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Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force), interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
In panentheism, the universe in the first formulation is practically the whole itself. In the second formulation, the universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. In panentheism, God is viewed as the eternal animating force behind the universe. Some versions suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism goes further to claim that God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism. Hasidic Judaism merges the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical transcendent Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of Kabbalah, with the populist emphasis on the panentheistic Divine immanence in everything and deeds of kindness.
Many North American Native Peoples (such as the Cree, Iroquois, Huron, Navajo, and others) were and still are largely panentheistic, conceiving of God as both confined in God's existence in Creation but also transcendent from it. (North American Native writers have also translated the word for God as the Great Mystery or as the Sacred Other) This concept is referred to by many as the Great Spirit. One exception can be modern Cherokee who are predominantly monotheistic but apparently not panentheistic (as the two are not mutually exclusive); yet in older Cherokee traditions many observe both aspects of pantheism and panentheism, and are often not beholden to exclusivity, encompassing other spiritual traditions without contradiction, a common trait among some tribes in the Americas. Most South American Native peoples were largely panentheistic as well (as were ancient South East Asian and African cultures). The Central American empires of the Mayas, Aztecs as well as the South American Incans (Tahuatinsuyu) were actually polytheistic and had very strong male deities.
According to Charles C. Mann's, "1491", only the lower classes of Aztec society were polytheistic. Writings from Aztec priests reveal them to be strong panentheists who considered the common mythology to be a symbolic oversimplification meant to be easier for the commoners to understand.
Neoplatonism is polytheistic and panentheistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent "God" (The One) of which subsequent realities were emanations. From the One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous) and the Cosmic Soul (Psyche). In Neoplatonism the world itself is God [Timaeus 37]. This concept of divinity is associated with that of the Logos, which had originated centuries earlier with Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC). The Logos pervades the cosmos, whereby all thoughts and all things originate, or as Heraclitus said: "He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one." Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus attempted to reconcile this perspective by adding another hypostasis above the original monad of force or Dunamis. This new all-pervasive monad encompassed all creation and its original uncreated emanations.
Baruch Spinoza later claimed that "Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived."  "Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner."  Though Spinoza has been called the "prophet" and "prince" of pantheism, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg Spinoza states that: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken" For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote "Deus sive Natura" (God or Nature) Spinoza did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God's transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God's immanence. Furthermore, Martial Guéroult suggested the term "Panentheism", rather than "Pantheism" to describe Spinoza’s view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, "in" God. Yet, American philosopher and self-described Panentheist Charles Hartshorne referred to Spinoza's philosophy as "Classical Pantheism" and distinguished Spinoza's philosophy with panentheism.
The German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781–1832) seeking to reconcile monotheism and pantheism, coined the term panentheism ("all in God") in 1828. This conception of God influenced New England transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. The term was popularized by Charles Hartshorne in his development of process theology and has also been adopted by proponents of various New Thought beliefs. The formalization of this term in the West in the 18th century was of course not new; philosophical treatises had been written on it in the context of Hinduism for millennia.
Philosophers who embraced panentheism have included Thomas Hill Green (1839–1882), James Ward (1843–1925), Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison (1856–1931) and Samuel Alexander (1859–1938). Beginning in the 1940s, Hartshorne examined numerous conceptions of God. He reviewed and discarded pantheism, deism, and pandeism in favor of panentheism, finding that such a "doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations." Hartshorne formulated God as a being who could become "more perfect": He has absolute perfection in categories for which absolute perfection is possible, and relative perfection (i.e., is superior to all others) in categories for which perfection cannot be precisely determined.
In the Bahá'í Faith, God is described as a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe. The connection between God and the world is that of the creator to his creation. God is understood to be independent of his creation, and that creation is dependent and contingent on God. God, however, is not seen to be part of creation as he cannot be divided and does not descend to the condition of his creatures. Instead, in the Bahá'í understanding, the world of creation emanates from God, in that all things have been realized by him and have attained to existence. Creation is seen as the expression of God's will in the contingent world, and every created thing is seen as a sign of God's sovereignty, and leading to knowledge of him; the signs of God are most particularly revealed in human beings.
Panentheism is a feature of some Christian thought, particularly in mystical Eastern Orthodoxy and process theology. In order to avoid confusion with pantheism some panentheists now use the doublet "unitheism."
Process theological thinkers are generally regarded in the West as unorthodox, but process philosophical thought paved the way for open theism, which sits more comfortably in the Evangelical Christian camp.
In the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as in the Church of the East, creation is not considered to be a literal "part of" God, and the Godhead is distinct from creation. There is, in other words, an eternal difference between the uncreated (i.e., God) and the created (i.e., everything else). This does not mean, however, that the creation is wholly separated from God, because the creation exists by and in the Divine Energies (workings). These energies are the operations of God and are God, but the created is not God in the Divine Essence. God creates the universe by the Divine will, using His Energies, that are not identified with His Essence. It is not an "emanation" of God's own essence (Ousia), a direct literal outworking or effulgence of the Divine, or any other process which implies that creation is part of or necessary to God in His Essence. The use of panentheism as part of Orthodox theology and doctrine is "problematic" to those who would insist that panentheism requires creation to be "part of" God.
God is not merely creator of the universe; His active Presence is necessary in some way for every bit of creation, from smallest to greatest, to continue to exist at all. That is, God's Energies (activities) maintain all things and all beings, even if those beings have explicitly rejected him. His love of creation is such that He will not withdraw His Presence, which would be the ultimate form of annihilation, not merely imposing death, but ending existence altogether. By this token, the entirety of creation is good in its being and is not innately evil either in whole or in part. This does not deny the existence of evil in a fallen universe, only that it is not an innate property of creation. Evil results from the will of creatures, not from their nature per se (see the problem of evil).
Some argue that panentheism should also include the notion that God has always been related to some world or another, which denies the idea of creation out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Nazarene Methodist theologian Thomas Jay Oord advocates panentheism, but he uses the word "theocosmocentrism" to highlight the notion that God and some world or another are the primary conceptual starting blocks for eminently fruitful theology. This form of panentheism helps in overcoming the problem of evil and in proposing that God's love for the world is essential to who God is.
Panentheism was a major force in the Unitarian church for a long time, based on Ralph Waldo Emerson's concept of the Oversoul. This survives today as the panentheistic religion, Oversoul.  Charles Hartshorne, who conjoined process theology with panentheism, maintained a lifelong membership in the Methodist church but was also a unitarian. In later years he joined the Austin, Texas, Unitarian Universalist congregation and was an active participant in that church.
Many Christians who believe in universalism hold panentheistic views of God in conjunction with their belief in apocatastasis, also called universal reconciliation. Panentheistic Christian Universalists often believe that all creation's subsistence in God renders untenable the notion of final and permanent alienation from Him; they point to Biblical scripture passages such as Ephesians 4:6 ("[God] is over all and through all and in all") and Romans 11:36 ("from [God] and through him and to him are all things") to justify both panentheism and universalism.
Earliest reference to panentheistic thought in Hindu philosophy is in a creation myth contained in the later section of Rig Veda called the Purusha Sukta, which was compiled before 1100 BCE. The Purusha Sukta gives a description of the spiritual unity of the cosmos. It presents the nature of Purusha or the cosmic being as both immanent in the manifested world and yet transcendent to it. From this being the sukta holds, the original creative will proceeds, by which this vast universe is projected in space and time.
The most influential and dominant school of Indian philosophy, Advaita Vedanta, rejects theism and dualism by insisting that “Brahman [ultimate reality] is without parts or attributes…one without a second.” Since, Brahman has no properties, contains no internal diversity and is identical with the whole reality it cannot be understood as God. The relationship between Brahman and the creation is often thought to be panentheistic.
By Me all this universe is pervaded through My unmanifested form.
All beings abide in Me but I do not abide in them.
Many schools of Hindu thought espouse monistic theism, which is thought to be similar to a panentheistic viewpoint. Nimbarka's school of differential monism (Dvaitadvaita), Ramanuja's school of qualified monism (Vishistadvaita) and Saiva Siddhanta are all considered to be panentheistic. Caitanya's Gaudiya Vaishnavism, which elucidates the doctrine of Acintya Bheda Abheda (inconceivable oneness and difference), is also thought to be panentheistic. In Kashmir Shaivism, all things are believed to be a manifestation of Universal Consciousness (Cit or Brahman). So from the point of view of this school, the phenomenal world (Śakti) is real, and it exists and has its being in Consciousness (Cit). Thus, Kashmir Shaivism is also be categorized by some as propounding theistic monism or panentheism.
Shaktism, in some of its dogmas, is regarded as an Indian prototype of Panentheism. Shakti is considered to be the cosmos itself – she is the embodiment of energy and dynamism, and the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe. Shiva is her transcendent masculine aspect, providing the divine ground of all being. "There is no Shiva without Shakti, or Shakti without Shiva. The two [...] in themselves are One." Thus, it is She who becomes the time and space, the cosmos, it is She who becomes the five elements, and thus all animate life and inanimate forms. She is the primordial energy that holds all creation and destruction, all cycles of birth and death, all laws of cause and effect within Herself, and yet is greater than the sum total of all these.
The Sikh gurus have described God in numerous ways in their hymns included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism, but the oneness of the deity is consistently emphasized throughout. God is described in the Mool Mantar, the first passage in the Guru Granth Sahib, and the basic formula of the faith is:
(GG. Pg 1) — ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik onkar satinam karta purakhu nirbhau nirvair akal murat ajuni saibhan gurprasad
One Universal Creator God, The Name Is Truth, Creative Being Personified, No Fear, No Hatred, Image Of The Timeless One, Beyond Birth, Self Existent, By Guru's Grace.
Guru Arjan, Nanak V, says, "God is beyond colour and form, yet His/Her presence is clearly visible" (GG, 74), and "Nanak's Lord transcends the world as well as the scriptures of the east and the west, and yet He/She is clearly manifest" (GG, 397).
Knowledge of the ultimate Reality is not a matter for reason; it comes by revelation of the ultimate reality through nadar (grace) and by anubhava (mystical experience). Says Guru Nanak; "budhi pathi na paiai bahu chaturaiai bhai milai mani bhane." This translates to "He/She is not accessible through intellect, or through mere scholarship or cleverness at argument; He/She is met, when He/She pleases, through devotion" (GG, 436).
Guru Nanak prefixed the numeral one (ik) to it, making it Ik Oankar or Ekankar to stress God's oneness. God is named and known only through his Own immanent nature. The only name which can be said to truly fit God's transcendent state is Sat (Sanskrit Satnam, Truth), the changeless and timeless Reality. God is transcendent and all-pervasive at the same time. Transcendence and immanence are two aspects of the same single Supreme Reality. The Reality is immanent in the entire creation, but the creation as a whole fails to contain God fully. As says Guru Tegh Bahadur, Nanak IX, "He has himself spread out His/Her Own “maya” (worldly illusion) which He oversees; many different forms He assumes in many colours, yet He stays independent of all" (GG, 537).
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Several Sufi saints and thinkers, primarily Ibn Arabi, held beliefs that were somewhat panentheistic. These notions later took shape in the theory of wahdat ul-wujud (the Unity of All Things). Some Sufi Orders, notably the Bektashis and the Universal Sufi movement, continue to espouse panentheistic beliefs. Nizari Ismaili follow panentheism according to Ismaili doctrine.
While mainstream Rabbinic Judaism is classically monotheistic, and follows in the footsteps of the Aristotelian theologian Maimonides, the panentheistic conception of God can be found among certain mystical Jewish traditions. A leading scholar of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel ascribes this doctrine to the kabbalistic system of Rabbi Moses Cordovero (1522–1570) and in the eighteenth century to the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Hasidic movement, as well as his contemporary, Rabbi Menahem Mendel, the Maggid of Bar. There is some debate as to whether Lurianic Kabbalah, with its doctrine of Tzimtzum, can be regarded as panentheistic. According to Hasidism, The infinite Ein Sof is incorporeal, and exists in a state that is both transcendent and immanent. Aspects of panentheism are also evident in the theology of Reconstructionist Judaism as presented in the writings of Mordecai Kaplan.
Some branches of Gnosticism teach a panentheistic view of reality, and hold to the belief that God exists in the visible world only as sparks of spiritual "light". The goal of human existence is to know the sparks within oneself in order to return to God, who is in the Fullness (or Pleroma).
Gnosticism is panentheistic, believing that the true God is simultaneously both separate from the physical universe and present within it. As Jesus states in the Gospel of Thomas, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all... Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." This seemingly contradictory interpretation of Gnostic theology is not without controversy, since one interpretation of dualistic theology holds that a perfect God of pure spirit would not manifest himself through the fallen world of matter. As Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, stated, "The true God has nothing to do with the material world or cosmos", and, "It is the Prince of Darkness who spoke with Moses, the Jews and their priests. Thus the Christians, the Jews, and the Pagans are involved in the same error when they worship this God. For he leads them astray in the lusts he taught them.
Valentinian Gnosticism teaches that matter came about through emanations of the supreme being, and to some this event is held to be more accidental than intentional. To other Gnostics, these emanations are akin to the Sephirot of the Kabbalists; they are deliberate manifestations of a transcendent God through a complex system of intermediaries.
The Reverend Zen Master Soyen Shaku was the first Zen Buddhist Abbot to tour the United States in 1905-6. He wrote a series of essays collected into the book Zen For Americans. In the essay titled "The God Conception of Buddhism" he attempts to explain how a Buddhist looks at the ultimate without an anthropomorphic God figure while still being able to relate to the term God in a Buddhist sense:
At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience. Again, Buddhism is not pantheistic in the sense that it identifies the universe with God. On the other hand, the Buddhist God is absolute and transcendent; this world, being merely its manifestation, is necessarily fragmental and imperfect. To define more exactly the Buddhist notion of the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow the term very happily coined by a modern German scholar, "panentheism," according to which God is πᾶν καὶ ἕν (all and one) and more than the totality of existence.
The essay then goes on to explain first utilizing the term "God" for the American audience to get an initial understanding of what he means by "panenthesism," and then discusses the terms that Buddhism uses in place of "God" such as Dharmakaya, Buddha, and Tathagata.
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