Too many spiritual teachings of the past have demoted the human body and the whole physical realm of existence. The physical world and the physical body has been regarded as a lower value, and some teachings call upon us to abandon the physical world and ignore our bodies. But this is a false teaching. Our physical body is a spiritual manifestation, and it has spiritual value. It is time to praise the body and physical existence as the glory of God. It is time to praise the earth as the glory of God. For our bodies and the earth are the manifestations of God. Just consider the mighty intelligence of the body and the remarkable intelligence within physical nature. Let us glorify the body and the earth as divine!
Yet we glorify the body and the earth because of its magnificent intelligence and beauty, due to the Divine Spirit within it. Thus, we glorify the body and the Spirit within it as well. Spirit is within the body and within the earth. But much of the time it is unrecognized. Now is the time to recognize the Divine Spirit within our bodies and within the earth. May we discover more of the Spirit within.
The key to Truth is that there is an interior and an exterior aspect of the Divine Reality. These are relational aspects, not separate aspects. The interior is Spirit, or God, and the exterior is the manifesting expression of Spirit/God. The interior aspect is in a process of unfolding its potential qualities into exterior manifestation and expression. So the exterior aspect of Divine Reality may not be immediately perfected in its expression of the interior potential, but it can be seen as being at a stage in this unfoldment. The exterior often tends to get stuck in its present stage, but the interior power of Spirit is continually at work to bring forth its divine qualities. This Truth becomes part of our spiritual faith. We come into Truth when we recognize the subsisting Spirit of God in ourselves and in all things, and when we know that God is gradually unfolding through us. Then we realize the beauty of life and all existence.
One might not be comfortable with the word “divine”, let alone “God”. We use these words with a danger that they could be misunderstood as having the same meaning as traditional theist connotations. But this metaphysics does not hold such traditionalist meaning. God is not separate from our world. God, or the Divine, is right here in the world; for it is the Essence of power, intelligence and consciousness that pervades the world, which can also be called divine presence. God and the Divine are right here in this world and in nature, yet also transcendental and not merely equivalent to just the world as we know it. What makes this somewhat different from ordinary ideas of pantheism is the transcendental aspect of the Divine, and also that the Divine is a Unitive Consciousness pervasive in every part of the manifest universe, which is the Super-connective Essence of all things. God, or the Divine, is also considered as the Metaphysical Source of love and intelligence, as well as of creative beauty and amazement. cogentscience
Emanationism is related to panentheism – depending For emanationism holds that this natural creation is the externalized Being of God and is manifesting the Qualities of God. Our souls, and potentially our conscious self-experiences, are a reflection of God’s Light. So Divine Light and Love emanate throughout creation. Certain religious teachings similarly hold that God’s energies of grace move through our world and are within creation, but they veer short of the emanationist-panentheistic view that this manifest world is actually part of God’s Whole Being, ourselves included. In the emanationist view, this manifest world is analogous to God’s Body. Furthermore, an enlightened mystical experience is an emanational reflection of God’s Mind, as it is possible for a personal mind and heart to actually experience the Macrocosmic Mind and Heart of God in which one is included.
The usual meaning of pantheism is that the manifest universe is itself the Divine, and the Divine is none other than this. The metaphysics presented here, which could be called Panentheism, is inclusive of pantheism’s divine imminence, but it also includes some kind of divine transcendence – meaning that the Divine, or God, is more than just the manifest universe, and that certain Qualities intrinsic in the Divine Being are prior existing to manifestation. These Qualities would include consciousness, intelligence, purpose, and love.
In short, Divine Being is ontologically prior to the manifest universe and its evolutionary processes, and so too are the primary divine qualities (essences). Though still, God-Being and its divine qualities are also immanent in the manifest universe. The universe can only exist within its ontological Parent. God is the Original Being, so everything begins from and out of this One Being, this One Existence. So there is no other but God. Wherever there is, there is God (and those Qualities)1, so Divine Immanence has to be. Thus, the Divine enfolds and pervades the universe, but it is not simply equivalent to the universe.
However, divine immanence in the manifest universe does not mean that the full extent of divine Qualities are actually manifest, nor does it mean that the divine Qualities presently found in the universe are the total sum of all possible-to-manifest Qualities. In other words, the transcendental dimension of God, or Divinity, exists in its independent transcendence but it is Potential in relation to the manifest universe. It is that which could be and is of purpose to be. Metaphorically, the Divine Transcendence is like the Mother providing food for the growing child called Immanence. Or, it could be said that the manifest universe, with all life in it, is in process of actualizing (manifesting) the potentials immanent in this universe.
Thus, potentials immanent in this universe mean the same as transcendental qualities. Except for one qualification – transcendental divine qualities have purpose-to-be. In theist language, the divine qualities are all aspects of divine Will, or God’s Will as it were. Therefore, not all possibilities inherent in the universe, or not all possibilities for one’s own self-expression and manifestation, are necessarily/always divine. Everything possible and actual in the universe is, necessarily, in the Divine Oneness and emergent from Divine Being, because there is only One, and so everything is of and from the same Primary Substance (which is God-Being); however, only some manifest possibilities are ‘divine qualities’ [purpose-driven] while some possibilities and manifestations are ‘accidental’ [meaning they derive from the trial and error processes of this evolving universe].
This distinction does not imply an ontological duality between Divine and universe, because the universal evolutionary process is nonetheless within the Divine and could not exist on its own without being in the Divine. Yet this distinction does imply that the evolving universe is not compellingly determined by Divine Power (or Will) and that not everything in the universe (nor possible in it) has divine purpose or is part of divine-intention. So this is an important theological distinction. Also to make clear on this, everything is of the Overall Divine Purpose, since the whole evolutionary process itself is of Divine Purpose, but not every specific thing or event in the evolutionary process has divine purpose in itself – for any specific action or event could merely be an accidental ‘error’ part of the ‘trial and error’ process, such as a mistake or accidental wrong turn, or a self-intended action that is merely based in ignorance or psychosis.
Panentheism believes in and explains a profound theological paradox: God is in us and we are in God. God is everywhere in the universe/world, and the universe/world is included in God’s Being. But unlike pantheism, the universe/world is not synonymous with God. Instead, panentheism maintains that there is more to God than the manifest universe, and that there is a greater God-Spirit transcending the world of nature. God exists in the world, but is not just the world. The universe is part of God, but not all of God.
God is One Being, yet has two aspects: transcendental and immanent. In the transcendental aspect, God is absolute and independent of the world; while in the immanent aspect, God is animating and sentient in this world. God has a transcendent identity, absolute and independent from the world. But God is, nonetheless, inclusive of the world, meaning that the universe/world is included in God’s Being. Also true is that God is immanent within all creation, and God is the animating force permeating life.
Sometimes we speak of God Transcendent - in relation to this world and our experiences. In other philosophical contexts we may speak of God Immanent, when the eternal divine power and qualities are experienced directly in our world or through nature, in some degree. God is spirited through nature, as nature is filled with God; yet the transcendental Spirit of God exists independently of nature. The world depends on God, but God Transcendent does not depend on the world. Yet the world is nonetheless of God’s Purpose and Will, so without this living world of plurality God’s Purpose would be devoid.
God’s transcendent aspect is the eternal independent Source of Intelligence and Love, but God also has an immanent aspect -- in that this manifestation is reflective, to some degree, of Divine Intelligence and Love. Another way of understanding the transcendent and the immanent is that the external manifest world of form is immanently pervaded with God’s Qualities, but the innermost Spirit or Essence of God is transcendentally hidden from our senses.
We can think of God as the Ultimate Being, or Ultimate Consciousness. Also, God is the First Cause, the Creator, or the Ultimate Being from which Life is born. These kinds of understanding are in regards to the Transcendental aspect of God, or the ultimate Cause behind all other causes and effects. As one religious prayer goes, “To Thee alone do we worship and bow down in absolute surrender.” Yet we must not forget the Immanent Divine Nature, which is right here present throughout Life. In fact, this Divine Immanence is Life. Historically, this has been called Nature. So the Divine Immanence is Nature. In other words, Nature IS God, in the aspect of God-Immanence. God-Immanence is contained in the meaning of Nature.
In some religious belief systems, nature has been set in contrast to God, and in some systems it has even been seen as opposing to God. In other belief systems, nature is seen as a lower existence, in need of being transcended or renunciated for the higher purpose of salvation or spiritual freedom. In some belief systems, nature is seen as animated and spirited by an evil entity, who holds to this earthy existence. In some other belief systems, nature is seen as inanimate material, like a kind of clay or plastic that we are meant to shape and control, or like a mechanical machine that we are meant to use and control. All of these various belief systems share one common denominator, which is their spiritual disrespect and devaluation of nature. In a few of the major religions, any highly expressed love for nature, or nature worship, has been derogatorily labeled as paganism, pantheism, polytheism, and idolatry. So in many religious beliefs, nature and love for nature is anything but exalted. And this is a corruption of spiritual truth.
The Truth is that nature is the immanent reality of Divine Being, God. This is not just about form or material embodiment of Divinity. The perceptible form or the material embodiment of nature is Divine, for the embodiment of Divine Being (God) can be in no other place but here in this physical existence. And thus we see in this natural world the forms of divine beauty. So, in nature we find the physical forms of beauty, which is none other than the forms of Divine Beauty. Yet nature is not just physical form. Nature is also the conscious Intelligence pervading all physical form and life. In other words, in speaking about nature we must include the two aspects of meaning; which is the physical form of things and the conscious Intelligence (or Spirit of nature) pervading these forms and processes. So in the very meaning of nature, or, in fact, in the primary meaning of nature is a recognition of Spirit or Intelligence. Those who revere or spiritually worship nature are not merely worshiping physical form; rather, they are primarily worshiping the living consciousness and intelligence, the One Spirit, behind the multiplicity of natural forms and phenomena. Thus, it is the Spirit of Nature that is of primary significance and veneration, the Spirit of Nature that is behind all natural phenomena of this earth. This is the Living Presence of Nature; which is conscious, intelligent and loving. The inner meaning of Nature is the Spirit of Life, and its physical manifestation is called beauty.
This Spirit of Nature can also just as well mean the same as God-Immanence. Thus we can speak about God immanently pervading all life or all the world, or we could just well speak about the Spirit of Nature pervading all life. Essentially, these are terms having the same meaning. The real issue is whether one is emphasizing the Transcendental or the Immanent. Both have their rightful place in understanding the full Cosmic Reality. But if one is thinking about the Immanent, then one could just as well apply the term Nature and think of Nature as being the same as God-Immanence. This is especially true when we acknowledge that Nature is one Great Conscious Being, Intelligence, and Loving Spirit. For if this is so, then what would be the difference between Nature and God? One could argue, maybe, that God must be greater than Nature if God pervades the whole infinite universe, whereas the meaning of Nature seems to be confined to the processes of Life. But if we elevated God above Nature, metaphysically as it were, then we should contrastingly give Nature greater credit for being more accessible to experience, more present to everyday acquaintance, since everyone should be able to experience Nature as the forms of Nature are all around us. But these are mere philosophical quibbles. It is much simpler to understand Nature and God-Immanence as essentially the same.
Now if we can see this sameness in meaning, then maybe we can impartially understand the commonality between Nature religions and God religions. These two kinds of religions are often contrasted, and there is logic to this contrast. The main sense of contrast is the overall feeling in most God-religions that one is attempting a relationship with a Transcendental Being, which is beyond oneself and beyond the world. Whereas the overall feeling in most Nature-religions is that one is making a better relationship with the sacred powers of this very earth we live upon, and these sacred powers of Nature are understood as being immanent within oneself and immanent throughout the world. So this can be viewed as the basic contrast. But if we study this further, we will see that both of these religion types ought to be embracing one another and feeling their essential commonality, rather than feeling opposed to each other.
The true God-religion ought to accept and embrace the reverence for sacred earth and her magical-spiritual powers, as well as the emphasis on natural creativity and immanent beauty, as found in the Nature-religions. In other words, Nature-religions, in general, hold the key to God-religion – when it comes to a feeling for Divine Immanence and the sacredness of God’s creation. The true God-religion should be respecting and even exalting Nature-religion for its worship and devotion to Mother Earth and its deep reverence for the sacredness of life and the powers of Nature around us and within us.
The true Nature-religion, on the other hand, ought to accept and embrace the reverence for our Transcending God, as found in God-religions. They should be acknowledging with deep reverence the First Cause and Ultimate Being behind all existence, the One Being a priori to all other beings, or the One Great Spirit (God) which transcends and ultimately empowers the nature of life and all of its subsidiary forces. Thus, they should give praise to God or to Allah, or whatever one chooses to name this Ultimate Being. In other words, the God-religion, in general, holds the key to Nature-religion – when it comes to a feeling for Divine Transcendence and an inquiry into the mystery of Divine Purpose. Thus, the true Nature-religion should be respecting and even exalting God-religion for its reverent worship and devotion to God, the Ultimate Being of all existence. And they might even realize that the One Being, God, is unfolding and coming into actualization through the processes of nature and through our own human being.
This is the coming synthesis of God-religion and Nature-religion. Each will need to respect the other, for what the other offers. And the true religion will be a synthesis of both. Nature-religion will need to avoid the negative pitfall of emphasizing solely on natural forces and particularized forms, and neglecting Divine Purpose or the Will of God. God-religion will need to avoid the negative pitfall of devoting worship to an abstract transcendental God that is unrelated to the sacredness of nature and earth. God-religion will need to accept and respect our Mother-Nature, Mother-Earth, as being the Immanence of God, or God Immanent. God will have to understood as being natural. God and Nature will be understood as essentially the same. This will mean that Mother Nature is essentially the same as God-Immanent, and She will be worthy of reverence and devotion. Mother-Nature will be recognized as conscious, intelligent, and loving. And we will understand ourselves as the sons and daughters of Mother-Nature. She will guide us and inspire us to fulfill who we are.
Nature is the essential healing intelligence. Look to Nature for healing. For some people God is the healing power, and for some people Jesus Christ is the healing power. Others may believe that Kwan Yin is a healing power, others may believe in Krishna, and others may believe in some other healing power. Yet it is just as effective to believe that Mother-Nature is the healing power, or that healing comes naturally from within - if we acknowledge this healing power of nature and allow it to work. The natural intelligence of healing is within our own bodies. It is already the power within us. And it is already set to be healing. We just have to believe in it and allow it to do the healing. The body is naturally programmed to heal itself, but we must allow this intelligence to do its work and not obstruct it with negativity and doubt. So have faith in the healing power of nature, and allow the body to heal itself. Sometimes the body may need some help from outside, but foremost the body needs to regain its own strength of healing power. This is the power of the body intelligence, the healing power of nature.
Embrace Nature all around you, and embrace the Nature of yourself.
Fill up with the Love and Beauty of Nature. This is the Way. This is the spiritual practice. Tune right into Nature, by bringing our [heart/mind] awareness to the Presence of Nature, the inner Spirit of Nature, the living Being of Nature; all of these meaning the same. We tune right into the very Being/Spirit/Presence of Living Nature, the Loving Intelligence of Nature. This great Loving, Conscious Intelligence, is really what is meant by Mother Nature. We can simply call this our Earth Mother, or the Great Mother, as many cultures have throughout history. This is the Mother of all the multiplicity of life, the Mother of all natural beauty on this earth. All around us we see the children of Mother Nature, the pluralistic expression of Mother Nature. And we must include ourselves as being such children, or as part of the diversified expression of the Mother. So we should be able to bring awareness to both the Spirit of Nature and the diversified expressions of Nature. For these are not separate existences; rather, the Mother Spirit is the essence-foundation of the progenous-diversified expressions. The Mother Spirit (Mother Nature) is the One Source Root of all diversified life, the Unity Intelligence underlying all forms of creative life.
But this unitary Intelligence of Nature does not entail that Mother Nature is strictly determining all life and events. This would be a false assumption. Nature is an ecological Intelligence, but this Intelligence of Nature is not strictly determining what comes to be. The creative process of life and the diversification of life-unfoldment is overall/generally managed by this unitary Intelligence, yet each particular-individual life has its own degrees of freedom to explore its unique potentials for creative-expressive activity.
Thoughts on the philosophy of Shelling
The western philosopher, Shelling, wrote with a pantheistic perspective. External/physical nature is Objectified Spirit/God (Who is Creative Will, Love and Intelligence all in One). So nature can be understood as objectified or actualized God-Intelligence, or Mind externalized. Yet there is a process at work which is Intelligence seeking to reflect upon itself, a striving to become Self-Conscious in the individual forms themselves. This striving process finally unfolds as the human being, or human mind, being self-consciousness. This possibility itself is an evolution of the Spirit through creation. For nature begins at a stage of un-self-consciousness, unawake to itself; though nonetheless functioning intelligently. The next stage is for nature to become self-conscious or self-reflecting, which also involves intelligence conscious of its own reasoning and reasons. What naturally comes about at this stage is conscious intelligence, reasoning, seeing choices, needing to make decisions, and exercising will. And so this is the human being; though these human potentials are not necessarily actualized in every human life. Also arising is the question of ethics, of right vs. wrong choices, and the need to work for the good of the whole.
These aspects of self-consciousness, thoughtful intelligence and will are all part of the Divine Subjective Nature. It is Nature awake and knowing Itself. Or one could alternatively say that these aspects of being are micro-aspects of God being awake and knowing Oneself within nature. Humans are [potentially] microcosms of God, microcosms of Consciousness, Will, Love and Intelligence. While God is the very Essence of these Attributes.
The intrinsic divinity of nature, that God (or Absolute Ego/Mind/Will) is in and through nature, and that creation is an ongoing evolving process of creativity [towards beauty]. God is the creative mind and intelligence of nature. God is the creative energy of the natural world. Humans are [potentially] This God being awake/conscious or Self-aware, while other things of nature are God-Mind elements asleep but still functional. God/Spirit is striving to be self-conscious, to realize itself, and also to create beauty, and human evolution IS this striving process towards Self-realization and creatively making beauty.
God is creatively active in the world, continuously and presently, rather than merely being creative only at the beginning of time or having predetermined or pre-decided the history of life. The creative process is unfolding, as God is self-discovering and self creating --- through human beings and humanity. The world is the artistry God-Spirit-Will, yet evolving with human’s artistic participation. We are not merely God’s brushes or even merely God’s fingers;; rather, we are God’s creative mind and will itself, exploring and Self-awakening. Though it should be qualified that there are value and truth levels to this.
My creativity is God’s creativity, my creative will is God’s creative will; …yet at some level of Quality (or level of value or beauty); and the levels can be ascended, as one is consciously ascending in Self-realization.
There is a subjectivity of Nature and objectivity of the Nature. The subjectivity is the Creative Mind [of God], or Creative Intelligence. The objectivity is the whole diversity of form in the process of evolution, and this is the bodily expression of Divine Intelligence.
Objective Nature, or the objective God/Self, begins as subjectively unconscious, yet gradually becomes Self-conscious in man/woman.
1 (the word and in that sentence is not really appropriate, because God and Qualities are inseparable).