Every religion has a different name for the God that is their object of reverence. One can see this by examining the many existing religions of the world. In Korea, for example, this object of reverence is called ?aneunim? ?ananim? ?aneolnim? and so on. The many existing religions that call God by such names as ?aneunim? ?ananim? and ?aneolnim? are all ultimately based on the notion of a place opposite from where humankind lives here on earth, which in this case is haneul(sky, or heaven). Thus these names are derived from the belief that God resides in a distant heaven far removed from this world.
In a way somewhat different from other religions, Chondogyo refers to God as "Hanulnim? However, the name "Hanulnim?was not derived from the word "haneul? nor does it convey any meaning suggestive of a place opposite or removed from earth. This Hanulnim includes both heaven and earth and contains the concept of the cosmological. Not long after his defining religious experience the Great Master spontaneously sang 'Isn't this the infinite me inside this infinite enclosure??"Song of Heungbi?in Songs of Yongdam). This ?nfinite enclosure?ul, 울) refers to the infinite Cosmos, and from "this infinite enclosure?mugunghan I ul, 무궁한 이 울) is derived the Chondogyo name for God.
Thus this God Hanulnim does not reside in a distant heaven far removed from human beings standing with their feet firmly planted on this earth. Rather, Hanulnim fills both heaven and earth. In other words, this God occupies every part of the universe. Hanulnim fills the Cosmos while also beings oncretely enshrined within my body.?This is the Chondogyo concept of God.
In accordance with this we have the expression 'I serve Hanulnim, or God, within me?known as "Sicheonju (侍天主)?All people serve Hanulnim, and by so doing they are one and the same existence as the infinite Hanulnim. From this concept are derived both the Chondogyo principle "treat a human being as you would treat God?sainyeocheon, 事人如天) and the cardinal tenet "Human beings are God(Innaecheon, 人乃天). Indeed, Chondogyo, with its important fundamental religious teaching "Human beings are God?Innaecheon, 人乃天) presented to the world a new concept of God.
This Chondogyo view of God goes well beyond the two contrasting religious traditions of monotheism and pantheism; the former being the belief in a transcendent one-and-only God existing in a transcendent place, and the latter being the notion that gods or spirits are intrinsic to the myriad things of the world. These conceptions of God are, to use the latest terminology in religious academic circles, panentheism.
The Chondogyo God Hanulnim, as the foundation of all things, is an ingenious mix of individualist non-conformism, being both transcendent and innate. That is to say, Hanulnim, as the one absolute entity, is the leader of creation who brings all things into being. But Hanulnim is also a God who continuously operates through human beings to create anew and to help them evolve so that they might achieve the purpose for which they were created. Thus Hanulnim is the transcendent entity that created the myriad things of the Cosmos while at the same time, being innate to all things of the universe, Hanulnim is the limitless material form of the Cosmos, forever changing and creating it. This work of creation and evolution is the utterly impartial, omniscient, and omnipotent power that has created and directs all living things in Nature, and the endless creation and evolution of all things in the Cosmos. Furthermore, this creation and evolution is not artificially created but is, through ?hange without action?(muwiihwa, 無爲而化), spontaneously created through the providence of Hanulnim. That is to say, it is a wholly autonomous creation and evolution and not a heteronomous one.
This Hanulnim, the object of veneration in Chondogyo, is inconceivable and indescribable, for it quite transcends the limitations of human understanding. For this reason, the Great Master, in his explanatory notes to the "Incantation of Twenty-One Letters?found in 'A Discussion on Learning?in Donghak Scripture, withheld descriptive commentary on "Hanulnim,?limiting his definition to one word, namely ?eaven.?br> However, anyone can receive the enlightenment of Hanulnim and take the reins of Hanulnim? sublime will if he or she moves beyond the limits of human understanding and enters the profound condition of faith and belief. This is because the myriad things of the Cosmos all retain vestiges of the limitless creation and evolution of Hanulnim, and a human being lives by following the will of Hanulnim and serving Hanulnim from within.
This kind of relationship between Hanulnim and human beings that is Chondogyo? way of perceiving God is neither a simplistic transcendent view nor a pantheistic view. It is one which includes both the transcendent and the intrinsic, and the individualistic and naturalistic. It is the new conception of God that is ?nnaecheon?(Human beings are God), which is based on the principle of "Sicheonju?by which ?uman beings, because they serve Hanulnim, are Hanulnim.?