Overview: Philosophy of Pantheism

The word pantheism derives from the Greek words pan ('all') and theos ('God'). Thus pantheism means 'All is God'.
Pantheism is the religious belief that Nature is divine (God) and we humans are part of the One, interconnected whole. It is in realising our connection to the One Universe (Nature, God, Brahman, Tao, Space) that we find truth, spiritual fulfillment and solace. Pantheists usually deny the existence of a personal God (theism) and creationism (a separate God who created the world from nothing).

Many philosophers, scientists, poets and artists have identified themselves with pantheism since antiquity. Spinoza (Ethics, 1673), Henry David Thoreau, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Oscar Wilde, Henri Matisse and Albert Einstein are some famous pantheists.

History of Pantheism

The foundation of Pantheism (All is One and interconnected) is a very old belief. In ancient Indian philosophy, expressions of Pantheism can be found in the Vedas (1200 BC) and the Upanishads (composed later ~ 8th or 7th century BC, the first philosophical explorations of Hinduism). Reality is described as One or Absolute, changeless, perfect and eternal, Brahman.

Though One, Brahman is the cause of the many. .. Brahman is the unborn (aja) in whom all existing things abide. The One manifests as the many, the formless putting on forms. (Rig Veda)

The essence of Pantheism is further expressed by the ancient Greek Philosophers (PreSocratics); e.g. Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus and Parmenides. As Heraclitus proclaimed;

All things come out of the one and the one out of all things.(Heraclitus, ~ 500 B.C.)

Stoicism (founded by Zeno, 4th Century B.C.) is also a strongly pantheistic philosophy. Stoicism is founded on the interconnection and unity of the Universe which is governed by absolute laws. The practical ethics of the Stoics emphasises self control, contentment and living simply in harmony with nature. As Zeno and the Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote;

All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature.(Zeno, 4th Century B.C.)

All things are woven together and the common bond is sacred, and scarcely one thing is foreign to another, for they have been arranged together in their places and together make the same ordered Universe. For there is one Universe out of all, one God through all, one substance and one law, one common Reason of all intelligent creatures and one Truth.
Frequently consider the connection of all things in the universe.
We should not say 'I am an Athenian' or 'I am a Roman' but 'I am a citizen of the Universe'.(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)


Pantheism Quotes

Zeno, Pantheist Philosopher, founder of Stoicism - All is God, All is One, All is Nature God is not separate from the world; He is the soul of the world, and each of us contains a part of the Divine Fire. All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature. In one sense, every life is in harmony with Nature, since it is such as Nature’s laws have caused it to be; but in another sense a human life is only in harmony with Nature when the individual will is directed to ends which are among those of Nature. Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature. The wicked, though perforce they obey God’s law, do so involuntarily; in the simile of Cleanthes, they are like a dog tied to a cart, and compelled to go wherever it goes. In the life of an individual man, virtue is the sole good; such things as health, happiness, possessions, are of no account. Since virtue resides in the will, everything really good or bad in a man’s life depends only upon himself. He may be poor, but what of it? He can still be virtuous. He may be sentenced to death, but he can die nobly, like Socrates. Other men have power only over externals; virtue, which alone is truly good, rests entirely with the individual. Therefore every man has perfect freedom, provided he emancipates himself from mundane desires. (Zeno of Citium, 300 - 260 B.C.)

... the parts of the world (for there is nothing in the world which is not a part of the universe as a whole) have sense and reason. So these must be present to a higher and greater degree in that part which provides the organising principle of the whole world. So the universe must be a rational being and the Nature which permeates and embraces all things must be endowed with reason in its highest form. And so God and the world of Nature must be one, and all the life of the world must be contained within the being of God. (Cicero)

Reality cannot be found except in One single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another.(Leibniz, 1670)

Spinoza - Pantheism, Pantheist Philosopher: We are part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow. Deus sive Natura (God or Nature).
We are part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow.(Spinoza, Ethics, 1673)

We are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us. We can never have enough of nature. (Henry David Thoreau)

Let your gods, therefore, O philosophers, be suited to the present appearances of nature: and presume not to alter these appearances by arbitrary suppositions, in order to suit them to the attributes, which you so fondly ascribe to your deities. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737)

When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe.(Henri Matisse)

Albert Einstein - Pantheist, Pantheism Philosophy A human being is part of the whole called by us universe ... We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.
I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

One grand great life throbs through earth's giant heart,
And mighty waves of single Being roll
From nerve-less germ to man, for we are part
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.(Oscar Wilde, Panthea)

I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. Being at one with nature. (Mikhail Gorbachev)


Editor: Haselhurst


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1. http://www.SpaceandMotion.com/pantheism.htm - Metaphysics, Philosophy, Physics of Pantheism / All is One and Interconnected. Quotes from Famous Philosophers and Scientists on Pantheism, Philosophy of Religion, Nature, God.