What transcends you?

2012 Thing on Thursday #1

Humans seem to have a need to be part of something greater than themselves.  As a naturalist, what transcends you?

I don’t mean transcendence in the sense of something supernatural, nor something merely greater in degree than you.  I mean something which goes beyond what you are, in which you may participate but which reaches toward the next level.

It’s my hope that through discussing this, we can inch toward discovering symbols that resonate with us as naturalists, and help us connect to something greater.

The transcendent-ness of some of these may not be self-evident, yet they are listed without comment to enable you to make of them what you will.  Feel free to specify in more detail how you feel they transcend you (or not) in the comments.

Please choose up to three.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Thing on Thursday

Althing in Session, by W.G. CollingwoodThis post is part of a series of councils on matters vital to the future.  The name represents both the generic term for, you know, a thingie, as well as the Old Norse term for a council of elders: a Thing.

Each week from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice, Thing on Thursday explores a new controversy.  Participation is open to all – the more minds that come together, the better.  Those who have been vocal in the comments are as welcome as those quiet-but-devoted readers who have yet to venture a word.  We value all constructive opinions.

There are only a few rules:

  • be constructive – this is a council, so treat it as such
  • be respectful – no rants or flames

Comments will be taken into consideration as we determine the new direction of Humanistic Paganism.

So please make your voice heard in the comments!

Previous Thing on Thursdays


  1. What kind of community shall we be?
  2. What are your top three most valued elements of Humanistic Paganism?
  3. What does naturalism mean to you?
  4. How does mythology function in your life?
  5. What does responsible action mean to you?
  6. What is spiritual experience like for you?
  7. What are our goals?
  8. Who are our allies?
  9. What should our next projects be?
  10. What does meditation mean to you?
  11. What does ritual mean to you?
  12. What’s been most valuable on HP?







6 Comments on “What transcends you?

  1. My immediate response to this question was — Earth, Gaia, our planetary eco-system. So I chose “nature” from the list. Of course, that’s not exactly the same thing, but it feels close.

  2. This is another hard one. I picked nature, cosmos, and evolution. But really to me the items on the list are interrelated aspects of Nature. Transcendence is a difficult concept. In thinking about transcendence I keep going back to Paul Woodruff’s concept of reverence – that for something to be the object of reverence it must be something that is to some degree beyond human control and understanding. Like reverence transcendence implies a sense of awe, but unlike reverence also a sense of expansion, of moving beyond limits.

  3. Pingback: Three Transcendents, part 1: Naturalistic transcendence « Humanistic Paganism

  4. I can’t really relate to this question, preferring to associate with “the most astounding fact” in which nothing transcends us ‘to the next level’ as we’re are as much a part of everything as everything is a part of us. Its just a matter of degrees of relation. “We’re all connected, to each other biologically; to the earth chemically; to the rest of the universe atomically.” And I find satisfaction in that. Unless I’ve missed something. I like M. Jay’s Response to this.

    • Hi, Rua. With respect, I think you may have grasped the idea without grasping that you’ve grasped it.

      >nothing transcends us ‘to the next level’ as we’re are as much a part of everything as everything is a part of us. Its just a matter of degrees of relation.

      The way I see it, that *is* going to “the next level.”

      For example: imagine a sperm and an egg. The egg is greater than the sperm in degree (in terms of size at least), but that is not yet transcendence. Now think of what they compose together: a system with reproductive potential. That is greater than either in both degree and kind. Neither of them alone have reproductive ability. Only together, as a system in which each is just as much a part as the other, do they transcend themselves.

      That is the sense in which I like to think of transcendence. I elaborate more in my recent 4-part “Three Transcendents” series.

      • I find that I don’t like the idea of transcendence as it implies that one thing is better than the other, which I don’t think is the case. Nothing is greater or better, it just is.

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