Pantheism is the belief that God consists of everyone and everything. For example, a tree is God, a mountain is God, the universe is God, all people are God.
Pantheism is found in many "nature" religions and New Age religions. The belief is held by most Hindus and many Buddhists. It is also the worldview of Unity, Christian Science, and Scientology.
The term comes from two Greek words meaning "all (pan) is God (theos)." In pantheism, there is no difference between deity and reality. People who believe in pantheism think God is the world around them and that God and the universe are identical.
According to pantheism, God permeates all things, contains all things, connects to all things, and is found in all things. Nothing exists isolated from God, and everything is in some way identified with God. The world is God, and God is the world. All is God, and God is all.
Different Types of Pantheism
Both in the East and West, Pantheism has a long history. Different types of pantheism have developed, each identifying and uniting God with the world in a unique way.
Absolute pantheism teaches that only one being exists in the world. That being is God. Everything else that appears to exist, in reality, does not. Everything else is an elaborate illusion. Creation does not exist. Only God exists. Absolute pantheism was set forth by the Greek philosopher Parmenides (fifth century B.C.) and the Vedanta school of Hinduism.
Another view, emanational pantheism, teaches that all life springs from God similar to how a flower grows and blooms from a seed. This concept was developed by the third-century philosopher, Plotinus, who founded Neoplatonism.
German philosopher and historian Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) presented developmental pantheism. His view sees human history as a magnificent progression, with God self-unfolding in the temporal world by Absolute Spirit.
Modal pantheism developed from the ideas of seventeenth-century rationalist Spinoza. He contended that only one absolute substance exists in which all finite things are mere modes or moments.
Multilevel pantheism is seen in certain forms of Hinduism, especially as communicated by philosopher Radhakrishnan (1888-1975). His view saw God manifested in levels with the highest being Absolute One, and lower levels revealing God in ever increasing multiplicity.
Permeational pantheism is encountered in Zen Buddhism. God penetrates all things, similar to "the Force" in the Star Wars movies.