Last night my best friend and I got into a conversation about spirituality. He’s very open-minded, so these conversations go really well. We just don’t have them frequently simply because they’re rather exhausting. He’s Christian, but he’s also open to other belief systems. I was excited to get the chance to hear his and to talk about my own. Mine are a little strange to most people I meet, but they bring me comfort, which is what I consider religion and spirituality to be– concepts people use to make the world make sense to them, and to give them hope and comfort.
My beliefs fall under a school of thought called pantheism. It’s really nature-based, as in I believe that *we* are sacred and the things around us are sacred. I can’t say for certain if there is an omniscient being that created the universe or what the afterlife is composed of, if there is one. What I can say is I sense what I call Spirit all around me, and I sense a sort of continuity that leads me to believe in reincarnation, which gives me peace.
Pantheism finds what many religions term ‘God’ in nature and the Universe. It’s a belief system that concentrates on what we see around us. Reincarnation is not part of the belief statement, but the philosophy is so open that it can allow for individualized interpretations. It also fits well with other nature-based belief systems such as certain types of Wicca and certain Celtic schools of thought.
I’m not at all trying to convert people to anything. To me, pantheism is more like a philosophy, as there is no conversion process and anyone whose concepts fit well with the overall school of thought is welcome to join the World Pantheist Movement. It’s not structure-based in terms of priests or ministers, et c. It’s simply a way of seeing the world. The reason I *am* writing this post, which I’ve debated about writing for quite some time, is that it might help someone feel less alone in their beliefs. I felt a sense of relief when I stumbled upon others who shared what I thought were some rather strange beliefs that I’d held for a while. It was validating and comforting, and it helped me feel less alone.
Even though I feel it’s a basic human need to find a way to structure the world and the Universe in terms that make sense to each of us as individuals, people who have lived with SRA often feel that need quite strongly. And that is my main reason for giving a vague explanation of pantheism– perhaps someone else who has come out of SRA with the sort of spiritual confusion I felt can find something here that might make things a bit better, if only because it shows that SRA survivors truly can find peace in religion and/or spirituality if they feel the need to do so. I needed to feel connected to something larger than myself so that I wouldn’t believe what happened to me meant nothing. Pantheism met my needs in terms of a spiritual philosophy that brought peace to my life and has sustained me in the face of some rather persuasive cult members who’ve tried time and again to convince me that their beliefs are the ultimate truth. I think it’s important, regardless of what term it falls under, for SRA survivors to find something like that to help them get through the difficult times.