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Questionnaire response 34

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 1 month ago

1. Name (optional):

2. Age: 36

3. Nationality: US

4. Gender: female

5. How would you explain your path to someone else with no knowledge of it?


The primary focus of my spiritual practice is connection with nature.

6. How is your path expressed in practice?

 Most of my religious experiences have occurred outdoors, often in the presence of natural beauty or awe-inspiring sights.

I like to celebrate the passage of the seasons, especially the solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarters. I try to be aware of the phase of the moon, the source of my drinking water, the weather, the local flora and fauna, the history of the place I'm living in or visiting, and other aspects of the natural world.

I have a scientific background, which helps me understand what I am experiencing in nature and put it in context. I find the "Universe Story" from the Big Bang through the evolution of human beings and human culture from animal origins to be fascinating, and it plays the role of a "creation myth" for me.

I am eclectic in my practices. I attend Unitarian Universalist church services, practice yoga, have experimented with various forms of meditation, and consider taking walks or other outdoor activites a form of religious practice. I also enjoy reading and discussing philosophy and finding out about others' religious beliefs and practices.

I try to reduce my environmental impact by practicing voluntary simplicity, recycling, driving an efficient car, and eating a mostly-vegetarian diet. Many of these practices are good for my health and budget as well as my spirit!

7. How do you know if your practice is successful?

 I feel in touch with what is going on within and around me. I feel humbled through the experience of a human life on Earth, within the vast cosmos, but grateful for the natural beauty around me (even in seemingly mundane circumstances). I feel connected to others, and am courageous enough not to hide parts of myself from them.

8. Why have you chosen the particular path you are following?

 Growing up I learned about many religious traditions, but didn't "believe in God". My interest in religion persisted but I didn't subscribe to any traditional belief system. Many aspects of religion seemed irrational or even harmful. I was interested in Eastern religions. Before I found out what pantheism was, I thought of myself as a Taoist. I stumbled on pantheism while surfing the Web! I didn't "choose" it, I just realized what I had been all along.

9. What is your experience of otherworld beings?  Could you give some examples.

  I have no experience of "otherworld beings". My religious experiences seem to me to be especially intense experiences of the natural world, or naturally occurring altered states of consciousness.

10. How do you see your relationship with them?


11. How does your path relate to other areas of your life?

  I work in a scientific field, which is an expression of my fascination with the natural world.

I try to be a good environmentalist and to live ethically in general.

12. How do you see the relationship of life and death?

  Life and death are two sides of the same coin- you can't have one without the other. Since human beings can't photosynthesize, we have to eat other living things to keep ourselves alive, and when we die our bodies are incorporated back into the biosphere one way or another. I don't believe in any sort of afterlife, but of course I can't say for sure that there isn't life after death, simce I'm still alive now! (But any God who would send people to Hell for eternity is cruel and sadistic.)

13. How do you see time?

  There are many aspects of time that seem parodoxical to me. Time is both linear and cyclical. We experience only the present, but memories of the past and plans for the future are included in this present experience. The way we human beings normally experience time is different from how it is described in physical theory (as a dimension that is bound up with the spatial dimensions in space-time.) Ultimately, it's one of the most mysterious aspects of the Great Mystery.

14. How do you handle ideas of good and evil?

  Good and evil are judgements made by human beings, usually of human behavior. I generally see good actions as those which benefit other people and other living things, and bad actions as those which cause harm, especially unnecessary or gratuitous harm. My ethics are mostly utilitarian/ sort of Buddhist- it's very important to avoid causing suffering and promote well-being. Behaving ethically requires self-discipline, which I am trying to develop, as well as empathy, which comes fairly easily to me.

I don't think of natural events like earthquakes or storms as evil, or of the more pleasant aspects of nature as good in a moral sense. They just are as they are, regardless of our judgement of them.

15. How do you view different spaces and objects in your practice or experience?

  Ultimately, the most sacred space is the entire biosphere, since it's our life-support system. Smaller sacred spaces can be defined by human beings in any place they find appropriate. I think of sacred space and time as something that can be delimited for a particular purpose (like a ritual), then taken back to re-declare in a different place and time if that is what is appropriate. Some places also "feel" sacred because of their outstanding natural beauty or because I have important memories associated with the place. But, I don't think of sacred space as inherently different from "profane" space, except how people interact with it and within it.

I don't think of any particular objects as more sacred than others. If I use an item for ritual, it's just that- an item I'm using in a ritual. Sometimes I buy, collect, or use objects because they're beautiful, or they acquire sentimental value because I associate them with people or experiences. I don't like it when people confuse objects with what they symbolize (like by thinking that banning the burning of American flags will promote freedom rather than the opposite). Unfortunately, I see this tendency in religions a lot, especially those that make exclusive claims to a particular place in the world as uniquely sacred, and then fight wars over it.

16. How do you feel about other religions?

  If it harms none... whatever floats your boat. Just don't shove it down my throat.

I also wish human beings would be humble enough to realize that it's really unlikely that any one of us has the One Right Answer. I expect to learn from people with a range of different beliefs.

17. How do you feel about science?

  Science has been very important in shaping my outlook. I'm skeptical of extraordinary claims of any kind, but also think that the cosmos we live in is the most extraordinary thing there is. Science also demonstrates how much human beings are linked to the rest of nature, and how much trouble we could find ourselves in if we forget that!

18. How do you feel modern Paganisms relate to ancient paganisms?

  They are related, but fairly indirectly. I've been inspired by ancient philosophy and mythology, but I'm a modern person and don't try to resurrect ancient traditions wholesale. I think such attempts are kind of misguided if people take them too literally - I don't think it's possible to re-create an ancient religion separate from the culture it was embedded within.


    Are you happy for a summary of this research to appear online? yes


    Are you happy for your actual questionnaire responses to appear online? yes


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