A kaleidoscopic collection of quotations

to compliment a pantheistic outlook



 


The world is a sacred place and a sacred process...and we’re part of it.

Daniel Quinn



Conceive of God in terms of universal Nature--a nature God in whom we really live and move and have our being, with who our relation is as intimate and constant as that of the babe in its mother’s womb, or the apple upon the bough.  This is the God that science and reason reveal to us--the God we touch with our hands, see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and from whom there is no escape, who is, indeed, from everlasting to everlasting.

John Burroughs 



Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trail'd its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

William Wordsworth



A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


My best Acquaintances are those
With Whom I spoke no Word—
The Stars that stated come to Town
Esteemed Me never rude
Although to their Celestial Call
I failed to make reply—
My constant—reverential Face
Sufficient Courtesy.

Oh Matchless
Earth, We
underrate the
chance to
dwell in thee.

Emily Dickinson


Even in a single leaf of a tree, or a tender blade of grass, the awe-inspiring Deity manifests Itself.

Shinto. Urabe-no-Kanekuni


But it is important to realize we are all trapped in mental constructs, and so we separate ourselves from reality; the whole world loses its aliveness-or, rather, we lose our ability to sense that aliveness, the sacredness of nature. When we approach nature through the conceptualizing mind, we see a forest as a commodity, a concept. We no longer see it for what it truly is, but for what we want to use it as. It is reduced. This is how it becomes possible for humans to destroy the planet without realizing what they are doing.

Eckhart Tolle


Most people are on the world, not in it--have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them-- undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching, but separate.

John Muir 


It is doubtful that the dissection of living animals and plants could be done by those who believe them to be holy. A pantheist would not view trees as so many board feet in the manner a Christian would. A pantheist would be less likely to measure the number of acre feet coming over a waterfall than his Christian descendent, centuries later who had become a scientist. That which is sacred would be handled with a certain reverence.

Wes Jackson



If you will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth, rather than having been thrown in here from somewhere else, you see that we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth.  These are the eyes of the Earth.  And this is the voice of the earth.

Joseph Campbell


We are surrounded by a rich and fertile mystery.

Henry David Thoreau


                                                  ************



Every walk to the woods is a religious rite, every bath in the stream is a saving ordinance. Communion service is at all hours, and the bread and wine are from the heart and marrow of Mother Earth.

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter...to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring—these are some of the rewards of the simple life.

The most precious things of life are near at hand, without money and without price. Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door. All that I ever had, and still have, may be yours by stretching forth your hand and taking it.

John Burroughs (1837-1921) American Writer and naturalist


The highest human purpose is always to reinvent and celebrate the sacred.

N. Scott Momaday (b. 1934) Native American Writer


Despite great diversity, there is a shared worldview and ethics in both super-naturalistic and naturalistic forms of contemporary nature-oriented spirituality.  The common perception can be stated succinctly: The earth and all its life forms and processes are sacred.  We belong to them and they to us -- we are kin.  We should, therefore, act lovingly, reverently, and respectfully toward them. We must not unnecessarily injure these beings and processes when we take from them what we need to live.  The key to contemporary earth-based spirituality and ethics is, therefore, a felt sense of “connection,” kinship, and loyalty to earth, her life forms, and living systems.

Bron Taylor, Professor of religious and social ethics


The arch of sky and mightiness of storms
Have moved the spirit within me,
Till I am carried away
Trembling with joy.

Uvavnuk, Inuit shaman


What is life? it is the flash of a firefly in the night.  It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

Crowfoot (1821-1890) Blackfoot Native American



The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

It is only necessary to behold the least fact or phenomenon,
however familiar, from a point a hair's breadth aside from
our habitual path or routine, to be overcome, enchanted by
its beauty and significance ... To perceive freshly, with
fresh senses is to be inspired.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American writer and naturalist




Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual satisfaction.

Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius.


Edward O. Wilson, Biologist




The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

Anais Nin (1903-1977) French-born American writer



Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
 
Jellal ed-Din Rumi (1207-1273) Sufi poet



The universe shivers with wonder in the depths of the human.

Brian Swimme, Writer




The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity ... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.

William Blake (1757-1827) British Poet




My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-born American philosopher




A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) American poet



The real mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, it is a reality to be experienced.

J.J. Van der Leeuw




The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only hope.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s life may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, American Writer





Rich in the simple worship of the day.


John Keats (1795-1821) British poet



Whatever you love is beautiful; love comes first, beauty follows. The greater your capacity for love, the more beauty you find in the world.

Jane Smiley




The best way to know God is to love many things.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) Dutch painter



I am often asked if I am not lonely on my solitary excursions.  It seems so self-evident that one cannot be lonesome where everything is wild and beautiful and busy and steeped with God that the question is hard to answer.

John Muir (1838-1914) American naturalist and writer


Life is good only when it is magical and musical, a perfect timing and consent, and when we do not anatomize it.  You must treat the days respectfully, you must be a day yourself, and not interrogate it like a college professor...You must hear the bird's song without attempting to render it into nouns and verbs.

Everything in nature contains all the power of nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff.

Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere.

How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American writer and philosopher


Grey, dear friend, is all theory,
And green the golden tree of life.

Johann Goethe (1749-1832) German Writer and Scientist


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Lord Byron (1759-1824) English poet


It is the essence of life that it exists for its own sake.

Alfred N. Whitehead (1861-1947) English philosopher



The history of our spiritual life is a continuing search for the unity between ourselves and the world.

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) Austrian philosopher



                                    *********************



An old argument with me is that the true religious force in the world is not the church, but the world itself; the mysterious callings of Nature and our responses.

What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch,
These are the measures destined for her soul.

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) American Poet


Natural objects themselves, even when they make no claim to beauty, excite the feelings, and occupy the imagination.  Nature pleases, attracts, delights, merely because it is nature. We recognize in it an Infinite Power.

Karl Wilhelm Humboldt (1767-1835) German Scientist


Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) British Writer


Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) British Poet


What I know in my bones is that I forgot to take time to remember what I know.  The world is holy.  We are holy. All life is holy.  Daily prayers are delivered on the lips of breaking waves, the whisperings of grasses, the shimmering of leaves.

Terry Tempest Williams, Writer


The realities of nature surpass our most ambitious dreams.

Francois Rodin (1840-1917) French sculptor


What else is nature but God?

Seneca the Younger (4 B.C.-65 A.D.) Roman Stoic philosopher


There is religion in everything around us, a calm and holy religion in the unbreathing things in Nature.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating, there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

John Ruskin (1819-1910) British writer


Nature shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep.

In the woods, we return to reason and faith.

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American writer and philosopher


I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959) American architect


A simple life is its own reward.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-born American philosopher


We have today to learn to get back into accord with the wisdom of nature and realize again our brotherhood with the animals and with the water and the sea. To say that divinity informs the world and all things is condemned as pantheism. But pantheism is a misleading word. It suggests that a personal god is supposed to inhabit the world, but that is not the idea at all. The idea is trans-theological. It is of an indefinable, inconceivable mystery, thought of as a power, that is the source and end and supporting ground of all life and being.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American anthropologist


All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.

The closer we are to Nature, the closer we are to God.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

Do not, I beg you, look for anything behind phenomena.  They are themselves their own lesson.

Johann Goethe (1749-1832) German Writer and Scientist


Every natural object is a conductor of divinity.

Standing alone on a mountain top, it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make--leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents of piled stone--we all dwell in a house of one room..."

John Muir (1838-1914) American conservationist


The heart of Pantheist philosophy is a belief in the sanctity of Nature.  This means that we hold reverence for the inconceivable evolutionary processes that created us; for the unfolding of the stars in the Universe and the life on our home planet Earth.  In short--we put our faith in our Creator--meaning not only all past events and shapes and patterns, but also the now, for Creation is a continuing process and exists within us and around us this very instant.

Harold W. Wood, Jr., Editor, Pantheist Vision


I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. Look at the sun: If there is no sun, then we cannot exist. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred; trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.

Mikhail Gorbachev, First democratically elected president of the Soviet Union, 1990


God does not die on that day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reasoning.

When the sense of the earth unites with the sense of one's body, one becomes earth of the earth, a plant among plants, an animal born from the soil and fertilizing it.  In this union, the body is confirmed in its pantheism.

Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961) Swedish political leader & Secretary General United Nations


The birds and animals, trees and grasses, rocks, water and wind are our allies. They waken our senses, rouse our passions, renew our spirits and fill us with vision, courage, and joy...

...as long as the birds return and the flowers bloom, I will dream of a time when we value blue skies more than new automobiles, count our wealth in joy rather than possessions, and dwell in peace and balance with the Earth. I am not without hope.

David Gaines (1947-1988) Mono Lake Activist


Science has beauty, power, and majesty that can provide spiritual as well as practical fulfillment.  But superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way, providing easy answers, casually pressing our awe buttons, and cheapening the experience.

The crisis we face today demands more than superficial adjustment. Increasingly, it is realized that any efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment needs to be infused with a vision of the sacred.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) Astronomer

My father believed in the God of Spinoza and Einstein, God not behind nature but as nature, equivalent to it.

Dorion Sagan, son of Carl Sagan


The most alive is the wildest.

The order of things should be somewhat reversed; the seventh day should be man's day of toil and the other six his sabbath of the affections and the soul--in which to range this widespread garden and drink in the soft influences and sublime revelations of nature.

If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs--that is your success. All nature is your congratulation.

My thanksgiving is perpetual...oh how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it--for my wealth is not in possessions but enjoyment.

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring.

Nature is full of genius, full of divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American writer & naturalist


The word Nature comes from the Latin, to be born, which is fundamental enough, and puts it under the heading of abiding mystery.

John  Hay, writer


I have respect for life in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don't believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice.

Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) Singer and entertainer


The first act of awe, when man was struck with the beauty or wonder of Nature, was the first spiritual experience.

Henryk Skolimowski, Philosopher


Wildness is...everywhere: ineradicable populations of fungi, moss, molds, yeasts, and such, that surround and inhabit us.  Deer mice on the back porch, deer bounding across the freeway, pigeons in the park.  Spiders in the corner.

Gary Snyder, writer and activist


In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

Aristotle (384-322BC) Philosopher


Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is a symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter. The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world...are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) American biologist and conservationist


Nature is a unity in diversity...a harmony, blending together all created things...one great whole animated by the breath of life.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) German naturalist


It seems to me that there is no other adequate solution of the total problem of life and Nature than what is called "Pantheism," which identifies mind and matter, finite and Infinite, and sees in all these diverse manifestations of absolute being.  God becomes the one and only ultimate fact that fills the universe and from which we can no more be estranged than we can be estranged from gravitation.

In intercourse with Nature you are dealing with things at first hand, and you get a rule, a standard, that serves you through life.  You are dealing with primal sanities, primal honesties, primal attractions...

If we do not go to church so much as did our fathers, we go to the woods much more, and are much more inclined to make a temple of them than our fathers did.  We now use the word nature very much as our fathers used the word 'God,' and I suppose, back of it we mean the power that is everywhere present and active, and in whose lap the visible universe is held and nourished.  It is a power that we can see and touch and hear, and we realize every moment of our lives how absolutely we are dependent on it.

John Burroughs (1837-1921), Writer and naturalist


From wonder into wonder existence opens.

Lao-tzu (6th century B.C.E.) Chinese philosopher


And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English playwright and poet


Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame. To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life. Touch the earth, love the earth, honor the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth's and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and dawn seen over ocean from the beach.

Henry Beston (1888-1968) American writer


All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.

Marie Curie (1867-1934) Polish-born French chemist


The deeper we look into nature, the more we recognize that it is full of life, and the more profoundly we know that all life is a secret and that we are united with all life that is in nature. Man can no longer live his life for himself alone. We realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all this life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) French philosopher and physician


The great sea
Has sent me adrift
It moves me
As the weed in a great river
Earth and the great weather
Move me
Have carried me away
And move my inward parts with joy.

Uvavnuk, an Eskimo shaman woman


In wilderness people can find the silence and the solitude and the noncivilized surroundings that can connect them once again to their evolutionary heritage, and through an experience of the eternal mystery, can give them a sense of the sacredness of all creation.

Sigurd Olson (1899-1982) American writer and conservationist


There is no other door to knowledge than the door Nature opens. And there is no truth but the truth we discover in Nature.

Luther Burbank (1849-1926) American horticulturist


I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars....I awaken everything to life.

Hildergard of Bingen, twelfth century mystic


After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, and so on--have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear--what remains? Nature remains.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) American poet


The forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself. Nature is not merely created by God, nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with his entire body, breath sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness.

Richard Nelson, Nature writer and cultural anthropologist


Faith is a determination to keep in touch with the unnamable Being that dwells in the heart of all existence--you and me, included.

Robert Fulghum, Author


In my own quasi-agnostic way, I must resolve to believe in the sacred, because it makes good sense, because it coheres with my experience of the value that surrounds me, because when I am at my most perceptive, it rings true.

Bron Taylor, Professor of religious and social ethics


At the deepest level of ecological awareness you are talking about spiritual awareness. Spiritual awareness is an understanding of being imbedded in a larger whole, a cosmic whole, of belonging to the universe.

Fritjof Capra, Physicist and writer


I am not an atheist but an earthiest.  Be true to the earth.

(Americans are) an increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!)...we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches.  Therefore let us behave accordingly.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989), Writer and activist


As soon as we allow ourselves to think of the world as alive, we recognize that a part of us knew this all along.  It is like emerging from winter into spring.

Rupert Sheldrake, Biochemist and author


When theists look at a forest, or at a cell, or at a galaxy, they feel that they are contemplating the reflected glory of an invisible creator, or they are staring at God's impenetrable veil.  When pantheists do so, they are directly witnessing the glory of divine being.  They are gazing on the unveiled face of God.

How can we feel gratitude or love or worship towards impersonal matter?  Matter is not impersonal: it is our very substance.  If we cannot love matter, then we cannot love ourselves as we are.  Almost everyone loves nature, even though it is impersonal, and often indifferent or cruel.  We can feel gratitude, too, to nature and the universe, for giving us the privilege of conscious life.

Paul Harrison, Author and  environmentalist


When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

Mary Oliver, Poet


Now we are no longer primitive; now the whole world seems not-holy.  We have drained the light from the boughs in the sacred grove and snuffed it in the high places and along the banks of the sacred streams.  We as a people have moved from pantheism to pan-atheism.

Annie Dillard, Writer


Awareness of an all-pervading mysterious energy articulated in the infinite variety of natural phenomena seems to be the primordial experience of human consciousness, awakening to an awesome universe filled with mysterious power.

We should feel that we are constantly in communion with those numinous cosmic forces out of which we are born.

The natural world is subject as well as object.  The natural world is the maternal source of our being as earthlings and life-giving nourishment of our physical, emotional, aesthetic, moral and religious existence.  The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong.  To be alienated from this community is to become destitute of all that makes us human.  To damage this community is to diminish our own existence.

Thomas Berry, Eco-theologian


I've read all the books but one
Only remains sacred: this
Volume of wonders, open
Always before my eyes.

Kathleen Raine, Writer


It is not ignorance but knowledge which is the mother of wonder.

Acute awareness of a natural phenomenon, especially a phenomenon of the living world, is the thing most likely to open the door to that joy we cannot analyze.

The human mind can appreciate the One only by seeing it first in the Many.

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), Writer and naturalist


Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.

Pedro Calderon De La Barca (1600-1681)


Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.  Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Physicist


It is the nature of God to reside in mystery--ineluctable, inexhaustible mystery.  And we do not need to understand the cabala of mathematical physics to apprehend the mysterium tremendum.  We need only look out the window.

Let your soul go free for a moment into that scene outside your window...and there encounter gape-jawed and silent, the God of birds and birth defects, trees and cancer, quarks and galaxies, earthquakes and supernovas--awesome, edifying, dreadful and good, more beautiful and more terrible than is strictly necessary.  Let it strike you dumb with worship and fear, beyond words, beyond logic.  What is it?  It is everything that is.

Chet Raymo, Professor of physics and astronomy



While with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.

Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850), English poet


It is in man's heart that the life of nature's spectacle exists; to see it, one must feel it.

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), French philosopher and writer




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Photo Courtesy NASA

Quotes compiled by Gary Suttle