Different perspectives on Deity

Posted on August 2, 2008
Filed Under Buddhism, deity, Magic, mystical journeys | Leave a Comment

While I’ve written extensively about my relationship with deity and the concept of service from a Buddhist perspective on this blog, it’s not the only perspective I have about deity or how deities interact in our lives. Over the last sixteen years I’ve come up with a variety of different perspectives all of which are equally valid and true for my approach to deity.

Perspective 1: The Buddhist/Taylor perspective – Gods are powerful, but also slaves to their power. They may have people who worship them, but ultimately the lessons the provide those people are focused on getting those people to grow past needing gods, so that the gods can stop being diety and ascend to Nirvana. As long as one person worships the gods, the gods are still enslaved to their power because that power is derived from the belief of that person. To westerners, this is a fairly blasphemous approach. It argues that any god, no matter how powerful, is ultimately a servant to the human’s journey to reach nirvana. I personally find it appealing because it is such a different approach to the evangelical fundamentalist orthodoxy found in extreme versions of Christianity, and to a degree even in some pagan beliefs. I also think it’s a useful exercise to implement this perspective sometimes in terms of viewing the gods in a way that is decidely foreign from how many of us in the West may be encultured to perceive them. Instead of viewing a deity as an omnipotent being who we have to obey or else suffer hideous consequences (whether it’s hell for the Christian version, or some kind of curse according to different pagan versions), it can be useful to consider that a deity is actually there to teach us by the example it provides of being a slave to its own power, and to the attachment that the power can represent.

Perspective Two: Chaos Magic/Taylor Perspective – Deities, spirits, demons, etc., are psychological archetypes and imprints. They symbolically represent deep structures within us. We use the symbols to access those deep structures. I tend to favor this perspective the least. I find it useful in terms of reaching some of those deep concepts as well for entity creations, but I also think it’s a perspective which all too easily leads to a solipsistic perspective of the universe.

Perspective Three: Derived from Fantasy books by Feist and Eddings/Taylor Perspective: Gods, demons, etc are beings we have relationships with. As we evolve and grow in those relationships, so too do the gods, spirits, etc grow. We are interconnected and need each other to help each other evolve. I’ve seen this perspective argued in fantasy books more so than anywhere else, but I actually tend to think there’s some truth to the arguments. The gods fulfill certain roles, but also grow as times change, and humans grow by having a relationship with deities, where the deities challenge the humans. Both humans deities give something to each other by the relationship that is had.

Those are the three main perspectives I have when it comes to deities…one and three are more prevalent than two…I don’t really see a need to pick one perspective, because I think all three can be relevent at a given moment.

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