The term panentheism goes back to 1828. In the 2nd half of the 20th century it gained more popularity through the process thought of Alfred North Whitehead and his follower Charles Hartshorne. However, some others, including Chrisrtian "Creation Spirituality" theologian Matthew Fox, have also adopted the term. The unitarian Christian New Thought advocate C. Alan Anderson is another who uses the term.
Theistically, Panentheism differs from Pantheism in that according to Pantheism God is all things, whereas according to Panentheism God is in all things. One description of panentheism is that God has the same relationship to the world as the soul has to the body. Panentheism is not recieved very happily in modern Christian thought. However it serves as a venerable current in Hinduism, in that the Qualified Monistic Vedanta of the great Hindu theologian Ramanuja is Panentheism through and through
Monistically, Panentheism differs from Acosmism in that Acosmism e.g. the Advaita Vedanta of Shankara , denies the ultiamte reality of the phenomenal World and affirms that the Absolute Reality is transcendent only, whereas Panentheism, such as the monistic Tantra of Kashmir Shaivism affirms the Reality of both the Unmanifest Absolute and the Phenomenal World in all its diversity. To me this is a far superior philosophy
It is a significant fact I feel that there is plenty of information on Theistic Panentheism on the Web, but nothing on Monistic/Emanationist Panentheism. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to present a new definition of Panentheism:
Panentheism is the view of Reality according to which the Godhead or Absolute not only includes and is the Cosmos (as in Pantheism) but also transcends it (as in Acosmism). The Godhead does not reside dualistically or even holistically in the universe as a soul in the body (as Ramanuja and other Theistic pantheists assert), but rather monistically as the universe itself. Therefore (contra Shankara) the Cosmos is absolutely real and and of the essnce of the Supreme, as it is the real (not illusory) transformation of the Godhead. But the Godhead in its transcendent absolute nature is infinite, eternal, unchanging, etc, and hence it is also beyond the Cosmos. That is the paradox of reality, that the one and same Reality can be both and equally unchanging, infinite, eternal, etc and also changing, finite etc. This paradox is reconciled through the fact of emanation - the one transforms itself into the Many, while not diminishing its status as the One. The best, clearest and most lucid example of this sort of Panentheistic philosophy is the Indian monistic philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism
Panentheism is not however confined to the East and to modern philosophers. In mystic Judaism The idea was first examined by Moses Cordovero (1522-76), in his Pardes ('Orchard'), a description of the Jewish Kabbala. He stated that the Infinite is present in every part of the finite, which, in turn, is itself but a phase or 'mode' of the Infinite, and that "Nothing exists outside God". "God is all reality, but not all reality is God." Spinoza is said to have been indebted to Cordovero for leading him to the Pantheistic view that God is Reality.
One could possibly go back even further with Solomon ibn Gabirol, born 1021. He wrote Mekor Hayyim ('Fountain of Life')" stating that Matter is not corporeal but spiritual, and any corporeality that attaches itself to matter is not the property of matter itself as such, but the result of its distance from the source. Indissolubly united with matter, and standing to it in relation of attribute to essence, is Form. The source, infinite and unchangeable is Supreme Being, one and unknoweable. By an act of His Will, there is produced a World Soul composed of universal matter and universal form. Inspired Jewish Kabbalists 13th century. (ref: Judaism by Isidore Ebstein).
|Links - Panentheism|
SYMBIOTIC PANENTHEISM: A UNIVERSAL PHILOSOPHY - Philosophical Work in Progress: 1955 - 2005
"The purpose of this fifty-year project is to fuse Ontological, Cosmological, and Metaphysical Systems into one system in order that we, humankind, may 'put our house in order.'"
Pantheism and Panentheism - by Harold Wood - good short intro - defence of pantheism and panentheism
Working Toward a Panentheistic New Thought - by C. Alan Anderson - a rather technical philosophical essay - panthentheism and the Process Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. Comes from the persepctive of Philosophy rather than Mysticism
New Thought by C. Alan Anderson - New Thought and Panentheism
Bernt Rostrom's links to Panentheism - annoitated list - mostly Quaker and Naturalistic
Biopanentheism - Keir Allesander
Panentheism & Trying to make sense of things - By David Fisher - a conservative Christian approach opposed to the Panenthesitic "Mending the World" (c.f. tikkun) Christian spirituality of theologians like Sallie McFague, and Matthew Fox