Dragon Sculpture, Alta Vista Botanical Garden
Dragon Sculpture, Alta Vista Botanical Garden

On Beyond Pantheism

Pantheism is a mistake.

Here's a definition – one is as good as another: it's the idea behind it that counts. And for "divinity or a supreme entity" or "God" you can substitute "consciousness" or universal consciousness, or awareness, or universal intelligence, and so forth, as those terms are used in Advaita, non-duality, spiritual wisdom traditions and such (for seekers of Truth):

Pantheism is the philosophical religious belief that reality, the universe, and nature are identical to divinity or a supreme entity. The physical universe is thus understood as an immanent deity, still expanding and creating, which has existed since the beginning of time. The term pantheist designates one who holds both that everything constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine, consisting of an all-encompassing, manifested god or goddess. All astronomical objects are thence viewed as parts of a sole deity.

Nothing, as far as material objects, is capable of intelligence and consciousness, strictly speaking.

Life appears in consciousness, not the other way around. This is revealed experientially (a huge topic in itself, for which we leave to other essays already written, or to centuries of self-inquiry in wisdom traditions…). Conceptual analysis and models cannot resolve the issue. Nor can I prove it to you, as it requires direct perception.

Modern philosophy and science fails in this regard, but succeed in perpetuating an endless and futile grinding away for professors and journalists…

Pantheism is what you get when you try and reconcile (an assumed) materialism with (the idea of) universal consciousness. It’s trying to have your cake and eat it too. It’s somehow trying to get the consciousness into the objects of consciousness.

But the objects appearing in consciousness cannot say anything about the nature of consciousness. They are dependent on consciousness, and consciousness is not dependent on the objects. The idea of “pure consciousness” alludes to this fact: you can consciousness without an object.

The objects are empty of self nature, as the Buddhists like to say. All we can say or know is there are phenomena, movements, and there are patterns: “how” it behaves in time and space. Not what it is. We cannot know that, only imagine it (and be self-deluded). It doesn’t and cannot say what they are made of.

Time and space appear in consciousness, along with everything else that depends on time and space, since it’s all interdependently arising, and there’s no way to say which came first, until you *already* have time.

The observer cannot be located, since it has no location, is the source of location.

So even though there is ultimately no separation between consciousness and its objects, phenomena and noumena, the observer and the observed, we can legitimately speak of a hierarchy of reality so to speak, with consciousness at the top. It’s a concession to communication, but reflecting a truth.

(Likewise, when the New Age spiritual folk claim “It’s all included” regarding all the personal, psychological, material shit and the goodies and addictions and efforts they want to include in or from what they think of as “consciousness” according to the self-centeredness that’s speaking – they are overlooking that there is one thing not included: the false, the fake and the illusory. Otherwise, what’s the point – it’s merely looking into Truth in the name oof falsity and fakery, making a religion of it, to see how it can be used and abused! How tiny and absurd can one get! )

Eric Platt

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