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A Lecture Meeting on Spiritual Ecology
Lecture by Dr Darrol Bryant, Director, Centre for Dialogue and Spirituality
in the world Religions, Renison University College,
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Held at India International Centre, 22nd March 2011
Orgd. by Tibet House, New Delhi and India International Centre
Chaired by Dr Madan Mohan Verma

Spiritual ecology is a recent term that refers to the inherent relations between religion, spirituality and environment. Spiritual ecology falls into three categories:

(A) Scientific and academic study of spiritual ecology is being developed by various university professors in their study, teaching and research. A growing number of special programs include the Religion and Nature track in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida, the Spiritual Ecology Concentration in the Ecological Anthropology Program at the University of Hawaii, the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture at Climate Changein the School for Forestry, Environmental Studies at Yale University, and the Religion and Public Life [Environmental track] Doctoral Program at Northwestern University. The Boston Theological Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies and Schumacher College in all offer programs related to spiritual ecology.

(B) Spiritually motivated environmentalism: Here, religion and spirituality provide guidance and motivation to work on environmental causes. Priest Thomas Berry advocated this theory.

(C) Environmentally motivated Spirituality - People whose experiences in nature transcend the scientific and material environment, fall into this category.

Religious teachers are willing to encourage spirituality appeal to environmental behaviour, attitudinal changes and behavioural changes.
The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture formed in 2006, is dedicated to multidisciplinary research on spiritual ecology is engaged in the critical inquiry into the relations of Religions, Nature and Culture. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have focused on Ecology.

Buddhism shows tremendous respect for ecology. Buddhism is opposed to cutting of trees and plants. It says Mother Earth should not be disturbed. It should not be exploited out of proportion. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the interdependence and interrelatedness of everything in Nature. If one thing suffers, it would impact other things also. Global warning is not accidental. It has deep rooted causes. Human and Earth relationship is at the centre of the subject. The crisis in Human- Earth relationship occurred in the 19th century. But this subject was neglected. We don’t bother as to what has happened to other people. We go about polluting the environment, air, water and space. We recklessly cut jungles, disturb and destroy mountains for making roads. We have made chemical weapons of mass destruction.

We have an utter disregard for ecology. And today we are confronted with serious environmental crisis. Things have reached a serious passé. Now it is a question of human survival. We don’t try to understand the intrinsic nature and their interrelatedness. Earth, fire, water, air and space are interrelated and mutually dependent on each other.

There is an urgent need to understand the sacred nature of the reality of everything, including animate and inanimate. Lets understand the relation of all things in the universe. But who is the culprit?

There is need for conserted efforts of all. There is need for coalition of forces and resources.
Such efforts are bound to meet with résistance from the commercial world and market
forces.

There is need for living contact with all. We should avoid inhuman relations among all things. There is need for communion of one reality with another reality to create unity. There is need for understanding interrelatedness of things.

We are all the time engaged in increasing our material comfort. It is tome we hear the sound of water, air, birds, plants and everything.
It is time, we should understand the natural right of everything and every species. It is high time, that we recognize the spiritual status of everything. And give it a legal status. Such changes should be incorporated in the law.

Nature has to be saved for every one of us. Ecological crisis cut across national boundaries. We need a new political approach that establishes balance among all things. There is need for new ethos of spirituality which calls for love towards everything. We must understand the mystery underlying the universe. We have to redraw the boundary between heaven and earth, to overcome global crisis.

 
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