(This is the first thing I ever wrote on the WPM Yahoo group page, almost 20 years ago now, this little collection of thoughts I was finally brave enough to share, and thanks to Paul Harrison reading and responding to these words, that step to put them out there forever changed my life.)
To me, and I truly do speak only for myself here, pantheism means rethinking my belief system of forty-plus years, letting go of old ideas that promised false hope and false security in a world that doesn’t exist. It means letting go of words that had become commonplace to me and learning new ones, letting go of “God” and that “God is all good.”
Pantheism means truly living each day one at a time, because now is all there is, and being more aware of the decisions and choices I make through the day, because I realize that my choices can affect other people, animals, the planet, the universe. There is no savior to wash away “sins” or make it right in another life.
Thus, it means living a more thoughtful life. I won’t always make the best decisions or the “right” ones but I will think more about them, and some of them will become my new commonplace. It means respecting other people’s rights to be here even if I think they are making a mess of their lives. It means letting them make their own choices, some of which are unpopular or destructive, and speaking up when I feel it’s appropriate. It means standing up for human rights and hating certain behaviors even while I try to put myself in the place of other people and understand better why they act as they do.
Being a pantheist doesn’t mean I love nature more. I loved nature before. I was always most at home and most deeply moved sitting by a river, canoeing on a quiet lake, hiking in the woods, or sitting on the porch looking at the mountains. Looking up at a winter sky full of stars filled me with awe then and still does.
I appreciate it more now. I realize how right it all is and how I’m part of it, as is every part of creation. It means knowing that when I die I am still part of it just in a different way. It means living my life with integrity and in a way that will be remembered for positive contributions to my community or whatever part of the planet I come in contact with rather than for destruction.
It means letting go of the importance of my individual personality in the big scheme of things and realizing I live on through my children (and possibly my children’s children) genetically, through the things I have taught them and how they act in the world, through my own actions and effects on people I meet, and through memories others have of my life. As far as social issues, I have my chosen ones to take up a cause for (gay rights and gay marriage, separation of church and state, anti-racism, animal rights). I don’t personally think there should be global group shoulds and oughts as far as particular causes to follow. I think people will take up causes that touch them in some particular way. Those social issues were important to me before pantheism and still are just as important to me.
Finally, pantheism means being me, living my life authentically and not letting other people determine how I think or feel or act. It means expressing the source or nature or creation as the unique me, here and now.