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Pantheism

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Pantheism, simply stated, means "God is All" and "All is God". It is the view that everything is of an all encompassing God. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence and/or the universe (the sum total of all that is was and shall be) is personified in the theological principle of 'God.'

One way to describe certain interpretations of pantheism is to say "you are to God, as an individual blood cell in your vein is to you." While a cell may be aware of its own environs, and even has some choices (freewill) between right and wrong (killing a bacteria, becoming malignant, or perhaps just doing nothing, among countless others) it likely has little conception of the greater being of which it is a part. Another way to understand this relationship is the Hindu concept of atman. It is important to note that not all interpretations of pantheism would find this analogy meaningful; for that matter, not even all pantheists believe in free will. This is indicative of the wide diversity of pantheist belief.

Table of contents
1 Pantheistic religions
2 Ideas of pantheism
3 Quotations
4 See also
5 External links

Pantheistic religions

Hinduism

Within Hinduism (also called Sanatana Dharma) a variety of lesser gods are seen as aspects of the one God, Brahman (not Brahma). Brahman is the ultimate, both transcendent and immanent the absolute infinite existence, the sum total of all that ever is, was, or ever shall be. Vedanta is a branch of Hindu philosophy which gives this matter a greater focus. Yoga is the primary focus in many ways of a Hindu's religious activities, being somewhere between meditation, prayer and healthful exercise. Some of the Hindu gods include Brahma, Devi, Vishnu, and Siva. Most of its adherents are monists, seeing multiple manifestations of the one God or source of being, which is often confused by non-Hindus as being polytheism. It is seen as one unity, with the lesser gods aspects of the one, like many colors of the same prism, and seen by some as valid to worship. Many even believe they may be able to bring worshippers closer to Moksha, end of the cycle of rebirth. Some sects of Hinduism believe in a monotheistic ideal of Krishna, or Vishnu or Shiva, but Brahman is more often seen as the one God, with all other gods emanating therefrom. With all Hindus, there is a strong belief in all paths/true religions leading to One God.

Kabbalah

The Kabbalah, in Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God; which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism, particularly from their founder Baal Shem Tov.

Other religions

It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophy, Cosmotheism, some Buddhists, Taoism, Process theology and a Christian movement known as Creation Spirituality, along with many varying denomantions and individuals within denominations.

Ideas of pantheism

Pantheism is often considered to be tautology by atheists, since it appears to many of them to do little more than re-define the word "God" to mean "world" or "universe." However, there is no significant agreement that making "God" synonymous with "universe" must necessarily make either term any less meaningful. Pantheists maintain that such an arrangement serves to create both a new and a potentially far more insightful conception of both of these terms. One method of explaining this is called the "Absolute Infinite."

Perhaps the most significant debate within the pantheistic community is as to the nature of God. Classical pantheism believes in a personal, conscious, and omniscient deity, and see this deity as uniting all true religions. Others, such as Naturalistic Pantheism, believe in an unconscious, non-sentient universe, which, while being holy and beautiful, is seen as being a God in a non-traditional and impersonal sense. Finally, some in the United States (see Cosmotheism) have bought the ideas of a hierarchical religious community and worldview, as well as some other more controversial political views (white separatism) of Dr. William Pierce.

The viewpoints encompassed within the pantheistic community are necessarily diverse, but the central ideas of the universe being an all-encompassing unity, a common purpose, and the sanctity of both nature and its natural laws are found throughout. One interesting area is the distinction with Panentheism. While technically the two are separate, based on a subtlety wherein Pantheism finds God synonymous with nature, and Panentheism finds God to be greater than nature alone, many find this distinction unhelpful, and most of the major faiths described as Pantheistic could also be described as Panentheistic.

Quotations

A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge. —Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (1994)

To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. — Mikhail Gorbachev [1]

See also

External links