Evidence for Pantheism?

feWkU1491004560This article came to my attention via Poffo Ortiz, founder of Biopantheism and a close friend of Not Two. “Evidence for Pantheism,” by Jay N. Forrest of the Spiritual Naturalist Society, is one of the best thesis statements I’ve seen on the matter, as much for the careful steps he makes in developing the argument as for the content (which in itself is not groundbreaking, but seems so because of his care in presenting it). I love the gentle dig at Paul Harrison, whose decidedly dualistic take on spiritual naturalism “surrenders too much” according to Forrest. YES.

“Evidence” is a peculiar word to use when it comes to pantheism, for what makes the “all” (pan) one divine Unity (theism) is distinctly not the attributes that register to our senses –it is the unseen ground common to ALL such attributes, such as how both the white of yin and the black of yang are inseparable attributes of the Tao. If we look for evidence of the unity of Tao in the traditional empirical way, we will see two colors and perhaps miss the oneness of the unbroken circle. So evidence has to take on a new, more nuanced meaning when it comes to holistic concepts like pantheism, for light does not need to shine upon itself. We cannot stand apart from the All and analyze it; the best we can do is bask in the glow of its light and take that for what it is using non-dual logical deduction. The author does a good job of laying out this nuanced truth without the sometimes heavy hand of empiricism.

One point of disagreement I have centers on this statement:

“Pantheism essentially involves two assertions: that everything that exists constitutes a unity and that this all inclusive unity is divine.” And, as Michael P. Levine points outs, “Different versions of Pantheism offer different accounts of the meaning of ‘unity’ and ‘divinity’” (25). I don’t think most people struggle with the fact that the Universe is a unity [emphasis mine]. The problem most people have is calling this unity “God.”

I believe that both assertions are challenges (not problems) to status quo thinking. By and large we as a linguistically endowed species have a great deal of trouble seeing the Universe as a unity, and that is precisely why pantheism is a paradigm-shifting concept that needs further development and continual refining as a tool for teaching non-duality. We can say conceptually that the Universe is a unity, but experientially it comes apart at the “seems” (pun intended) because the universe seems like an amalgam of separate things. Our senses and our intellect, reinforced by verbal language, focus our attention on forms and blind us to the emptiness in which they exists, the essential ground apart from which they would have as much reality as a painting without a canvas.

Pantheism is a mental discipline that enables us to recognize the unity experientially while still utilizing those senses and intellect. It is primarily this function that makes it an evolutionary step beyond Nature Mysticism and is developing now in real time, given the accumulated wisdom of mystics, philosophers and scientists we now have at our fingertips. We are sitting at its cutting edge at this very moment.

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