Eco Spirituality For World Peace and Sustainability

Posted: 03.12.2008
Updated on: 29.11.2012

4th Plenary Session, 11.11.2008

Introduction

Human history today is characterized by the rapid development of productive forces utilizing the scientific and technological revolution, which promotes socio-economic progress in every possible way and provides a powerful means of affecting the environment. The interaction between man and the environment has grown over the last decades. The large scale exploitation of nature, population growth, accelerated development of productive forces, the ever increasing destruction of natural resources for human comfort has lead to depletion and degradation of natural environment bringing in a dangerous ecological imbalance in the man environment system.

Challenges of 21st Century

The world is in confusion and human beings are driven by the power of egocentric behaviour. The present world is faced with many urgent problems - such as social, political, economical and cultural problems.

With the advent of the year 2001, we have entered a new century and a new millennium, but humanity is standing at the crossroads of all transition processes. We are facing two unresolved challenges:

1.

Fate of the Earth

Ecological Challenge (i.e. Environmental Degradation)

2.

Fate of Humanity

Human Development Challenge: Erosion of Human Values (i.e. Challenges of – Population, Poverty, and Peace)

The selfish and egocentric behaviour of the people is destroying the environment, generating poverty, and widening the gap between rich and poor and fomenting nuclear wars threatening human life as well. Human values are eroding at a very fast rate resulting in a decline in the quality of life of the people. At the dawn of the new millennium, what is required most is Peace and Spirituality.

The biggest agenda for 21st century is: How to save the humanity?

The Paper on “Eco-Spirituality for World Peace and Human Unity is based on a spiritually guided holistic approach of sustainable human development. The paper has attempted to highlight the global recognition of Peace as a matter of common concern to save Humanity.

 

The paper has been divided into three parts:

Part I – Introduction – Modern civilization and challenges in 21st century.

  • Understanding relationship between the human being and his environmen
  • Ecological Challenge: Stress on Environment, Society and Resources

Part II – Human behaviour and human consciousness

  • Human Consciousness and Sustainable Development

The part III – Eco-Spirituality for world peace and sustainable development.

  • Concept of Eco-spirituality i.e. Eco-consciousness for Peace and Harmony.
  • ‘OSHA’ Model for Human Transformation
  • Eco-spirituality Model for Holistic Sustainable Development for building world Peace and Oneness of humanity.

Conclusion: Global Peace and Oneness of Humanity.


Part I – Understanding of the relationship between the human being and the environment:

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Man and Prakarti (Environment):

What is the meaning of the word “Environment” in relation to human beings? This phenomenon – environment – sustains all life, including the plants and animals that provide us food, clothing, medicines, raw materials and all other human needs including aesthetic pleasure and a livable atmosphere. The meaning of this word can be clearer by understanding that man’s dependence on it is larger than that of other organisms, because in his pursuit for progress, more comforts and security, he consumes larger amounts of materials and energy than any other organism.

According to one of the Indian philosophical systems, the Samkhya School of Thought – propoundedby Kapila – which suggests that there are two aspects responsible for creation and dissolution of this world. One is Purusha (Man) and other is Prakarti (Nature) i.e. “Environment” Without the presence of Prakarti, Purusha can not do anything itself. Both ‘Purusha and Prakarti’ must be in a state of equilibrium for running this world.

Ecological Challenge: Stress on Environment, Society and Resources

The earth has enough for human need, but not for human greed” – said Mahatma Gandhi.

Our modern society is driven by a culture of materialism while the whole of human life is in a state of turmoil. We are living in a violent consciousness because our modern civilization is based on violence. There are constant repetitions of wars; the ceaseless conflict between classes, between peoples; the awful economic and social inequality; the gap between the rich and poor, and between the developed and developing countries.

Stress on Environment, Society and Resources.

Planet Earth is facing incredible stress. What are the main factors of environmental stress? The main factors of environmental stress are: Increase in population; increase in poverty; consumption of resources, the human lifestyle and Human behaviour – Egocentric behaviour.

But how much of environmental stress is due to large populations, and how much is based on other factors, such as how we choose to live, how we produce, how we consume, and waste our resources?

At a deeper level the problem of environmental crisis is related to the decline of spiritual values. It is not just a debate of depleting natural resources and non-renewable energy. It stems from the core of human life – the soul – which has been polluted with vices like greed, ego and anger. Human activities driven by greed, selfishness and arrogance have created a ‘material consciousness’ which leads to problems of environmental degradation and problems endangering even the survival of human life on the planet.

The violation of the innate qualities of the human soul such as truth, purity, peace, love and respect has led to the violation of natural law and order. As the harmony within the soul got disrupted, the harmony between nature’s forces also got disturbed. There is so much violence and discord in human minds that nature too has started striking discordant notes in the form of storms, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and famines. Poisoned feelings in human heart have also poisoned the air, water and soil on earth.

Our present society is driven by the culture of materialism. Human weaknesses like greed, violence, attraction, desires are rampant, and numbers of logical arguments and appeals to reasons have been able to contravene these negative tendencies or transform harmful attitudes.

What can be done to curb our personal materialistic desires and exploitative ambitions?

Human Consciousness:

The human being consists of two parts: a physical part (Matter) and spiritual part (Spirit).

Human Being

=

Human + Being,

 

=

Physical (Matter) + Spiritual (Soul)

The substances, soul and matter are two components of the world. Matter is as important as the soul in maintaining the world.

Human Consciousness:

Depending upon the quality of the soul human consciousness can be divided as :

 

 

    1. Spiritual consciousness
    2. Material consciousness

 

 

Spiritual consciousness
is the pure consciousness in which spirit predominates and matter is playing a secondary part, the result will be joy, peace, and harmony.

Material consciousness
is the impure consciousness in which matter predominates and spirit is playing a secondary part, the result will be mental tension, conflict, violence, unrest, terror etc. The root of all our current problems is materialism. Limitless exploitation of natural resources, excessive consumption and luxurious lifestyle is regarded as a great source of ecological imbalance.

Human development.

People, Planet and Peace, which are interconnected and interdependent. There is close relationship between people, environment and development.

Human development can be divided broadly into main categories:

1.

Materialistic development

Ego driven

2.

Holistic human development

Eco driven

The Three Gunas or the Energy Principles:

Within the classic Indian scripture The Bhagavada Gita there is insightful discussion on the qualities of forces that make up nature and creation. All objects are composed of the Prakarti, or the prime material energy, of God. According to Vedic philosophy, Prakarti consists of a substratum of three different modes, each one dependent upon the other two for their mutual existence and proper functioning. These three modes of Prakarti, or material energy, are also known as the three Gunas, which in Sanskrit (the ancient sacred language of Hinduism) means "qualities" or "modes.” The three Gunas are the subtlest qualities of nature that underlie matter, life & mind. In Chapter14 - 'GUNA TRAYA VIBHAGA YOGAH' the Lord Krishna describes the three Gunas as follows:

Sattava is characterized by Purity & luminosity.

Sattavik Thoughts are a pure or noble thought, which create selfless action for the welfare for all humanity & provides Peace, Happiness & Harmony.

When Sattava manifests there is experience of Joy. Sattava guna imparts balance.

Rajas are the active principle of nature. It provides the energy for action & passion. Rajasik thoughts are passionable thoughts, which create actions with greed & attachment. Rajas actions causes’ imbalance.

Tamas is darkness, representing matter, mass or inertia. Tamasik Thoughts are impure & dark producing selfish actions with greed, lust & power and causing sorrow & unhappiness & disharmony between man & environment.

Tamasik People having Tamasik qualities like Avidya (Ignorance), Ahamkara (Ego), Shakti (power), Kaama (lust), Krodha (Anger) & Lalach (greed) are mainly engaged in materialistic development.

Materialistic development which is an Ego-Driven development, based on Tamasik and Rajasik principles of materialism, (driven by Principle of darkness & passion). People who are self centered, having only material consciousness & Tamasik qualities like greed, lust & power are engaged in materialistic development.

Holistic Development based on holistic principles i.e. Eco-Driven development based on the Sattavik principle of materialism driven by the Principle of purity. People who are having only spiritual consciousness & Sattavik qualities like peace, purity & harmony are engaged in holistic development for the welfare of humanity and also having eco friendly relationship between environment and human beings.

Sustainable Development:

Environmental, Economical and social well-being for today and tomorrow is known as Sustainable development.

What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

This contains within it two key concepts:

 

 

    • The concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
    • The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."
       

 

 


Part III - Ecology, Spirituality and Sustainability

What is Eco-Spirituality? A Holistic Approach

Eco-spirituality is a holistic approach to foster the completely new outlook on nature and the planet, which is necessary for human beings to deal with the mounting environmental crisis.

Eco-spirituality is a process of human development to create a nonviolent global sustainable society. It includes an appreciation that all of us are intimately connected to each other and to all of nature. It is a process of human transformation from material consciousness to spiritual consciousnesses.

Eco-spirituality is a process of holistic human development to achieve not only environmental sustainability but also to achieve cultural and spiritual sustainability.

Eco-Spirituality is a “process of transformation of mind from “Ego-Consciousness (Material consciousness) to Eco-consciousness (Spiritual consciousnesses).”

Eco-Spirituality means ‘Peace on Earth’

 

P

Preserving the Planet through Spirituality
(Principles of Purity, Respect, Compassion, Truth, and Nonviolence).

E

Eco-thinking for Sustainability

A

Attitude and mindset for non-possession and nonviolence (Eco-Philosophy)

C

Eco-Consciousness for peace and harmony (Eco-Dharma)

E

Eco-values for peace and harmony (Eco-Spirituality)

 

Ecology, Spirituality and Sustainability

The present ecological crisis is very much a religious and spiritual issue and demands a befitting response through a scientific outlook and a religious approach. It is here that the major Asian religions, each in its own way, have a crucial role through their set of moral and spiritual precepts and values to guide humankind’s relationship with nature and environment. “Do not harm” is a salient precept in all religions.

Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Taoism and may other Asian and non-Asian religions and philosophical systems, notably these of the Native Americans, offer unique resources for the creation of an earth ethic. The variegated theologies of Hinduism suggest that the earth can be seen as a manifestation of the goddess (Devi) and that she must be treated with respect; that the five elements hold great power; that simple living might serve as a model for the development of sustainable economies; and that the concept of Dharma can be reinterpreted from an earth-friendly perspective.

Baha’i’ teach that ‘The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.’ These words of Baha’u’llah summarize the Baha’i sense of world citizenship and commitment to stewardship of the earth. The oneness of humanity is, for Baha’ī’s, the fundamental spiritual and social truth of this age.

Similarly, the Buddhist teachers have constantly reminded us of the importance of living in tune with nature, to respect all life, to make time for meditation, to live simply and use nature as spiritual force.

Jainism and Ecology

Jainism plays a important role in protecting the nature as well as for the welfare of human kind through the Nonviolence education and Preksha Meditation.

Ahimsa paramo dharmah
(Non-violence is the supreme religion)

Jains believe that violence in thought and speech is as bad as physical violence, so they try to control things like anger, greed, pride and jealousy.

Ahimsa: non-violence

Ahimsa is the key moral principle of Jainism - Ahimsa means more than not hurting others, it means not intending to cause harm, physical, mental or spiritual, to any part of nature, for, in the words of Mahavira: ‘You are that which you wish to harm.’

    • Jains also believe that “getting others to do harm, or allowing others to do harm is as bad as doing harm yourself.”
    • Most Jains believe that ahimsa doesn't just mean not doing harm - it also means working positively to promote tolerance, forgiveness and compassion, and to help those who are less fortunate.

Compassion

This is the positive aspect of non-violence: to practice an attitude of compassion towards all life. Jains pray that forgiveness and friendliness may reign throughout the world and that all living beings may cherish each other.

Interdependence

This ancient Jain principle teaches that all of nature is bound together, and says that if one does not care for nature one does not care for oneself.

Self-restraint

An important Jain principle is not to waste the gifts of nature, and even to reduce one’s needs as far as possible.

At the core of Jaina faith lies five vows that dictate the daily life of Jaina laypersons, monks, and nuns. These five vows, which inspired and influenced Mahatma Gandhi, are nonviolence (ahimsa), truthfulness (Satya), not stealing (Asteya), sexual restraint (Brahmacarya), and nonpossession (Aparigraha).

 The Jaina vows can easily be reinterpreted in an ecological fashion.

  1. Nonviolence (Ahimsa): The practice of nonviolence in the Jaina context fosters an attitude of respect for all life-forms.
  2. Truthfulness (Satya): The observance of truthfulness prompts an investigation of the interrelatedness of things; a truthful person cannot easily dismiss the suffering caused by uncontrolled waste.
  3. Not stealing (Asteya): The vow of not stealing can be used to reflect on the world’s limited resources and prompt one to think of the needs of future generations.
  4. Sexual restraint (Brahmacarya), Sexual restraint might help minimize population growth.
  5. Nonpossession (Aparigraha) The discipline of Nonpossession gives one pause to think twice before indulging in the acquisition of material goods, one of the root causes of current ecological concerns

The answer to environmental crisis will come from a change in our attitude and life style aimed at promoting reducing consumption, and holistic development based on eco-philosophy i.e. cooperation instead of competition.

'OSHA' - Model of Mind Transformation

 

O

Oneness with Supreme Soul (Universal Consciousness)

S

Spiritual Consciousness (Pure-consciousness) – Eco-Consciousness

  • Principle of Purity
  • Principle of Forgiveness
  • Principle of Tolerance
  • Principle of Love and
  • Principle of Peace

H

Human Consciousness – Culture of Humanity
"Feeling-sharing and caring for human beings"
Through 'Forgiveness 'Tolerance, Respect

A

Animal Consciousness (or Impure Consciousness)
Culture of violence (violent Consciousness),
This constitutes Anger, Greed, Hatred, Jealousy and Violence.

 

Conclusion:

We are part of a global whole, everything in the universe are interconnected and interdependent through the principle of integration.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbhkam

The world is one family has been expressed in our scriptures. The oneness of humanity has been a fundamental belief of Indian Civilization. Oneness of Humanity can only be achieved through Peace and humanity.

Global Peace and Oneness of Humanity

Global Peace is Oneness of Humanity. The basis for Global Peace is self-transformation and self-transformation leads to world transformation.

World peace starts with peace in self, in family, in our society, in our cities and extends beyond all political borders. We must teach our children and ourselves peace and value education for creating peace in ourselves and in the minds of the children. World peace is possible and a natural part of mankind's evolution and it can be achieved only through Peace values.

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