Indigenous peoples had no word for 'religion' because spirituality imbued every facet of their lives. Similarly, contemporary Pantheists don't confine religion to Sundays and certain holidays, but instead embrace the tenets of their religion as a way of life.
The famous Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza and others have taken Pantheism to sophisticated heights, yet the essence of the religion remains straightforward and down to Earth. As a Native American Lakota elder put it:
"The truth can only be held in your heart; God is Nature, Nature is God. That is very simple. We have know it from before time."
With this primary belief as a springboard, PAN shares
seven additional commonly held precepts, showing some of the ways Pantheism
permeates and exhilarates our lives. How many of these of the tenets
resonate with your own?
Many Pantheists believe in:
1. The Sacredness of the Earth.
The word 'religion' comes from the Latin 'religare' which means "to bind together." Pantheism creates a quintessential religious bond between Nature and humanity. With god immanent in Nature, the Earth is sacred and the Universe divine. This sacredness evokes a reverence for creation. Pantheism restores a radiant sense of the sacred to everyday life.
Given the sacredness of the Earth, our church
is all outdoors! Communion with Nature brings us in touch with divinity.
Union with the divine links us to the source of our being and brings serenity
to our lives. The Earth’s natural beauty further couples us to divinity. As
John Muir observed, "No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty." The loveliness
of wildflowers, the majesty of mountains, the delicacy of butterflies, the
allure of seashores, and the artistry of snowflakes gladdens our hearts and
elevates our spirits.
2. The Oneness of Nature.
3. The Pantheization of Life
Pantheism adds meaning and joy to virtually every facet of our lives. A profound relationship with Nature simultaneously takes us deeper into ourselves and further outside ourselves. Inwardly, we gain a sense of personal identity and self-understanding by viewing ourselves as a part of Nature. Outwardly, we gain a sense of responsibility and selflessness by caring for creation. From a pantheistic perspective, communion with Nature and warm human relations are ultimate sources of happiness--family and friends, simple pleasures and Nature’s treasures--these things bring us the best of life.
Each minute of life is an unrepeatable miracle.
Pantheists live in the present moment, immersed in the world, as fully, as
consciously, and as imaginatively as possible. Everyday wonders --a bee’s
sweet honey, a friend's warm smile, a rainbow's iridescent colors--heighten
our happiness. We glory in Nature, and joyful amazement fills our days. From
the vagaries of sub-atomic particles to the vastness of space, we stand slack-jawed
before a universe filled with unfathomable mystery. Science reveals objective
facts, but many questions science cannot answer. Non-rational modes of thinking,
intuition, and imagination help us, as William Blake expressed it, "...to
hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour."
4. Mother Earth and Gaia Visualizations
The Earth is our mother in a very real sense; she bore us through evolution and she sustains us with air, water, plants and animals. Extending the metaphor, we strive to be good offspring, showing her honor, respect, and gratitude. And as children of the Earth, we feel at home in the world. Other forms of life are also progeny of the Earth. We have a kinship with all living things. We marvel at fellow creatures and admire how they adapt to their environments. With plant and animal ‘relatives,’ all around us, we find the world full of fascinating companionship.
Indigenous peoples have long held that the Earth
is alive. Today’s Gaia Hypothesis affirms that the Earth carries on self-regulating
processes as a lifelike entity. To visualize the Earth as an animated organism
fosters protective feelings for our surroundings; rather than dealing with
‘dead’ matter, we are interacting with a living world. Such primordial
wisdom has deep roots. As a species, we have spent 99 percent of our
time as hunters and gatherers. To feel relaxed and healthy often entails
simply attuning our behavior to the way a hundred million years of evolution
has equipped us to behave. We surround ourselves with warm air, green plants,
and animal companions, mimicking the tropical savanna from which we evolved.
We have a biological need for the sights and sounds of Nature. By spending
more time outdoors and by learning about the native plants, wildlife, and
natural cycles in close by areas, we can restore a "sense of place" to our
lives. We can also glean insight from our forebears sacramental approach
to Nature and their perception of dependency upon the Earth.
5. Ecological and Social Consciousness
The findings of ecology lift ecological consciousness to a paramount position. We try to "examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right as well as what is economically expedient," as Aldo Leopold phrased it. "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Everything, from figworts to flamingos, has intrinsic value and a right to exist, whether or not it has utility to humans. We advance a biocentric or life-centered outlook, rather than an anthropocentric or man-centered view. The world doesn't belong to Man; we share the planet with millions of species. And we have a responsibility, because of our power, to care for the welfare of other life, as well as for our own.
Human problems such as poverty, malnourishment,
labor exploitation, and religious intolerance command our attention. Ultimately,
ecological problems reflect human problems, for example, locating environmentally
hazardous factories in low income minority communities endangers human health.
We support human values over machine values, fairer distribution of resources,
respect for different cultures and religions, and the protection of remaining
6. Working to Protect the Planet
Pantheists strive to educate others to appreciate and respect the natural processes that sustain life. Volunteering in conservation organizations, writing letters, and supporting vital ecological causes allows us to give back something to the Earth for all that the Earth gives to us. As Edward Abbey observed, " It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it."
We aim to reduce our impact on the Earth, realizing
the connection between resource consumption and environmental decline. Simplicity,
frugality, recycling, conserving water and energy, in these ways we can help
make the world a better place. "Be the change that you want to see in the
world!" (Gandhi) A spark of divinity lies within us and we need to do our
best to keep it aglow. Life is motion. To stay physically strong and mentally
alert requires daily exercise, which can be done without harming the environment.
Good food fortifies both body and mind. We help Nature and ourselves by eating
lower on the food chain and by purchasing pesticide-free organically grown
items when possible.
7. Placing Ultimate Trust in Nature
Civilizations come and go, but Nature abides. The sun rises, the seasons flow; Nature works. Nothing in human society is so dependable. Nature’s steadfast rhythms foster hope with the promise of each new day. We believe in Nature.
"Faith in wildness, or in Nature as a creative
force," observed writer Joseph Wood Krutch, "puts our ultimate trust,
not in human intelligence, but in whatever it is that created human intelligence,
and is, in the long run, more likely than we to solve our problems." By aligning
ourselves with Nature, by having faith and trust in its creative forces,
we join hands with infinite power and find our greatest peace.
Click Here For The Full PAN Website
Welcome to PAN / What Is Pantheism? / Articles / Activism / Lodestars
Books / Quotes / Holidays / Links
Copyright © 1998- 2003 Gary Suttle