Ecological crisis requires a spiritual response
Sufi teacher llewellyn Vaughan-Lee thinks that we are facing an ecological crisis because of a spiritual crisis due to our ignorance about the sacredness of creation. According to him, “It is only through awakening to an awareness of the sacred within creation, and of its relationship to our own sacred nature, that we can begin to redeem the primal imbalance that lies at the root of our present predicament.”
I believe that the pandemic provides a perfect opportunity for humanity to think about its purpose and priorities — a chance for a spiritual awakening to see the entire planet as one integrated family. We should get rid of divisive thinking based on race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Remember that the Corona virus does not discriminate against any of those artificial groupings we have created. Corona virus does not engage in partisan politics. It does not care whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, or if you live in a red state or a blue state. The virus does not care one bit about religious superiority or denominational purity. It does not care whether Christianity is superior to Hinduism or Presbyterians are better than Methodists. By spreading across continents, countries, and oceans, the Corona virus has taught us that it does not respect man-made borders and boundaries. Walls, fences, and check points cannot stop it. It does not obey any man-made rules. It cannot be destroyed by man-made bombs. It cannot be defended by a man-made military. It cannot be bought off with man-made millions. All human plans and calculations are rendered useless, and we find ourselves powerless and paralyzed.
Covid-19 should make us humble so that we will stop denigrating other religions, deriding refugees, resisting immigrants, hating Muslims, judging gays, and resenting welfare recipients. It should open our hearts to embrace the entire planet with everyone and everything on it, as God’s holy creation. We should start with a renewed affection for the planet as our home rather than as a rest-stop on our journey towards another home, above the clouds, after we die.
I am inspired by a recent book published by the United Nations titled, Faith for Earth: A Call for Action, which underscores the shared reverence and responsibility across faiths toward the environment and their collective resolve for action. In 2000 when the first version of this book was published, it was titled Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action. The preface of the new book starts with a sobering awareness that “in the twenty years since, the planet has undergone profound and rapid changes, among them, climate change, accelerating species extinction, collapsing ecosystems, and deepening human suffering.”
The book quotes voices from prominent religious leaders and includes prayers and hymns from various religions. For example, the Hindu hymn In Praise of Mother Earth reads: “O Mother Earth! You are the world for us, and we are your children.”
In his Canticle of the Creatures, St. Francis Assisi wrote: “Praise be You, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.”
According to eco-theologian Thomas Berry:
We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of the Numinous Presence whence all things come into being. Indeed, the universe is the primary sacred reality — we become sacred by our participation in the more sublime dimension of the world around us.
(From Cosmic Kindergarten: Earthly Lessons for a Heavenly Life)