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Author Topic: My theology and where to begin?  (Read 2170 times)

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Nicodemus

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My theology and where to begin?
« on: July 29, 2012, 05:59:10 AM »

Hello All
I hope by summarising my existing theology someone might be able to recommend where I start looking? I accept that I will have to practice alone and that my theology will be eclectic in nature.

I am specifically pantheistic or panentheistic in my approach. I see all aspects as being personifications or phenomena of a single existence or being i.e. the God or the Goddess. Nature is divine. I see no hurdles to polytheism but my worship will be monotheistic really. I am not currently looking for magic, spells or supernatural aspects, rather worship of God without limitations of gender, race, varna, caste, location or need of an official initiation yet.

I expect it is acceptable to design it myself, but I wonder if there are things to keep in mind or that others have learnt that might help in this approach?

I am happy to do lots of reading, but I am struggling to find a direction to start reading. Any suggestions pulling on your own research would be very welcome :)

Thanks.
Nicodemus.
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Nicodemus

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2012, 08:46:45 AM »

OK, since posting the above I have been able to gather some thoughts together and would have deleted the above post if permitted. I would be still grateful on feedback of course. I hope this doesn't bother anyone but I have posted some draft ideas below to share for fun :)

Theology:

1) No duality - there is no difference between the Divine and nature except through the dynamics of matter and mind. The whole is divine and hence is it can be seen as pantheism or panentheism. Polytheism and Monotheism are both valid, divine perceived as multiple but is singular in essence.

2) As the whole is divine, there is no limitation, restriction or inequality based on race, gender, caste, location and background. All people are equal and divine.

3) Nature is divine and preservation and care are fundamental.

4) Polytheism and monotheism are both acceptable ways to worship the divine in us and around us.

5) Evil and harmful acts are due to not understanding and following the wrong thoughts and emotions. God is not evil, but evil exists in human thought and action. Evil can be removed from each individual through practice and worship, should a person choose.

Practice:

1) Worship can be conducted through rituals, meditation, prayer, song and study. Worship can be conducted at any time, alone or in groups.

2) Statues, alters, temples and shrines are helpful to focus the mind and worship. They represent the Divine which is both inside us and manifested outside of us. The divine cannot be limited to a single object but can be felt and known.

3) Study and philosophy form a foundation of understanding which in turn support the worship and practice. Worship and practice are a foundation for philosophy and study. Equality exists in that the parts make up the sum and each part is important.

4) Clothing, hairstyle and habits are not a limitation or a requirement. People can dress and act as they wish, not harming others where ever possible.

5) Happiness, peace and psychological maturity can come through philosophy and worship.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 09:03:19 AM by Nicodemus »
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BronwynWolf

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2012, 11:16:37 AM »

Oh boy :::dons flame-proof suit before beginning::::

Not sure I can really help much, but I can point out a few places where you maybe aren't looking at things from the right angle.

#1: You claim there is no duality, but there is.... everywhere you look in nature, there is. You must have two sides to have a whole. (You also mention poly and monotheism here, but I will leave that for #4)

#2 Yes, all people hold within them the spark of the divine. BUT different gifts means different strengths and weaknesses. Rather than "equal", I think "Equivalent" is a more apt description. By using "equal", you might find yourself disappointed when someone else doesn't measure up to what you believe.

#3 Nature is divine. Yup, you got that. The word "Preservation" means non-changing, and Nature is NOT that. "Conservation and wise stewardship"

#4 HERE you may run into people who will tell you you come off as arrogant. Yes, both paths are acceptable. Of course they are. That is because no two humans are alike, so we do not have the same mind views of things. Now I will bring in what you said in #1 "Polytheism and Monotheism are both valid, divine perceived as multiple but is singular in essence".... Nope. I am a hard polytheist. To MY mind view, each and every god/goddess form are individual entities. I worship them as such. I do NOT worship the primordial well-spring of divinity they were all born from. Therefore, not even in essence is my belief system singular.

#5  SOMETIMES harmful acts are because of lack of understanding and following negative thoughts and emotions unintentionally. "Evil" requires a CONSCIOUS CHOICE... and it seems only humans are capable of such a choice.

Practice:
#1 Worship can be as simple as saying "thank you" in a conversation between you and your gods. The rest, yeah you got it.

#2 This is true

#3 I quote someone else here: "The sum is GREATER than the worth of the parts"

#4 True

#5 You are leaving out something in this equation, in my opinion: Philosophy and worship without LIVING FULLY become empty pillars. If you do not EXPERIENCE the world you live in, you aren't learning all you have available to you. (IMO if your equation worked, we'd have a whole lot fewer sex offenders in the clergy)


Another thing I think you need to watch out for.... you seem to want to boil it down and compartmentalize everything. Where is the LIFE in your path? The joy? Your two posts here come across as very cut and dried and rather...empty. Just my opinion, based on the written word.
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Nicodemus

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2012, 01:04:49 PM »

Wow, thanks so much BronwynWolf.   :D
I am rarely offended so I appreciate you breaking my points down. Just a little note, the points are just my current view and I am not suggesting this is how Paganism should be or that this is a correct view, it is just how the view I am starting with and want it to improve. :)

Interestingly you picked on something which have been in my mind and I have been concerned about, namely the lack of Joy in my philosophy. This is actually one of the key reasons I have started to look to Paganism because my current philosophy/religion has drained me of passion for life and motivation. It is fair enough having inner peace, but not necessarily at the expense of living life with a joyless, passionless world view. Perhaps I will try to start a thread on brining out passion through paganism, if I cannot find my answers in existing threads. :)

I should have put a caveat on the point 1) because for me existence is non-dual, not because it always was but because of the theology I have been following for the last 5 years has lead me to see non-duality. So I appreciate both views and none of my points assume any one represents everyone.

This brings me on to your hard polytheism. Forgive any arrogance. I was summarising my own theology and would hate to think I was telling anyone on this forum that polytheism cannot be hard, of course it can. :)

I will also take the others points on board.

Thanks again!
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FairyQueen

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2012, 01:12:59 PM »

Another thing I think you need to watch out for.... you seem to want to boil it down and compartmentalize everything. Where is the LIFE in your path? The joy? Your two posts here come across as very cut and dried and rather...empty. Just my opinion, based on the written word.

I agree with Bron's last thought. And I wonder why it is that you even need to define and lay out everything anyway? Who are you trying to convince, and why?

It sounds to me like you have everything you need already and now all you have to do...is, well, do it!
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Nicodemus

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2012, 01:20:53 PM »

Another thing I think you need to watch out for.... you seem to want to boil it down and compartmentalize everything. Where is the LIFE in your path? The joy? Your two posts here come across as very cut and dried and rather...empty. Just my opinion, based on the written word.

I agree with Bron's last thought. And I wonder why it is that you even need to define and lay out everything anyway? Who are you trying to convince, and why?

It sounds to me like you have everything you need already and now all you have to do...is, well, do it!
Thanks for the thoughts, FairyQueen
It seems I am trying to convince myself in a way.  :confused: I read a post here which made me think it would be good to present my ideas and try to see where they take me.

The issue is that I am not sure if my current view comes any where close to any pagan group currently existing? If there is some overlap that you or others recognise, please say, then perhaps I can start to investigate in that direction and see if I can improve on my current limitations.

I want to bring more joy and passion to my worship/religion, that's for sure. My limited impression of Paganism is that it has much to offer. :)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 01:23:16 PM by Nicodemus »
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FairyQueen

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 03:04:40 PM »

If you ask 5 different Pagans what Paganism is you'll get 20 different answers (or something like that). Probably even in the same group or coven. So, even if you did find a group to participate in, it is far more likely they still won't think exactly as you do.
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diniesaur

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2012, 08:05:37 PM »

Hey there! :tongueroll:

I have my differences with both your and BronwynWolf's philosophy, but I won't go into it because in the time it would take for me to explain every nuance of my beliefs about the Universe (and once you get me started it's hard for me to stop), I would have already experienced something new that would force me to rewrite them. Part of your first post intrigued me, though, and I want to address it.

I hope by summarising my existing theology someone might be able to recommend where I start looking? I accept that I will have to practice alone and that my theology will be eclectic in nature.

When I was first drawn to Paganism, I had a pretty similar philosophy to yours. As a fellow beginner, I can say that one of the most helpful things I've been doing is to try to read just about any resource I can find, even if it's from a completely different philosophy than my own. It's helpful to see different perspectives on things, and sometimes I find one that makes more sense to me than the one I already had, and I adopt that one. I'd be shocked--and slightly suspicious--if I found anyone with my exact same beliefs as me. This is a good thing!

I agree with FairyQueen and BronwynWolf about the life in your path. That's the most important part! I see Paganism as something that is with you all the time. It enriches everything I do, and it helps me deal with stress pain in my life. Before I go, I have one more thing to add:

It seems I am trying to convince myself in a way.
Why are you trying to convince yourself? Or, rather, why do you have to convince yourself? They're your beliefs, not anyone else's. I wonder if this is where the problem lies.
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Nicodemus

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2012, 02:01:50 AM »

If you ask 5 different Pagans what Paganism is you'll get 20 different answers (or something like that). Probably even in the same group or coven. So, even if you did find a group to participate in, it is far more likely they still won't think exactly as you do.
You are right! As you said in your above post, it is just down to doing it! :)
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Nicodemus

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2012, 02:09:29 AM »

Hey there! :tongueroll:
.... removed for space ...

It seems I am trying to convince myself in a way.
Why are you trying to convince yourself? Or, rather, why do you have to convince yourself? They're your beliefs, not anyone else's. I wonder if this is where the problem lies.
Hello Diniesaur
Thanks for a reassuring post. It seems it I may be trying to fit myself into a pre-conceived idea of paganism or squeeze myself into a certain type of paganism before I begin. This has led me to doubt my philosophy above, as if it won't work. Like you it changes all the time, so it is useful to hear that you experience it  that way also. I will continue to read and build on it, but as I mentioned above to FairyQueen I will also put it in to practice.

Yes, the issue lies with trying to convince myself, it is a kind of perfectionism... I am trying to get it just right before I begin (which isn't productive). It is a mind trap that I am becoming aware that I tend to slip into  :omg:. I need to just get on with it! I will try and learn and improve as I go instead of trying to come up with something perfect first. :)

Thanks for your help.
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Tirya

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2012, 10:08:03 AM »

IMHO doing nothing because you're afraid of "doing it wrong" is worse than doing something even though you're not quite sure if it's right. And also, your beliefs and philosophy do not need to be written in stone. As your life changes, your beliefs (or the nuances of them) may change, and that's okay, too. Life is about growth and change... Otherwise we stagnate.
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Nicodemus

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Re: My theology and where to begin?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2012, 10:18:07 AM »

IMHO doing nothing because you're afraid of "doing it wrong" is worse than doing something even though you're not quite sure if it's right. And also, your beliefs and philosophy do not need to be written in stone. As your life changes, your beliefs (or the nuances of them) may change, and that's okay, too. Life is about growth and change... Otherwise we stagnate.
You are right. It seems we cannot help be evolve in the sense of learning and changing. I still have a lot to learn about Paganism, but I think adding some worship and joy into my day will go a long way at this point :)
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