How does neopagans answer the BIG questions in life


#1

Reading through these threads have awakened my curiousity. I realize that in the scheme of things, Neopaganism is very, very young. Yet, I wonder how Neopagans tackle the big questions that many people have about life.

Such as Why is there evil? Why is there suffering? What is the purpose of life? etc

I realize that there is a thread on pagan beliefs about death but I didn’t want to derail that thread with my questions.

I’m not asking with any kind of preconcieved notion as to what the anwers will be, I am honestly curious as to how Pagans answer these types of questions. It seems to me that at some point, most of us have asked these types of questions.:slight_smile:


#2

I have definitely asked these types of questions. (I don’t really have too much in common with the people who don’t think about this…) Please note- not every pagan will give you the same answer. Also- I put in Christian viewpoints in order to help you relate to a foreign concepts… I am familiar with Protestant doctrines and teachings as I was raised in them.

Evil & Suffering? They are kind of the same to me… Just different forms of the same thing. Well, everything must be balanced. You cannot have good without it. Evil is the absence of good… what is not gives definition to what is. Would you know that sunshine is beautiful if you never had seen anything but a sunny sky?

Not to mention- I don’t know of anything evil that hasn’t through its course wound up causing some good on the sidelines. It’s the balance of the 2 that promote life and growth. The Christian faith does not seem to disagree with this. Why else would God have made the tree of good and evil be the same tree.

The basic conflict of the universe as set up in Genesis would then be Life against Death… not Good against Evil.

The purpose of Life… is LIFE! It is an end unto itself. Angels were made to serve. We were made to live and promote life.

One time I was driving and I was very sad. I cried out to God “Why did you make me?” I was on a major highway in Central NJ - where it is mostly a cement slab. A whole cloud of dandelion puffs came and covered the entire roadway. The thought came to my mind- how many here are seeing this as beautiful and not just an annoyance. I turned and saw most of the drivers near me looking a bit angry and turning on their windshield wipers. The thought continued. He made this beauty for me to see, and made me too see and appreciate this beauty.

Not very specific or oringinal in the grand scheme of things, I know. But in that moment I felt closer to God than I ever had. And it was so simple and sweet. And a peace that does not come often to me finally came. I have had bad moments since, but even the memory of that one comforts me, and helps me to trust that God has it in control whether I can see the reason or not. It is my job to just keep going to see His plan.


#3

**Reading through these threads have awakened my curiousity. I realize that in the scheme of things, Neopaganism is very, very young. Yet, I wonder how Neopagans tackle the big questions that many people have about life.

Such as Why is there evil? Why is there suffering? What is the purpose of life? etc**

Well personally, it is only through suffering that our foundations, walls and restraints are shattered and then we can be reborn in a state that is closer to …the divine, for lack of a better word.

The purpose of life, again in my opinion, is to use this wonderful arena that has been created for us to play in. Many people spend their entire lives just playing, others merely exist. Some are hurt and never play again. But some venture outside their own self induces fences and make the leap into adulthood. Then onwards from there. In no way am I implying that to live a safe, joyous life is wrong or juvenille. Its perhaps a poor analogy in that way. Its more about pushing boundaries like kids to learn.

For example, if we had no wars going on then how would we know peace? When I am hurt by these things then I can ask hard questions that would not be possible in a utopia. If I look away then I miss an opportunity to learn.

Religion, which I define as spirituality with structure, helps people attain whatever it is they are capable of attaining by using tried and true paths already laid out by years of successfully freed people.

Evil, which I guess is defined as bad things that people do to purposely hurt another, great cruelty, self centeredness, etc - is here because we are here. Perhaps some like to think of evil urges as demons but I don’t. People are people and act like people. Some choose to act very poorly for many reasons, some biological, sometime because they have no knowledge of how to act any other way. I choose to act in a way that isn’t classified as evil. I also think that most people default to not being evil as our biology is geared towards behaviours that socially bind us together.

So for me: evil is because it is, suffering is because it is and both of these are tools to use in one’s spiritual path to whatever they deem their end goal to be.

This is of course a quick reply to an incredibly deep question and barely scratches the surface of what I believe. Please take that into account when you respond. Normally the internet is a horrible way to communicate anything, let alone something like this. :slight_smile:


#4

thats the second time you took what i was going to say :slight_smile:


#5

Neopaganism is not a religion, it’s a term that some people use to describe a lot of very different religions that they don’t have individual knowledge of, so yeah…you are going to get a lot of different answers to your questions.

I’m a pantheist. It is not a dualistic faith. Evil and suffering exist for the same reason as pleasure and good exist, they are the result of the same desires and natural laws. It’s all one.

Pantheists don’t believe that the universe exists for the pleasure of humans. Humans are not the point of the universe. The universe is the Divine, the whole of it is it’s own point. It is out of our realm of understanding to know the “why” of it. “Why” is a human idea, a human perspective, the Divine is greater than that.

The purpose of life? From what perspective? From a human perspective…to love, experience, have some kids. From a biological perspective, to pass on genes to the next generation, from a Divine perspective (I’m just guessing here) life is another way for the Divine to experience itself, it also does so through non living things. Everything is recycled. The same stuff that is now alive, will later be non living, and vice versa.

I don’t believe in eternal life in the sense that “I” will continue to exist as me. But my stuff will go on, in other forms. Pretty exciting!

cheddar


#6

And told us not to eat from it. We were created to know good as good, not to know good by means of evil. You are right that that’s how we know it now, but it didn’t have to be that way.

Furthermore, consider this: one minute you say that good and evil are “balanced,” and the next you say that evil is the absence of good (close to the classical Christian view, which holds that evil is the absence not just of any good but of a good that ought to be there). But an absence of something can’t balance the presence of that thing–it makes no sense. The concept of absence giving shape to presence is more coherent but quite different. “Balance” implies that evil is a positive thing that can be weighed against good.

Back to the “shape” theory–I think that if you identify all absence of good with evil then you are in trouble. Is nonexistence evil? I don’t think so, although passing from existence into nonexistence is an evil for a sentient being. I think the “privation” understanding of evil makes more sense–certain goods are proper to each kind of creature, and the absence of those goods (but not of other goods) is evil.

And finally, I don’t think “bad” weather is evil. . . .

Edwin


#7

Thank you all for responding! It is always interesting to discover how other beliefs answer these sorts of questions.:slight_smile:


#8

Whether or not it SHOULD have been this way is an irrelivant argument. Evil exists because there is good, you cannot have one without the other. We are dicussing abstracts.

The tree contained both good and not good, both aspects existed whether or not we were supposed to know what they were.

It does keep the balance, even in science a positive and a negative push together and repel each other creating a balance.
All matter is made up of positive and negatives, it’s what gives form and balance.

Again, we are talking about absolutes, there are varying degrees of good and evil.
However we are speaking of good an evil as it relates to us and our understanding of it.

Bad weather is not good, it’s bad, the absence of good. But even within that definition it can be broken down even further.


#9

Rayne has pretty much the same idea on this one. The only thing I would add is that you seem to have a specific definition of evil. Could you clarify your definition?


#10

I would say here that bad weather is not the absence of good, but rather the currently less desirable of the available options to the specific individual or group.

The same rain or snow may be bad weather to one group, much needed and desired by another group. Even weather classified as natural disasters are part of the natural order and serve a pupose. It simply may not be a purpose desired by humans.

Why is there evil? Why is there suffering? What is the purpose of life?

Why is there evil?
Primarily because we are human and capable of acting in ways that are not conducive to the survival or optimal functioning of our communities. Evil appears to be a specifically human experience (ever seen Eddie Izzard’s routine on what an evil giraffe might be like? Very funny).

I am not 100% convinced that there are evil entities that exist in the spiritual realm, though I am convinced that there are forces we should not mess with. There are many things that, while not inherently inimical to humanity, are also not inherently well-disposed. This is one reason I stay as far away as possible from things related to ceremonial magic—bindings, spells designed to control or change others, etc. To believe that we can compel or control such forces is a form of hubris to me, and strictly forbidden in my understanding of my religion.

It is important also to know that Hellenic religion has no concept of imitatio dei. We are not to consider that the acts of the Gods are standards for our own behavior, as that is also a form of hubris. Hubris is believing or acting as if we are the equal (or even worse) superior of the Gods. Inscribed at Delphi is “know thyself” along with “nothing in excess.” “Know thyself” is to know that you are human, not divine, to know your place in the universe. The Gods are the Gods, humans are humans.

Personally, I am not even comfortable with the Wiccan practice of invoking, summoning or dismissing forces during a circle, as it smacks of hubris to me. Inviting is one thing, believing we have the power within ourselves to compel or control is quite another and very dangerous in my book.

Why is there suffering?
Because we live and there are things that are part of the natural order that we find painful and undesirable. It is simply part of the human condition that disease, accidents, disappointments, tragedies and death will occur. It is usually unlikely to be the result of the specific will of the Gods (though I suppose specific instances may exist where such could be possible). Overall, the Gods do not appear to be interested in micromanaging our lives.

As I have heard—“when you hear hoofbeats outside the window, expect to see horses, not zebra.”

What is the purpose of life?
To live the best life we can. For me, best includes behaving in a responsible manner that helps to maximize the survival and peace of the community long term, charity and compassion for others and doing my best to live in harmony with all the other aspects of the natural world, not just humanity.


#11

Which is why I said it could be broken down even further. :smiley:


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