Recovering the sense of the sacred earth

Editorial by Kay Weir from Pacific Ecologist 2 - Winter 2002

Like some self-fulfilling prophecy, the Garden of Eden creation story haunts this century. But it is not "God" who is casting us out. We are casting ourselves out of our garden of Eden - this earth. The current "globalisation" project - ironically seen as "progress" by political leaders - along with a mechanistic, technological world-view, speed the destruction of the earth. Climate change, ozone depletion, forest destruction, human poverty, pollution of earth and water systems, are just some of the signs of humanity living out of context with the earth. How can we change, since governments worldwide subscribe to the ideologies causing the problems?

It's fortunate that unease about the ecological crisis is spreading among religious leaders and philosophers. For a broad religious or philosophical debate about the crisis and the ideologies causing it is a powerful force for changing directions. As the Buddha said, it is the "Thinking disorder," that is at the root of human troubles - see article p. 31.Egocentrically putting ourselves at the centre of the universe, instead of seeing we are part of creation, ensures humanity's relationship with the natural world is aberrant and annihalatory. In this second issue of Pacific Ecologist, we present articles from some of the many writers in this field. All see the urgency for a reassessment of religious and philosophical thought and the need for an awakening to Life on Earth, rather than in some other, theoretical paradise. Lloyd Geering, eminent Christian theologian, acknowledging the part Christianity has played in the plundering of the earth, says Christianity faces a theological revolution see p. 41. He exhorts people to transfer their attention from an other-worldly paradise and to work for the restoration of the earth.

An awakening of people worldwide in a spiritual/religious manner to Life on Earth - not the consumer paradise! - could quickly revolutionise our lives on the path to sustainability. This path or Way, is with us even now as Edward Goldsmith explains in his article from page 3 and in his epic book, The Way - An Ecological World-View, see page 7. The cosmic religions of many different ancient peoples sprang from a sense of reverence for nature and the perception of an order within creation. The Way, was a guiding path to maintain their lives within the order of creation. Tragically, modern mainstream religions lost this wisdom.

Other Creation stories and philosophies of people around the world today still treat the world as sacred. Traditional Aboriginal peoples of Australia see nature as sacred - all being part of the family of life. Rocks can be greeted as "uncle," and people are descendants of all the creatures of the earth. To help keep the spirit of Earth alive, traditional Aboriginal peoples sing and dance, celebrating creation - see article pg 14, Ngura Walytja - the Earth of our Belonging. What a profound way of life! Traditional Maori people of Aotearoa have a similar connection with the earth in their philosophies, seeing the "shared origins and blood kinship with all elements of the cosmos" as Jim Williams explains from p.19 in his article, Traditional Resource Management in Te Wai Pounamu. Williams says that if we are to survive, conservation needs to involve people emotionally, and a binding moral code needs to be developed into a universal ethic.

That we are coming so close this century to the ultimate lunacy of destroying the earth that made us, shows how alienated people have become from nature. That so little is being done about it, emphasises our alienation. How can we change this invidious situation and avert disaster? Jiddu Krishnamurti, 20th century teacher, points out that the remedy lies in each of us; that the crisis is in our consciousness. He encourages people to engage in a deep exploration, to be aware of our habits, our thoughts, to look at what drives us. At the same time, "be aware of the beauty of every day, every fresh morning, the wonder of this marvellous world and how we are destroying it in our relationships with each other and in our relationships with nature." In awakening our intelligence about ourselves, infused with the sense of the beauty of the earth we will create a new society where we can all live happily and sustainably. As Peter Healy suggests in his article - in rediscovering ourselves as organic beings, we will adopt lives of voluntary simplicity and find ways to live within the order of creation. Suprabha Seshan in her article from page 69 has further insights into how we might bridge the gap in the separation of our minds and senses from the biological world.

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