"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pantheism vs Panentheism as God's 3rd Face

I am God
You are God
It all is God
As I explore what it means to integrate all three faces of God, the distinction between pantheism and panentheism fit what I was experiencing. In pantheism, the material universe IS God. And hence I can worship nature or, in a more "sophisticated" version, tremble in awe at the laws of physics. And I have done both. They are both flavors of the third face of God as expressed by Ken Wilber and Terry Patten.

I had long since left behind the second face of God from my Catholic childhood; "You, a force outside me, are God."

Then in New Thought metaphysics I began to have experiences in which my intention appeared to shift the outcome of a situation. And hence I experienced a version of the first face of  God, "I am God," which evolved into, "I am a co-creator with God" or "I am God expressing."  

But as I continued inquiring into WHAT I was expressing or co-creating with, I cycled back around to the inescapable conclusion that it was indeed a force outside of me, and something more than the laws of physics. This is Panentheism. Material reality is IN God, but is not all of God. In my current understanding, Panentheism integrates all three faces of God. Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen, leading proponents of this integration, have declared themselves to be "Evolutionary Panentheists." A beautiful expression of panentheism is found in this song below, "God is More Than This," sung by the Agape choir in Los Angeles and interrupted by a brief sermonette by Rev. Michael Beckwith.

My understanding of this continues to evolve. But my experience of it deeply enriches my life.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Three Faces of God: Why Care

I am God
You are God
It all is God

There are many ways to understand what Ken Wilber calls "the Three Faces of God." Most of us learn them in the reverse of the order stated above:
  • Third person:: It: rivers, moon, and sky are God
  • Second person: You the Father from the stories of my ancestors are God 
  • First Person: I in my oneness with all that is am God 

And as we grow we usually reject our earlier understandings. But is there room for all three? Does there need to be?

I was lucky to make the break to First Person easily in my thirties, twenty+ years ago, when I discovered New Thought panentheism. But the adventures recounted in my book drew me around to reconsider what I'd left behind, bringing my new consciousness of radical freedom and responsibility to the old stories. For me there are three reasons to do so:
  • The sheer joy of a devotional relationship
  • The improved relationships with my teammates that are possible when we put something sacred in the center of our circle
  • An ability to embrace followers of traditional religion as brothers and sisters

In reintegrating this second face, you don't have to go as far as I have--twirling a white skirt to praise dance at a Black church. Simply chanting, or lighting a candle, or even writing a love poem to your hero may be enough for you to call forth the presence of beloved Other. Whatever it is, I recommend it. It can be a powerful source of meaning and joy.