.

For me that God-role is entirely and adequately fulfilled by Consciousness. Consciousness is the vessel within which my reality occurs, and yet my consciousness acts within reality at every moment. Consciousness is the manifestation of the divine, in the exact way that God is described in classical panentheism.

This is a very recent thought (just had it today, actually) so it's always open to change. But it's sure fun to chew on.



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Reply Food for thought about panentheism (Original post)
GliderGuider May 2012 OP
BlueIris May 2012 #1
Viva_Daddy Jun 2012 #2
silverweb Jun 2012 #3
GliderGuider Jun 2012 #5
silverweb Jun 2012 #8
GliderGuider Jun 2012 #4
Viva_Daddy Jun 2012 #6
GliderGuider Jun 2012 #7

Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue May 22, 2012, 10:06 PM

1. Yes, that is a lot to chew on.

"Consciousness is the manifestation of the divine."

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Tue Jun 5, 2012, 03:32 PM

2. Compare the definitions of "consciousness" and the traditional religious definitions of "God" and

you'll find a lot of commonality. This is not a coincidence...it's SERENDIPITY!

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Wed Jun 6, 2012, 06:55 PM

3. Greetings!

This is a terrific topic for thought. One of my favorite muses had something profound to say (as he often did) on this subject:

"I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations." (From The Faith of Scientists: In Their Own Words, by Nancy Frankenberry, 2009)

As you say, "... it's sure fun to chew on."

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Response to silverweb (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 6, 2012, 07:51 PM

5. Ah, Uncle Albert!

What a remarkable human being. His spiritual sensibilities get short shrift these days.

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 03:21 PM

8. Remarkable, indeed.

And thank you for identifying "Uncle Albert," as I just realized I'd given the source book but not the speaker! LOL

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Wed Jun 6, 2012, 07:37 PM

4. Postcard From the Path (an expansion of the OP)

I've come to understand spiritual development as a process that travels from a position of exclusion to one of complete inclusion.

The exclusionary position may be one of either atheism (especially "strong" or explicit atheism: "I believe there is no God) or traditional theism ("God is out there").

The process seems to travel naturally toward pantheism: "God is identical with all of reality."

In my opinion though, pantheism is still not a completely inclusive position - that honour goes to panentheism. This idea comes naturally out of the search I've been on for the last few years:

I started life as a positivist atheist, but after a while almost blew out psychologically from the lack of any sense of the sacred to anchor my life.

When I went looking for it, I found the first traces of that sense of the sacred in Deep Ecology (all life has intrinsic value), then more of it in pantheism (God is identical with the natural universe). Both of these are naturalistic ideas that didn't ding my veneer of scientific rationalism too hard.

Next on the menu were non-dualist philosophies like Zen and Taoism. Further along the non-dualist path, Advaita teaches that we are identical with Brahman and Jnana Yoga teaches that we "are" consciousness.

Following that path towards the sacred led me to this recent conclusion. I am actually a panentheist for whom Consciousness is a supreme sacred manifestation, identical to what others call "God".

The key for me is that in traditional panentheism, God acts both in the world and outside it; creates reality yet works within it; is both transcendent and immanent at the same time. In David Bohm's terms, God both enfolds the implicate order and unfolds the explicate order.

For me that God-role is entirely and adequately fulfilled by Consciousness. Consciousness is the vessel within which my reality occurs, and yet my consciousness acts within reality at every moment. Consciousness is the manifestation of the divine, in the exact way that God is described in classical panentheism.

So, that's all fine if one is looking for an elaborate framework for the sacred. Lately though, yet another layer of the onion has been peeled back.

Truly, completely inclusive awakening involves transcending even the notion of "sacred". It involves transcending all belief and non-belief, all notions of judgemental relationship like higher/lower or better/worse, all the concepts and structures that our mind lays over reality - including concepts of the sacred, or God or the Absolute, or the Void.

Paradoxically this "transcendence of the divine" seems to bring us full circle like Ouroboros, and we find ourselves back where we started - right back in the lap of purely ordinary reality. The difference with this version of "ordinary reality" is that our grasping, clinging, resisting, rejecting needs have been resolved by the lessons of our journey, and we are offered in their stead a clear perception of What Is.

All that is left for us is to dive back into the Dance of Lila, but now with the awareness that we are both dancing and choreographing.

Travelling this path to its conclusion leaves us with all the elements of our story intact.

In my case this means:
  • I am still an atheistic, pantheistic panentheist;
  • who neither believes nor disbelieves anything;
  • who feels that Life, Love and Consciousness define the sacred;
  • who recognizes that all the apparently distinct elements of reality are simply playful manifestations of the One;
  • who thinks it is useful to suspect that "What Is" is a conscious co-creation of all its elements;
  • who feels that this apparently personal manifestation called "me" is human, divine, individual, universal, everything and nothing at the same time.
In a bit of a surprise, although the elements of the story may still be intact, they no longer define someone called "me". That is moksha - or at least that is my moksha - the liberation of being "not-me".

This perspective informs fundamentally my position on the unfolding "Global Predicament of Ecology and Human Civilization". From here the situation is revealed as not being a predicament at all. Such a divided, conflicted, judgmental interpretation of the situation is seen to be a product of our attached perspective from inside its ongoing self-expression.

From a point of view outside the unfolding of our reality, from the pantheist or panentheist perspectives for example, the "predicament" is revealed to be just the way Life is expressing itself at the moment.

Transcending the apparently final position of being a Witness to that unfolding is what allows us to carry this awareness back into the core of the Dance itself.

That act of re-entry - coming back into the Dance as pure Consciousness - allows us to participate in Life again; but to participate without judgement or reservation, with joy and complete commitment.

In that moment of completely ordinary simplicity, our value to ourselves, our species, all of life, the universe and reality itself becomes as great as it can possibly be.

June 1, 2012
Bodhi Paul Chefurka (aka GliderGuider)

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Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Thu Jun 7, 2012, 02:43 PM

6. I'd like to share some non-dual quotes that speak to this thread:

Tell the mind there is but One; he who divides the One wanders from death to death.
Katha upanishad

The loving contemplative, in his Ground wherein he rests, sees and feels nothing but an incomprehensible Light; and through that simple Nudity which enfolds all things, he finds himself, and feels himself, to be that same Light by which he sees, and nothing else.
Ruysbroeck

The word SUM, I AM, can be spoken by no creature, but by God only.
Meister Eckhart

Every visible and invisible creature is a theophany, or appearance of God.
Erigena

We cannot see the visible except with the invisible.
Meister Eckhart

The stirring of religion is the feeling that my only true self is God.
A.C. Bradley

To Real Being we go back, all that we have and are. To this we return as from This we came. Of What is Here we have direct knowledge, not images or even impressions; and to know without images is to be.... When we look outside of This on which we depend, we ignore our unity. Looking outward we see many faces, look inward and al is the One Head. If a man could but be turned around – by his own motion or the happy pull of Athene – he would at once see God, and himself, and the All.
Plotinus

There is no death of anyone but only in appearance, even as there is no birth of anyone but only in appearance.
Appollonius of Tyana

Liberation is knowing you were not born.
Ramana Maharshi

The ego of the sage arises again and again. But he recognizes it for what it is, therefore it’s not dangerous.
Ramana Maharshi

If you understand, things are just as they are.
If you do not understand, things are just as they are.
Zen Text


For whoever seeks God in some special way, will gain the way and lose God who is hidden in the way. But whoever seeks God without any special way, finds Him as He really is...and He is life itself.
Meister Eckhart

Destroy ‘the ego,’ hound it , beat it, snub it,
tell it where it gets off?
Great fun, no doubt, but where is it?
Must you not find it first?
Isn’t there a word about catching your goose
before you can cook it?
...The great difficulty here is that there isn’t one.
Wei Wu Wei

Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9% of everything you think,
And everything you do,
Is for your self,
And there isn't one.
Wei Wu Wei

Do you realize that when you give a schilling to a beggar you are giving it to yourself?
Do you realize that when you help a dog over a stile you yourself are being helped?
Do you realize when you kick a man when he is down, you are kicking yourself?
Give him another kick, you deserve it!
Wei Wu Wei

The ‘I’ that questions who it is can no more investigate itself than a mirror can reflect itself.
Leo Hartong: Awakening to the Dream

You see yourself in the world while I see the world in myself. To you, you get born and die, while to me, the world appears and disappears.
Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj

This is the intimate mystery of the impersonal Self that lives and manifests as all that is. It is the One Without a Second, the witness that cannot be witnessed, and the knower that cannot be known.
Leo Hartong: Awakening to the Dream

‘That was a dream,’ God smiled and said,
‘A dream that seemed to be true.
There were no people, living or dead,
there was no earth, and no sky o’er head:
there was only Myself - in you.’
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1855-1919), an American writer and poet

If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?
Dogen Zenji

Bell’s theorem demonstrates that the universe is fundamentally interconnected, interdependent, and inseparable.
Fritjof Capra

In that glory is no ‘I’ or ‘We’ or ‘Thou.’ ‘I’, ‘We’, ‘Thou’ and ‘He’ are all one thing.
Hallaj

There is no greater mystery than this, that we keep seeking reality though in fact we are reality. We think that there is something hiding reality and that this must be destroyed before reality is gained. How ridiculous!
Ramana Maharshi

Right now you are Consciousness, appearing as a character in your play.
Maybe you think you need confirmation. Forget it. Relax.
You are already That.
Nathan Gill: Clarity

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Response to Viva_Daddy (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 8, 2012, 07:39 AM

7. Thank you. Here are a few more.

These aren't specifically about non-dualism, but more generally about being on a path.

"It is more useful to seek the source of our questions than to seek their answers."

"A single connection is the quantum unit of the sacred."

"Don't believe everything you think."

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