How do you define Deity (insert word of choice) - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What/Who do you think God (Goddess, Deity, Higher Power, Supreme Being) is?? His/Her/It's realm and purpose??

(For anyone who wants to answer)
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#2 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 01:34 AM
 
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For me, I just cannot see a transendent Being, separate from the creation(ala potter and the clay example) existing. I just can't see the Deities of Polytheistic faith either.

I joked once elsewhere that I'm the most agnostic Witch I know.inky

But at the same time I do see and feel a spiritual side to life.

Thus my Pantheism--that the Divine is manifest by/in the physical world not separate from it. At the times I do personify, being human I need to do that on occasion, She's always Goddess, though sometimes a great Bear.

My Joseph Campbell bit: At a conference, Christian, Buddhist and many other faiths represented, he found that the mystics of the various faiths often had more in common with each other in terms of their understanding of the nature of Deity than they did with the hierarchy and others of their same faith.

I find that interesting, goes along with the way my own understanding of the nature of God(Christian in this case) changed and developed as I got older and attended the adult discussions instead of the CCD classes for my age.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#3 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 09:13 AM
 
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In Islam, we refer to the concept of Tawheed--a single, unified force. Of creation, of power, of good and bad, of destiny...
From my experience with Islam, we put a great effort into understanding that Allah is so much more than we can fully comprehend. For example, we know something of mercy, because Allah has given us mercy in our hearts. But Allah is so much more merciful than our conception of human mercy.
We also have this concept, as I said, of Tawheed, that the Creator of all things (good and bad) is present in all things--so all things are part of a divine intention.
I don't see Allah as a creature...I think of a spider's web form, but in all directions, touching all things in creation, in constant motion, always renewed...
Tawheed helps me when life seems difficult. It helps me realize that what feels like a negative experience may, in fact, in the grand scope of a reality I cannot encompass, be good for me.
And Allah is actually a genderless noun...genders work for us on earth, but Allah represents all things. (Yeah, I know--even in Islam, we refer to Allah as He...)
I don't spend a lot of time trying to visualize. Instead, I try to focus on Allah's gifts of creation, and put them to best use in my self. And Allah's purpose...that is for Allah to determine.
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#4 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 10:17 AM
 
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I agree pretty much with Meiri and Ummnuh, great ideas.

In the book Jesus and the Lost Goddess, gnosticism is represented by a circle. The point in the middle, which is invisible and has no qualities, is God. Radii (sp? radiusus) go out from the center point. Each one is one of us, or one aspect of the created world/matter. At the outer circumference, each created being seems to be a separate entity. But that is an illusion (and this ties in to Buddhist/Hindu idea of maya).

When we see ourselves as just our body, we are hylic, of the body. When we are aware of our existance as a soul, we are psychic. When we know God, and know we are God, we are pneumatic (spiritual), approaching gnosis. We know we can't die, b/c we were never born.

Yes, the mystics of each religion have more in common with mystics of other relgions than they do with Literalists/fundamentalists of their own religion, b/c they are deeper in on the circle.

Joseph Campbell is my hero.
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#5 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 11:32 AM
 
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Quote:
And Allah is actually a genderless noun...genders work for us on earth, but Allah represents all things. (Yeah, I know--even in Islam, we refer to Allah as He...)
UmmNuh, You reminded me of an incident from when I was a teenager. I went to a TEC(Teens Encounter Christ) weekend at some point in Jr. High or High school. Now all my life I'd heard some variation of "God is neither male nor female", and yet I'd also only ever heard "He", "Him"...

So, when one of the moms helping lead this weekend was using herself as an example of something "God" would do, she started to say "God the Fathe..." then, apparently realizing this would look silly since she is a she, she changed it to "God the Mother." She smiled and everyone giggled, but I thought to myself "why is that funny?" If God is genderless why is "God the mother" a phrase for uncomfortable laughter while "God the father" is not?

"What will you do once you know?"
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#6 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 04:45 PM
 
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But, any of the adjectives that you'd use to describle a mother also apply...and moreso.
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#7 of 23 Old 02-28-2003, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I swear I will answer my own thread, once I figure out a coherant way to explain.
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#8 of 23 Old 03-01-2003, 11:30 PM
 
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None of our Christian fellow moms wish to share?



I know that all Christians do not define the Divine exactly the same way. Back when I was still Christian I didn't define God the same way as a young adult as I had when I was a child. So surely there's something to discuss here.

I've found that my current understanding, even within the Celtic cultural framework I'm learning, is very similar to the understanding I was coming to in those adult ed classes as a high school & college student.

Or is this the old mystics of whatever religion have more in common with each other than with literalists of their own?

"What will you do once you know?"
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#9 of 23 Old 03-01-2003, 11:57 PM
 
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Well, even Arduinna won't share, so what the heck?

Big old white guy with long grey beard, on a mountain, in a cloud?

30 something white guy, handsome and blue eyed with again, a beard?

Glowing light?

Brown skinned guy sleeping on a snake?

Dis-and-re-membered elegant brown skinned guy lying down on a cat couch?

Star speckled woman stretched out over the earth?

Super-sized woman with no facial features and no feet?

A dove, a virgin, a whore?

As my Humanities teacher used to say in college, "You pays your money and you takes your choice."
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#10 of 23 Old 03-02-2003, 01:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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it's not that I won't share, it's just that I'm having a hard time putting it into words because I've had such a change of belief in the last 6 months or so. I'm still figuring it out. I used to think all deity was just man made, created to serve a need we have. And I used to believe that we just created our own reality. But, these last 6 months have really changed what I believe. At this point all I know is I do believe. I haven't spent much time thinking about it, as I've just been living it instead. Which is very different than I've ever been.
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#11 of 23 Old 03-02-2003, 09:10 AM
 
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A-

I totally respect that. i was just teasing you, as you said you promised you would answer!

One of the points of diety is it is beyond words, and if you are having that kind of experience right now, i respect you not wanting to taint it with words.

OOMMMM...
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#12 of 23 Old 03-02-2003, 10:47 AM
 
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A Higher Power - my superego - my conscience.

I guess we will all find out sooner or later.

"Vaccines are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get - acute hemorrhagic edema of infancy, allergies, diabetes, eczema, petit/gran mal seizures, ADEM, AFP, ASIA, CFS, GBS, JPA, JRA, LGS, LKS, MS, POF, POTS, RA, SJS, SLE, SPD, TPI, Henoch-Schonlein purpua, fibromyalgia, Retts Syndrome, encephalitis, Hughes Syndrome, neurological damage, coma, or death."

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#13 of 23 Old 03-02-2003, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yes ommmmmm
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#14 of 23 Old 03-03-2003, 02:13 AM
 
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i've never had the capacity for faith, as i understand catholic and various protestant faiths define it, so i don't have a belief, per se.
i have a inkling, however, or maybe it's just a wanting to believe...
i sometimes tap into something, often spontaneously, that feels like, hmmm, my heart on laughing gas is the best way i can put it at the moment. a lightness and joy and a sense that there is truly no problem.
this feels bigger than me and, combined with experiences of intuition, creative inspiration and other deep mind "knowings," increasingly makes me feel that there is something more, something greater, something pure beyond what i can sense and experience with my five senses.
that's about as far as i've gotten with defining deity, and so far it's okay with me...
susan

ps darylll, i really liked your post about part of deity being beyond words and not wanting to diminish that experience!
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#15 of 23 Old 03-03-2003, 12:28 PM
 
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True Loving Presence

That's what comes to mind just this minute...but then if I go outside, I will see god is the snow or the bluest sky or the raven night, or....or...or....in my husband's eyes reflecting to me, or in the mirror. I just don't see any seperation from god since that Presence is all around me all the time and within me.

When I was studying with Grandma T., I remember we sang:

Oh Great Mystery
Sun, Moon, Earth, Stars, and Sea
You are inside me
and ALL around me.

I remember the moment when I realized the truth of that.

I also remember when I told my local United Methodist Minister that I saw Christ in every person's eyes, quite sincerely, opening my heart very wide with trust in this wonderful person...she said, "That is to pantheistic for me."

I was crushed and it led me to find my own way, because god showed me so I would know it for myself....like god shows us all according the way most appropriate to us...and that means that even if we are agnostic, that our way is the best way for us to walk with our universe. It's all good and if it is not well, if we are ready to receive it, we will be shown that too, if that is appropriate.

I don't have faith; I have trust. I think there is a difference...at least for me there is. Faith is kind of nebulous and depends on many things, but trust depends only on personal experience. I don't think anyone should feel the need to either defend or offend another's or one's own way or path.

I think real truths reveal how alike they are in valuing peace and personal path to god, and advocating for compassionate fellowship or solitary walking, either way. At least that is what I have found on my path. I love all the variety of ways that the world's people have found to the divine. I's so amazing to me that so many ways can have so many ideas in common yet in some very significant ways be so sure theirs is the only true way.

We're all spirits on a human path...Joyce in the mts.

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#16 of 23 Old 03-03-2003, 01:58 PM
 
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After Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith, Daryl is my hero!

I believe in something, but I can't figure out what. I grew up Christian but couldn't take it anymore when no one else (in that particular church) seemed to be seeking the truth. I've felt god's power since then, but couldn't quite make the "leap of faith" required to choose Christianity over any other view of the divine.

I meditate as often as my 21mo dd allows and try to make peace within myself and my community. I think the divine is the connection between all of us and all things, our relations. (I might have stolen that from Buber's I and Thou, but it seems to encompass the spider web metaphor and the circle with radial lines stretching from the center god.)
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#17 of 23 Old 03-03-2003, 08:42 PM
 
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What you are about to experience is my think out loud. I am still trying to figure out exactly what diety means to me, but writing it down helps me to distill my thoughts. So bare with me.


I think of the gods as both metaphor and literal. They are metaphor because they describe in extreme form all aspect of human nature and the passing of time. They are literal because I can sense them around me and my acknowledgement of them has brought me peace and contentment.

In my mind a see a great circle in which the gods create us and conversely we create them.

I used to believe in a universal energy or life force, and that the gods were just aspects of that energy, but it really never completely made sense to me or did not connect to me personally. Having said that I do believe that everything is interconnected in some way.

Why they exist is where things become unclear.


hummm....need to think some more.......
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#18 of 23 Old 03-05-2003, 06:53 PM
 
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Dana--the compliement--thanks, I needed that!

Who is Huston Smith, what is his focus?
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#19 of 23 Old 03-05-2003, 07:28 PM
 
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and i still can't say that i have any idea. however, i don't understand why human beings just can't accept that it is something (i believe) that we can't even begin to comprehend with our puny little human heads. as for the purpose, we wouldn't get that either.

there is so much that we wouldn't understand even if we tried. i mean we (the human race) can't even seem to live by something so simple as the 10 commandments or treat each other with the basic kindness that we should. in my opinion, cosmic understanding is quite out of our grasp. but for those who try i do still think it makes a difference.

this was not meant to be at all as pessimistic as it sounds.
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#20 of 23 Old 03-05-2003, 09:27 PM
 
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Huston Smith wrote the book: World Religions.

He has basically studied the major religions of the world and is regarded as a scholar in the field.

My jaw dropped DaryLLL when you asked that


With all the reading you've done how could you have missed this guy?

"What will you do once you know?"
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#21 of 23 Old 03-05-2003, 09:52 PM
 
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hehe. I'm no expert, and I've only been studying intensively for the past yr or so. I've read:

the Oxford Study Bible
The Other Bible
The Gnostic Gospels by Pagels
The Jesus Mysteries
Jesus and the Lost Goddess
A History of God by Armstrong
The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious by Jung
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Maccoby
Various writings of Plato

right now I am working thru these books by Jos Campbell:

the Hero with a Thousand Faces
the Mythic Dimension
The Mythic Image
Transformations of Myth Thru Time

For a break, I plan on rereading the Narnia series next. I will put the Smith on my wish list. It sounds good.

Sorry to disappoint you meiri!

(meanwhile I have to fit in APing these darn kids! )
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#22 of 23 Old 03-05-2003, 09:55 PM
 
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His book is an introduction to the various religions, probably grade school stuff for you at this point DaryLLL.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#23 of 23 Old 03-05-2003, 10:19 PM
 
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Since I dropped his name, I oughta comment: I think Huston Smith is worthy reading, even for the well-read because of the way he writes. He truly loves religion. He actually practiced some of them and eloquently conveys the beliefs in the religions he presents. I found myself really relating to the foundational beliefs/philosophy of them all, only to feel saddened by how they changed when the masses began co-opting them.

He's also done a series for PBS as well, with Bill Moyers, I think. There's lots of articles on him around the internet.

Oh, and I'm not very well read on religions, but I did read some existential philosohpy several years ago. I'd like to learn more about the pagan religions next time I read about something besides "why my toddler won't stay asleep" (Thanks go to Daryl for all the advice in that area, too.)
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