Monday, August 2, 2010

On Anthropocentrism

Back when I was first exploring my spiritual path I engaged in experimental prayer. There will be more about this in a later post, but let me assure you that it blew my mind. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that everything had spirits if not bona fide deities. I cast aside any hope I once had of integrating my new views with the liberal Christianity I once believed in. What I had experienced was unlike anything I'd heard about, and the repercussions of it were mind boggling. For now, I'll say I had experiential confirmation that the spiritual universe is not centered on humans.

I realized I had run in to the same problem again when I found the reason for existence. The problem is that the reason for existence must pertain to the whole of existence and not just humanity. I found a reason for existence, and it distinctly works for everything -- not just humanity. (More on that in a later post.)

These experiences skewed some things dramatically as I started exploring my own polytheism. I realized and accepted that humanity isn't separate from nature or the earth. We are part of it. We're a small cell within the organism of the planet. It's one thing to talk about that sort of thing in the abstract, but fully realizing it -- feeling it in your bones instead of your words -- and seeing this profoundly effect your spirituality is another:
We are cells of another organism and we have souls.
Looking at this in macrocosms: We are like cells of the planet. The planet as a whole has a soul, and may have deities of her own. The planets, the stars, all have souls and all may have deities. As we expand out the scale changes and we have new things which again may have souls and deities.

I have had experiences which led me to the conclusion that in among the infinite forms available to deities there are places. That is, you can both interact with deities externally -- seeing them with a body, limbs, a head, maybe even specific clothes -- or you can interact with deities within their internal landscape. In these cases you're surrounded by the deity and the interactions are vastly different in nature.

If deities are capable of having a physical form existing as a place would be vastly more permanent than existing with a human body. It is quite possible that we live each of our days within a massive multilayered Divinity. If this is the case we may find that our deities are literally around us all the time, every day of our lives.

Looking at this in microcosms: I believe that our organs each have their own souls and deities. Our cells themselves have souls and deities, too. This may well have implications for the human soul. Does the human soul exist separate from the souls of the cells of which we are composed of or is the human soul a composite of those souls? If we exist as a composite then our soul will change over time as the individual cells live their lives and die. The removal of even the slightest part of our bodies would also have consequences to our souls. To receive another person's heart could be to literally receive a part of another person's soul.

On its own, though, this seems to complicate things. Where do you draw the line between organs and cells, and why should you draw this line? Let's look at the issue more closely.

What are we really saying has souls? It seems this is at least this would be everything that moves or has the capacity to move others. Everything from the smallest cells -- perhaps even the subatomic particles -- to the universe itself, plus mountains and organs and everything in between.

What are we missing? Well, what about the circulatory system as a whole? Sure it is composed of various organs and cells but as a system it is greater than sum of the parts. We don't notice systems and interactions as much when we look at the macrocosm because there's so much space between things, but within a human it is hard to avoid.

To distract from things briefly, I have an idea about composite life-forms... In effect, when a human being drives a car, they cease being simply human and become the detachable brain and reproductive organs of the vehicle. The interaction of the two produces a new, a third entity. That third has a soul and deities.

When we think about these two things together it seems logical that all interactions create new souls and raise the possibility of new deities. When two people have a relationship there is literally a "soul of the relationship." All of the systems of our bodies have their own souls and can have their own deities.

How long do these interaction-based souls last? (The systems-based souls clearly last as long as the system.) How long are you impacted by a particular interaction? If it is street vendor you only ever buy from once in your life it is likely a soul that is short-lived. If you got food-poisoning and died from the vendor's food and the vendor went to prison that interaction has a significantly greater impact to everyone and as such may well exist as long as the consequences of that action persists.

This, of course, means there may be deities devoted specifically to the purchase of food from street vendors. When you think about it this makes as much sense as having a deity devoted to strictly to romantic relationships between people.

But let's not be so specific to humanity. The dung beetle has a soul. The dung has a soul. the interaction of the dung beetle and a particular pile of dung has a soul.

This is what I mean when I say I am a polytheist. This is what I mean when I say I am not anthropocentric.

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