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Switch to Forum Live View Naturalistic spirituality practices for pantheists
7 years ago  ::  Dec 08, 2007 - 5:41PM #1
Ancestral
Posts: 153
I'm a naturalistic pantheist which means that "I believe in God/dess
but spell it N-A-T-U-R-E." In other words, I am nontheistic. Knowing
of the interdependence of nature (food cycle, etc.) as well as the
interdependence of actions (ancestors' past actions affect my
current circumstances and my actions will affect the circumstances
of my descendents) fills me with a sense of gratefulness which I
demonstrate both through my actions as well as concrete actions of
respect and honor.

If you are interested:

These are the simple practices I developed based upon my exposure to
such traditions as Reformed Druidry, Asatru, other forms of
neopaganism as well as similar traditions within Buddhism, Hinduism
and Shinto. I developed them to fit in better with naturalistic
views but with the spirit of the traditions mentioned above. These
cover a basic offeratory (libation and votive offering) service,
a "Sacred Meal" practice, chanting, and meditation practices.

I. Naturalistic Spirituality Service Format

Create a small "altar" or "shrine" area with a picture of the planet
Earth (or "Gaia" if you prefer). You can add candles, incense or
other suitable decorations to the area if you wish. Light the
candles or incense to provide mood and visual and olfactory stimuli.

1) Purification

(Out of respect for the interdependent forces of the Universe, wash
both hands and mouth in a mindful manner before the service.)

2) Opening

(In front of the altar, chant "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." a few
times with hands in a position of reverence.)

3) Devotional drumming, singing, chanting, sharing, discussion, etc

(Do whatever devotional activities you or the group feels led to do.
This can include drumming or singing along with recordings. This can
include the chant of "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." It can also
include chants or songs from other cultures, religions, and
spiritual traditions. A discussion or short talk can also be given
if desired.)

4) Offering to the Interdependent Forces of the Universe

(Offer a cup or glass of water and a small portion of grain, bread,
chips or crackers to the interdependent forces of the Universe by
placing them in front of the altar while softly chanting "Be One. Be
Love. Be Peace." a few times with hands in a position of reverence.
Be in a grateful and thankful mood for the bounty that has been
provided to you from Nature and from the work of others to provide
that food and drink for your use.)

5) Sharing of the Bounty

(Everyone present can have a small sip of water and a taste of the
grain. Be sure to leave a small portion of each in the cup and plate
or bowl for offering back to Nature.)

6) Offering Prayer

(Take the remnants of the offered water and grain outside and
respectfully and mindfully sprinkle them on the ground for the use
of the plants, animals, and insects.)

"I (We) make this offering to the Earth and the Sun (Moon – if the
service is at night), and to honor our ancestors who by their
actions in the past continue to influence our present. I (We) thank
the interdependent forces of the Universe for your many blessings.
To you I (we) return this portion of your abundance, O our Mother,
even as I (we) must return to you."


II. The Sacred Meal

Most spiritual paths utilise ceremonies similar to those of other
faiths. I would like to present possibilities that may appeal to
those who are attracted to the idea of naturalistic spirituality.

The purpose of any form of spiritual practice, whether interpreted
in a supernaturalist or naturalistic vein, is the recognition of
interdependence and being able to positively express one's identity
while respecting that interdependence, rather than expressing one's
identity in a negative way (which is known as egocentrism).

I would like to discuss a practice that is common to all people and
so makes a very concrete, easy to follow practice - the Sacred Meal.
This ceremony is a simple recognition that the food and drink of
your meal is the result of the interdependent forces of the
Universe. In more poetic terms we could say our food is composed of
the physical body of "God", not in some strange archane mystical
sense, but in reality. Furthermore, shared meals often serve as the
basis of not only shared spiritual ideals, but also community
building. This has
long been a practice in the bhakti yoga tradition so I would like to
present it in a more universal, nonsectarian vein.

There are parallels to this tradition in many of the world's
religions and spiritual paths. For example, in Christianity, this is
represented by Communion or Eucharist as well as within the earlier
tradition of the agape meal. In Judaism, this tradition can be found
in the Shabbat dinner and the Passover Meal. In many Hindu
traditions and paths such as Krishna Consciousness, you will find
the tradition
of prasadam where one offers the meal to the divine before one
consumes it. In Sikhism, there is the tradition of the langar meal
which provides spiritual benefit.

Here is simple form of the Sacred Meal in order to be more conscious
of the interdependent origins of your food and drink. Create a
small "altar" area with a picture of the planet Earth (or "Gaia" if
you prefer). You can add candles, incense or other suitable
decorations to the area if you wish. Before eating or drinking
present your food to the interdependent forces of the Universe by
placing it or a small portion on a serving dish in front of this
picture while softly chanting "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." a few
times with hands in a position of reverence. Be in a grateful and
thankful mood for the bounty that has been provided to you from
Nature and from the work of others to provide that food and drink for
your use.

When you begin to eat or drink, be sure you recognize with your full
consciousness just what you will be consuming and some of the
factors that helped make it available to you. This includes the
agriculture, the weather and soil, the human labor, harvest of the
materials, packaging and transporting the goods, etc.

For maximum benefit the ceremony should be carried out before every
meal, or at the very least, on one occasion each week.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 08, 2007 - 5:42PM #2
Ancestral
Posts: 153
III. Way of Oneness Chanting Practice

Being more musically inclined, I created a nonsectarian alternative
to the combination of chanting a rhythmic phrase (or mantra) to a
visual object (often a scroll, picture or statue). This is a more
active form of meditation as compared to the silent form of
meditation which is discussed below.

You are more than welcome to use this chanting practice if you think
you may find it possibly useful. While there are many folks that
seem to believe their particular mantra (which is a phrase which is
repeated as a focusing device has "magical power", it really is the
mindfulness that matters. The mantra is just one of the vehicles you
can use to get there.

I recommend "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace." as the chanting and
meditation mantra which is appropriate for nonsectarian, universal
spirituality in the Way of Oneness. This phrase is a reframing and
translation of the Hindu term "satchitananda" (which means pure
being, pure consciousness, and pure bliss) and is another way of
referring to the interdependent forces of the Universe.

I use two forms: "Be One. Be Peace." for those who prefer a four
syllable "mantra" or more often I recommend "Be One. Be Love. Be
Peace." for those who prefer the pace of a six syllable "mantra". As
in drumming, people who like to chant are attracted to the rhythm
and they find it an easy way to center themselves and become mindful.

The specific chanting practice method that I find helpful in the
vein of the Way of Oneness (the realization of interdependence) is
to chant "Be One. Be Love. Be Peace" in a position of reverence
(palms together in front of chest with fingers pointing upward - a
traditional gesture of respect) to a picture or photograph of the
planet Earth which is a wonderful visual representation of the
interdependent forces of the Universe. Just chant this phrase loudly
or softly in a comfortable pace until you are satisfied.

IV. Silent Meditation Practice in the Way of Oneness

Meditation is simply learning to live in the moment, when nothing
distracts you and when you are not tied to the past or anxious about
the future. In meditation you become peacefully aware of your real
self. The more you use it, the more aware you become. When you learn
to live life for each moment, to enjoy and appreciate life to the
fullest at that moment, you suddenly become impervious to the myraid
of doubts and fears that you've lived with all your life.

There are a couple of simple techniques for silent meditation as
well. You do not have to sit on the floor. You can sit with erect
back on a chair. Many people say try for 15 minutes twice a day. I
say start with a simpler goal - 5 minutes twice per day. The
benefits include stress management and relaxation benefits which
help the body, increased mindfulness and focus, and increased
energy. The mindfulness can be a benefit to your spiritual life, but
meditation also has "non-spiritual" benefits. Here are two easy
techniques:

Breathing meditation - 1) Check posture. 2) Close your eyes and
relax. 3) Focus on your breath entering and leaving your body. 4)
Count breaths mentally one to four. Repeat. 5) Don't fight a
wandering mind, but calmly direct it back to task. 6) Sit for a
minute afterwards.

"Mantra" technique (choose a personal "calm" word or phrase that you
will repeat in your meditation – I use the nonsectarian "Be One. Be
Love. Be Peace.") - 1) and 2) as above in the Breathing meditation.
3) Listen to your breathing and let it relax you with each breath.
4) Once you are relaxed, mentally "hear" your "calm" word or phrase
in your mind. Let it repeat in your mind. 5) Don't fight a wandering
mind, but calmly direct it back to task. 6) Sit for a minute
afterwards.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 9:51PM #3
samhainautumnwood
Posts: 666
Thank you for that. That has given me some good ideas.

I feel similarly about Mother Earth and the Universe.
peace,

samhain autumnwood.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 10:18PM #4
Ancestral
Posts: 153
You're welcome! I have explored many different systems of thought from different schools of paganism (Wicca, Toteg Tribe, Reformed Druidry) to heathenry (Asatru) to Buddhism (mostly Nichiren and Jodo Shinshu - both from Japan) as well as Hinduism (Gaudiya Vaishnavism - Hare Krishna) and exposure to Shinto (and the Japanese "new" religions which sprung from Shinto). I tried to find some of the practices I found common throughout the spectrum as well as what I found "attractive". Then I tried to simplify the practices down (why make them unnecessarily complicated?).

Dave
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 10:25PM #5
samhainautumnwood
Posts: 666
Howdy,

I've posted a question on the Discuss Paganism board, that pertains to group spiritual practices without religious  "baggage".

I would be interested in your thoughts and insight.
peace,

samhain autumnwood.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 10:56PM #6
KARD9000
Posts: 1,712
[QUOTE=samhainautumnwood;146912]Howdy,

I've posted a question on the Discuss Paganism board, that pertains to group spiritual practices without religious  "baggage".

I would be interested in your thoughts and insight.[/QUOTE]

Hi Samhain,

Will you come and help us keep this board going???  I need to devote some time to it but have been here in bits and pieces lately.  Soon...
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 11:07PM #7
samhainautumnwood
Posts: 666
[QUOTE=KARD9000;146979]Hi Samhain,

Will you come and help us keep this board going???  I need to devote some time to it but have been here in bits and pieces lately.  Soon...[/QUOTE]

I've got it on my subscribed groups already.
peace,

samhain autumnwood.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 11:19PM #8
Ancestral
Posts: 153
We've had a family altar for years. We have a photo of the planet Earth which we use as our focal point. My wife and kids collect natural items to put up on the altar (above the fireplace) to represent the changing seasons so there is some constant change. It's much easier since we live in a rural environment (although I had to draw the line on the scat - they did bring in the owl pellets though).

We also keep a wooden bowl, seashell for grain and water offerings. I have this great stone feather incense stick holder too.

Dave
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2007 - 11:27PM #9
KARD9000
Posts: 1,712
[QUOTE=Ancestral;147026]We've had a family altar for years. We have a photo of the planet Earth which we use as our focal point. My wife and kids collect natural items to put up on the altar (above the fireplace) to represent the changing seasons so there is some constant change. It's much easier since we live in a rural environment (although I had to draw the line on the scat - they did bring in the owl pellets though).

We also keep a wooden bowl, seashell for grain and water offerings. I have this great stone feather incense stick holder too.

Dave[/QUOTE]


I haven't done an alter or anything that extensive yet but for some reason a couple of years ago I bought a wooden bowl and have it on a buffet in the living room where I've always changed out what's in it to reflect the season. 

I also burn incense a lot.  It allows me to focus - even if it's just on my breathing or being silent. 

I think sometimes developing rituals just help us to be more mindful or our existence, our relationships.  They don't need to be a big deal though it does help to have something if you're bringing a group of people together.  Maybe a way of acknowledging each other, our interconnectedness and one's reverence for the universe - a sacred relationship.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 19, 2007 - 6:43PM #10
Afvw
Posts: 20
Not sure why you call yourself a Pantheist and then insist you a non-theist. This doesn't make sense!!
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