March 15, 2019 in Views
As a pantheist, people often ask me whether or not I believe in reincarnation, which usually refers to the rebirth of a soul in a new body after death. For the most part, the answers is, yes. But it really depends on what is truly meant by ‘reincarnation’ or how one may personally define the soul and/or the body.
I usually prefer to avoid using the term soul, because so many define it so differently. So for the sake of clarity, I will refer to the perceiving mind and the physical body. I believe each of us is like a passenger within a vessel mainly along for the ride or, if you prefer, a driver within a vehicle who has some control. We move from one vessel to another like a snake that sheds its old skin, again and again, or a hermit crab that moves from one shell to the next as it grows.
In terms of physical systems, there are living things and there are non-living things or dead things. All living physical bodies age, change, and sooner or later die, decay and wither away. But that perceiving entity that is you escapes that dying human form and continues onward. As your physical human vessel begins to die, it loses its needed order and balance to sustain itself. This imbalance and disorder finally reaches a critical point where the universe sort of gags on that dying version of you and then reflexively regurgitates or spits out that inner version of you from that dying vessel to go elsewhere.
Some believe it is all a mere physical world and that is all there is. Physical parts randomly interacting and that’s all. To me, that view falls short. There are those who would say it is all ultimately within the mind and that’s all there is. I don’t mind that view as long as that view includes an uncontrollable lawful aspect. It’s always difficult to fully define or explain what one means by ‘the mind’ or that which is ‘physical’. Personally, I view the physical material world as the resistant lawful portion of reality. So when I say physical or material or body, just know I mean that resistant portion of the cosmos, whether that be in the mind or not. So even if one says, it’s all in the mind, then at least know that there are unchangeable rules that your mind has to abide by. If you jump from the roof of your house, for instance, then due to gravity and all other physical laws, you will fall—unless you use other physical laws to alter that fall, such as a parachute or aircraft or some other lawful contraption. If it was all in the mind, in the way many often characterize it, then we would all be completely free to control our world and destiny or to defy the laws of physics. But I believe the mind is always bridled by laws of the All, laws of the cosmos. Even in dreams are we prisoners of this truth that we are not in full control. So even if it is all somehow technically in the mind, then it is as though the physical world (in the traditional sense of the word) still exists.
Some hate the idea of a dualist world-view, of trying to divide the universe or reality into two main separate camps like the mind and the body or the physical and the non-physical, often depicted by the Yin-Yang symbol, and claim that it is ultimately all one thing. I too, in many ways, believe it is all ultimately one symphony, one ocean of waves, so-to-speak, but at the same time, I believe that oneness can be differentiated or divided in the eyes of the perceivers. I am what is known as a dialectic or dualistic monist, one who sees both sides of the same coin. I’m also one who conceptually further divides the universe, that single coin, into higher resolution for further examination. So yes, I do view all of reality to ultimately be a unified whole, but this whole must express itself in dualistic terms to us perceiving beings.
For me, I believe the perceiving mind can never be fully extinguished nor separated from the physical world, for you can never have one without the other, because they go hand-in-hand like the black and white values on a written page. If you try to remove the white of the page the black text is no more or vice versa. Call it your spirit, your soul, your ghost or inner being, but it will always have a body or a physical aspect. In other words, whether your mind separates from your current human vessel by some means of spiritual ethereal mitosis or some type of quantum leap, from one physical vessel to the next, it will always be both of the physical and the non-physical, the mind and the body. It will never be otherwise.
Our levels of consciousness and awareness may come and go, it can wax and wane with sleep and wakefulness but can never be completely turned off like a light switch or a water faucet. However, your mind and identity are always changing, for a variety of reasons, thanks to the physical, material part of the world, and you will lose your memories eventually if not right away after your human death. But there has never been a time when you, the mental passenger, did not exist. I believe you will move from one life to the next, forever and ever. Because you, the perceiving entity, the passenger, are not like a mere physical structure like a house or chair that has only a fixed number of physical parts that can be assembled and then taken apart to be no more. That would unjustly cheapen the universe and what you truly are. Don’t misunderstand. Your human vessel does, indeed, have a fixed number of parts but that inner core version of you does not. You are so much more than that. You, that mental passenger, that perceiving entity is a hub, a core, an apex of the Forever All that is the universe from your unique point-of-view in time and space and you always will be. Your true body is the entire infinite physical universe. You are all that physicality and all that in between along with all its rules. Your mind is part of an unending continuum. It has always required the whole interconnected package we call the universe to make you possible. That will never change. There is no force powerful enough or a device clever enough to separate your inner perceiving light from the infinite cosmic lantern. That flame that is your local perceiving self merely changes its shape and position in the grand scheme of things as one might perceive it.
Putting aside our human death that will eventually come—sorry—in a very real sense, each of us are constantly being reincarnated from one moment to the next. We are all being reincarnated right now as I speak. Isn’t it amazing how the universe can allow our mind to have trains of thought, durations of existence, even though in a physical sense, as we often view it, we are a collection of tiny particles that don’t even physically touch one another? Observe the amazing physical processes that happen during the birth of any and all life and even observe the amazing processes that occur during death. Consider all the amazing mechanisms at play. Chemicals dance around, electrons change energy states and at times are emitted. Things bubble and flare up, they twist, contort, and move about, fluids flow, they squirt, spray, and flush themselves out as organic life tends to do whether it’s being born or dying. The universe is a remarkable machine with some remarkable mechanisms. Don’t so easily dismiss its ability to use similar awesome mechanisms to keep your perceiving mind going like an eternal flame that can never be completely blown out. Your wick and your wax will never run out. They are unending. They are eternal.
Some have suggested this view to be wishful thinking. That I and others are comforted by the thought and belief in reincarnation. Well, they’re partly correct. I would be lying if I said I had absolutely no hopes or desires to continue on after this present human life or that the idea of rebirth is not comforting, because to some extent, it is comforting. But as we all well know, life is not always comforting or pleasurable. It’s a mixed bag. In fact, it is too often quite the opposite. It can be rather painful, very cruel, very frightening, and extremely exhausting. I’ll admit, there’s a part of me that sometimes wishes it would not continue or that the whole thing would just stop. I don’t believe we get to live happily ever after in a blissful state of joy. Far from it. I will likely lose much of what I believe I know about the universe and have to relearn it all over again. In the next life, I will likely be very vulnerable like a child walking into a new classroom for the first time. So never forget, life is not all that great, but fortunately, it’s also not all that bad, either. It’s a mixed bag, always has been and always will be. So not mainly due to wishful thinking.
However, I always try to remove my emotions from the equation, so it doesn’t cloud my judgement, and I try to always base all my philosophical views on what I believe to be the truth and reality of the world, based on all that the universe has taught me so far, whether it’s actually right or wrong and whether I like it or not, and not on what I would like that reality or truth to be or need it to be or wish it to be. I know all too well that I would only be cheating myself to do otherwise, and I’m rarely ever able to fool myself into believing anything mainly out of comfort. I’m one of those who is always compelled to see behind the curtain, so-to-speak, to use any available evidence, logic, and/or valid reasoning before I believe in anything. Also, once anyone becomes familiar enough with my personal philosophical views, they will quickly learn that I believe in things that are very uncomforting and at times quite frightening or depressing. But I continue to believe in them, regardless, due to logic and lines of reasoning that are subject to error and could change the very next day.
Even in the absence of logic and going on instinct, I just never could believe that once my human body dies that my perceiving mind permanently and fully dies along with it never to reemerge, not ever. Think about that for a moment, what that would be like. Try to imagine simply not existing ever again. A hundred years roll by here on Earth, where you once lived as a human, then thousands, then billions, long after planet Earth, then trillions and still no you—not ever again. Not ever. As my grandpa Jack used to often say, “If it can happen once, it can happen again. It is now more difficult for me to believe we don’t continue than to believe we do.
Based on all the evidence I have gathered over the course of my life, thus far, I’m afraid you and I are here to stay, eternally trapped here within this infinite cosmic soup like prisoners, who will at times be treated well for good behavior and at times treated very badly and unjustly, back and forth, forever and ever, for better or worse. So we will have times of suffering as well as times of pleasure, times of sadness as well as times of great joy, moments of wakefulness as well as moments of sleepful rest. It will be perceived by each being to be both good and bad, both beautiful and ugly. Our minds will forever undulate between consciousness and unconsciousness to experience all the beautiful pleasurable highs and all the ugly painful lows and all the moments in between, over and over, in an endless cosmic cycle.
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October 18, 2018 in Views
Here’s an oil painting I had started many years ago (around 1996). It’s my version of Michelangelo’s Adam receiving the touch of God’s finger on the Sistine Chapel, meant to express my pantheistic view that the universe is the constant causation of our existence, that God is not something beyond or outside of us or the universe, but that we and the universe are that divine thing, that each of us is like a piece of cosmic fruit (seed, egg, womb) attached to an infinite cosmic tree, and that, ultimately, each is the eternal cosmic tree. It’s still a work in progress–talk about a project that’s been on the back burner! I recently took a high resolution digital photo of it, so I could start working on it again, digitally, within Photoshop. It’s nearly complete, but there are still a lot of little things I would like to clean up and do to it. I hope all you fellow pantheists like it so far.
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January 15, 2017 in Views
There is the All. The All is everything and every thing is of the All. It is a divine system with clockwork-like precision and order, which we are all a part of. It is the ultimate body, the ultimate mind, and the ultimate spirit. It is not the created, nor is it the destructible. It is the Supreme Being which has always been, is, and always will be. It is the law and it is the authority. It is what governs all things, including itself, yet it has no choice but to be what it is and to do what it does. That which is responsible for the existence of the All . . . is the All itself.
The All is also the ultimate contradiction, the ultimate paradox. It has substance, and yet it doesn’t. It moves, and yet it remains fixed. It is very old, and yet it is brand new. It is divided, and yet it is whole. It is singular, and yet it is infinite. Therefore, it is both good as well as evil, cruel as well as kind, beautiful as well as ugly, and painful as well as pleasant. At times it is frightening, though at times it is comforting. At times it hurts us, though at times it pleasures us. At times it gives life, though at times it takes it away. But overall, it remains conserved, unchanged, and completely balanced. Overall, it is the guiding force that pushes us towards a balanced path. Overall, it is responsible for our existence. Overall, it has meaning and it has purpose.
By Guyus Seralius — 1993-2005
January 15, 2017 in Views
All things play a part in creating your perception. Therefore, in your perception, you should see that you are the All.
There is your local self, that version of you that likely moves around within a vessel of human flesh at the moment, a subset of the All that forever grows, changes, and which will one day die, and then there is your cosmic self, that truer, eternal, universal version of you that is the All in its entirety and which will never change or die. In one sense, you are like a single leaf upon an endless cosmic tree, but in another, equally real sense, you are the entire, endless cosmic tree, for it is all, ultimately, connected.
Everything requires the All in order to exist. Nothing can exist outside the All, nor be independent of it. Consider what it takes for you to exist. Aside from requiring the obvious, such as a brain, a heart, a digestive system, etc., you require all else beyond your apparent body. For instance, you require water to hydrate your body, an atmosphere to hold the water into liquid form, a strong gravitational force to pull in and compress gases into such an atmosphere, a planetary body to provide the gravity and to serve as a platform, a source of heat energy, like our Sun, to warm things up. Atoms are needed to form these gases, planets, and stars. Space is needed for these objects to occupy, and so on. In short, you require the All, the entire universe, an infinite system, in order to exist.
The All is what makes any one thing possible. The All is required in order for any of us to exist, and ultimately, no one thing is more important than any other. Each thing, no matter how insignificant it may appear, plays its part in sustaining you as well as the All. Therefore, since the All is required for you to exist, you should see that . . .
YOU ARE THE ALL.
You are the All trying to perceive itself, trying to understand itself, and trying to know itself. You are the forever cosmic tree, whose branches never end. But you are not alone. You are actually in infinite company. I too am the All. So is your neighbor. And so is the smallest house fly. But you are the All from your own special position in time and space. This position allows you to forever remain unique. But in a deeper sense, at our core, we are all the same. We all have our moments of fear, moments of jealousy, moments of embarrassment, moments of anger, and thankfully . . . moments of pure joy!
The All is indestructible, which means you too are, ultimately, indestructible. Your mind will move from one life to the next, and you will at times forget your true identity. But thankfully, you will at times be reminded by the All who and what you really are, that true version of you that goes far beyond what you may normally see as your local self, and that is . . . The Forever All, an inescapable system of profound order, which will forever remain balanced and conserved.
If you are a good student, learn the great lessons it has to teach. If you can read the pages of life, then try to enjoy the epic story it tells. When you truly understand it, you will be in awe of its magnificence and you will marvel at its complexity and perfection. It will be your greatest epiphany. You will truly know it is the ultimate kingdom and that this kingdom is truly you!
The All can not be fully understood, for it is ultimately unknowable. It’s like trying to stare too deeply into the light of the Sun to see its core only to be blinded. Though enough evidence of the All is available for us to use our “mind’s eye” so-to-speak to understand it well enough without being permanently blinded. At times you will need to glance away from the brilliant light of truth to give your eyes a rest. Instead of staring at it dead on, use the corner of your eyes.
It is difficult to discuss the true nature of the All or to describe its true form, for we the perceivers have always experienced it only in part from a limited point-of-view. It can all be greatly misunderstood, but I will do my best to describe my take on it. I will at times discuss the All as it is, in its true form, but I will also describe the All through the eyes of the perceiver. Hopefully, you will know one from the other, eventually, if not right away. Do not try to look through the trees to see the forest, for you never will. You must take a step back and look around, for you are in the forest and the forest is all around you.
By Guyus Seralius, 1993-2005
January 15, 2017 in Views
The Positive and the Negative are the two ultimate descriptive words of the All. They are the two ultimate forces, the two ultimate attributes, and the two ultimate values of the All. Understand these two forces and how they interact and you will be very close to understanding the theory of everything. The All is comprised of these two fundamental forces, which are always in opposition of one another. Therefore, one half of the All constantly contends with its other half, yet the All forever remains balanced and conserved as a whole.
These two forces are responsible for all other opposites found in the universe. Everywhere we look in nature do we see examples of these two opposite forces at work—also known as the Yin and Yang, terms which have been popularized by Eastern philosophers. Examples of some of these opposites are night and day, up and down, large and small, hot and cold, light and dark, open and closed, pain and pleasure, etc. It could be said that these two main opposite forces serve as our true parents, for they are responsible for your existence and are responsible for the All. You can’t have one without the other. When you adjust one, you automatically adjust the other, for they shape each other. One pole will always be inversely proportional to its opposite pole. If you increase the light, you automatically decrease the darkness. If you increase the heat, you automatically decrease the cold. If you remove pain, you automatically increase pleasure. But keep in mind, these increases and decreases in the opposites occur only on a local level from the perceiver’s point-of-view. Nothing can be added to or subtracted from the All as a whole. The reason we are forced to experience local gains and local losses in these two primary forces, the positive and the negative, is because we have to experience the universe in limited portions. If we heard all sounds, and saw all images, and felt all things, all at once, we would not hear, see, or feel at all. One can not hear a song in the presence of all sounds. It can’t be done. So when one attribute is locally increased within a given area of the All, it must be drawn and decreased elsewhere from the All. It’s kind of like squeezing on one end of a balloon and causing the other end to expand and inflate. For instance, to increase the light within a given area of the All, perhaps within your bedroom, energy must be drawn and decreased elsewhere from the All. Thus the energy of the All is conserved. Physicists have essentially discovered this fact about the universe and have termed it “the law of conservation.” Though for scientists, this law mainly applies to energy, mass, and momentum. But it is my strong belief that it can actually apply to any attribute of the All, such as pain and pleasure, love and hate, wellness and illness, ignorance and intelligence. Even the distribution of the color green, as it is perceived, is constantly conserved.
Due to this law of conservation, the All will forever be maintained as it always has been, as it is now. You can rest assured that the All will never one day become fully corrupt, or completely evil, or cause you non-stop pain and suffering forever and ever, for the All is not something that “becomes” anything. It already is what it is and always will be what it is, and that is pure balance. Unfortunately, as well as fortunately, we the perceivers will always come to experience an offset in the opposite poles, due to a limited view, experiencing the highs and the lows and all the transitions in between. Time and time again, we will come to experience moments of sadness as well as moments of joy, moments of suffering as well as moments of pleasure. In the following chapters, I will discuss these opposite poles of the All in some detail and how they relate to us, the perceivers.
By Guyus Seralius, 2007
January 15, 2017 in Views
The universe is comprised of two main fundamental forces, the positive and the negative. This unfortunately means we will always have to deal with its negative half.
As a pantheist, I do not view God, the Supreme Being that is the universe, to be an entity which is all good and considerate and which always takes care of us. On the contrary. God, or the universe, can at times show very little mercy. It can be both kind as well as cruel, beautiful as well as ugly, a giver as well as a taker. However, when we walk a straight path and always try to do the right thing, it increases the odds that the universe will be good to us in return. The more good a person is the more he or she increases the chances of getting rewarded for it. But there are never any guarantees. We all know there are those who do wrong, yet get rewarded and those who do good, yet get punished. But one can at least increase the odds of getting rewarded. For example, if you take the time and effort to keep your home clean, you will decrease the germs and, therefore, increase the chances of not getting ill. But, if you fail to keep your kitchen clean, nature will by default try to punish you. Your home will likely become infested with roaches. If you lie frequently, others will stop trusting you. If you do not exercise caution, you will eventually trip and fall or encounter some other hazard. These are the type of universal laws that serve as the eternal Cosmic Commandments of the universal being, which include most of the well known Ten Commandments of the Judeo-Christian Bible.
Our pain and suffering helps us to grow and develop. It’s why we first learned how to build a fire—to escape the pain of the cold! Some might ask, “Well why couldn’t God, the universe, just tell us how to build a fire; or better yet, why didn’t God simply set it up so that we didn’t even need fire?” I believe the first part of that answer is that the universe was never “set up.” The universe is a system that has always existed and always will. It is what it is and has no choice but to be what it is and to do what it does, much the way 5 must be > 3 or how a square must have four sides. The second part of that answer is we need the negative to appreciate the positive. It provides the needed contrast in our lives. In order to truly know pleasure we must first truly know pain. We need storms in order to appreciate the sunny days. Having needs helps us to appreciate our lives and our accomplishments. If everything was done for us, automatically from the get-go, we would be spoiled with no sense of right and wrong, we would hold little value towards life and the universe. The incorporation of pain and sadness into our lives allows us to truly live in a more meaningful way. The more we know the pain of losing a loved one, the more we will value life. If we were not faced with the prospect of pain and death, we would not take life all that seriously. Nature needed these mechanisms to perpetuate itself, so that we would be encourage to protect ourselves, to survive long enough to reproduce. The sensation of pain is what encourages us to quickly remove our hand that was accidentally or intentionally placed onto a hot grill. Pain is what causes boys to really protect their privates. Doing so helps to serve the overall purpose of the universe. Unfortunately, life can be quite cruel and simply must be endured, and I am so sorry for that! I will be the first to apologize for the universe for being forced by its own nature to be so cruel to you, to me, to all of us. It is simply the natural way of things and can never be fully prevented or done away with. Fortunately though, life must reward us from time-to-time with indescribable joy.
When others are kind to you or lend you a helping hand, it is equally valid to say the universe is trying to help you, because they are an instrument of the universe. When a friend shows concern for your plight, this is also the universe showing you concern. Unfortunately though, as I mentioned before, there are times when the infinite system can show you very little mercy. When you become ill, for instance, you can blame the universe. When you become well, you can thank it. So we will always have times of pleasure and times of suffering. It is simply part of the universal formula that sustains life.
The universe allows living beings to be uneducated, unwise, and to make serious mistakes quite often, and therefore, to be cruel to others. We call these type of people, bad, even though it’s not their fault that they’re flawed. This means the universe sometimes has to allow those we think of as ‘good’ to be on the receiving end of those mistakes, even though they are relatively innocent and don’t deserve it. For instance, a dumb irresponsible man may be negligent by not properly securing his huge vicious dog to a properly secure leash, allowing the dog to escape and attack a jogger passing by, who is merely trying to improve his health. As ridiculous as it sounds, during ancient times, primitive men would have assumed that the jogger must have recently sinned and that God was simply punishing him.
In the Book of Job in the Christian Bible, you can read a story about a righteous man who is repeatedly punished by Satan. God, as He is described by Christians, permits this because He is trying to prove to Satan that Job is a true believer whose faith cannot be shaken or diminished by any of life’s struggles and that his religious devotion is not dependent on his favorable conditions. So he loses his children, his servants, his cattle, and consequently his wealth during a major storm caused by Satan, and then is stricken by boils and illnesses. All his friends try to explain to him that he must have sinned and that if he would only repent and beg for God’s forgiveness and change his ways, then all would be well again. Even today, in certain parts of the world, do foolish humans think this way—that all suffering is justified punishment from God. In certain third world countries, young girls are the ones who are blamed when they are raped. Innocent citizens go to prison or, at times, are even put to death if their tongue is burnt while licking a hot spoon—a judicial test their people believe determines whether or not they’re lying.
It’s so sad that the innocent ones in life often have to pay for the negligence of others. Tragically, our history is filled with stories of the innocent ones suffering the negative consequences of the ignorant and selfish wrongdoers, who too often go unpunished in a timely manner. Though life will eventually punish all wrongdoers in full for their misconduct, one way or another. It’s the law of the universe. One can never escape their due punishment. It can only be delayed for a spell. If so, they will eventually experience the sling-shot effect of the consequences of their negative actions. And as for those who are forced by the universe to receive and endure punishments they do not directly deserve, they will sooner or later be fully compensated by the universe. Over the course of many lifetimes, everyone’s rewards and punishments, whether earned or deserved, will all balance out. When added together, you end up with equilibrium.
Nature will only allow someone to suffer only so much and for only so long, even if the release of suffering is through death, where one may pass on to the next life. And again, we will always eventually be compensated for our suffering either in this lifetime or in the next, or the one after that—if only based on the nature of probability like when you flip a coin a thousand times, fifty percent of the time it will land on heads. So according to chance, involving a large sample, you will experience pleasure fifty percent of the time. Where those moments of suffering or pleasure crop up no one will ever know for sure. That’s where it becomes random from our point-of-view.
Nature does this thing I call the zebra effect. In a manner of speaking, it has its black stripes or negative states, and it has its white stripes or positive states. And it osculates back and forth between the two. Nature is like an onion with its alternating layers. It always unfolds in seasons from the cold and depressing to the warm and joyful, over and over, in a cyclic or back and forth fashion. For example, as long as you continue to live, it is written that you will sooner or later become very ill again. I don’t mean to depress or frighten you, but that’s just the way the universe works. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how rich in spirit, bad times will find you time and time again. Fortunately though, so will good times.
It’s important not to try to give life a reason for punishing you. Don’t tempt the universe by dancing on the edge of a cliff or by driving well beyond the speed limit, no matter how fun it may be. If you have a very extroverted lifestyle and you’re the type who loves to go skiing, mountain climbing, sky-diving, then you really increase the chances of having a tragic incident in your life. That’s the gamble. The grasshopper with the longest legs will also have the longest fall to break. It’s what I call the sling-shot effect or the Kennedy syndrome. The Kennedys often live extraordinary, extroverted lives. They fly planes, they sale, they ski, and they become powerful political figures. It’s their extroverted dispositions and lifestyles that serve as their curse and which leads to many of their tragic deaths.
But do not become a major introvert either. It’s not a good idea to become a complete recluse and live the life of a hermit to never leave your home due to the fear of some mishap. Chances are, your life will not be all that fulfilling. Nature has many ways to punish the overly sheltered as well. A non-active lifestyle can bring forth loneliness, depression, and illness. So don’t allow yourself to become too introverted or too sedentary in your life or it will eventually affect your health. You must get up at times to exercise and get out and become at least somewhat social for the sake of your health.
The universe will find a way to punish you when you try to live in the extremes, because the universe ‘likes’ balance in the same way a flower ‘likes’ and moves towards the sunlight. It needs and prefers this middle ground. You have to try to balance your lifestyle so that you gently bounce up and down between extroversion and introversion, between safety and danger, and between pain and pleasure. So try to live a balanced life.
by Guyus Seralius on July 21, 2006 (Re-edited in May, 2015)
January 15, 2017 in Views
The video and article below is my response to a YouTube video posted by LordImmolation titled, “Pantheism.”
In LordImmolation’s video (not available in this essay), he essentially asks pantheists and panentheists, “Why view the universe as God?” Because he feels it merely adds confusion to the already complex subject of the universe, and I am forced to agree. It can and does add confusion, since pantheism is like a quasi blend between atheism and theism.
I thought he asked a series of very interesting and valid questions, so I will try to answer why I personally often refer to the universe as God. Though keep in mind, I also quite often use terms like nature, the cosmos, The Supreme Being, or the All to refer to the universe.
Some of the specific questions he asks pantheists and panentheists are the following;
1. Why aren’t you just Atheists?
2. Why don’t you just call it the Universe?
3. Is it really necessary to make this distinction, separate from atheism? Because he feels that pantheism is just a dressed up version of atheism or merely a more poetic expression of atheism, and that it should probably just be dropped altogether.
He felt that pantheism had no ontological significance. That is, that it didn’t seem to have any importance when investigating and discussing the nature of reality or existence. Overall, I think he wants us to show him an appreciable difference between our view of the universe and atheism. Now since I am a pantheist and not a panentheist, I will mainly focus on pantheism.
For those who are not familiar with those two terms, I will briefly explain them and how they differ from one another.
Pantheism is the view that the entire universe is God. That God and the universe are one in the same. God is the whole of all things, including all living things. The literal meaning of the word pantheism, which derives from the Greek language, is All is God. And one who believes in pantheism is called a pantheist, which is what I am.
However, panentheism is somewhat different in that it is the view that the whole universe is only a subset of God, and that God can exist separately and independent of the universe. Most panentheists view the entire universe as something that evolves or changes, even as whole. They also hold to the idea that God can choose to intervene and interact with the universe to make changes that would otherwise be impossible. These characteristics cause many to view panentheism to be closer to traditional theism. So keep in mind that I am a pantheist not a panentheist. I do not believe God can exist beyond or separate from the universe in any way. And I view the universe as a fixed thing, when viewed as a whole. In essence, this “whole” reflects a yin-yang quality, which forever remains balanced and conserved.
Now, it’s also important to describe how I personally define God, because it does stray quite a bit from the traditional Christian definition, which defines God as an entity that is all good, all knowing, all powerful, and the creator of all things. A supernatural being, usually a male or father figure, who watches over each of us with concern for our well being.
Personally, I don’t believe God is some all powerful male figure capable of doing what ever He wants. God, in my view, is the universe–limited to a set of natural laws. So God—the universe– does not have the ability to choose. God is more like a natural machine. In fact, I usually refer to God as It and almost never as Him, unless I accompany the word with Her to convey the yin-yang aspect of the universe. But to me, it is a very divine machine with rules and physical laws, which everything has to obey. For example, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction or the pi of any circle must be 3.14. I use the term divine, when describing this machine, only to convey its incredible functionality and complexity and order, which overall seems to have value, meaning and purpose, and not as something supernatural, or all good.
However, I do believe God, or if you prefer the universe, constantly sustains us and is responsible for our existence. The whole universe is required in order for any one thing to exist. So one of the primary reasons I refer to the universe as God, is to give it the respect I think it deserves. Because of the authority it has over us, and because it is directly responsible for our existence.
A second important reason I think of the universe as God and why I find the pantheistic view to be necessary and why the distinction needs to be made from the atheistic view is to emphasize that I don’t view the universe as random, accidental, or meaningless. The whole is more than the sum of its parts so-to-speak. Though I do realize not all atheists view the universe as a cold, heartless machine. In a nut-shell, theists tend to give too much significance to what they call God and atheists too often don’t give the universe enough significance.
There seems to be these eternal, unchanging, everlasting concepts and ideas woven into the universe. For example, mathematical concepts. Mathematics is not something that could have been created or something that evolved. It just is what it is. Mathematical concepts would still hold true even if somehow the universe did not exist. Also consider the non-mathematical concepts, like the idea of a cup, or a shovel, or even something as complicated as a phone, all which seem to transcend time or a material existence. These ideas are really not inventions, but rather discoveries. In other words, these concepts go beyond creation and they go beyond any accidental, strictly mechanical universe. Now, if you were to sum up all these eternally fixed concepts and ideas, you get this one overall concept which was never created and which can never be destroyed. The universe is like this ultimate being, which provides us with these ultimate lessons, and reveals this ultimate story of life. That is what I find significant about the universe as a whole, whereas atheists may not.
This leads me to yet another profoundly important reason I choose to refer to the universe as God. These eternal concepts also include permanently fixed forces, which act as guiding forces. And I’m not just referring to the fundamental forces like gravity, but the more advanced, sophisticated forces like the feeling of guilt one has when they do wrong or the desire most people have to help others who are suffering. Therefore, the universe, as a whole, seems to provide guidance. It tends to use all sorts of forces to push us towards a balanced path. Though at times it does this with amazing cruelty and can be quite unforgiving. Sadly, the universe always punishes us when we try to reach towards the extremes. For instance, if we become too selfish then the universe, by its own laws of nature, responds in a way so as to reverse our greedy behavior, like causing us to lose friends who have been taught by the universe to hate selfish behavior. If we are too giving then again the universe will respond in such a way that pushes our excessive behavior back into balance, such as allowing others to take advantage of us when we are too generous.
The universe, as far as I can tell, has a good track record of rewarding those who follow a balanced path. It’s important to note that the universe does deal in probabilities. So even a person who lives a balanced life can have his house torn down by a tornado. But if one does follow a balanced path, it increases the odds that life, or nature, or the universe will respond in a kinder, more balanced way. Those who are out of balance tend to get knocked around by the universe to and fro until he or she becomes balanced. So in this way, I find that the universe, as a whole, does try to protect and guide us, much the way a theistic god might be characterized to do. I truly believe the universe, as I have described it, is the closest thing we will ever have to any god.
Now here are some more trivial reasons I refer to the universe as God. The term atheist or atheism puts a bad taste in most people’s mouths. It has such a negative connotation for most people. When anyone tells a theist he or she is an atheist, the theist will usually give a look of disbelief or disgust, as though the atheist is automatically a devil worshipper who has no reverence or respect for life. So I started referring to this meaningful, purposeful universe as God simply out of convenience. It was a lot easier and helped me to avoid uncomfortable debates or discussions with friends and extended family members who were devout Christians, because I’m very selective with whom I choose to discuss my views with, one-on-one. I’ve learned in the past that one can go in circles forever when discussing such a subject with others whose views are at opposite ends.
However, I believe the pantheistic view helps to bridge the gap between theists and atheists—a bridge which is desperately needed. Pantheism has many things in common with both atheism and theism. It’s a marriage or balanced fusion of the two. God may not have spoken to a man named Moses with an actual audible human-like voice to tell him thou shalt not kill, but the universe does communicate to man through his life experiences, his emotional sensations, and his mental processes, that it is wrong to kill another human in cold blood.
Last, but not least, there’s the emotional reason I choose to view the universe as God, and that is it simply feels good to do so. It just feels right. But many of us pantheist would agree that yes, we could get away with just calling it the universe. It’s just that it comes off a bit hollow and makes the universe sound a little cold. Calling the universe God, for me, sure helps to warm it up a bit.
by Guyus Seralius, October 2010
January 15, 2017 in Views
If there is a secret to life, it is and will forever be, balance.
The universe, overall, seems to be perfectly balanced and will likely forever remain so. I don’t think anything can ever disrupt that overall perfect balance. However, from the perceiver’s perspective, the world is seen to be very out of balance, for perfect equilibrium can never be achieved or experienced from the perceiver’s limited point-of-view. The reason for this is because all perceivers are forced to experience the world in a limited fashion. We are not capable of experiencing or perceiving all aspects of the infinite All, simultaneously. We cannot hear every sound, see every grain of dust, or feel every substance of the universe, all at once. We are forced to witness the dark shadows of night and then the wonderful highlights of day. We must experience the cold of winter, as well as the warmth of summer. If we were somehow able to experience absolute, perfect balance, all would be like a dull, boring, homogenous soup, where nothing interesting ever happens. Therefore, we are forced to experience the All in an endless series of imbalances. When we experience huge offsets in balance, we are swung up and down like a yo-yo from the highs to lows and back again. These imbalances, when pushed to the extreme, will lead to either great moments of pleasure and joy that must eventually be followed by great moments of pain and sorrow, or vise versa. It becomes a tug-of-war situation until better equilibrium is obtained once again. This huge undulation between the extremes can be very disconcerting. Thankfully, life tries to encourage us, through incentives and disincentives, through pain and pleasure, to maintain as much equilibrium as possible.
The universe uses a variety of ways to urge us towards a very balanced path. Though, at times, it does this with amazing cruelty and can be quite unforgiving. Sadly, the universe always punishes us when we try to reach towards the extremes. For instance, if we become too selfish then the universe, by its own laws of nature, responds in a way so as to reverse our greedy behavior like causing us to lose friends who have been taught by the universe to hate selfish behavior. If we are too giving, then again, the universe will respond in such a way that pushes our excessive behavior back into balance, such as allowing others to take advantage of us when we are too generous. This cosmic urge towards balance is the law of the All. It is the primary commandment of the universe. In this way, the universe, as a whole, provides guidance to all living things.
I am not the only one to stumble upon and discover this profoundly important law of balance the universe must abide. Universal truths have a way of cropping up in the minds of philosophers, again and again, throughout history and will continue to do so as long as man continues to seek out truth. After reading up on Buddha, I learned that he too taught about taking the balanced approach, only he called it “the middle way.” One illustration he reportedly gave was the stringing of a musical instrument. He explained that if the strings are strung too loose, then the instrument will not properly play music. If the strings are strung too tight, then again, the instrument will not properly play. The strings must be strung with balanced tension in order to play beautiful music. Psychologists and sociologists have also discovered this universal truth regarding balance. They have often referred to what is known as the “golden mean” or the “Goldilocks zone,” a reference to the children’s story, “The Three Bears,” that repeatedly illustrates this idea of balance. For example, when Goldilocks eats some of baby bear’s porridge, she delightfully discovers to her satisfaction that it is not too hot and not too cold but juuuuust right.
Since all perceiving minds must observe the world in an undulated manner between the extremes, the universe must abide by another very important law of the All and that is the law of compensation. It essentially states that for every loss there is a gain, and for every gain there is a loss. For instance, if a girl’s outer appearance is perceived by most to be ugly, then it will likely cause her to become beautiful on the inside. Less attractive people tend to be less social and, therefore, are usually more introspective. They are also more likely to be the observers than participants. This reality helps to shape their inner good qualities. The more beautiful a girl is on the outside the more ugly she is likely to be on the inside, meaning she is likely to be a shallow person with a huge ego as a result of her outer beauty. This is not a permanent condition. This is nature’s way of compensating and maintaining balance. It’s what provides the fuel for proper change towards equilibrium. The beautiful girl with an ugly inner core will be treated accordingly by many, possibly even by her own friends and family, forcing her to increase the beauty of her heart and pay less attention to her external looks and, thus, become a more well balanced person. Unattractive people as well as attractive people both get balanced out by life sooner or later. The universe will never allow anyone to be one hundred percent perfect.
It always takes a pile of dirt to grow a rose! So everyone will always have their equal share of dirt. Though, some are very good at hiding their dirt. Ideally, we want a little dirt on both the inside as well as the outside to balance out our internal and external beauty or goodness. The majority of one’s dirt may be on the inside or the outside, or it may be evenly distributed, but overall, both dirt and beauty must remain conserved. It’s another inescapable law, much like the scientific law of conservation, which states that the amount of any attribute of an isolated physical system remains conserved. In the world of science, this law is usually expressed in the conservation of energy and mass, in which case the amount of energy or mass in any closed system remains the same.
In essence, what goes around comes around. Everyone takes turns winning and losing. It’s just the way the universe has to work. A burglar who unnecessarily steals from others will often reap immediate rewards but will sooner or later pay for the injustice, either by the law of man or by the law of nature. Those who had something stolen will experience pain from their loss but will sooner or later gain something in return as a result of that experience. It’s a continuous give and take process.
The famous American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was one of the first to discover this very profound law of compensation and how it constantly influences our lives. It is also very similar to the Hindu philosophy of Karma, but it’s full scope reaches well beyond the familiar discussions of how our good and bad deeds correspond to our rewards and punishments. Isaac Newton also discovered at least a fundamental aspect of this law in terms of the physical interactions of the universe and said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
We should always try to avoid the extremes. When we push towards an extreme, whether it is trying to acquire too much wealth, too much fame, even too many friends, the universe will push back with the opposite, yet equal force, in order to counter the change and compensate for it. This compensating force towards balance is even reflected in the equations used by Albert Einstein for his Special Theory of Relativity, which theorizes that the faster an object travels, relative to an observer, the more massive it becomes, as measured by that observer, and the harder it becomes for that object to increase its velocity. In other words, the faster something tries to travel, relative to another, the more the universe tries to put a stop to it. The universe simply forces back the extremes.
We life forms are always striving to push back undesirable aspects of life like poverty, war, and ugliness in exchange for wealth, peace, and beauty. Pushing back on the dark side of life, often thought of as the Yin side of the Yin-Yang, comes at a price, and the more it is suppressed the more energy it takes and the bigger the sacrifice. It’s like trying to plug up a large water leak from a giant dam. The closer we come to plugging up the leak, the greater the pressure builds up. The main leak will fracture into many smaller leaks with higher pressure—kind of like how early Americans got rid of one tyrant king only to be replaced by several smaller tyrants on Wall Street who oppress the people. More and more there will be a resistance! Often things can get far worse before they get any better. If one attribute is pushed back to the point of near removal, it will begin to push back with a more violent force, such as when a political party is threatened with extinction. I think of this as the “death throws.” Whenever there is a change in the universe, whether viewed as positive or negative, there will always be resistance in some form.
In many ways the universe’s response to our actions are immediate and instantaneous, but in many other ways its response is delayed and can even be held up for a spell like a giant rubber band or spring which builds up potential energy waiting to be unleashed. Therefore, the universe, from the perceiver’s point-of-view, is, in part, elastic, and, thus, the consequences to our actions are not always seen or felt right away. Though our punishments and our rewards will come sure enough, in due time. This leads to what I call the sling-shot effect, which we must all be mindful of. One well known example of this is when we try to suppress our anger and frustration over a long period of time. The pressure builds up and we become like a ticking time-bomb, ready to explode that anger at any moment. When corrupt governments treat its citizens so badly for so long tension builds and revolutions break out to wash away the corruption. These back and forth movements from one extreme to the opposite express the rhythms of life, the heart beat of the All.
Though the universe does what it does to balance the scales in all areas, that doesn’t mean we ourselves don’t play a role in those adjustments. We are very capable of observing an offset in the world, in others, and in ourselves and can respond to take action. Whether or not it’s the right action, time will tell. Just be careful not to overcompensate, which we life forms tend to do quite often. Don’t go from trusting everyone to trusting no one, or from expressing intense emotions to expressing hardly any emotions. Life, as we experience it, is not so digital (on-off, black-white, all or nothing) but rather somewhere in between. For example, the fear of oppression, which we have historically endured, caused the American Founding Fathers to run desperately headlong towards way too much freedom in many areas for hundreds of years. The negative consequences from that excessive freedom, especially in the market area, are still playing out and are fortunately pushing us back towards a more balanced and civil approach. Whenever something bad happens, whether it’s a terrorist attack, school shooting, stock-market crash, or accidental death, it often leads to the error of overcompensation. It can cause over regulation in areas where it is not truly needed or the great subtraction of regulations in areas where they are needed. It takes a soft touch to make the proper and necessary adjustments, such as during an economic recession brought on by too much economic freedom and too much wasteful spending. Over the course of human history, we have shifted dramatically, back and forth, between the extremes. If you were to examine our history closely, it is like observing a pea tossed into a large bowl that moves up and down from side-to-side, slowly moving towards the center. Thanks to the law of balance and the law of compensation, we too are slowly but surely moving towards the center and finding equilibrium.
The answers to life’s most important questions usually tend to be found within a blurry middle, a delicate balance between the opposing ideas. Some of the most familiar arguments are nature vs nurture, free will vs determinism, creation vs evolution, atheism vs theism, capitalism vs socialism, big government vs small government, pro life vs pro choice, animal diet vs plant diet, raw vs cooked, and so on, just to name a few. It’s important not to get too much sun exposure and not too little either. We have to balance the calcium we put into our bodies with the magnesium, the acids with the bases. Fruits and vegetables are best eaten when perfectly ripened. If they are not quite ripe, then they are too fibrous and/or starchy. If they are too ripe, then they are too sugary. Not getting enough sleep is bad for our health and getting too much sleep is not good either. Studies have shown we shouldn’t even exercise too much or it could lead to cancer. The key is balance. The day we finally balance all the most relevant extremes is the day we will have real prosperity, peace, and freedom. That is when the true “Golden Age” will begin. So we must all strive to follow a balanced path as much as possible.
The universe, as far as I can tell, has a good track record of rewarding those who follow a balanced path. It’s important to note that the universe does deal in probabilities, from our point-of-view, so even a person who lives a balanced life can have his house torn down by a tornado, for instance. But if one does follow a balanced path, it increases the odds that life or nature or the universe will respond in a kinder, more balanced way. Those who are out of balance tend to get knocked around by the universe to and fro until he or she becomes balanced. In this way, the overall universe tries to protect and guide us. If there was ever a secret to life, it is the everlasting idea of balance. It is at the very core of all my philosophy. I believe it is at the heart of the universe, the Almighty, the Supreme Being. So try to live in moderation. Try to live a balanced life. Be balanced.
January 15, 2017 in Views
Does Heaven really exist? Yes, I believe it does but not in the traditional Judeo-Christian sense of the word. Respectfully, I think any idea of eternal bliss, possibly amongst the clouds, must be put aside. Heaven is where ever and when ever one can find it. Heaven is not a permanent place, but a state of mind, a state of being. When you die, no matter how good of a person you are, there’s no such place you can go to live happily ever after. I wish that was true, but it’s impossible to obtain uninterrupted eternal bliss forever and ever, because we all have to have moments of pain in order to have moments of pleasure. You can’t permanently have one without the other, for they define each other. One has to be hungry before he or she can experience the pleasure of being filled. A door has to be closed before it can be opened.
The good news is the same can be said for Hell. No matter how bad of a person you may be, you will not go to a place to burn and suffer forever and ever, non stop. I find it too difficult to believe a god would create subservient beings to torture and punish for all time simply because they didn’t know any better to believe in him or because they lied, or bore false witness, or took their god’s name in vein.
Life is always part pain and part pleasure. Both are needed. Pain is what allows the perceiver to experience pleasure, again, much the way a door has to be closed before it can be opened. If you are having a very pleasurable moment, then you are in a heavenly state, regardless of geography. If you are experiencing a moment of extreme suffering, then you are in a state of hell. During Hitler’s rein, German scientists placed twin children into a bat of boiling grease to see if the twin’s sibling could sense it from another room. Now if that is not a moment of hell, then I don’t know what is. If there is a god, in the traditional sense, then He sure seems to be an absentee father figure, and if He allowed those children to suffer in that way, then I believe He has a lot to answer for. Let us also never forget the most cruel conditions African men, women, and children found themselves in while being transported deep within the bowels of slave ships. Hundreds of them were packed in like sardines in a can. They had to wallow around in their own vomit and feces in the dark and in the unrelenting heat for days on end, even when they were sick. The conditions were so harsh and unbearable that countless many died along the way. Again, if that is not a hellish moment, then I don’t know what is. What decent god would allow such a thing, and how would such a god ever justify it? I promise you, God, the universal being, is only half decent like the Yin and the Yang, which is the true heart and ultimate law of the All. Therefore, life is part cruel and part kind. It is Heaven and Hell on earth, intertwined.
Now try to imagine what Heaven, as described by Judeo-Christians, might be like. I’m hoping most theists don’t actually believe they get to float around in white garments, perhaps playing a harp with a constant grin of joy on their face. In fact, that would be kind of creepy. What do the spirits do for eternity? Do they ever get to experience the pleasures of eating, sleeping, playing games, or having sex? And how can one experience eternal bliss if he or she has a loved one who has been sent to Hell? Consider this Heaven-Hell paradox scenario I thought up. A father and son die in a horrible car accident. The father, who had worshipped God and read the Bible all his life and who had repented for all his sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior, is sent to Heaven to live in eternal paradise, as the New Testament in the Bible promises. But his son, who was a criminal and a liar, who did not believe in God, is sent straight to Hell. How can the father truly enjoy Heaven to its fullest degree while knowing his son, who he loves deeply, is suffering forever and ever in a lake of fire? This situation creates a serious conflict. The father will surely experience suffering of his own, regardless of his place in Heaven, due to his son’s eternal fate in Hell. These extreme ideas of eternal bliss and eternal suffering are just not realistic to me and come off as illogical.
So now the question becomes, “Then where do we go after we die?” In terms of The Forever All, an infinite system which I believe always remains constant and conserved as a whole, we go nowhere. We stay right here, within The Forever All to experience moments of suffering as well as moments of pleasure, forever and ever. But in terms of our specific personal journey from within The Forever All, who can say? I’m not sure we will ever know for sure or have a completely satisfactory answer to that question. The metaphors provided by nature seem to strongly suggest a cyclic existence. We can easily observe the four seasons cycle over and over. We can witness the day turn into night and back again. We can see a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, a snake shed its skin, again and again, and a hermit crab move from one shell to the next. I know that each moment that passes by changes us. The three year old boy I once was has long since past and is no more. We are all constantly being reincarnated, from moment to moment, even now as I speak. I personally believe our mind moves from one lifetime to the next, whether by means of moving towards some inner realm deep within a chosen atom of our dying body or by some ethereal separation to drift and be drawn to a new host, a new embryo that rest within a new mother of a new life form. Either way, I believe the journey continues. Life finds remarkable ways to do things. As my second to oldest brother once instinctively said, which by the way is one of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard, “Life seems to know what it’s doing.”
In closing, it’s not a good idea to wait until you die to visit Heaven. Try to appreciate the joyous moments in your life, now, while you can, as long as it is not at the cruel expense of others and as long as you have truly earned it.
By Guyus Seralius 2005
January 15, 2017 in Views
In this essay, I would like to briefly discuss how I became a pantheist or, more specifically, how I went from being a theist to agnostic, to an atheist, and then finally to a pantheist. I’ve inserted three videos communicating this essay for a more visual and visceral experience and for those who don’t enjoy long reads. However, it’s not word-for-word, and therefore, this essay is not an exact transcript of the 3-part video series (text may have been added or subtracted), but it comes very close. Enjoy!
You might find it interesting that I became a pantheist many years before I even knew the word pantheist existed. I didn’t even know there were others who shared the view that the entire universe is God. Even now, when I search the term pantheism on the Internet, it seems to be a very untapped subject in comparison to atheism, deism, Buddhism, and so on.
Several years ago, back when YouTube was first created, my older brother was discussing some of my philosophical views with a YouTuber he had just met online. The YouTuber expressed in a video response that it all sounded like pantheism. Shortly there after, my brother told me about it and asked me whether or not I considered myself to be a pantheist. At that time, I had no idea whether I was or not. The term pantheist was completely new to me. It almost sounded like a bad word or like some satanic label. The YouTuber provided his loose definition of pantheism, which all sounded good to me. However, I wanted to research it further just to make sure there weren’t any other undesirable meanings attached to it, so I looked it up in the dictionary and said to myself, “Well yes, for the most part, I guess I am a pantheist.” I also searched the term online and of course came across Baruch Spinoza, who greatly helped to spread pantheism and who has now become one of my favorite, classic philosophers.
Like most of us, I started out believing what my parents believed and viewing the world as they viewed it. Both of my parents were raised as Christians and actually first met one another during church services. However, it wasn’t as though they were completely obsessed with the religion as some are. For the most part, they attended church simply because it was more of the norm back then and more expected of their generation. The church gave them a sense of community and provided them with a social network. This of course predates all the online social networks now so available on the Internet. Sociologists have claimed for years, based on studies, that social networking is one of the main reasons most people do attend church or why they join a religion—it allows them to feel a sense of belonging.
Fortunately, my mother and father never pushed their religious beliefs onto me or forced me to go to church. In fact, as a family, we attended church services off and on for only a brief time during my childhood. I remember my father would play tic-tac-toe and hang-man with me and my brothers and sister during services to help pass the time. So, it wasn’t long before we stopped going to church altogether. I think my parents just finally became too busy and stressed trying to earn enough money in a failing economy, during the Reagan years. But thankfully, they allowed me the freedom to explore on my own, in all directions, the entire subject of God and existence, which I am eternally grateful for. I wish more parents would allow their children the same freedom.
An early memory I have of questioning the Christian religion was during Sunday school class. I was about 6 or 7 and my Sunday school teacher just got through discussing how Jesus had walked on water. I politely asked her, “How do we know he really walked on water?” She immediately gasped in disbelief. I instantly thought I was in trouble, so I quickly came back with, “Never mind.” I never again felt comfortable enough to ask such questions inside the church. I uncomfortably discovered that day that church was the last place to debate theology. People go to church to worship their religion not to debate it.
The day I probably first started to really question the actual existence of God was when I was about 8 years old. I remember it quite vividly. My father and I were riding in the car, I was crouched down onto the floorboard of the passenger side, and I asked him, “Who created God?” He paused a short while and then replied, jokingly, “Another God.” Of course I came back with, “Then who created that God?” And again he replied, “Another God.” This went on a few more times before I caught on to the endless cycle and then became clever enough to ask in slight frustration, “Well, who created the very first God?”
To my surprise, this gave my father some pause. He didn’t seem to have an answer. But he finally spoke those three infamous words, “I don’t know.” I have to commend him for his ability to admit this, which is never easy. If only more people could do the same the world would probably be in less need of repair.
I continued to think about the Christian religion more and more, but most of it just seemed very illogical to me. So around the age of 9 or 10, I became very unsatisfied with the answers provided by the Christian religion. I also became very uncertain as to whether there was a God or not, and therefore, I naturally became agnostic. For the time being, I stopped believing in the traditional Christian God and started seeking some other explanation to our existence. I would think about it off and on as I grew up. I even once had a long discussion with a junior high school friend who truly believed and defended the idea that heaven was a place of clouds laden with golden objects. But it all just sounded too silly to me, like something out of a fairy-tale.
The possibility that the Christian god existed entered my head only two more times, and that was when I was in high school. In the tenth grade, a friend of mine invited me to go on a church retreat, which was basically camping out with a group of young Christians. I reluctantly agreed. While there, I had the opportunity to ask a priest why he believed in the Christian God. He explained how the complexity of the eye impressed him so much that he believed there must be a God, as described in the Christian Bible. But when it came to the complexity of the eye, I felt just the opposite. I thought it was far too complex and incredible for some god to have designed and created. Of course I didn’t tell the priest this.
About a year later, I was in my bedroom trying to draw a picture of what I thought God might look like if He actually did exist. For the most part, it turned out to look like the traditional personified image of an old man with a white beard. I had also tried to establish the right expression for him, but I never could seem to settle on just one. I did not think of Him as merely happy or sad, nor angry or disappointed. So I ended up trying to fit in all human emotions, carefully intertwined. I think it turned out okay, in terms of a traditional depiction of God. But it quickly became apparent to me that if there was a god, He or It would be much more than any personified version. And I didn’t just want to know what God looked like, but I wanted to know what God was.
I decided once and for all to try and figure out whether or not there was a god. I also remember thinking to myself, If God does not exist, then How do I exist? and What’s it all about? I became determined to find the answers to all these questions. But it wasn’t until I graduated from high school that I had enough time to give it my full, undivided attention. A good friend of mine would often drop by the house in the evening and we would drive around for hours philosophizing about anything and everything. We once stayed up all night, lying in lawn chairs in his backyard, discussing all sorts of philosophical topics like the nature of the universe, time, existence, and how a nation should be governed, until we literally saw the Sun come up. There finally came a time, during one of our night-time drives, when he asked me point-blank, “So what does it all amount to?” I paused a moment and then answered almost instinctively, “balance.”
Our philosophical night-time drives unfortunately became more and more infrequent though because my family and I had moved further away from the city to a quiet small town. It was a big change for me because I was accustom to being very social. I now found myself basically out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but time on my hands to contemplate the great mysteries of the universe. I now look back on that free time, when I had few distractions and few responsibilities, as priceless to my development. It was my time in the wilderness so-to-speak, which everyone should have—a time and place where one can just sit still and think about it all. During this time, I also took some college courses. I was an average student and started out a little slow. I was so burned out on school and wasn’t yet ready to take my college education seriously. But in time I grew to love it and I eventually became a very good student.
About a year later, my brothers and I moved out of my parents house and into a house of our own, just a couple of blocks down the street. There, I continued to ponder the deep mysteries of life, and for the first time, I started to consistently write down my ideas and conclusions. My younger brother would visit often and soon became my new philosophical partner. Even back then he was quite brilliant and had a great philosophical mind of his own. In time, our discussions matured. He really helped to keep me on course because he is more of a left-side thinker who thinks in more logical, mathematical terms, whereas I am more of a right-side thinker, an artist by nature. Thankfully, my quick-minded brother wouldn’t let me get away with anything. In fact, he humbled me on several occasions by calling out my errors in reasoning and therefore helped to keep me in check. He has always helped me with the fine details and I have always helped him not to get lost in the details. So together, we make a good pair. As a matter of fact, all my brothers and sister are sharp minded and have always helped to keep me on my toes.
It was around 1993 when I had one of my greatest epiphanies and that was that the whole universe is, in one way or another, connected into a single whole and that anyone of us can view him or herself to be that whole. Anyone of us can say “I am the universe or I am the All.” Philosophers and Spiritualists have been saying something along these lines for centuries. Hippies were definitely known for saying such things during the late 60s and early 70s, but most of us never gave it much attention or took it too seriously. It was usually just something a hippie often said to sound philosophically deep or spiritual. The truth is though, I don’t think most hippies even truly knew just how accurate they were. In most cases, they were just parroting what they had heard some other hippie or spiritual guru saying. But the big surprise to me was when I discovered, for myself, that the expression, I am the universe was not just some poetic metaphor, but that it was actually the case. I now deeply believe that I am literally, in every sense of the word, the universe and so is everyone else. Because it requires the whole universe in order to exist.
I recently toyed with the idea of coming up with a new term that could express this view of being one with the universe. I first thought of using the word panoneism, to mean all is one, but that was a little difficult to say, so I then came up with panmeism, to express, all is me. And one who believes in panmeism would be a panmeist.
During this time of my life I had many other powerful insights. For example, I wanted to know what was responsible for my existence and/or the existence of the universe. I instinctively felt that the universe couldn’t have all just been some random accident or some one time event that sprang from some singularity point—whatever that is—and which will simply end one day in a cold shiver or Big Crunch, never to re-emerge. That just sounded too cheap and problematic. To me, the universe seemed more profound than that. It’s all about something. So after countless hours of deep reflection, I came to the conclusion that the universe could not have been created but had to have always existed and always will exist. It was now impossible for me to ever go back to believing in any traditional God of creation.
I now considered myself to be a spiritual atheist, because I still thought of myself as a spiritual person—one who felt the universe held some higher meaning and purpose. One day, as I was sitting on the steps of my front porch, I looked around in awe of it all. I saw an incredible order to the universe, even in places that seemed chaotic, for even this disorder is a part of the overall program that has always been in place. I understood then that the universe, as I have described it, was the closest thing there will ever be to a God.
Now many of you can quickly deduce that since I also view each of us to be the universe that I believe each of us can view him or herself to be God—as I define God that is. Even though that is true, I almost always refrain from expressing that point of view because it’s too ego-driven and would not be easily understood by most others. In other words, a pantheist, who views the universe as God, can at the same time consider himself to be a panmeist, as long as he can also view himself to be the universe.
But I was not exactly a pantheist yet. I was more in the habit of viewing myself as the universe and not the universe as God, even though I knew both were equally true. Aside from the fundamental laws of the Yin and the Yang, I didn’t quite yet understand the full magnitude of what the universe or God was. It would take about another 10 years before I would feel comfortable enough or have reason enough to regularly refer to the universe or this Allness as God.
But during this time, I was flooded with excitement. Christians probably would have described it as being filled with the Holly Spirit. I felt like I knew some deep secret that no one else knew. I couldn’t wait to somehow share it with the world. Unfortunately the Internet did not exactly exist as it does today. And of course I would later learn, after reading up on Buddha, Parmenides, and Spinoza that there were others who had come before me who had also glimpsed these truths. I sure wish someone had introduced these philosophers to me at a much earlier age. It would have saved me over 20 years of deep contemplation! On second thoughts, I take that back. It was actually more rewarding having struggled to discover many of the same philosophical concepts on my own. I actually enjoyed the experience of coming to many of the same conclusions on my own.
Now I just desperately needed to find a way to express these views. Since I had an interest in art, I decided to try and illustrate the concept of being one with the universe in a huge oil painting—8 feet by 10 feet. Unfortunately, I never got to finish it and realized I would need a bigger canvas anyway to do it justice. Something in the neighborhood of 30 feet by 30 feet. So I would have to wait until I could find a large enough space to hold such a huge canvas.
I was also eager to share all these insights with my father, who has always had a love for philosophy and has always been a very spiritual person and has always been open to new ideas. We’ve always enjoyed long philosophical discussions about life, and so there were times when I would try and share these exciting views with him, but he didn’t quite understand them or wasn’t quite ready to take them all in, or perhaps he wasn’t ready to accept the judgment of a twenty year old. However, years later, my father would become more and more open to these ideas, which I’ll get back to explaining in a moment.
In 1994, my family picked up and moved again—this time states away—and there wasn’t an adequate university nearby, so I decided to take a break from school and eventually jumped into the family business, which was remodeling old houses. While scraping and painting old doors and windows though, I would find time here and there to work on my art and to think about my personal philosophy.
In the year 2000, I had returned to college to major in Graphic Design. I began to experience for the first time the excitement of learning in a classroom. This was a new experience for me because I had always hated school growing up and was usually a C student. I spent most of my early school years day dreaming and was always off in my thoughts. I guess I had a predisposition for inner contemplation. But to my surprise, I slowly became obsessed with learning. I wanted to absorb all the book-knowledge I could. So I took all the meaningful courses I could like The Nature of Mathematics, The Physical Universe, State and Local Government. I took several art courses, excelled in literature, and took various Political Science courses. Some of my favorite subjects were Psychology, Sociology, and Social Psychology. I even managed to do well in Marketing and in French, which were tough courses. College really helped to refine all my self-taught knowledge, which I had spent years acquiring—primarily through my personal experiences and personal insights. Thanks to college, my personal philosophy was more polished now.
After graduating, I created my own online art business and started paying off my school loans. It was around this time I started referring to the universe as God on a regular basis. At first I did so out of convenience. It helped me to avoid uncomfortable conversations with others who were devout Christians. But eventually I began to prefer this label, because I started to learn that the universe was much more than just a mechanical thing.
It was when my younger brother started asking me about the perception of red. He has always had a strong interest in Artificial Intelligence and was trying to determine whether it was possible to get a robot to not just detect the color red but to actually perceive it. He wondered if the experience of perceiving the color red could be explained purely on a physical level. I too have had similar questions about Artificial Intelligence and so we discussed it for hours. I tried to explain to him, in a variety of ways, how the perception of red must ultimately be a mental assignment due to the physical interaction of light waves and the eye. Of course he already knew all this and knew more about the anatomy of the eye than I did, but he was still unsatisfied with those answers. He was trying to probe even deeper and wanted to know how the mind ultimately causes this experience of perceiving red. I finally had to end the conversation by letting him know he may be trying to stare too deeply into the light of truth. He reluctantly agreed for the time being, but later concluded that red was simply an element of the mind that could not be fully described in physical terms alone. of physics.
A few years later, I was reading about the Greek philosopher Plato, who spoke of indestructible, Ideal Forms. Like Socrates before him, he tried to discover the true universal meaning of abstract entities like courage and beauty, which were independent of space and time. He too believed that objects of beauty for instance, though temporary in time and to our senses, had a real timeless existence beyond the physical realm. Though Plato took the baton from Socrates and really ran with it. He generalized the concept in terms of all reality. He claimed that all things in this decaying and changing world, as it is perceived, are really just inferior, physical expressions of their true perfected Forms. This lead Plato to a two-world view, one which was physical, temporary, imperfect, and false and one which was non-physical, permanent, perfect, and true. The first being accessible through our senses and the second being accessible only through our intellect. It seemed to be somewhat similar to what my brother had been trying to get at with the color red, that is, an existence beyond the physical. Right then and there it all clicked for me. I now saw an aspect of the universe I never had before, and a majesty.
This final epiphany sealed the deal for me as far as viewing the universe as God-like. It also helped to open a whole new philosophical door for me, inspiring me to expand upon Plato’s Ideal Forms, which I now usually refer to as Eternal Concepts or Eternal Ideas to denote some additional meaning. Plato mainly focused on the timeless perfection of things that was essentially hidden from our senses. But I wanted to pick up the baton and go even further with it. I was less concerned with the perfection of things and more interested in the fact that there was an underlying, conceptual existence to all physical and non physical things which defies any form of creation. I started thinking how all facets of life, from simple verbs like the act of running to the essence of elaborate works of literature like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, are all eternal concepts that go beyond creation or evolution. This even includes eternal concepts of imperfection like cancer or a broken leg. The very concept of these things couldn’t have evolved, nor been invented by man, nor created by some god. They are eternal. Mathematics has to be one of the most obvious examples of this. I now had proof that at least certain aspects of the universe must have always existed and always will. I saw how all these concepts worked in concert to provide a universal guiding force that serves to push us towards a balanced path. I realized there was an entire purposeful, program in place that provides everything we know. And I understood how the universe was not only eternal, but had a specific, unchanging, complex identity. I finally felt like I had good reason to call the universe God. I simply had to redefine the term God to separate it from much older conceptions. Anyway, that’s how I became a pantheist. Keep in mind though, I also still consider myself to be what I have termed a panmeist, one who views him or herself to be the universe.
Looking back, I can now see how the right ingredients were in place for me to become a pantheist. Putting aside countless other variables like my genetic predisposition, my public education, my social upbringing, my long hours of contemplation, and many other environmental factors, my parents knowingly as well as unknowingly provided me with the right conditions. My mother was the more logical, scientific and pragmatic one—though she has always had a big heart—whereas my father was the more spiritual, poetic, and philosophical one—though he has always had a strong practical side too. You may notice that between the two, they balance each other out quite nicely. And since I am a fusion of the two, I think it gave me a very balanced view. I have a huge appreciation for science and the scientific method, which has helped me to see the mathematical and mechanical side of the universe, but I am also a right side thinker, an artist at heart with a strong appreciation for literature, art, and philosophy. I think my artistic side has given me the ability to step back and see the bigger picture and not get lost in the numbers or the details so-to-speak. So it’s no surprise that pantheism, as I’m sure most would agree, is very much a balance between theism and atheism. It is the missing link that is needed.
As I mentioned earlier, my father did eventually adopt some of the views I’ve discussed. Being an avid reader, he came across a book titled “The Power of Now,” by Eckhart Tolle. He immediately fell in love with it. Around 2007 he read another popular book by Tolle, titled “A New Earth,” where Tolle mentions some of the ideas regarding oneness with the universe and the identification of oneself as God. Since my father greatly respected Tolle’s writings, he was able to take in and understand these views of the universe and of the self more readily. As a result, he has now moved beyond the traditional views of Christianity. Not to imply he no longer views himself as a Christian. Just that he now has an expanded view of God and a better understanding of Jesus, thanks to Tolle’s writings, which carefully weaves the classic Eastern ideas of the Now, of Presence, of Being, and ancient Greek Stoicism with Christianity. I don’t agree with all of Eckhart Tolle’s views, but I think he has helped to comfort many readers who may have felt spiritually lost. He has also helped to awaken them and has placed them on the road towards truth. So I tip my hat to him.
Even though I stopped believing in the Christian religion, long ago, and though I know Christianity has its downsides and can even prove to be harmful at times, I still continue to have a lot of respect and appreciation for many of its teachings like “Thou shalt not kill,” of course, or “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” or “Thou shalt not steal.” And even though I view Jesus to be no more or less than a human being, I think he was one of the greatest philosophical teachers and spiritual guides in our history. I think many of his teachings reveal timeless truths about life, and I think he spoke many words of wisdom like “Love thy neighbor.”, “Forgive those who trespass against you”, “Do not cast your pearls before swine”, and “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s important to note though, these same expressions can essentially be found in most other reputable religions, only expressed a little differently.
Now according to the bible he performed a lot of miracles like healing the sick, turning bread into wine, feeding a multitude with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread, and rising from the dead. All pretty neat but I prefer to focus more on the words Jesus reportedly spoke and not on the idea that he actually walked on water. And keep in mind, whether or not a man named Jesus actually spoke those words is not all that important to me either. It’s what he represents that matters. Many of us like the idea of what the myth of Jesus stands for—piece, love, and forgiveness. Fact or fiction, he became one of the world’s first super heroes. He was one of the first hippies and he was basically the original John Lennon.
Most would consider me to be an atheist, as far as Christianity goes. Even so, I do enjoy reading many of the Bible stories like Noah and the Ark, Exodus, Book of Daniel, Book of Job, and the story of Christ. In fact, Bible movies like Joseph, The Ten Commandments, Jesus of Nazareth and The King of Kings are among some of my favorite movies to watch. I enjoy these Bible movies and stories not for their literal value but for their literary value. They also give us clues about our history. They’re entertaining and communicate great moral lessons, which is one of the main reasons they have endured throughout the ages. In the same way, I enjoy watching Superman, even though I know he is just a fictional character. As long as a story is well written, fun and exciting, and by the end allows good to triumph over evil, then it’s worth knowing and preserving.
My family and I still celebrate Christmas, which for many families actually has very little to do with celebrating the birth of Christ. I’m almost embarrassed to admit, I didn’t even realize Christ had anything to do with Christmas until I got much older. People use Christmas as an opportunity to celebrate family and giving, which we can all enjoy. Perhaps, December 25th should be used as a day of celebration for people of any and all religions, as well as no religion. I mean whether you’re a theist or an atheist or simply agnostic, who wouldn’t enjoy listening to music next to a fire—hopefully with loved ones, or eating a fine meal, or giving gifts and opening gifts, especially as a child who counts the days.
Now when it comes to prayer, many may think that pantheists don’t have that luxury—that God, as described by pantheists, can’t be prayed to. I strongly believe one can pray to the universe, or rather the universal being, and be better off for it. I believe our prayers are at least heard by our own ears and even felt by our own hearts, and therefore are heard and felt by God, since I believe each can view him or herself to be at the center of all things, and in essence is the universe, which is God. In other words, our prayers are at least internalized through our own being. How far the effects of praying spreads through out the universe in a meaningful way to help what we view as our local selves, I don’t know. But studies have shown that adrenaline and endorphins can be released during prayer, which can help boost the immune system and help heal the body, or give one the strength to overcome certain obstacles, even in the case of a mere placebo effect, for those who strongly believe in the power of prayer, whether there is any real spiritual communion with a higher being taking place or not. The act of praying also comforts many on a psychological level and can produce a calming effect, which again can lead to physical healing.
I’ve never really been one to pray a lot. However, when I was much younger I did pray from time-to-time, especially when I became very ill, as many of us tend to do, even atheists. Even now when I get sick or desperately need help, I find myself praying to some conscious entity, hopefully other than myself, that may be listening in, hoping the universe or some higher being can hear me or know of my suffering in some way and can somehow come to my aid. Even if I’m the only one who hears my prayers, it sure seems to calm and comfort me. So if I’m wrong, then it’s the one thing I prefer to remain ignorant of.
I think the need to pray is deeply rooted in all human beings. What’s interesting is evolution here on earth must have selected those who felt that need to pray to help insure our survival and to have the story of life unfold in the way that it does. I’m sure evolution always does this on any planet where advanced humanoid life is allowed to develop. When we pray, maybe it allows us to leap to some quantum reality where our needs are at least partially fulfilled without violating the rules of cause and effect. Perhaps nature does make necessary adjustments based on our desperate pleads, our spiritual desires, and our respect for the Supreme Being that is the universe. I do believe our inner voice and inner desires do play a significant role in fulfilling our destiny. So for all you atheists, and those who are agnostic, if you feel the need, go ahead and pray. Who knows, maybe the universe is in some meaningful way listening and will in some small, microscopic way help you.
I would like to sum up by explaining that even though I don’t believe in the traditional Christian God, I do believe the universe provides a guiding force and that there is an inherent, eternal goodness in the world. However, I also believe there is an inherent, eternal badness, which I view as a necessary evil. I realize you can’t have one without the other. I believe there are consequences to our actions, good and bad. And I believe we should all try to preserve life, as long as it doesn’t cause a great threat. Overall, whether I view myself to be the universe or the universe to be God or both, I believe in striving towards balance, because I believe balance is the synopsis of the universe . . . and of God.
by Guyus Seralius, 2011