"The first edition of this book fostered the emergence of the "Spiritual Ecology Movement," which recognizes the need for a spiritual response to our present ecological crisis. It drew an overwhelmingly positive response from readers, many of whom are asking the simple question, "What can I do?" This second expanded edition offers new chapters, including two from younger authors who are putting the principles of spiritual ecology into action, working with their hands as well as their hearts. It also includes a new preface and revised chapter by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, that reference two major recent events: the publication of Pope Francis's encyclical, "On Care for Our Common Home," which brought into the mainstream the idea that "the ecological crisis is essentially a spiritual problem"; and the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, which saw representatives from nearly 200 countries come together to address global warming, including faith leaders from many traditions. Bringing together voices from Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity, and Native American traditions, as well as from physics, deep psychology, and other environmental disciplines, this book calls on us to reassess our underlying attitudes and beliefs about the Earth and wake up to our spiritual as well as physical responsibilities toward the planet."
What does Spiritual Ecology mean to you?
I am always curious to hear what spiritual ecology mean to others. I remember the first time I read these words and how they immediately piqued so many questions within me. Never before had I thought of ecology as a spiritual field, yet I was aware that my relationship to the natural world had always been inherently spiritual. Something about these two words in relationship to each other made immediate sense and yet I didn’t yet know much about this emerging field. Over the last few years I have learned deeply from the many conversations that have sprung up over the simple question, “what is spiritual ecology?”
I thought this might be the perfect place to start off the Spiritual Ecology Book Shelf!
How do you honor the Earth and how does it make you feel?
I found this small passage underlined in my book and was grateful to have come to it again, along with this memory from 2016.
“Our mulberry trees have begun fruiting and these words reminded me that I should spend some time giving thanks to this act. These trees have become a place of simple refuge for me. Last year I was dealing with high levels of stress and overall exhaustion. Picking mulberries in the evening became a practice that would help me mark the end of my day. It was a place to go and be quiet and sometimes very still. I remember crying underneath the trees on days that felt too hard and long and about the satisfaction that I felt when it seemed like the branches were trying to tangle me in closer. At night Kalani and I would laugh when he would pick mulberries and leaves out of my hair. So today I decided I should organize myself for our trees. I cleared space around the roots and laid ti down to say “thank you.” “Thank you for your fruit, your shade, your patience and your quiet.” I said all of this aloud as I took notice of how much longer each of the limbs had grown remembering when the trees were just as tall me. I sat beneath them for a while and watched a spider dangle from its web, and then I picked the first of this years harvest.
Now I am thinking about how I am still learning so much. How to care for and honor plants, how to care for and honor myself. How it is all intertwined. That is, the trees, their leaves, limbs and me.”
How do your practices of prayer, reverence, spirit and faith intersect with the Earth?
The word “Spiritual” can be both nebulous and all encompassing when thinking about Spiritual Ecology. I have met many people who have felt an immediate resonance with these two words in relation to each other, without always being able to define what “spirit” means to them. For many when language fails to define a feeling the act of being in practice has the capability to transcend words. How do you relate to the earth that brings about feelings of respect and/or actions of beloved stewardship? What are your acts of thanksgiving?
How do you relate to the concept of the “Three Dimensions of Ecology: Soil, Soul and Society?” as outlined by Satish Kumar?
This has always been a loved essay for me because of the simplicity in which Satish Kumar outlines his understanding of what brings about balance. I have often used these three points as a metrics in which to understand my own current life. In recent years I have found myself pre-dominately focused on “society” and have had to remind myself to put my hands into the soil and water as part of maintaining an intimate conversation with the earth and myself. For me this is the essence of the “why” behind Spiritual Ecology. In my reading and study I am prompted again and again to move out of my mind and into practice. Practice for me looks like cooking my own meals, studying the clouds, rising for early light, tending to my home and having quiet time with my family.
Images above from Valerie Indira / @tenderheartproductions
For the Avid Readers
Spiritual Ecology: 10 Practices to Reawaken the Sacred in Everyday Life, is a great additional read.
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