When I was 15 years old, and before the current generation of Scientific Pantheists were born, I became a Pantheist. Secretly, and sometimes publicly, I declared myself to be a Pantheist. No one knew what I was talking about.
Pan means including everything, Theist means God. Everything is God, there is nothing outside of God/ All that is.
I am still a Pantheist, yet I find the ground has shifted under my feet. I was, and still am, a “mystical” Pantheist. I do not fit in with the new Scientific branch.
Let us not respect something merely because it is old, or because it is established, or because a lot of people believe in it, or because our friends, President, parents, children, believe in it. Let us not respect it because the Church told us it is fact, that it was given to us on gold tablets, by angles, by mediums, written by the hand of God, or passed down from benevolent aliens. Still with me? Good.
When I was 15, I started reading a book called: Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy, by Yogi Ramacharaka. That was his pseudonym anyway. I read it on the way to work, and like Saul on the road to Damascus, I too had a spiritual awakening, only mine was on the train to Central.
In a period of a few weeks all my previous Christian beliefs fell apart. I had been starting to have doubts, so many things made no sense. Really, how did Jesus being crucified help save anyone? What was the point of it? Oh, I knew all the conventional answers, but underneath like so much of the teachings, it didn’t hold water any better than a sieve. There is no point in even running through the problems, for they are obvious to anyone who thinks about their religious doctrine. And if they are not obvious, you’d better stick with your beliefs, they must be what you need.
I will try and give a brief outline of the beliefs that coincide with Scientific Pantheism. And it might be helpful to know the book Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy was written about 1905.
One of the first things I noticed was something odd: instead of kneeling at God’s feet, being threatened with eternal suffering, it was now apparent that God could not exist without me! Some other revelations: there was no sin! So there was no need to be saved, no need for priests or saints to intercede for me, we were all part of the Infinite, now and evermore. God was not a cruel, vindictive, uncaring, manipulative God. There was nothing I was required to do, no rituals were necessary, no attendance, no confession, no sins! Oh but there was a lot of things to learn, to experience, to do, but in my own way, in my own sweet time.
Let’s have a look at what we conceive as God (or the Yogi term, THE INFINITE or THE ABSOLUTE). There are some aspects that we could expect, or else God is not going to be believable.
1. THE INFINITE IS, and whatever “IS” must be the INFINITE.
There cannot be two or more INFINITE Beings or Final Things. There can only be ONE INFINITE or Final Thing. Everything must be related or part of the INFINITE. There can be nothing OUTSIDE or APART from the INFINITE.
A Christian preacher once defined SIN as being “separated from God”. Hardly, you can no more be separated from God than you can fall out of the Universe. If God is Everything, then there is nothing outside of God. Anything that appears to be separate or not God is a mistaken judgement, an illusion, a distortion of reality.
2. THE INFINITE IS INFINITE.
This statement is redundant, INFINITE carries with it the term Infinite. Unlimited, boundless by time or space, limitless.
3. THE INFINITE IS ETERNAL.
Without beginning or ending, always existing. We cannot conceive of the INFINITE as having a beginning, if we do we can only think of it as coming from something else, thus making it relative.
4. THE INFINITE IS OMNIPOTENT.
This means ALL powerful, it does not mean the MOST powerful, it means POSSESSING ALL POWER that there is in the universe. There is no room for any other power. Many people say they believe this when a manifestation of power is pleasing to them, they attribute it to God, but if it is displeasing they attribute it to the Devil or some other entity. But if God is ALL powerful there can be no other power. If there is a devil then that power too is part of God. Humans sometimes label things such as the weather “good” and “bad”. These terms are relative to our existence. ALL POWER RESIDES IN THE INFINITE (GOD).
It makes no sense to say God is all powerful, but believe God is in conflict with any other force, for all power resides in God. There just is no other power, or else God is not ALL powerful just “the most powerful”, or “one of the most powerful”.
5. THE INFINITE IS OMNIPRESENT.
That means present everywhere at the same time. There can be no place outside of ALL. There can be no existence or presence except WITHIN THE ALL. The All must be everywhere. The INFINITE being must contain all that we call Space, time, matter, energy—these (and more things yet to be discovered) are manifestations of the INFINITE.
6. THE INFINITE IS OMNISCIENT.
That means All wise, All knowing, Having Infinite knowledge. This means that there is nothing not known by the INFINITE, past, present, or future. If there were one single thing not known or understood by the INFINITE then the whole concept would be absurd.
7. THE INFINITE IS INDIVISIBLE.
The INFINITE is the ALL—the Whole Thing. It cannot be divided into parts because there is nothing to divide it with and nothing to “fill in the cracks”. There can be no real partition, division or separation from the INFINITE.
Every so-called “part” of the INFINITE is in touch with every other “part” of the Whole—All is One, undivided, indivisible.
8. THE INFINITE IN UNCHANGEABLE, CONSTANT AND PERMANENT.
It cannot change because there is nothing into which it can change without losing itself, it contains everything right now. It must be the same today, yesterday, tomorrow. It is perfect and cannot be improved upon.
Consider this little poem:
“Thou great eternal Infinite, thou great unbounded Whole,
Thy body is the Universe—thy spirit is the soul.
If thou dost fill immensity; if thou art all in all;
If thou wert here before I was, I am not here at all.
How could I live outside of thee? Dost thou fill earth and air?
There surely is no place for me outside of everywhere.
If thou art God, and thou dost fill immensity of space,
Then I’m of God, think as you will, or else I have no place.
And if I have no place at all, or if I am not here,
“Banished” I surely cannot be, for then I’d be somewhere.
Then I must be a part of God, no matter if I’m small;
And if I’m not a part of Him; there’s no such God at all.”
Of course it is easy to see nature as God, but we sometimes need to remind ourselves that EVERYTHING is part of God—the INFINITE—even that which is “ugly, or horrible”. Let’s go to extremes for a moment to make it clear: If a dog turd is not part of THE INFINITE, then there is no INFINITE. There can be nothing outside of THE INFINITE.
The yoga teaching is roughly like this:
All existence, conscious or unconscious, is an EMANATION of one Being. And they give the illustration that the Sun is the centre, each ray of light emanating is of the sun, and yet it is not the source. Each plant, person, thing is of God, but not God itself, simply a part, a ray of God.
“In conclusion, we call your attention to the fact that it is a truth that the Universe is not a dead thing—it is alive, pulsating with life, energy and intelligence. It is a living thing, and YOU are part of it all. You are not The Absolute, but you are an atom comprising one of its rays—its life force is playing through you. You are in touch with the Centre, and the Centre is conscious of YOU and of its relation to you. While but an atom, you are necessary to the Whole. You are part of IT. Nothing can hurt you nor destroy you. And you are growing to a consciousness of your union with God—not a mere intellectual understanding, but a real, actual living KNOWLEDGE.”
Furthermore, somewhere in the lessons, it pointed out that ALL days are holy days, all places on the Earth are holy, not just churches/ mosques/synagogues etc. Everything is holy, including people.
Our bodies are literally the temples for our spirit. We do not say we have a soul, we say that we ARE souls having an earthly experience in a physical body.
The Earth is the temple for our bodies.
We believe in things we cannot see, just as Scientific Pantheism does. Not only do we believe in distant galaxies, electrons, and microbes, but we also believe in things that we have experienced such as telepathy, intuition, clairvoyance. We try not to limit what we are, or what the cosmos is.
To quote a little more: “The Gnani Yogi’s conception of Deity is likened by many to a form of Pantheism, but it is much more than Pantheism. Pantheism teaches that God is the sum of all things, seen, felt, heard, tasted, or smelled—in fact, that the Universe as we know it is God. The Gnani Yoga teaching is that this is only a half-truth. It holds that all of the things of which we may become aware are only an infinitesimal part of the real Universe, and to say that this is God would be like saying that the paring of a fingernail was The Man.
Gnani Yoga teaches not that the Universe is God, but that God is manifest in all that comprises our Universe, and in a million times more. It claims that the true idea of God is beyond human conception …
God is present in all Life, manifested or unmanifested, created or not created, seen or not seen, known or not known. This idea, you will see, is far different from the one that God is merely the sum of things known and seen, and likewise, is different from the idea that He is a thing apart from His creations. “
Scientific Pantheism seems to limit the cosmos to what is known.
Mystical Pantheism believes that there are universes beyond our present knowledge, we acknowledge that our understanding is continually growing, the our understanding of ourselves is expanding, there is no end in sight.
A major difference between Scientific Pantheism and Mystical Pantheism, is the belief in reincarnation, which carries with it the belief in a “non-material” soul/ spirit/ entity. The purpose of reincarnation is spiritual evolution. And it should be pointed out, that a human being does not evolve backwards into a dog, insect or plant, anymore than a human can give birth to a fish. Evolution goes one way.
So Mystical Pantheism, includes some extras. Not that I want to go into that here. It’s not necessary. Perhaps I should point out what it does not have with it. There is no final teaching, there is no Bible, Koran, no text is sacred, none of the teachings are sacred, and like science, there is only the current theory under test. There is no punishment for believing or not believing. There is no organisation of beliefs. Of course there is nothing stop some enterprising person organizing Mystical Pantheism, or Scientific Pantheism, and yes of course that has been done. It is my belief that Mystical Pantheism is a personal journey, a search, a path. There can be and will be teachers, friends, and lessons along the path, but as with the Tao: The Tao that can be written, is not the true Tao.
As for Scientific Pantheism, I subscribe to almost everything! Wonderful! Not everything I want, but it is pleasing to see a philosophy that makes sense, that is practical. As for the mystical part, I hardly like to mention my beliefs most times, for it seems to attract the wrong people; people who are not interested in making the effort to understand what it means, but those who would rather watch some TV drama about ghosts or mediums, vampires; people who have no bullshit detector, who are not inclined to be sceptical, and who don’t know an atom from an apple. Nor do I have any desire to argue or promote Mystical Pantheism apart from the odd article like this.
There is also a Yogi theory, that when the pupil is ready the “master” appears. The master is metaphorical, perhaps a book, and idea, an internet page. Please don’t get me started on messiahs!
Mystical Pantheism has no need to promote beliefs, we believe it “won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”.
Most of the above was paraphrased from: ADVANCED COURSE IN YOGI PHILOSOPHY AND ORIENTAL OCCULTISM, by YOGI RAMACHARAKA.