A group Conversation : Scientific Pantheism And Shakti Sadhana [ August 2004 ]

Eric Otto

Hello ~

I came across a website called Scientific Pantheism. They quoted Carl Sagan and so does this group:

"We are a way for the Universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the Cosmos is also within us."

~ Carl Sagan

This group seems to be somewhat going back to New England Transcendentalism and Emerson.

I am nothing! I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is Shakti Sadhana a pantheistic "religion"? It seems like there are dieties here discussed. Growing up with my theistic background, I've not felt uncomfortable here. Emerson was very much influenced by Hindu writers and he influenced German philosophy which a lot of the Western Philosophy has rested.

Any comments appreciated.

Devi Bhakta

Hi Eric:

I think I may be creating some confusion here. You mention the Carl Sagan quote on the front page, and note "this group seems to be somewhat going back to New England Transcendentalism and Emerson."

It would probably be more accurate to say that some of the writings you've read by Emerson, Whitman etc., who were very much influenced by the first wave of English translations of ancient Hindu texts. A 2002 essay on Emerson by Richard Fewkes notes that:

"Emerson helped open the doors for others to find sources of spiritual inspiration beyond the Jewish-Christian Scriptures. One of his younger contemporaries referred to him as the "Hindoo Yankee - a cross between Brahma and Poor Richard."

So what you are seeing in this group is not Emerson, but rather the original philosophy that Emerson was struggling to understand on his own terms. As you noted in your post, "Emerson was very much influenced by Hindu writers."

As for the Sagan quote, it's no secret that at very high levels of speculation and observation, science begins to arrive at the same places as very high levels of spiritual speculation and observation. Swami Vivekananda wrote:

"As one reaches the center, the radii converge! Art, literature, painting, philosophy, science, and spirituality converge at the center and become one; and in fact, might even become interchangeable ..."

So I wouldn't say that the Shakta school of Hinduism is a sort of "Scientific Pantheism" -I would simply say that the teachings of Shaktism are close enough to the center to reflect many different "- isms" near the convergence point. Where I find parallel thoughts, I mention it; I am only showing parallel thought streams.

You also ask:

*** Is Shakti Sadhana a pantheistic "religion"? ***

Shaktism is a religion, yes. And if by "pantheistic," you mean that we understand all the seeming diversity of the material Cosmos as manifestations of One Divinity, Devi, then yes, we are that too.

*** It seems like there are dieties here discussed. ***

Yes indeed. As our front page notes, "Shakti Sadhana is an ancient and vibrantly living Hindu spiritual tradition that focuses worship upon Devi, the Goddess, the Divine Mother who creates and embodies all the Universe. Many devotees conceive of Her as the Shakti (Supreme Energy) of Shiva (Supreme Consciousness); both identical to and inseparable from Him. Others worship Her as Supreme Brahman Itself, holding that all other forms of Divinity, female or male, are but Her diverse manifestations."

*** Growing up with my theistic background, I've not felt uncomfortable here. ***

And you shouldn't.

Sankara Menon

what people forget is the Hindu philosophy encompases not just rarified theological discussions but also daily scoientific matters. In the old days hindu monks practiced vaccination - that was read about by Lord Lester (records can be had at India house library, London) and copied and explained in english and it became his "Discovery". Johan Kepler explained what was in Sanskrit translated to arabic and he became the father of "Keplar's" theorem. All these were part of Hindu and shakta litteraure millinia before the so called "fathers" *smile* So these gentlemen also put it in English. But they are not the creators but restaters in Western languages.

omprem

Hello Eric

The first sentence of the Sagan quote, "We are a way for the Universe to know itself.", smacks of human conceit and reminds me of the days when we thought that we were literally the center of the universe.

The ego engendered in this quote is the obstacle that prevents us from having a direct knowledge of the other two thoughts,
(1)Some part of our being knows this is where we come from.
(2) We long to return. And we can, because the Cosmos is also within us.

As we move beyond the limiting ego with its desires, aversions, and rationality toward a wider view of ourselves and our relation to each other and the universe at large and toward a reliance on intuition and the knowledge of the chakras, then we come to know ourselves to be the Brahman, the Oversoul, the substratum from which the universe arises and into which it dissolves.

[ Back to The Forum Main Index ]