For the Promotion of Reason Based Spirituality...

Integral Panendeism 2.0

by Travis Clementsmith

Before we expand upon the world of Integral Panendeism, it may be necessary to briefly review how the term came into being. To do this, I will use certain terms and define them to explain the evolution and distinction of the term. Some may have a different definition of some of these terms, but the hope is that by explaining what they mean to Integral Panendeism it will help others who either might identify with it or simply wish to better understand it.

The broad term for the systematic speculation on the nature of God/Deity/Spirit and how it relates to the human conscious is theology. A theology is approached by human consciousness through a belief system. The three broad ontological belief systems are theism, atheism, and Deism and an epistemological descriptor, agnostic.

Theism is a belief in a personal God who at least shares human-like attributes (i.e. physicality, emotions, intellect). Theists generally believe that God exhibits a personality and often they treat God as a person. This belief requires faith, which is often a major component of theist based theologies. Because theists believe that God has personal relationships with people, they accept "revelation", hearsay tales of his relationships with people in the past. They often believe that God is a person in their stories, and often accept their myths as literal accounts of their God’s personal involvement. Because theists often interpret their mythology literally, their religions are heavily dependent on the historical veracity of those accounts. Theism is an affirmative belief structure.

Atheism is the absence of a belief that a God exists. Atheism is generally counter to the concept of a personal God conception, and so the belief structure is considered impersonal and non-affirmative.

Deism is a belief in a transpersonal God, often termed Deity to differentiate it from theistic conceptions. Deists do not generally see Deity as a person, and since faith is something we have in persons, Deists rely on reason in their belief pattern. Deists generally accept experience over hearsay and recognize myths as metaphor, wherein a “person” as God is merely symbolic. Because deists understand the metaphoric nature of anthropomorphic description, stories and tales about God do not have to be supported by scientific and historical evidence. Deism is an affirmative belief structure.

Agnosticism is often claimed as an “I don’t know but neither do you” belief system. Here it is used to describe what type of evidence is allowed for the inquiry. The term agnostic here denotes that a person has no objective knowledge of God by way of either empirical evidence or logical deduction. An agnostic-theist, therefore believes in a personal God while admitting there is no objective knowledge to support the belief. A traditional theist will often point towards general revelations or miracles as such proof. An agnostic-atheist believes that objective evidence is the only true source of knowledge and therefore, based on the lack of such evidence, does not affirm the existence of God. Anyone without a belief in God, such as infants and others who have not developed the capacity for higher thought processes, could be considered an atheist. An agnostic-deist is one who believes in a transpersonal Deity while believing there is no objective evidence for such. A traditional Deist may accept the “Argument From Design” as such objective proof.

The affirmative belief structures are further sub-divided into types with a prefix. Poly- indicates “many”, mono- indicates “one”, pan- indicates “all is”, and panen- indicates “all in”. So polytheism would be a belief in many personal gods, while polydeism would be a belief in many impersonal deities. Likewise, monotheism would be a belief in one personal God, while monodeism would be a belief in one impersonal Deity. Most early Deists were in fact, monodeists, most often referred to as Classical Deism. Classical Deism is a rationalistic movement begun in the 17th and 18th centuries whose adherents generally subscribed to a natural religion based on human reason and morality, on the belief in one God who after creating the world and the laws governing it refrained from interfering with those laws, and on the rejection of every kind of supernatural intervention in human affairs.

Both the pan- and panen- prefixes are evolutions of the mono- subset. Traditionally, monotheism refers to belief in a God that is separate from the universe, whereas pantheism (all is God) refers to the belief that God and the universe are identical. The German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781-1832) sought to reconcile the two beliefs and coined the term panentheism (all in God). This conception of God influenced New England Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. The term is best known for its use by Charles Hartshorne in his discussions of Process Thought and has also been adopted by proponents of various New Thought beliefs.

Panendeism, therefore, is simply Deism together with the belief that the universe is a part of God, but not all of God. Some panendeists do not feel the need to define this theology further than that. Others have developed more detailed versions of what this definition might entail. One of the first was Reflexive Panendeism based on the works of Arthur M. Young. An overview of that system can be accessed here:

Integral Panendeism draws its inspiration from the Integral Philosophy based on the works of Ken Wilber. Integral means of, relating to, or serving to form a whole; essential to completeness; organically joined or linked; formed as a unit with part(s) of another. Integral Panendeism is a theological panendeistic speculation that Reason continually makes wholes of parts which then become parts for greater wholes and so on and so on eventually enabling selfhood to reunite with Deity. What follows is the attempt to relate that concept as a possible structure. Ultimately, there can be no such thing as an actual structure, but we offer our best approximations and we hope it will be beneficial to others in their theological explorations.
Pre, Trans, and Non

One of the cornerstones of Integral Philosophy is what is known as the Pre/Trans Fallacy. Comprehension of this concept is crucial to Deism in general and Panendeism specifically. Forming a theology is an intellectual activity. The problem is that the general level of intellect is not a static entity, it has generally increased as understanding has increased. One of the most significant breakpoints in this increase has been what we call rationality. Rationality saw its greatest influence in what is termed The Age of Enlightenment. Most knowledge until that time was given in what is known as a fused state. The great spheres of art, science, and morals, or “The Big Three”, were explained through an overriding interpretation, such as the Christian Church. The Enlightenment differentiated and liberated these great spheres of knowledge so that people could explore them without the blessing of a central authority censure. It would take a little longer, in the postmodern movement, to differentiate a fourth sphere from those three. Before postmodernism, the Big Three still accepted their truths as absolute and universal laws. Art had rules, science had laws of nature, and some aspects of morality were left unquestioned. Postmodernism criticizes our acceptance of such absolutes and forces us to adopt new perspectives. It doesn't necessary obliterate laws, but forces us to better understand their function. In a sense, postmodernism does not destroy Law, but liberates Law from the static prison we had constructed for it.

In Integral Theory, these spheres thus become integral quadrants and are given the more general terms of Subjective-Interior Individual (Art), Objective-Exterior Individual (Science), Subjective-Interior Collective (Morals), and Objective-Exterior Collective (Law). While rationality and postmodernism did a good job of differentiating these quadrants of knowledge, it had trouble integrating them. Rationality tended to heavily favor the objective path and reduce subjective knowledge to objective correlates while postmodernism tended to get lost in its a-perspectivism. This sets the stage for the Pre/Trans Fallacy as elucidated by Ken Wilber:

The essence of the pre/trans fallacy is itself fairly simple: since both prerational states and transrational states are, in their own ways, nonrational, they appear similar or even identical to the untutored eye. And once pre and trans are confused, then one of two fallacies occurs:

In the first, all higher and transrational states are reduced to lower and prerational states. Genuine mystical or contemplative experiences, for example, are seen as a regression or throwback to infantile states of narcissism, oceanic adualism, indissociation, and even primitive autism. This is, for example, precisely the route taken by Freud in The Future of an Illusion.

On the other hand, if one is sympathetic with higher or mystical states, but one still confuses pre and trans, then one will elevate all prerational states to some sort of transrational glory (the infantile primary narcissism, for example, is seen as an unconscious slumbering in the mystico unio). Jung and his followers, of course, often take this route, and are forced to read a deeply transpersonal and spiritual status into states that are merely indissociated and undifferentiated and actually lacking any sort of integration at all.

Spirit is indeed nonrational; but it is trans, not pre. It transcends but includes reason*; it does not regress and exclude it. Reason*, like any particular stage of evolution, has its own (and often devastating) limitations, repressions, and distortions. But as we have seen, the inherent problems of one level are solved (or "defused") only at the next level of development; they are not solved by regressing to a previous level where the problem can be merely ignored. And so it is with the wonders and the terrors of reason*: it brings enormous new capacities and new solutions, while introducing its own specific problems, problems solved only by a transcendence to the higher and transrational realms.

*Wilber uses the word reason here to denote rationality. Deist use the word differently, more as the transcending process from one level to the next, as will be explained later.

Of course, the pre-trans fallacy is a really big deal with regards to differentiating Law because some have used postmodern deconstruction to justify their repression of some good Enlightenment stuff, adopting pre-rational or antirational rather than transrational attitudes. This is largely because they are trying to understand the consequences of postmodern deconstruction from the all-or-nothing perspective that preceded postmodernism. If you can show that a law is not totally absolute, they say throw it out entirely. That is an error of consciousness that reflects a lack of true "transcend and include" growth.

We can also outline the general path on the Big Three in their impact on the evolution of theology. Most traditional religions incorporated various prepersonal beliefs, that is, beliefs that were accepted as true before rational (differentiated) methods were developed to test certain objective claims. When these claims failed such objective tests, atheism began to flourish among those who performed such tests because objectivity was considered the only real truth. Some, however, did not believe that objectivity disclosed all there was to know about God and that subjective truth was important as well. In other words, God transcended objective investigation but remained a subjective reality. This integrating of the objective truth of science with a subjectively intuited transcendent God became Deism.
Deism – A Look Back

With these terms let us explore the development of Deism from a new perspective. As previously stated, most spiritual development was theistic in nature. Whether ancestral or magical spirits, great pantheons of gods and goddesses, or a one true God, most religious traditions saw such entities in a personal light. They perhaps looked like humans at times, personified human emotions or endeavors, or interacted with a temporal world in an intellectual manner. Most people believed along such lines, but there were always skeptics.

When the only known gods/spirits were personal the earliest known rejection was atheism. For some people, only “seeing is believing” and when coupled with the fact that the gods rarely seemed to discriminate between “just” and “unjust” individuals, agnostic-atheism became the rival rejection of theistic claims. In the Western World, the Christian Church had risen from the fall of Rome as the supreme authority of the land. To openly reject theistic Christianity was to risk one’s life. Slowly, however, consciousness was pushing out of its stay in absolutist thought patterns and entering rationalistic ones.

This “Great Enlightenment” ushered in the field of science in a form known as natural theology. The first theists who came under the rationalistic sway thought that the best way to understand God was by studying what God had created. The revolutionary technique they employed was measurement. Because this was originally a theistic undertaking, such experimentation was given the cautious blessing of the Church. But soon the findings of these natural theists began to conflict with the written authority of the intellectual theists. That is, the scientific findings began to challenge the Biblical authority.

Unfortunately for the Church, the cat was out of the bag by this time. Many of the scientific successes could not simply be denied, especially where science had helped stop disease when prayers had failed. After some noteworthy clashes, the Church was effectively told to “stay out”. This liberated natural theology from its theistic censure. Natural theology became science, and natural theists became scientists. The natural theists who were secretly atheist had no great qualm with this split. While the intellectual atheist became identified with science, persons of faith often felt as if they had to choose one discipline or the other. These are the seeds of what is known as the War Between Science and Religion.

But those seeds were not the only ones sowed. In England, a third group began to flourish. They embraced rationality and science while retaining a belief in God. What they saw as the stumbling point was not science or God but what was passed off as the only correct interpretation of God. God surely would not create this world, leave us clues on how to research it, yet demand we believe something else entirely because some person long ago said so and decided to write it down and declare it holy. Surely a being so great would not engage in some of the very childlike qualities exhibited in the Bible and other holy books? A God there must be, but not one who disdains rationality but rather one who gave it to us in the first place. This is a God that meant for us to use our reason to discover the nature of creation. This was the beginning of Classic Deism.

The early Deists were not shunned in English society, in fact, it became very much in vogue for those who considered themselves intellectuals. The Church of England was not as contrarian to science as the Roman Church had been. The man who first coined the term Deism, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, listed its five principles:

(1) That there is a Supreme Deity
(2) That this Deity ought to be worshipped
(3) That virtue combined with piety is the chief part of divine worship
(4) That men should repent of their sins and turn from them
(5) That reward and punishment follow from the goodness and justness of God, both in this life and after it

This is the essence of monodeism. Out are the requirements of ritual, miracles, and general revelation while retaining a general belief in God as the source of goodness and justness with metaphysical openness regarding an afterlife. Many of the English Deists were very adamant that Deism did not conflict with Christianity in general, it just conflicted with theistic Christianity. Many in fact called themselves Christian Deists.

These deistic ideas migrated to other parts of Europe including Russia and Germany, but it was in France that the influence really took on a revolutionary tone. With the monarchy still closely tied to the Roman Catholic Church and the horrors of the Inquisition still fresh, Deism took a sharper contrast. Voltaire is largely credited with introducing Deism to France where it was embraced by the Encyclopedists. The tone moved, however, from the reconciliatory nature of Christian Deism to a more agnostic-Deism. Even this agnostic-Deism had many flavors ranging from the romantic speculations of Rousseau to the almost atheistic bent of Diderot. An autocratic flavor arose in the wake of the French Revolution embodied by Robespierre which culminated in The Terror.

In the American Colonies, a blend of Christian Deism and agnostic-Deism found favor with the intellectual elite. The major proponents saw God as good and Christ as a noble example of human morality but would not go so far as to claim Christianity, deistic or otherwise, was to be the guiding principle when it came to matters of governance. The Forefathers used this agnostic idea to separate the powers of government from the influence of religion thereby liberating both. The experiment was so successful in fact, that it may have been a contributing factor to the decline in popularity for Deism. By ensuring government would no longer be tied to a religious theology, the need to declare one’s religion began to wane. Since Deism had no theological structure, those who felt the need for such found established religions to join which they believed helped them develop their theological ideas.
Deism – A Modern Rediscovery

As America moved along through the years, religion, particularly Christianity, has slowly crept back into trying to establish its presence in government.  Mass medias were able to blurt out and rally evangelical messages of literal theology.  Christians were challenged as to what it meant to be a “true Christian” and large groups were formed with the expressed interest in electing and supporting “like minded” candidates.  Concurrently, many New Age belief systems were also in vogue.  While some brought interesting ideas from Eastern Mysticism, many also blended ideas about crystals and astrology to the point that it was difficult to cull the worthy transrational ideas from the prerational ones.  Many of these movements were rising in opposition to what many thought of as extreme rationalism and secularism that seemed to have spawned consumerism, materialism, and scientism.

It is from this landscape that interest in Deism began to swell again, buoyed by the development of the internet.  With what seemed to be a world of polarizing extremes, Deism began to appeal to those who saw a possible integration and transcendence of these positions.  At first, Deists began to rediscover the history of Deism.  In studying that history, it became apparent that for Deism to truly thrive, for it to be a transcending agent of these extremes, it had to figure out why it faded the first time. Deism still suffered from the fact it had no central organizing body. The problem is that this was one of the features that attracted people to Deism in the first place. What was needed was more of a suggested path that any Deist could explore at their inclination. Not too vague so as to lose itself once again in the theological backdrop, but not too prescribed so as to make people feel this is what they have to believe in order to call themselves “a Deist”.

This path had to start at rationality, what it had to avoid was ending there.  Theisms have to incorporate many prerational beliefs into their structure because most of their adherents had largely prerational types of thinking.  This is why Christianity modified ancient festivals into religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas; incorporated local gods as “saints” now within the Christian religion.  Deism no longer had to do that.  There was a large enough population segment in the world that the adult population was already at a rational mindset.  The challenge for Deism was to transcend but include that rationality.  What it means to be transrational would be the theology Deism needed to scale.  If panentheism is the belief that the universe is in God, but not all of God, then the attempt to understand what ‘not all of God’ is, would become the focus of Panendeism.  Explaining this within the context of consciousness unfolding is Integral Panendeism.
Integral Panendeism

Integral Panendeism is a transrational spiritual theory that Reason continually makes parts of wholes which then become parts of greater wholes and so on and so forth eventually allowing selfhood to reunite with Deity.  When we say it is a transrational theory, we mean that it transcends but includes both empirical and intellectual theories. To do so, because empirical and intellectual realities are temporal, a transrational theory must allow for the dynamic evolutions of such to occur.  In other words, scientific discovery should not cause a transrational theory to be completely upset, it should be able to adjust and include each and every such advance.  The purpose, however, is not to infringe theology into empirical or intellectual models but rather encapsulate them within a working dynamic whole, in fact, integral to that whole.  What follows is a conception on how one might envision such seemingly contradictory disciplines functioning as such a whole.

To further clarify, what one has here is a very general map.  The map should be thought of as useful for discovery, not a discovery in itself.  There is a large difference between the map and the territory.  Anyone can learn to read a map, but it takes an explorer to really know what the map attempts to represent.  Some Deists may prefer just to speculate on the worth of various maps while other Deists will be compelled to launch their own expeditions.  We thoughtfully encourage the later, by whatever means the Deist deems most reasonable, so as to help elaborate and refine the accuracy of said maps.  Happy exploring!

How does one represent everything and nothing, form and formlessness, eternal and temporal, manifest and unmanifest? It is an impossible task, it cannot be accomplished by rational example. Instead we have to give our best rational representation while acknowledging the handicap. Because humans digest material best in a “first this, then that” fashion, this representation will take that form. I will slowly add features and try to explain their “function”. The final idea, however, should be thought of as an integral working dynamic. We will therefore describe the vastness and eternalness of Deity as a cube.

A note of caution to the reader: Deity will often be described in active terms of “does this” or “creates that” or “wants to”. A more transcendent description would point out that Deity neither “does”, “creates” or “wants” at all. Those are human physical and intellectual activities. While “doing”, “creating”, and “wanting” occur within Deity, they are not Deity itself. Rather, Deity is the milieu in which all things have the possibility to be actualities. It is the essence of ultimate reality as such. Everything that follows is simply an aspect which occurs within Deity, but our explanation will translate better if at times we make Deity a metaphorical “being”.

If you are playing at home, draw your best three dimensional cube on a white piece of paper. A more accurate exercise might be to imagine just the paper itself, held close to the eyes as the essence of Deity, and then try to imagine the paper has no dimensionality to it. No height, no width, no depth, just white. Deity has decided to play a game with itself, a cosmic game of hide and go seek. There are two problems, however, the first is that Deity is the only thing there is and so it needs a playing partner. The second is that there is no place to play. Deity must “create” both another player and the field in which the game will be played. To accomplish this imagine all that whiteness forms itself into a cube.  Deity next anoints two opposite sides of this cube as its poles of Alpha and Omega (the top and bottom of your cube). At this point, there is no noticeable distinction between the two.

Cube Guide:

First Cause

First Cause is how this spiritual game begins. The “whiteness” of the cube represents self-knowledge. Because our cube is completely white, there is no part of Deity without compete knowledge of what it is. But Deity needs to create a “field” to play its game and accomplishes this by sending a wave of spiritual energy originating at Omega down towards Alpha. As this wave travels “down” towards Alpha it leaves a shadowy trail barely noticeable near Omega and getting progressively darker until it arrives at Alpha, at which point there is absolutely no “whiteness” present. The hue of darkness represents forgetfulness. This wave then “echoes” back towards Omega forming two “spiritual streams” which feed off the reverberations of each other. The Omega to Alpha stream is Eternalness, or the E-Wave and the Alpha to Omega stream is Temporalness, or the T-Wave.

The E-Wave established three great stages of being. The first stage is known as the Causal because it will be the cause of the next two. The Causal should not be confused with the Non-dual which is best represented as the “whiteness” before the cube even formed. The next stage is known as the Subtle so named because it will act as an intermediary between the two stages closest to Omega and Alpha respectively. That final stage next to Alpha is known as the Pranic, as it is the densest aspect of Eternal spirit.

When the T-Wave echoes off of Alpha back to Omega, it does so as three great states of consciousness. The first state corresponding to the Pranic stage is the Waking State, so named because it is perceptible without thought. The second is the Dreaming State which corresponds to the Subtle stage. Finally, there is the Deep Sleep state which correlates to the formless Causal stage. The names of these states may seem confusing right now and are primarily used in association with the human body. These will be explained more later.

While Classic Deism usually associates the term “First Cause” as the moment which God created the universe, Integral Panendeism uses the term as a spiritual movement where Deity divides itself between Knowledge and Ignorance with infinite shades of the two inhabiting the cube space between Alpha and Omega. A point with more whiteness than dark reflects an area where there is more Knowledge of Deity’s true nature then Ignorance. A point where there is more darkness than white reflects an area where Ignorance of Deity’s true nature has more sway than Knowledge.

This shading, however, is simply Deity attempting to delude itself by progressively dowsing its own self-knowledge. It is an attempt to hoodwink itself. There is no point from Alpha to Omega that isn’t already and eternally Deity, there are just aspects that, in a progressive fashion, don’t realize that this is true.

If you are continuing your artwork, shade the left, right, and back sides of the cube starting with the white at the top and progressively darker towards the bottom. The top plane of the cube (Omega) is completely white and the bottom plane (Alpha) is completely black. Represent the E-Wave as a large arrow on the left side of the cube starting at Omega and pointing down to touch Alpha. The T-Wave is an arrow on the right side pointing in the opposite direction. (I leave the E-Wave arrow completely white and the T-Wave arrow completely black to stand out better against the shaded sides.) Now divide each of those planes (the left and right side of the cube) in three, parallel to the Alpha and Omega planes. Each section will represent the three stages on the left side and the three states on the right side. I do not shade the “front” of the cube for visualization purposes.
More to come...