Indifference towards declining state of nature in Spiritual communities?
If we look at the state the world is in, particularly concerning the environment and loss of life's diversity, I'm surprised how much indifference there seems to be towards this issue within spiritual communities. To me, a care and concern for the natural world has always been an important part of my sense of spirituality. I have always loved animals, forests, and wild places. But if said creatures and places are in decline, not because of a slow natural process, but due to humanity's destructive tendencies it is clear that the solution is also with those same humans. Yet we do not discuss this much. The question is why, and I will try to explore this..
Topics about house cats and one's favourite animal receive more views and posts than the declining state of wildlife on most places on the internet, be it forums, reddit, the number of times news articles are shared, or just the things people share and post on social media. It is of course good to focus on positive things in life, something I would emphasize, but at the same time it does not seem wise to ignore the problems in the world, because we all have the means and the intelligence to help make a better world. To imagine we only exist to merge with some god is not getting us anywhere if that means forgetting the very context that provides us with the means to get somewhere. This includes the gift of receiving a human body, which of course depends on this world's health...!! On this forum I have pointed out this selfish aspect that humans exhibit, yet the key to selfishness is to make sure it is reciprocal..!! That way you are justified in being selfish..
I believe that to improve our world we should always acknowledge problems and issues first, talk about it, and think about ways we can help each other and better our world. To not talk about it because ''It's not nice news'' helps no one, and that includes yourself. Eventually the loss of life and the declining state of our environment will hurt you too and everyone you love..
The question I raise is.. am I correct in assuming there's an innate fear in spiritual communities to talk about these things..?
There's much talk on ''non-separation'' yet the talk continues to be about the self, and even if this perpetuates all, it does not seem to result in a greater care for all-that-is.. but instead just a greater indifference..?
I see some examples here and there that give me a sense of relief that some do care... like Pope Francis in one of his encyclicals, or some religious sects acting more sustainably.. but overall I do not notice a great change, and yet spiritual communities should be well equipped however to do something about it, play their part. I mean.. beliefs in the earth goddess, all life being sacred, advocating more sustainable diets and lifestyles. The opportunities are there to create an alignment of beliefs and practices. Why then is there so little activity concerning these topics and so much indifference..? Why is it that the most concerned people and people that want to do something about it are more likely to be atheists...??
I can agree with a lot that you have said,Mother earth has always been a big part of my life when I was young my dad would see me lying on the ground around the trees.and I would be talking to the tree. and the animals that lives around it.
I have always taken myself into the woods to calm myself.i would take my dogs and just sit there.
Altair - I agree with everything you said. I have recycled for years and years and it was just recently that I learned that most of recycled materials end up in landfills due to the cost of shipping and other logistics on towns and cities across countries. So I have decided to reduce my footprint by buying less food that comes in packaging.
Thanks to both of you..
It saddens me greatly that there is so much decline in life's diversity. I wished spirituality would be more about animals, plants, and the celestials and less about the human self and abstract thinking. To me it's practical, and not philosophy. I think if we lived more in harmony with our world there wouldn't be as much speculation and focus on 'suffering' and 'happiness'..
Absolutely! .........and what you are describing sounds a whole lot like the spiritual path of the Hunter.....
(And its not just about hunting)
A pure hunter-gatherer lifestyle would have low impact yes..
I understand if done sensibly it can help ecologically, but that works with a large wilderness. Most of nature now is about small pockets that require careful monitoring and protection, especially in Europe. Hunting in Europe has been about throphies for centuries, a hobby for the nobles or a means to rid agriculture of “pests”. Hunter-gatherer societies theoughout human history were also small and there certainly weren’t billions of people..
We now live and consume within the context of civilization. We switched to agriculture but at least we used to have less impact, wildflowers were allowed to grow, and fields were small. All of this was beneficial to insects. Small areas to cross and fly over. Cows grazing outside was as well, which is why I support organic dairy and I’ve talked about this specific issue for years now with vegans but they just black out. With gardens too there’s been a change. Flowers are seen as pests and gardens are, to most people, a field of grass for kids to play in, or it’s just stones and rocks. Then they complain the heat doesn’t leave on a summer day and use more and more water..
Anyway.. concerning the theme of my thread.. what we see here is definitely spirituality changing in accordance with civilization’s changes and lifestyle. It now all seems to be about me, myself, and I. Animals? Dogs, cats, cows, and horses. Check YouTube and a cat video gets millions of views whereas an excellent nature doc receives a few hundred thousand with some luck.
Humans and livestock together make up the overwhelming majority of biomass today, they weigh more than the millions of wild species combined. This is so ridiculous!
Spirituality has been reduced to one life form. Even the ‘guides’ are now almost exclusively seen as human, just as the deities, and a hierarchy was created (god > men > women > livestock and pets > the rest). Religions see humans as the crown of creation, but it is really the story of a self-made men who trampled on everything else..
Problems abound and solutions abound.
How to offer the solutions to the ones creating the vast amount of the problems, to stop creating the problems is the problem.
How to revert back to living/consuming in and from local communities is a big step forward. Which means ending globalism.
Now the ocean is going to be a big problem. The things we know about and the things that have been sunk for decades in the
oceans that we don't even know about that may start leaking from the disposal barrels and containers soon.
Another big problem is trying to get the money to fix the problems.
Point out to the people who rake in the big bucks and politely let them know they will have to give up that income for a cleaner source of income.
And it goes on and on and I've been down this road before.
And I will be here again as it gets dirtier and dirtier.
* * **
As the naturalist in me is a bit of an animist also, I sense the anima within Nature all the while with my feet firmly on the ground.
Itís a bit of a conflicted feeling I have.
Thereís a part of me that feels rooted to the Earth and another like Iím a figment or fragment of Creator passing through, either to once again reincarnate or transmutate.
You may be right about the less spiritually inclined among us (e.g. atheists) seeming to be more tethered to terra mater, what with their mortal outlook on life their gravitational force. This planet is all they have and, understandably, they wish to preserve it as best they can for their descendants. They donít think of Earth as a stopover.
Obviously, this is not to suggest that a hope or a belief in a hereafter should somehow serve as an excuse in not being mindful and responsible planetary custodians, as we all should be, only that the nurturing spark within tends to keep the host of his tabernacle inward and centered on the nexus of his being, as the stylite, meditative monk, and abstract contemplatives of yore, who naturally lived this way prior to all the environmental concerns brought on by the Industrial and Modern ages.
(Here I think of how the biblical God created a paradise Earth and yet for most of the faithful they anticipate a heavenly reward.)
Beyond the innate distractive nature of the inner-directed soul, the problem, imo, becomes compounded by the times we live in, with its many diversions of electronic immersion. My opinion is that there are those who cannot see the forest for the trees on account of their PDAs and other digital doodads obstructing their view.
One naturalist has noted how, in order for one to truly be mindful and take the initiative to want to be and live green, he must first feel a connection to the Earth, apart of the interconnected web of creation, of which the distractions of urban living Ė with its crowded living conditions, ubiquitous concrete, noise, razzmatazz, and omnipresent telescreens Ė make this difficult to do for even the most spiritually minded of us at times.
Thatís why youíll sometimes hear a sage or sapient say how man must return to the land Ė be it field or forest. And, yet, the agrarian way of living is waning and people are relocating to cities where the food is for the most part processed and can be eaten while watching nature programs on plus-60-inch screens in 3D.
I also wonder if itís not so much a matter of indifference as one of apathy, or more accurately a feeling of resignation, that despite all oneís personal efforts in contributing to ecological awareness and improvement, that in the end these efforts may be too insignificant when the powers-that-be are for the most part living in ecological denial. Whether this is a defeatist or simply a realist position to hold may be a debatable one.
While still others simply go about doing their own individual part, all the while patiently waiting for God to intervene. (Revelation 11:18.)
I think it's more to do with their practicality. They take life as they observe it and don't waste time imagining other worlds or the afterlife because they are more likely to bother about the here and now. I'm not an atheist but I value that practical trait. I think they are at an advantage there..
We can imagine and speculate all we want about pleasant afterlives and alien worlds, but if we can't appreciate a seemingly ''lesser'' world we don't really deserve something we imagine to be even 'better' or 'higher'.. To do so would be entitlement, but this does not really surprise me because much of spirituality is about self-indulgence..
Many religions don't seem to have much of an appreciation for this world. It's vilified and slandered as ''an illusion'' one must ''escape'' from through following a belief system. These attitudes are most certainly a reflection of the advance of civilization where humans have the luxury to dabble in over-conceptualization of their experience of ''happiness'' and ''suffering''. Reduce or remove that and you will have different people with different views about this world. There's something comical about the popular religions.. they go around in circles creating imaginary solutions to the problems we have created..
It could be part apathy as well.. but if we all think like that nothing changes. I don't know if you're familiar with the 'Tragedy of the Commons'; it's where resources are depleted because nobody takes responsibility or looks beyond their selfish needs. The tragedy occurs because they all thinks ''what difference does me changing make on the big picture?''
But we gotta start somewhere..
I don't see this as a problem of spiritual communities. My experiences show that, on the contrary, spiritually-focused people are some of the most attentive and active when it comes to our natural world and the problems its facing. I think the RELIGIOUS communities are not doing so much to address the issues facing the natural world. There isn't a lot of incentive, especially nowadays, when so many religions are trying to deal with their identity crises. You just won't hear much about natural destruction from the pulpit.
I think a lot of spiritual people are finding connections with science behind nautre and scientists are looking at deeper (spiritual) relations between humans and nature, recognizing that humans can no longer afford to see themselves as separate from or "in charge of" the natural world. I've always found that spiritual people have a special relation with nature in things like spirit animals, the elemental components of the earth (e.g. crystals, water, etc.), and they have a deep respect for indigenous cultures, who are more deeply embedded in nature.
The "problem" lies with the average human. The destruction of nature just isn't on their doorsteps. Yet. It will take things like a summer of closed beaches due to bacteria overgrowth, a $150 Christmas tree due to a "bad season", that first year when almonds are really hard to find. And the changes in the natural world will bring with them changes in world politcal power. Wealth, and the power that comes with it, will vanish quickly. Some countries will benefit from the changes in nature.
What won't happen is that nature won't go away. The whales might die out. The humans, too. But that vital energy that is nature will continue in some form or another.
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