Do you understand it, know about it, ignore it, or just believe in it?
Régis Alain Barbier
The quality of consciousness, both in itself and towards the world and society, is the essential virtue which governs existence and determines the place where one lives: hell or heaven.
The coordinates which map the idea of the divine
It’s necessary to clarify fundamental and universal terms and concepts, adjust their meanings by considering the traditions in which they were thought up and promoted, the contexts in which they are usually invoked. Accepting them, reformulating them or rejecting them allows us to ensure clarity in narratives and discourses. In this process, the intensity of the debates is proportional to the existential meaning and universality of the concepts under discussion; a fundamental evaluation is one which values and locates people and things in the places where they exist.
Debates which inquire whether pantheism (pan-theism) is mono-theistic, poly-theistic or a-theistic, are examples of some of the cognitive difficulties which crop up when terms and concepts referring to diverse perspectives, histories and cultures come into conflict, thus obscuring more philosophical kinds of discernment. In the examples cited above, the problems are the result of imperfect intuitions and ideas relating to possible meanings of the term “god” or “divinity”. It’s essential to recognize that the term “god” can never be sufficiently elucidated merely by cultural criteria. This idea can only be properly understood in the context of the three factors which influence it: (a) individual, personal feelings, aesthetic appreciation and abstract ideas; (b) Nature, as an expression of the Logos; (c) culture, traditions and related norms. It is evident that the role of culture is not fundamental, but it adds to the data which come from intuition and one’s immediate relationship with nature – if one broadens one’s understanding of the term nature in the light of philosophical meditation, as Cosmos; a unitary and phenomenological relationship between the individual and the world.
God: is the virtue, the quality and the idea of a consciousness that is active as a phenomenon both in itself and in relation to its natural and cultural existential contexts.
Gnoseological evaluations of this three-dimensional existential equation and virtue that justifies the term god (or divine) can be clarified, or obscured, through religious practices.
Religion: a doctrinal system established according to a conception of divinity and its relationship with what exists, and which motivates practices and activities described as religious.
In the apprehension of the “divine” concept, contradictions between what culture and tradition tell us and what feelings, reason and nature tell us lead to discord and incredulity, impoverishing human lucidity, and encouraging an atheistic lack of interest. From the point of view of ontogenesis, the individual tends to believe in and confirm the religious values built into the rituals that predominate in his environment; this being the case, ideology tends to confirm the value of the living being in relation to itself and the world, leading to actions and reactions that are decisive from the existential point of view, creating destinies, cultural and social structures, and subsequent problems. A lack of philosophical perception, gregarious urban life, credulity and sloth favor the historic predominance of normative theological structures and cultural prescriptions.
Baptismal imprints: basic existential values and related debates, doubts and expressions of faith which correspond to understandings and practices as they are defined in people’s early religious doctrines.
Truly to appreciate the concepts “divine” and “god” demands a careful revision and overcoming of baptismal imprints. Examining and criticizing universal terms and concepts is essential to clarifying narratives and discourses.
Political theologies and baptismal identity
The formation and maintenance of social classes, reserves of power and subjection, corresponding economic assets, functions and positions, titles and labels, boundaries of what is legal and illegal, therapies, are processes which reflect the cultural ideology which is necessarily built into mythical configurations and theological structures. For the majority, the fundamental virtue and value of the individual corresponds to their baptismal identity.
Baptismal identity leads to a relationship of adhesion to the taught and dominant idea of god in the civilization in which one grows up.
Once the virtue, quality and idea of god has been established through a mythical narrative implanted in us about a mythical messiah, a prophet, a founding hero or a divine emperor, the social consquences happen as a result of our psyco-physical settings and original perspectives in a historical and cultural sense. It is not necessary to be a historian to perceive and understand that our initial “idea of god”, our initial theologies (“vertical” or “horizontal”, radically transcendent or not) and our early religious forms and attitudes underly geo-political processes.
In the existential, historical and dominant circumstances of the West, the political structures resulting from the archaic, original social frameworks of the imperial Roman church are maintained, because the political order depends on the original, basic virtue believed in or acknowledged by humanity: the quality of consciousness in relation to itself and what is “other”, the city and the world. The Western world and its former colonies continue to exist according to the rites said to be universal (katholikós), established and consolidated throughout the formation of the Roman empire. This being the case, in these places, people continue to reason and act within the scope of the “walls of powerful Rome”, subject to the credo of the imperial church, where a god is venerated who is powerful and hidden, with a will that is incomprehensible in the light of reason, represented by chosen people, favorites and translators, the supernatural creator of all things with the objective of saving fallen and sinning men. Only a change in religiosity and ritual will permit an evolutionary change from a civilizational point of view. The idea of god does not demand that one be impervious and insensitive in the light of natural reason, as those who take advantage of ignorance would have us believe.
In the dominant social structures within the psycho-physical, historical and current frontiers of the imperial church, the typical, dominant religious forms can be characterized as dualistic from the metaphysical point of view, manifesting themselves as religious rites and expressions that are monotheistic, exclusive, supernaturalist, salvationist, elitist, Catechist and messianic.
Monotheism: one single god, a virtue which is not exclusive to Roman and Muslim theology: Akinato, the pharaoh, worshipped Aton, the sun, as the only god. In the Roman form of monotheism, “single” evokes unity and exclusivity. Unity where one understands god as a single thing; exclusive because he does not belong to the kingdom of our material origins, to the things linked to sensuality, including of the sexual kind, and to substantial matter as we live it and know it in the world in which we exist.
Supernaturalism: god is not understood as making up the totality of the Cosmos of matter-energy; he is imagined as transcendent, supernatural. This is not the case in the Egyptian monotheism of Akinato, or with other peoples and syncretic churches where god is understood as being the sun and, sometimes, the world of the stars, therefore belonging to the natural sphere, which one could imagine being made of a more subtle kind of matter.
Salvationism: it is postulated that our origin and our destiny is not to continue transmuting consciousness and matter-energy in the ambit of the Cosmos, as we experience it in our existence, but to reascend or to return to an original supernatural plane to which it is imagined that we belong, even though we were banished by a divine decision, according to the mythical narratives.
Elitism: the human being cannot naturally get to know his true origin and destiny, since this news comes from a special revelation given to a beloved representative from a celestial orb, or from an elected one who is established as a prophet that founds equally elitist rituals and cultures where representative authorities are conspicuous – their function is to hand down the ethical, religious and political orders and prescriptions necessary for the reintegration of these beings or their salvation.
Messianism: the presumed ignorance of the living being in relation to his spiritual situation demands catechesis: this work requires a revelation – in other words, direct and special contact between the higher plane and the lower plane, demanding the coming of a messiah, which has either already happened or is expected.
In the evolution of the civilizational process, laicism, when it happens, reformulates important positions from the point of view of the exercise of immediate political power, but it does not necessarily reformulate the basic psycho-physical structure, or the “baptismal identity” of nations, with the structural positiions remaining unaltered. This is because these original societal settings are built into the cultivation of the deep quality of consciousness of individuals in relation to themselves and what belongs to the city and the world, in a deep awareness and idea or acknowledgement of who they are (who am I?) The answer is unchanging because it transcends alterations of power and depends on baptismal imprints and identities, on rituals, religious ceremonies and deep affiliations which last, and do not originate in the pages of constitutions.
Laicism: substitution of the priestly classes by lay people in the exercise of political power, without a radical reform of the “theo-political” structures.
Since the human being is a symbolic structure, a unitary aggregation of subjective (cogitans) and objective (extens) attributes, psycho-physical and metaphysical questions – which evoke ideas and values built into influential religions – are inevitable, and characterize humanity and structure the societies in which we currently live at all levels. Therefore, a secular social structure where atheism (a-theism) predominates is not exempt from theo-political foundations and frameworks – it is only possible to declare oneself an “a-theist”, if one exists in a theist civilization, reacting negatively to the general cognitive climate.
Atheism – a reactive position which takes place in cultures that are structured on theo-political frameworks that pay homage to the idea of god and an irrational baptismal identity. In “a-theism”, one denies the existence of a divine, supreme and supernatural being, affirming the inconsistency of religious doctrines relating to this “un-reasonable” concept of god, and by extension, denying – contradictorily – the possibility and utility of a positive and sensible idea relating to this metaphysical virtue of the consciousness that has itself induced this “a-theist” reaction.
Atheism, typically established as a political framework in nations which are said to be “communist,” is like any other form of theism, an event with historical and teleological processes, where there is a tendency to deify the dominant political structure or party and its founders: historical heroes. Political movements and parties occupy the deep cognitive or psycho-physical spaces of gods, prophets, kings and emperors, without abandoning the much-coveted hierarchical positions which were previously rooted in myths and theological schemes. In any case, there is a continuing neglect of the Cosmos, Ethos, Logos and Mythos, as envisioned by wise people, leaving humanity in a state which falls short of the universal philosophical harmony required for its full realization. People’s cognitive attitudes are not broadened by reacting negatively to a given political structure: the evolution of the fundamental theo-political structures which are the necessary foundation for nations only happens in the light of greater knowledge about the idea of god rooted in the metaphysical attitude of consciousness towards the “other”.
A reform of the imperial structures which are latent and lasting in secularism (monotheism as presidentialism, exclusionism as sinecurism, supernaturalism as scientificism, salvationism as futurism, elitism as class stratification, messianism as partisanship and populism) would imply different psychological and “theo-political” attitudes, as sketched out in Ancient Ionia, in the Athens of Socrates, in places outside the ambit of Roman jurisprudence, in ancient Europe and other continents, in other “non-Euclidian” scientific approaches. The philosophical understanding and acknowledgement of this numinous relationship, whether in itself or in relation to the “other”, allows the advent of other rituals relating to more integrative psycho-physical textures, without drastic divisions between what is considered the subject and the object.
These structures are defined as “pantheistic”, a concept that illustrates an understanding of god as a totality, equally the sum of all that exists and the integration of that totality as Nature in the broadest sense, revealing an order which is cosmic. The term also highlights how those who acknowledge themselves as pantheist have a deep virtue of consciousness: the basic value which one accepts and recognizes in oneself is unity in the most integrative sense possible. One perceives an ineluctable union between the body and consciousness, between consciousness and the world, between feelings and ideas: intuition is equally abstract and sensitive; there is no radical and substantial dichotomy between the various forms and the manifestation of the state-of-being. What is “one” in pantheism is the metaphysical perspective, which is monist. There are no two entities equally powerful and separate, or one “spiritual” entity destined to reapsorb the “material” entitites or matter. There is no game of rigorous opposition in this systemic understanding; there is no dichotomy in the deep structure. This “divine whole” is real, composed of cognitive and extensive attributes, like a coin, a single event formed of one side with a face and another with a crown. We are talking about a phenomenon or structure that is radically symbolic: the signs, ideas and feelings which consciousness is aware of in the “subjective function”, together with the meanings which are revealed and manifested in “objective function” together make up a unity. In this unity, consciousness is of the world and the world is of consciousness. Consciousness is, of its nature, consciousness of something, and “something” – in order to be – needs consciousness; everything exists in the intentionality of consciousness, this phenomenological and absolute relationship is essentially mysterious, divine.
The religious forms which are established around this perception of union and fusion of the individual with the whole, attainable by the flight of intuition in the natural light of reason, include the harmonious and unified operation of the abstract and sensitive intellect, and of the emotional center; they are characterized as monist from the metaphysical point of view, manifesting themselves as religious expressions that are pantheist, naturalist, congruent and resplendent, reasonable and qualified, philosophical and victorious. A natural feeling of integration and harmony, a profound meaning and an immediate sense of plenitude and union, of peace and serenity, permeate the person who lives in such communities.
Pantheism: the sense of the divine is part of the totality of natural things; everything is a single god, a virtue which does not exclude any cosmic expression, including the terrestrial world, the planets, the stars, all things that are known or unknown according to the pantheist creed. In this case, “pan” evokes a unity which – without separating anything from the substantial – includes: a single Cosmos in which we exist and to which we belong, identified and rooted in the current and original processes of transmutation.
Naturalism: is the unitary virtue naturally associated with the term divine; it is understood as including the whole Cosmos made of matter-energy which is constantly transmuting, possibly without beginning and without end.
Perfect congruence: our origin and destiny is to transmute infinite consciousness and matter-energy in the ambit of an unlimited Cosmos, experiencing life in the plane of our origin and identity, a place where we can acknowledge ourselves as equally infinite and perennially integrated in the light of a vibrant natural intuition, most emphatically in moments of ecstasy which happen frequently and abundantly, even when admiring a lily or another flower by the wayside.
Reasonable and qualified: even when educated in a disagreeable culture, the human being can appreciate his destiny, his true nature and origin, in the luminosity of the mornings, a consecration where the splendor of his own birthright is revealed, pouring out the lively liberty of the cosmic force. Humanity is the legitimate bearer of the grandeur and beauty of earthly and heavenly nature, a realization where each person can choose to be the prophet who establishes his own rituals, the creative participant in his own vision. Each person manifests in himself the essential ethical frameworks and processes of those who belong to the Cosmos, which is the body and mind of the divine, the Logos of the ancients, together with ethos, the generator of myths which — when they are legitimate — can only honor nature and the state-of-being.
Philosophical and victorious by structural necessity: the potential for reason and knowledge that characterize human nature, the awareness of being a transmutational process equally and paradoxically ephemeral and immortal, demands of the wise person the elaboration of doctrines and meanings which honor and represent the human being positively. These doctrines are spiritual realizations par excellence, — in which being spiritual means positively valuing the existential experience, so that one lives a full and gratifying life at all moments.
We are slowly bringing into being a human state-of-being who is spiritual in the true sense, in which the apotheosis will be to build a dwelling here on earth in which the harmony that one sees by visiting woods and appreciating nature, can equally reign in cities, where everyone will be respected and wisely baptized, acknowledged as children of the sun and the earth, princes and princesses of the Cosmos, worthy of the most profound respect just like all animals and creatures. A worthy place, where politics will be fully participative, education will be dialogic, the economy free, the currency real; a place where the forerunners, the philosphers, the providers, the wise people, the visionaries and the artists, the happiest ones, will be heard with attention and carefully considered whenever a decision is taken – a horizontal city, occupying the spaces, respecting nature which will be acknowledged as holy and sacred.
Divine as a full integration of the whole
When I say ‘namastê’, ‘I greet or see the divine spark in you’, I am not affirming that: a) you are a god, or goddess, delineated by your form; b) nor that you are a manifestation, or a symbolic representation or archetype or a god or goddess; I am simply acknowledging and affirming that you belong to the Whole; therefore that you are divine by being a full part in all senses, in the present moment, of the Nature which is divine.
In pantheism, to be “awake”, enlightened is to know how to expand and radiate the light of natural consciousness in the sense of filling the Cosmos. The movement of expanding consciousness, which at the beginning can hardly differentiate one’s own foot from a rattle hanging from the cradle, is progressive and continuous until, eventually, if it is not frozen and tangled in prohibitive concepts, results in a mystical crowning moment where the state-of-being acknowledges himself as a universal and eternal reality, without beginning and without end, a universal being, an eternal avatar, a holy trinity, Ehos, Logos and Mythos.
The movement of the psyche in search of this “knowing that one knows nothing” – because one knows oneself to be absolute, gracious, without any reason and without servitude – is at the same time abstract, aesthetic and affective. Abstract thought reveals the geometry which connects the particular points, things, creatures and events to the whole; aesthetics appreciates the ramifications of relationships which give evidence of beauty and harmony; the affect throbs in growing, loving empathy. This tripartite movement of the psyche exults in a mystical ecstasy which ends up fertilizing our intelligence, awakening the individual to his universality. Whether they are spontaneous or planned, the sacramental paths which lead to this lucidity vary, the fruit of searches and experiences: a walk in the forest, an event, a relationship, a ritual, a potion, the course of life.
Any discussion about “polytheism” and “monotheism” of various types, whether they are symbolic or idealistic, realistic etc, in a debate structured along the lines of: 1) ‘x’ and ‘y’ are real gods (realism); or 2) ‘x’ and ‘y’ are representations of gods – whether they are linked with a ‘fundamental’ god or goddess, as happens in some mythologies, which are in turn part of a pantheon of gods, commanded by or representative of an “absolute and omnipresent” divinity of an archetypal nature (idealism) implies the rule – whether from a historical point of view, a manifestation of something primitive or a residual superstratification of the psyche – of a latent separation, dichotomies evoked in the structure of the debates. These are sectarian categories that do not exist unless as distortions resulting from baptismal imprints which make up the civilizational structure. Here, the state-of-being is compelled to act mentally within the range of influence of a psychological position handed down historically in which he imagines or sees himself as a “spirit”, or a “consciousness” placed in a “body” or in “matter”.
Indeed, in the pantheist’s vision of the cosmos, everything is related; the origin is the course of the totality where everything connects, interacting, being born, living and dying, transmuting in the present, with unity and diversity eternally present. The pantheon is symbolic, an abstract idea, equally imaginative and sensitive, aesthetically beautiful, psycho-physical.
The pantheist can be considered an atheist, along with all the pagans who want to affirm themselves as real or archetypical gods or goddesses, in the face of those who are faithful to that exclusive monotheism described above. Certainly, many of those who declare and describe themselves sto be “atheists” in order to distance and differentiate themselves from imperialistic monotheism, from Protestant dissident movements and colonial syncretic religions, but who do not feel themselves to be accidental happenings in anevolutionary process without unity, stuck in state and secular structures which are the residues of old theo-political frameworks, could basically regard themselves as pantheists – one only needs to appreciate the amazing essence of the state-of-being.
Two stars and two destinies – who are you?
What is the virtue of your consciousness and your deep psychical disposition? What fundamental value do you affirm and identify yourself with, in relation to yourself and the “other”, in your relationship with culture, your forms of religiosity and what you reject? The question is a radical one; it concerns your relationship with yourself and with the totality of what exists: it reflects the culture in which you were born and what you do with it; your nature as a state-of-being placed in the world and the Cosmos. Therefore to ask: “What is the virtue of your consciousness and your deep psychical disposition? What fundamental value do you affirm and identify yourself with in relation to yourself and the “other” is the same thing as asking: “What is your identity and origin?” There are only two real answers, based on ideas, feelings, aesthetic appreciation and types of abstract ideas, expressed in two metaphors with roots that are either more urbi ou orbi. The two attitudes can properly be labelled as monist or dualist from a metaphysical point of view.
1. The dualistic metaphysical attitude is: a) an archaic theological idea: I am a spirit-and-soul banished into matter to pay for my sins, banished from the divine sphere because of an original fault, hoping to be saved and to enter the real world which is not natural, but supernatural, according to the revelations of spiritual guides; b) a post-modern theological scheme: I am a citizen-of-the-state, deprived of intuition and will, alienated and subordinated to the leaders of parties, circumscribed by my duties, following the norms and opinions dictated by those who have been elected.
2. The monist metaphysical attitude is: a) a universal theological idea: I am a natural and essential state-of-being, granted a body and a universal conscience, integrated with the Cosmos, practising the cardinal virtues of the philosophers, satisfied and happy by being nature that is in an eternal state of transmutation; b) a naturalistic scheme: I am a citizen of the world, sharing in a dialogic citizenship, alive within the limits of the universal ethic that is revealed in the light of natural reason.
The dualist idea reflects a deep lack of autonomy, it points to an internal disintegration from oneself and the whole, an isolation; an existential disgust and lack of appreciation emphasizes what is unpleasant, what is ugly, what is unworthy, what humiliates, discredits and lowers. The dualist theological perspective, divorced from natural harmony, stimulates a normative and sectarian culture, stripped of intuition, built into impositions that dishonour and break the natural state-of-being in hypocritical pleasantries, encouraging an egoistic consciousness. In its classical theological form, the subject finds himself locked in alienating schemes where he imagines himself to be living accidentally, stuck in a body that is unworthy and the source of sin. In these broken circumstances, the beauty that is exalted is often confined to the arts that are said to be classical or official, whether they are exhibited in mausoleums, hanging in museums, referring to an idea of the sublime that is strictly delimited, invoking leaders and gods that are separate and distant. There is a disharmony that erupts in contrasts that are expressed in the architecture of cities where urban islands sit side by side with select, imposing areas of power. Such a perspective points to a separatist way of drawing shapes that are defined, considering their boundaries, volumes, masses and weights. The feelings that predominate are those of essential lack of self-esteem, mistrust, insecurity and conflicts; a repressed libido draws back to within the limits of a sexuality that tends to degenerate into sublimations, sado-masochism and pornography.
The monist idea reflects an active and elevated mood, strong vitality and health, an enthusiastic self-esteem, it points to empathetic integration, good-humored and kind towards oneself and the whole; a way of seeing the shapes which manifest themselves considering equally their relationships with what they are not. It is characterized by an aesthetic appreciation which stresses the beauty that manifests itself equally in the hamony of contrasts and semi-tones, a feeling of joyful well-being, open to ecstatic inspiration, leading to a libido which transcends the strict limits of sexuality to broaden out and shine on all levels. And it encourages a culture which reveals the sense of the whole, universalizes consciousness, roots and naturalizes ethics in an essential well-being, invokes metaphors and mythical meanings which dignify the state-of-being beyond his subjective settings.
So, in the end, who are you? Inevitable metaphysical questions, deep existential attitudes, baptismal values and fundamental theologies determine the vocations and duties of individuals, isolated or organized in churches, parties or sects, and by extension in international movements and missions of these institutions, and even of countries when certain churches, parties or sects dominate and influence them. You are the holder of knowledge either according to what you have been told, or according to what you yourself primarily signify, affirm in your feelings, your aesthetic attitudes and abstract ideas. You – the purest, most essential and powerful state-of-being – take control and decide!
Translated by Stephen Cviic