“We need a nobler economics that is not afraid to discuss spirit and conscience, moral purpose and the meaning of life, an economics that aims to educate and elevate people.” E.F. Schumacher

All of a sudden everything seems ripe in life and the past few weeks I’ve spent studying at Schumacher College (an International Center for Ecological Studies http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/) with the founders of The Forum on Religion and Ecology, Professors John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker (http://www.environment.harvard.edu/religion/main.html), while living in the magical town of Totnes (http://totnes.transitionnetwork.org/) have been absolutely mind blowing! I’ve felt inspired before but never like this! My teachers, John and Mary, are the most brilliant, thoughtful and simply remarkable couple I have ever come across. We should all be so blessed to find partnership that is such a beautiful blend of the spirit and an engagement with ideas that matter. The two of them challenged my notions of “heart” in academia and the work they are doing at Yale (they both hold joint appointments at the Divinity School and the School of Forestry and Environmental Science) is something I didn’t expect to be happening in the Ivy League and it has reminded me of the dangers in making generalizations. They were married thirty years ago by their “Guru,” cultural historian/eco-theologian, Father Thomas Berry (see attached articles for more information about Berry and his ideas). They gifted me a copy of his book, “The Great Work” and Berry’s writing spoke to me like prophetic poetry, I can’t believe I never heard of him before! Mary is an exceptionally inquiring, fierce academic and John is a special combination of sharpness and sensitivity producing an unparalleled educational experience that both touched and transformed my mind, heart and soul. The entire Schumacher community shares in the belief that there is a sacredness to all life and being with fellow enthusiasts that get excited about ideas that have the potential to transform our world for the better created one of the most deeply profound, intellectually stimulating and truly magical experiences of my life. Wow!

Yes, our world is facing multiple crises but in the past weeks I’ve realized that these crises present an opportunity for us to really evolve and make changes that will enable us to be more creative, inventive and connected. What an exciting time to be alive! I believe that last week Al Gore called for the US to end its use of fossil fuels for electricity by 2018. Whether we want to believe it or not, climate change is going to really change things. The good news is that it will force us to become more community oriented (especially when it comes to our food consumption and the necessity to buy local) and all of my experiences have shown me that the lack of community and connection to our environment, fellow humans and non humans contribute to unhappiness and at the end of the day we all just want to be happy. So, instead of being depressed about the crises we face I’m actually very hopeful about us moving towards a new consciousness where we shift from an anthropocentric world-view towards an anthropocosmic way of being. Especially since there are so many amazing people out there that are really making a difference in the world and it is just so very inspiring.

I don’t know anything and have such a long way to go as an educator but in June a dear friend of mine sent me an email titled, “Potentiality vs. Action” and urged me to start synthesizing my readings and reflections and share them with the community so on Tuesday, August 12th at 4pm in the Hall of Peace at the American Embassy School I hope to start a conversation about ecology, activism, ethics, nondual philosophy and education with anyone interested. I gave this presentation at Schumacher as well and will attempt to incorporate some of what I learned there. If you don’t have easy access to AES and can make it on August 12th let me know and I will leave your names with the guards at Gate 2 so you can enter easily. There will be refreshments as well but I want to stress that this is a “work in progress.”

Gosh, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned and been exposed to in the past weeks—permaculture, appreciative inquiry, green faith, transition towns, community supported agriculture, gaia theory, holistic science and so, so much more. I’ve been introduced and have reconnected with the works of so many brilliant thinkers (James Lovelock, David Abram, Arne Ness and Pierre Tielhard de Chardin are just a few) and have met some of the most special change agents in the world (including Helena Norberg-Hodge whose book on Ladakh had a strong influence on me)! Even amidst the precarious state of our planet my heart remains filled with so much hope, my eyes are filled with tears of joy and I am just so very grateful to feel this unique sense of empowerment as we face the “great work” we have ahead of us.

Schumacher College was founded in the early 1990s by one of my mentors, Satish Kumar (http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/staff/satish-kumar). The college runs numerous courses relating to the environment and sustainability and those who attend courses participate in cooking meals for all members of the college community, cleaning and gardening which gives the educational institution a Gandhian feel.  I first heard of the college after I met Satish-ji in November of 2006 in Delhi and I never thought that less than two years later I’d get a scholarship to study here. After meeting Satish-ji I read Schumacher’s essay “Buddhist Economics” right away and it really resonated with me and I discovered Resurgence magazine which embodies all I believe in. I couldn’t believe I never heard of Schumacher during my time in college and graduate school! Well, the college was named after EF Schumacher because he encompasses the ideals and values of the institution (http://www.schumacher.org.uk/about_efschumacher.htm). I have a copy of his seminal work, “Small is Beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered” if any of you want to borrow it. There is also a lot about him available on the web.

My time here has been so very special and I hope to return to Schumacher some day. I’m just now remembering that Ramu-ji once told me that he thought I would teach at Schumacher at some point in the future, crazy! Well, I’ve never been in an environment with so many like-minded people and even though we all come from different backgrounds it was like I found “my people”! I was the same age as the children of most of my course participants but we shared in a cross-generational bond that was so very special. Wow! It is like I found my tribe! It was so powerful to be in a space of individuals that simultaneously intellectualize and empathize with the goal of taking real action. The other members of the course are some of the most brilliant, interesting, compassionate individuals I ever met. Some of my classmates included one of the world’s leading etymologists and butterfly experts, a pioneer in Costa Rica’s eco-tourism, a South African Bishop, a Zoologist, the Head of an Australian Catholic Environmental Center, and one of the organizers of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.  My classmates taught me so much and moved my heart in so many ways. In fact, one of my classmates introduced me to Genesis Farm (http://www.genesisfarm.org/) an Ecological learning center in New Jersey! This 63-year-old British woman wrote her dissertation on the Farm and Community Supported Agriculture. I can’t believe I never heard of the farm while I was growing up in New Jersey and look forward to visiting when I come the United States next summer, it will be my first trip to the USA in more than 3 years! I’ve visited so many ashrams, houses of dharma and spiritual communities in the world but at Schumacher I really felt at home.  They have the most amazing library and DVD/VHS collection—I really felt like a kid in a candy store! Some regard Schumacher as a place where academic types come to be awakened but I am VERY FAR from being an academic. I’m just a simple school teacher that loves learning and wants to make the most out of my time on earth and everyone else I met at Schumacher felt the same way—we don’t want to waste our lives. We all shared in feeling the sacredness of all life, this feeling has called us to action and this is why we all felt like soul mates regardless of age, nationality and spiritual/religious orientation. The staff at Schumacher instantly became part of my global spiritual family. I especially connected with the head chef. Aside from Pilot Baba, he is the only person I know to have actually camped out in a cave near Badri Nath in order to meet Babaji (those of you that have read Autobiography of a Yogi know who Babaji is).  I just loved spending time with him having satsang as we cooked in the kitchen. The food at Schumacher is all vegetarian and it is the tastiest, most delicious food I’ve eaten in my entire life! I definitely indulged a little too much…especially after a week in Turkey and Greece with my family where my main activity seemed to be eating!

Schumacher College is based in the Dartington Hall Estate which is owned by the Dartington Hall Trust. The Trust was founded in 1925 by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst. The couple was inspired by the work of the Indian poet, educationalist and social reformer, Rabindranath Tagore and they bought the Estate in order to revitalize this rural area by providing quality education, employment and cultural activities. While I was at Schumacher Dartington was hosting the annual “Way With Words Literature Festival” (http://www.wayswithwords.co.uk/festivals/dartington-hall-10). Karen Armstrong was among the many noted authors at the event! The Elmhirsts established the Dartington Hall School, one of the first progressive schools in the country, in which local children and children from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds were educated in an atmosphere of free inquiry. The school was closed in 1989 and at that time the Trust began plans to set up Schumacher College in the Old Postern. An absolutely amazing woman, Mary Bartlett, who has lived on the estate for more than 40 years gave us a tour of the gorgeous Dartington Hall gardens. Mary is a total renaissance woman—she authors children’s books, hosts a television show about biodynamic gardening, is a historian and at 62 she might be the most active, energetic, lively older woman I’ve ever met. I can only hope to have a similar zest for life when I am her age! The closest major town is Totnes which has a fascinating alternative culture. Totnes is the UK’s first transition town.  Transition towns are communities that work together to actively address the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. I will speak more about Transition Towns on August 12th.  Schumacher has bikes for its students and it felt so wonderful to be able to cycle all around town (especially since I almost got hit by a bus when I was cycling home from school in Delhi last fall and haven’t ridden my bicycle much since then). Shops in Totnes include organic clothing, vegetarian cuisine, many tea shops and a great market. They even have their own local currency, the Totnes Pound to help promote the local economy!

A three-hour walk from Schumacher there is a Center for Contemporary Buddhist Enquiry (http://www.sharphamtrust.org/pages.php?id=32) on a gorgeous vineyard in an area called Sharpham. When I was in Ladakh I met a Swiss woman that told me I had to try and track down John Peacock, a very well known Buddhist teacher, while I was in Totnes. Peacock often teaches at the Sharpham Centre for Contemporary Buddhist Enquiry but he actually lives in Birmingham. I managed to attend the Sharpham Trust’s annual picnic, met with the lead tutor there, Steve Palmer and attended a meditation session he led. Steve was a Tibetan Buddhist Monk for 17 years (he is now married) and we had such an unbelievably special discussion about “being happy with being more, not having more” and the relationship between sunyata and ahimsa. He also gave me some great advice about my interest in crafting an ethical, ecological, spiritual approach to education.  On my way to Sharpham I met two women also on their way to the picnic. One of the women was a blind devout Christian and we had such a beautiful chat about prayer (Ramu-ji often said, “praying deeply and with sincerity is not to play it safe, rather I think it helps us accept what is happening with greater insight”) and it was one of those moments where I was able to really understand an individual’s faith, but not necessarily their religion if that makes any sense.

When I arrived at Schumacher College the first person I saw was Satish-ji who greeted me with a warm hug. I was able to spend a lot of time with him which was very important to me since after Ramu-ji’s passing Satish-ji is the only person who I feel a strong connection to that really embodies everything I believe in. We talked about education and meaningful curriculum and I got to ask him some questions I had about grace, faith and peace as it relates to activism. I feel so blessed to know him. Satish-ji is in the process of trying to establish a Tagore Center at Schumacher.  He had many incredibly interesting visitors during my time at the college. I got to meet a close friend of his that now works at the Ford Foundation that actually used to teach Indian Studies at the American Embassy School more than 20 years ago!!!! We just couldn’t believe it when Satish-ji introduced us! I also met a dear friend of Satshi-ji’s, Bunker Roy (http://www.unesco.org/courier/2000_03/uk/dossier/txt02.htm) . Bunker founded the Barefoot College (http://www.barefootcollege.org/) a unique institution that encourages practical knowledge and the value of the village community. I am hoping to visit the college outside of Jaipur soon! The Delhi based artist whom many of you know, Shakti Maira, also gave a lovely talk about “beauty.” I found his talk especially interesting because “What is beauty?” is one of the essential questions of the 10th grade History course I teach. Oh, just so you know, Satish-ji will be teaching a course at Navdanya’s farm in Dehradun in November and he will also speak at the American Embassy School again.

During my third night at Schumacher I attended a talk that was open to the town of Totnes given by Starhawk (http://www.starhawk.org/) one of the pioneers in contemporary earth-based spirituality and earth activist training. Before the talk began I said to myself I had to try and meet Helena Norberg-Hodge the author of “Ancient Futures, Learning from Ladakh” while I was in Totnes because the organization she founded, The International Society for Ecology and Culture (http://www.isec.org.uk/) is in Totnes. Towards the end of the talk the woman sitting behind me asked a question. When I turned around I noticed that the woman sitting next to her was Helena Norberg-Hodge!!! Can you believe it? She was sitting right behind me! When the talk ended I turned to Helena and said “Jullay.” We had a great chat about Ladakh, sustainability and education after Starhawk’s talk over chai and cookies. She was not supposed to be at the talk that night she was supposed to already be in Ladakh but her husband was having visa issues so her departure was delayed. She is also rarely in Totnes so it is quite a “coincidence” (Lex, the blind, devout Christian woman I met as I was walking to Sharpham would call coincidences “god-incidences”) that I met her while I was in the UK and I may see her again at the Gross National Happiness conference in Bhutan. The universe does seem to work in mysterious ways and my faith in Goethe’s words on commitment and providence  (http://www.goethesociety.org/pages/quotescom.html) only strengthened during my time at Schumacher. This quote is actually on the folder given to all course participants when they arrive!

The course I took was called “Sacred Activism.” In January not even a week after I returned from Bali I was having dinner with my dear friend Swati and she urged me to take a look at the courses being offered at Schumacher. That very night I went home and checked out the course offerings and when I looked at the title “Sacred Activism” I just knew I had to take this course. I don’t think I chose to be a teacher, teaching chose me if that makes any sense and to me teaching is not a job, it is a sacred task and I was in desperate need of a language to be able to articulate what this means and what I feel in my heart. The first week of my course was initially supposed to be taught by Andrew Harvey who I am dying to meet but at the last minute he pulled out and Starhawk stepped in.  I came to the first week with an open mind and no expectations and had never heard of Starhawk before but she taught me so much and I’ve been so steeped in Buddhist thought and nondual philosophy that it was good to be exposed to something new but at the same time complementary. I never heard of permaculture before and Starhawk primarily teaches permaculture courses.  I found the whole concept of permaculture absolutely fascinating.  She also gave me guidance on how to launch a direct action campaign which is something I haven’t done since I started a successful movement to get rid of styrofoam lunch trays when I was in the fifth grade.

I also connected with a very special scientist and deep ecology educator, Dr. Stephan Harding. (Rukmini, Stephan sends you a huge hug!) Stephan helped me re-discover my love for Gaia (the name the Ancient Greeks gave the Greek Goddess that personified the Earth). He has recently published a beautiful book, “Animate Earth” where he discusses the fact that the earth is alive and a self-regulating system. (See this lecture given by James Lovelock for more background on Gaia Theory http://www.unu.edu/unupress/lecture1.html) This probably isn’t anything new to many of us who regularly commune with nature but I had no idea there was a whole school of thought devoted to the idea that the Earth, Gaia is alive! Attached are some exercises from his book that I plan on using with my students so they can begin to “know” Gaia. Stephan has guest taught at the Rishi Valley (Krishnamurti inspired) school in India many times and I think our meeting is just another sign that I have to visit Rishi Valley! Well, I realized that like many of you I have most certainly been “Gaia-ed” (awakened to the fact that the Earth is alive) and this is why the deep ecology movement resonates with me. Meeting Stephan and being introduced to Gaia theory (see attached article for more information) has helped me have courage to be more vocal about “feeling” Gaia and all of her love. Only when we have deep affection and love for the Earth will we do our best to protect her and not look at nature in a utilitarian fashion. I have a LONG way to go—His Holiness reminds us to try our best to do as much as we can and I need to try A LOT harder.

Stephan writes, “If you have been trained, as I have been, to see the world as a machine and to see yourself as not much more than a thinking, emotionally detached data-collecting robot, then to personify the world in this way takes a great deal of courage. As I wrote his book, the unspoken scientific taboo against speaking of the world as a psyche exerted its influence on me and tried its best to make me write nothing more than straightforward popular science. A strange vulnerability, an insecurity, sometimes plagues me as I attempted to speak of the Earth and of the living beings that inhabit her not merely as objects, but as subjects, as feelingful beings, but in the end a still, small voice persuaded me of the urgency of the task. In quiet moments in my study, or outdoors, this deeper voice convinced me that the prospects are bleak unless we can once again relate to the Earth not as a thing or as a machine, but as a strange creature that improvises its own unfolding in the cosmos through the ongoing creativity of evolution and self-transformation. As you notice the tension between these different voices, I ask you to remember the difficulty of the task and to consider yourself a conspirator in the effort to find a new language for breathing life back into our experience of the Earth, who for the last 400 years has been treated as if she were a dead lump of rock with a few insignificant and rather irksome life forms and traditional cultures clinging to her ragged surface. And now the title of the book reveals its double meaning, for ‘animate’ is both an adjective and a verb. The adjective tells us that the Earth is animate—alive; the verb urges us to find ways of speaking and acting that allows us to continuously re-animate the Earth so that we bring her back to life as a sensitive and sentient Being—even, if you will, as a person in the widest and wildest sense of the word. It is time to rediscover Gaia, for Gaia is Earth personified.” (Animate Earth, Science, Intuition and Gaia,  p. 39)

We are moving towards mass extinction. I don’t know if we realize just how serious climate change and the ecological crisis we face is.  Science alone is not changing people. I’m not a Marxist but our economic growth model and capitalism is driving us to the edge. Until Martin Luther King’s prophetic, spiritual voice the civil rights movement did not have fire but he had a dream that things could be different. I’m not a scholar but economics, science and policy are not going to save us from our destructive selves. We need a different approach and it is crucial that we all have the courage to rediscover Gaia and breathe life back into our beautiful, blessed, beloved Mother Earth. I have hope that more of us will become awakened to the special, spiritual voice of nature. I dream that we move towards a new consciousness that births a greater sensibility about how we treat all of nature’s creations.

Thomas Berry writes that the “glory of the human has brought the desolation of the earth and the desolation of the earth is the destiny of the human.” This destiny, our “great work” is to “carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.” I believe that educational institutions must play a crucial role in carrying out this “great work” and we must guide our students toward an intimate relationship with the Earth. We must teach our children that “the universe is a communion of subjects not a collection of objects.” If we do not at least make an earnest attempt to do this then I believe we have failed as educators.

In our final circle as I stood up to speak when it was my turn to give my closing remarks I was overcome with emotion and felt so grateful for being in the space of such special people. I tried to speak but I couldn’t say more than “thank you.” I started to cry and lost all composure. I was literally paralyzed and this has never happened to me in public before. But as I cried something magical happened. One by one, every single person in the room silently stood up, gathered around and held me. As I stood in the center of this sacred circle, crying like a child, the Bishop placed his hand on my head and we all prayed for strength to carry out this “great work” of protecting all of the Earth’s children:

To the children

To all the children

To the children who swim beneath

The waves of the sea, to those who live in

The soils of the Earth, to the children of the flowers

In the meadows and the trees in the forest, to

All those children who roam over the land

And the winged ones who fly with the winds,

To the human children too, that all the children

May go together into the future in the full

Diversity of their regional communities.

As I was being held by Christians, Agnostics, Atheists and those like myself that like to subscribe to “I just am” from all over the world as we sincerely prayed for everyone to realize the sacredness of all life Gaia “spoke.”  She said, “I love you. Together we are going to make it.”

I think Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once wrote something along the lines of: “If I lose my faith in God, if I lose my faith in Jesus, I will never lose my faith in the world.” Berry drew a lot of inspiration from the work of Teilhard de Chardin and writes, “We cannot doubt that we too have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight, and even the physical resources we need for carrying out the transition that is demanded of these times.” We are entering a “moment of grace” and such moments “are privileged moments.”

How can we not have hope? 

With Love,

Meena

Sacred Activism Week One Notes

Schumacher College was established in 1991 and people from over 80 countries have come to take courses and the college is a part of the Dartington Hall Trust. EF Schumacher encompasses the values of the college. Education about living in a new way. Taking care of the environment you live in and making everyone feel like they belong.

What serves life will stand. What does not will fall. The power is in our hands. Love changes all.

Earth my body. Water my blood. Air my breathe. Fire my spirit.

Butterfly soup – Louis Armstrong (interdependence)

Sacred activism is to take action in the service of what we love most and we do it with the support of our own spiritual practice and community of spiritually inclined.

Spirit is that which gives the breath of life to everything we do just as our breath connects us to life spirituality connects us to everything else.

The word spirituality is taboo because it often implies religion, dogma, split from body, belief in things you cannot prove or a split between spirituality and engagement in the world.

Underlying oneness of the fabric of life

SATISH KUMAR EVENING TALK

Gandhiji is a sacred activist

Life is sacred, death is absence not the end

Everything present is sacred, sacred comes from sacrifice. Life sacrifices to maintain other life, food for other life. Life feeds life and sustains life. Tree sacrifices leaves for fertility, feeds soil so soil feeds roots. Life maintains life and this is why all life is sacred. Sacred activism is not diminishing or destroying our opponent or what we are opposing. Gandhi – without hating the sinner you can hate the sin. Maintain life and feed life. Nonviolent action is courageous and brave and you overcome fear. Salt march is an example of sacred activism. There is no “I’m right, your wrong.” MLK Jr. “I don’t have to like you but I love you.”

We are driven by fear (resources are running out) play on the fear, you have to be an environmentalist and the end is coming…doom and gloom this is not sacred activism. Sacred activism is when you arouse reverence, respect and love of nature. The earth is not our slave. The word nature comes from birth, natal = birth. Nature à birth. Whatever is born is nature. The moment we feel connectivity with all beings then we are involved in a shift towards sacred activism. From ownership we must shift to relationship. Nature does not belong to us, we belong to nature. Anthropocentricà intrinsic value, tree is not good because it gives you something it is good because it is a tree. No separation between human and non human life. Because we are all nature we are all born. Francis Bacon – separates us from nature. All living beings have equal value. Rivers, trees, forests, humans are equal. Nonviolence to nature. Respect for animals and nonhuman. Rocks are just essential for well being for earth as animals (mountains). Rocks are alive and nature spirit in the same way there is active spirit. Rocks and mountains have a geological time scale but they are born. Cycle of life is eternal. Form transforms but does not disexist. Nothing is unchanging

Intimate = atman (one moment)

Ultimate = paramatman (time span)

Atman is web of relationships of paramatman, microcosm of macrocosm

Self is made of paramatman, elements of time and consciousness

Existing only in relation, there is no intimate without the ultimate

Love intimate self but you can only love intimate self if you love the ultimate which is entire existence

Nondual dance between the intimate and the ultimate

Individual = indivisible which is not separate

Everything is related , problem not with individual but with individualism (ism)

All things in the universe have their place with in the dance of right proportion and balance

Education = knowledge and experience

Rainbow warrior it all comes down to attitude

Bertrand Russell – Nuclear Protest

Alliance for a new humanity – Deepak Chopra

CAT in Wales, center for technology

Starhawk – earth based spirituality, earth activist training

Story of the earth we would be in the melodrama, exciting moment to be alive. Facing multiple crisis. Jim Hansen leading climate change scientist…beyond the point of no return. Not hopeless and just give up. We have a very short window of opportunity. Comfort ourselves as we slide into the apocalypse “I told you so.”

What are we going to do? Nuclear energy is not a good solution for climate change. Where do we find hope, inspiration and help in the moment of crisis? We find it in deep connection with the earth. Deep scientific and spiritual idea that the earth is alive, conscious. We are a part of the fabric of earth life.  Move into the realms of faith…scientists will not allow placing consciousness into earth if it isn’t part of the universe then where did it come from? Nature will survive but we wont…

Crisis allows us to evolve and spur into different kinds of life to allow us to be more creative, inventive and connected. Look to the sun (solar power) network and cooperate.  Look to the four elements for climate change. Air = change our thinking need to look at relationships and patterns. Wind power (erei, energy return on energy invested) conservation, rebuilding community and reconnecting communities. More food that nourishes our body. Ore time to build relationships. More time to sing and deepen our connection to the earth.

As the crickets soft autumn hum is to us so are we to the trees as are they to the rocks and hills – Gary Snyder

We are the rising sun, we are the change, we are the ones we are waiting for, we are dawning.

Inner compass = love, serenity, passion, follow your bliss.

Edge of chaos – bar name

Genesis farms

My heart is moved by all I cannot save. So much has been destroyed. I have to cast my lot with those who age after age perversely with a extraordinary power reconstitute the world.  – Adrienne Rich

Gaia – The Earth as a living personality imbued with personality

Animate Earth, the earth has a soul

The state of the Earth

Drivers of Global change

Endless lust for economic growth is destroying us

Global biodiversity is very important for maintaining a climate

Habitat fragmentation is the main driver of destruction of the world

We are bringing about the fastest and most severe 6 greatest extinction

Hockey sticks climate graph

A crisis of world view, there is something wrong with the way we see the world, there has to be otherwise we wouldn’t be waging a war on nature

The scientific revolution – a few mistakes were made

“the book of the universe is written in the language of mathematics.” – Galileo, all that counts is what can be quantified. 1564-1642

there are other ways of knowing the world that are equally as valid.

I have described the earth and the whole visible universe in the manner of a machine – Descartes 1596-1650 there is no soul in nature, before Descartes nature had a soul and was intelligent only soul is in humans and it is rational and mathematical spit it up in its parts to understand

Francis Bacon – we should establish and extend power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe. Re integrate this with wisdom

The world is a dead machine and we can exploit it, Descartes struck a deal with the theologians. You have your souls science will take matter

Anima Mundi = the soul of the world, it is latin but formulated by the greeks

Psyche cosmo – plato

 The world is a mind, to know your psyche go inside

The psyche cosmos dreams, wishes just like us

Can we reintegrate the soul of the world into our world view?

Our culture developed aberration, other cultures are primitive

We are suffering form a very deep psychological disease

Gaia – the earth was first born of primordial chaos

Infiltrate science with animistic thinking

Jung –  Jungian mandala, anima mundi tries to speak to us through intuition, thinking, feeling and sensing

Anima mundi deliberately repressed by western culture and if we repress it we can never eliminate it

Where you are weakest that is where your growth is

James lovelock – gaia’ed gives us a sense of being embedded in this creature, inside this great sentient being

Lyn Margulis

Gaia – mainstream view in the 1960s living, self regulating planet

Biota – sum of all living creatures on earth, bacteria, fungi, animals, plants

Nonliving – abiotic, rocks atmosphere water etc. non living sets the agenda and the biota adapts to conditions set by biota

Biota and abiotic environment, biota impacts abiota. Without life there would be no water on the planet. Water reacts with rocks at the bottom of the ocean

William Golding

Atoms and molecules have personality

Cybernetics –

Volcanic eruptions à CO2 in atmosphere risesà Temp of Gaia increases à Rainfall increases à biologically assisted silicate weathering à CO 2 decreases

Permaculture   – system of design, system for observing analyzing and applying human creativity to systems and making conscious choices on how you create

Began by two Australians in the 1970s when they were running around the rainforest of Tazmania asking questions of how to make agriculture work like the rainforest. Rainforest sustains itself, could we grow food in the same way. Later permaculture expanded from agriculture…permanent agriculture à permanent culture

“We are a circle within a circle with no beginning and never ending.”

Three Basic Ethics of Permaculture

Earth Care

People Care

Fair Share (share surplus)

Set of Principles

Interconnection and Relation at the center—deep spiritual heart of the sacred, design relationships, what purpose will “it” serve. In nature everything is in communication so to design we begin with observation. We use thoughtful, protracted observation over time

Pattern

Balance

            Waste is food

            Solar is budget

Equilibrium and disturbance

Cycles

            Birth, growth, death and regeneration

            Self-constraining cycles

            Self-reinforcing cycles

Cooperation/competition/co-evolutions

            Diversity equals resilience

            Edge: the place of greatest dynamism

                        Creativity/stress/vulnerability

            Everything gardens—everything creates its favored environment

How we work as Nature Working

Begin with observation

Design relationships

            Integrate rather than separate

            From pattern to detail

            Connection and flows

            Relative location

            Timing—succession

            More is different

            Diversity and edge

                        Redundancy for security

            Self-constraining and self-reinforcing cycles

Do more with less

            Stacking functions

            Least change for greatest effect

            On-site, local, renewable resources

            Close loops!

            Minimal use of resources, including our own

Make mistakes, carefully

            Small and slow solutions, with observation

            Accept feedback/monitor progress

            Natives first, then proven exotics, then exotics with monitoring

            The problem is the solution

Create sustainable abundance

            Catch and store energy

            Obtain a yield

            Creativity is an unlimited resource

www.starhawk.org

www.Earthactivisttraining.org

human energy and labor is denigrated, makes you a peasant and lower order person and this goes back to philosophical splits (man vs. women, dark vs. light, spirit vs. matter etc.)

The power of community DVD about Cuba

Imaginal cells…organizing principle when butterfly soup comes around

in nature, diversity means resilience

Gaia’s Garden

Transition Town Movement

What is activism?

Take action

Fight for something you love or believe in

Many different ways to be an activist?

Committed to taking action in the service of what you love or believe

Change the world in line with your values and ideas

Appreciative inquiry

       we can learn a lot by looking at what has gone right

       active listening

       connecting with universe, microcosm and macrocosm together

       if I am peaceful then world is peaceful

       if I am fearful, I connect with negative and not positive

       paradigm in which we view things

       trust myself

       harmony with everything is important

       being peaceful within

       sense of community spirit

       inspirational leader

       hearts are open

       components of joy, illuminating moment – connection to others and the environment, nonduality, meeting new knowledge, learning , understand something

       Aha, space, realization, empowerment, ripeness, appreciation of creativity (co-inspiration)

       Visible alternative

       Act in a local way

       Don’t think in a deficit mode

       Ripeness

       Peace is not always calm it can be tumultuous, full of energy and dynamic change. Conflict is creativity

There are those who want to set fire to the world we are in danger there is only time to work slowly there is no time not to love. Deena Metzger

Campaign Planning and Strategy

Transition towns, education, end of suburbia

Direct action campaign

       Investigation or research

       Education

       Mobilization

       Negotiation

       Action

       Transformation

De-legitamizing the institution you are contesting, when you turn to violence you lose your claim to legitimacy

Why are you even protesting? That is victory because you got them to education

Transition town – proactive direct action, local currency, food not bombs in SF, city repair (Oregon)

Difference between positive direct action and charity?

Sacred Activism – Week Two Notes

Rational and the spiritual = magic moment, think of Mozart

Don’t start labeling, meditating or reading

Faith vs. science

Earth as a system

Ideas in our head translate it back to make a difference

Be happy with being, more not having more (Earth Charter)

I am a bit of life – Dick

Mosquito

Life way instead of religion

Giving

Religion as it moves us

Steeped in the Abrahamic tradition

Dangerous, new ideas change our life

Academic, not disengaged, recover the engaged intellectual

Engagement of ideas that matter

Deeper sensibility of where we are acting from

sacredness to life

vibrancy, spiritual dimensions

200 years of the industrial revolution has brought us towards mass extinction

understanding of systems, long range thinking bio diesel, food crisis

we have got to act for change with urgency, religions can be a network to bring about change

sacred is the sense of that which is enduring in different cultures

activism – how we act

Renewal Film – religious based environment action

Websites – five years to construct

Religions are necessary but not sufficient

800 scholars and environmentalists, collaborative engagement

how does advaita relate to modern problems, this is a journey

we don’t have to talk about our critical state, most people are aware

science and policy are necessary but not sufficient, certain segment of scientific community believe we cannot do this without other disciplines and spiritual, cultural component

millennium assessment on human behavior, new partnering of science with humanities, remarkable new opening, environmental history, philosophy, mary oliver, environmental literature

jared diamond = collapse

religion (spirituality, ethics, cultural values) that have shaped society, gaining traction in environmental studies departments

emerging alliance of religion and ecology is a field and a force

upaya – skillful means

syncretic – Shinto, Buddhist interaction in Japan

identifying cultural values which have formed civilizations are a component of environmental concerns

deeper than ethics for the solution

Humanity, Ecology and Activism

Bridge at the Edge of the World book

Scientific facts alone are not changing people, our economic growth model and capitalism is driving us over the edge. I’m not a Marxist. We need different approached, poetry art and the worlds religions

Religions and sustainability, sustaining way of being as people feel collapse makes their spirit collapse, despair depression, religions offer how do we sustain ourselves, regenerate the energy for this kind of work.

I am not going to be a banker, I want to make a difference. This is inspiring.

Religions have always changed, change and continuity is part of the dynamics of these traditions.

Promise and problems: religions have affected human behavior, consciousness and values for millennium. Constraining but also liberative. Prophetic and transformational (film, amazing grace, quakers)

Until MLK that movement did not have fire. I have a dream, things can be different. Consciousness and energetic shift.

How can human action be drawn forward with a dream and possibility of a sustainable future?

Narrativity is anchored in cosmology.

Building the earth.

China and India bring us into the future.  Religion to bear from questions of environmental concern. Religions have something crucial to say about environmental behavior (Thomas Berry)

Intrareligious dialogue focused on religious issues.

Nature religions and native religions (on going project)

This work is the beginning rather than the conclusion

Major foundations did not know what we were talking about

LSE no ecology dept

If we have the answers in our traditions then why are there these problems?

Solipsistic

Transformation of consciousness needed to heal the world religions are necessary but not sufficient

Religions need science and economics, education, policy

What are the responsibilities and work that need to be taken

Approaches to the study of religion and ecology = scholars reached back into the tradition to bring about rituals, texts where communities had interacted with the environment and embedded them in the tradition. Retrieval is very key.

Orthodox tradition, abiding

Are teachings so monolithic? What is the nature of change and continuity?

Re-evalutaion after retrieval. Scholars are re-evaluating  text for contemporary character. Reconstruction, are we together, sacred comes in, change alter in order to meet contemporary challenge.

Definition of religion – define terms at the start of a talk

Historical presence – theology vs. history of religion

Greening of seminary’s

Grassroots religious environmentalism

Inviting, teasing

Religion and ecology – matter , matters

Think before action

Dharmic ecology, strategy matters

It is not just stewardship but who we are as humans on this earth

Toward a New Consciousness: Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities.

Thomas Berry: Glory of the humans has brought the desolation of the earth, desolation of the earth is the destiny of the human.

 

Creating Conditions for the Realization of the Unconditional (Shunyamurti)

The other day a student reacted to the idea that we should be working to save the world by insisting that he didn’t give a damn about the world and he only wanted to straighten out his own life. This attitude is far too limited to allow success, even in its own terms. It may therefore be useful to clarify Sat Yoga position.

There are two primary reasons to be dedicated to saving the world. The first reason is operational. The very act of dedicating one’s life to that project will impel the emergence of the greatest compassion and wisdom from within one’s being. This emergence and unification of the highest qualities of our essential nature will transform the ego.

Clearly, God does not need your ego’s help to save the world that God created, a world that includes you only as a short lived, egocentric, pathetic animal. And if God wants this world destroyed once and for all, no ego has the power to contest that. It is for your own sake that the effort to save the world should be undertaken. The consciousness that so dedicates itself will thus become detached from its egocentricity and will come to function effortlessly as a vehicle for the Supreme Self. One will have created the conditions for the realization of the Unconditioned Essence to fully blossom.

The second reason, even more primary, is that the world we are dedicated to saving is, in fact, the Self. Since there is only the Self and nothing else, what the egoic mind perceives as the myriad of planetary life forms are but the expression of One Self. To save the world is to save oneself. In the act of recognizing the world as the Self, the ultimate liberation is realized instantaneously.

In short, one must dedicate oneself to saving the world as the same time that it is clearly understood that there is no world to save.

This is very different from an apathetic attitude toward the world and having a concern only for the transformation of one’s own existence, which is still an egoic desire, and is based on the dualistic illusion that there is in fact an egoic entity requiring enlightenment. No such entity ever existed, except as a fantasy floating in pure consciousness.

Since the world is your projection, the act of saving it resolves the projection, along with all its attendant conflicts and patterns of suffering. The retraction of the projection retrieves consciousness from ignorance and illusion and returns it to its source, which is Atman. Simultaneously, Atman is recognized as Brahman, the Supreme Real, and the entire universe is resolved into the Zero Point. This is the salvation all are seeking. Since every being is a dream within a larger dream, and every dream is interconnected with every other, the salvation of one contributes to the liberation of all.

So please help everyone out, including yourself, by saving our non-existent world.”

MEENA in Japanese means beauty wave, beauty apple (that your offer to god) and beauty, how and why it occurred

Another level of enchantment…

Telling stories…when you go for a job interview you are going to have to tell your story, what is your story

Fellow enthusiasts

SHAKTI’S Talk

Quality of people that collect that are feeling, thinking and concerned about the world. Feel very positive about everything.

Beauty – fortunately never let go of art making, world of the artist is perplexing

Everything is connected

Beauty may be one of the missing links to the problems we face, ecological, ethical, social, value problems

Beauty may be part of the answer in a profound way

Beauty means so many different things, the term is used loosely

What are we talking about? Beauty and aesthetics are part of the system that makes inner and outer relationships occur

What is beauty? Shakti sees beauty as an experience. I feel beauty when I look at this flower. Beauty is experiential. Four levels: 1) sensory 2) feeling/emotional (pleasurable, joyful, connected so the experience of beauty has certain attributes), 3) reason about beauty  4) consciousness , awareness, bliss, ananda

Experience of beauty of deep profound beauty connects us with a kind of bliss or joy and this is deeply stirring

Characterize this great experience of beauty (pleasure, gladness, wellness, joy, delight, spaciousness, timelessness, wholeness, integration)

All of these point to all great traditions in the world have

There are certain ideas that need to come up. Harmony comes up. Harmony within the elements of the object being pereceived. Harmony within me. Balance, proportionality, rhythm (chandomaya, meter) life is a movement and there is a certain kind of rhythmic pattern, Shakespeare and meter, structure of bach’s music, brain patterning music affects. Harmony, balance, proportionality and rhythm are relational.

See beauty as an experience not a property of an object and fundamentally it is about relationality.

Beautiful economics

Absence of harmony, proportionality

Beauty is when the quality of relationships are in wellness goodness balance and harmony

Time to revive or bring beauty back into focus

Beauty dialogues – series of discussions with scientists, ecologists, economists and artists

Holistic – life is a webbed networked phenomenon and make the process work and we need new ways to work with and be part of this process

What can be learnt about the relational values or qualities between harmony, balance and proportionality from nature? They sing beauty.

Reexamine the major classical traditions?

What is wisdom?

Synchronicity, make beauty happen within them

Beauty in nature is adaptive or a movement toward a system of delight, joy and bliss

Explore whether meditation is at heart an aesthetic practice that increases the qualities of beauty.

The purpose of art caused a temporary break in our normal stream of consciousness and arrest our attention to help us grow and move towards transformation

Bliss itself is transformative

Abhinavagupta – beauty is the opening to the divine

Deep spiritual sense are awe and wonder

Activate on wonder to meet beauty this is a source of transformation for the human

What mitigates against wonder is our superficial sensibility of our society

Harmony and beauty is something we yearn for

The edge of chaos

Struggling with horticultural movement without attention placed to locality. Place things in their context!!! If you are not conscious of the localization of many natural phenomenon and processes

We are part of nature but we do violence to nature that others species don’t

Beauty is when things are dynamic, beauty around children because they have a dynamic energy

What will you do to activate beauty? I hope I am doing it all the time.

TUTORIAL WITH MARY

Value of face time

Retrieval, re-evaluation and reconstruction very useful framework

Ecological spirituality conflicts with Christianity

Whitehead

Father Thomas Barry

 Now 93, “Evening Thoughts” historian of Europe, Phd on Vicco Italian philosopher of History. Studied religions of Asia and influences by Confucian. Set up history of religions program at Fordham. After 60 he began writing the Universe story. Religion in the 21st century. 1988 he wrote a book called the Dream of the Earth that Sierra Club published. In 1978 he wrote a short essay called the New Story which is the “New Story” We are between story. We have a scientific evolutionary story and Genesis and creation stories in the world religions. We are schizophrenic with these stories. We need a new story for our time. Creation stories give us a set of values. Differentiation, subjectivity (the inner nature of reality), communion. Everything is unique and a connection. The universe gives us a set of principles. Humans were part of the evolutionary process. We come out of 13.7 billion years of evolution. Geo, bio historical beings and this changes our sense of who we are. Consciousness is not unique in human. Self organizing dynamics. We have a great work for our time. Eco-zoic era. We have damaged the earth.  

Shifting from Anthropocentric world view to a Life centered view

Blossomed 

Science new contract with Sustainability

SATISH TALK

According to Hindu ecology there is no one personal god in heaven somewhere. The Sanskrit line is isha vas midam sarvam. All existence is imbibed by the sacred and the divine. Creation and creator are the same there is no separate. As the dance and the dancer cannot be separate. Image of creation is the dancing siva natraj. If the dancer is not there the dance cannot be there, the dancer is in the dance. The creator is in the creation there is no separation. In dartmoor everything is sacred and divine. Sitting under a tree is my prayer. God is active. Sacred activism. God is active all the time. Creativity, creation are all present every moment in everything. mantra is nature, religion is nature, god is nature, divinity is nature there is no dualism. Nature is therefore I am. Nature human separation is a dualism. Nature word comes from birth so what is born is nature. We are very species oriented that all species serve us. Thomas berry talks about the earth community. We are nature and what we do to nature we do it to ourself.

You are, therefore I am.

I think therefore I am , we don’t exist because of our thoughts.

I am made of all the elements, teachers, ancestors etc. if you take all these things away what you have left is emptiness.

The only thing is the key word. We are all related.

All my relations – native americans

The moment we feel the relationship and the oneness then we will not destroy.

I am an environmentalist not out of fear but out of love of nature.

I love and what I love I cannot destroy. If you don’t love and utilitarian view, protect what is useful. We have to go beyond. Intrinsic value of all living beings.

You love the tree because you value it. you love someone because of their intrinsic value not because they give you something. That power and force of love is essential foundation of any sacred activism.

When Satish went to the LSE  – no study of ecology

Oicos becomes eco nomos becomes nomy logos becomes logy

Oicos means home

Home is a place of relationship

Nomos means management

Logos means knowledge

How can you manage the home without without knowing the home?

Half baked bread is worse then baked bread

Money is only a measure of our activities

When money is the end everything else the means

Ecology is a spiritual quality

We are in a web of relationships

When you act out of wholeness, wonder, awe and mystery

After science there is a poetry , Einstein had a poetry about him and poetry transcends analytical measurement science

We cannot separate imagination and poetry from science

Sacred activism includes awe, wonder and mystery and you will not have burn out

Sense of awe and wonder about nature

Some things you can’t explain but you just feel

Bring holistic perspective of complementary we can find greater joy in our experience

Wisdom to discern what is the right place etc. great teachers of time are here to help us

Right proportion and balance

Ecological sustainable paradigm shift

Can money be saved in the future?

JFK – what is created by humans can be saved by humans

We need to decouple, delink money with power, prestige and status

We need to create a parallel money system. Local money like totnes pound for exchange and if you build a small, resilient local money slowly national money may disappear

Transformation of money systems urgently

Economic renaissance – Schumacher society in the US

Some students are paralyzed by the problem

Peace only comes when you trust (Pakistan and food story)

I just am

No money then creativity and imagination come. When you don’t find food spiritual opportunity to sleep under the stars and fast.

Every person is a special kind of artist

Dormant creativity water it and it will grow and flourish

Peace often seen as absence of war but it is a way of life, a way of being a way of relating, trusting, peace is when we say all shall be well. Peace is not a treaty.

Peace begins with yourself, have you made peace with yourself

Accept yourself as you are make peace with yourself

Then make peace with nature, nature is for our use

Respect and relationship

When you have peace with nature then you can have peace with humans and this can extend relationship

Peace is a positive way of life

Faith is an extension of trust, vishwas is trust shradda is faith

Faith is to accept the limit of the rational mind and transcend from rational thought and go into the sphere of the unknown and yet trust there is a coherence in the universe.

Faith goes beyond definition, profound recognition the universe is going towards coherence

Grace is gratitude comes from grace grace and attitude is a grateful attitude grace is delightful acceptance that it happened because it happened not because I did it, you are so gracious you do not impose your ego on your actions, that is humility

Tuesday, July 22nd

Dimensions of Religion (Ninian Smart)

Religion is approached from a whole variety of ways

Deep spiritual significance (Thomas Berry)

DIMENSIONS (how do we reconfigure with ecological basis?) Earth Mass in New York

Experiential/Personal – (an inner, heart experience) an approach to the study of religion that emphasizes the individual inner experience, as well as the language and metaphors used to describe personal experience. This approach involves psychology of religion and anthropology of religion as interpretations of experience. How do we tell what belongs to the experience and what belongs to the interpretation e.g. Freud’s secondary revision of dreams. What distinguishes a numinous experience from a mystical experience?

Social/Political – an approach which explores the communal and group aspects of religion. The interactive character of religion and society make us aware that religions helps to bind communities and communities in turn shape religions. Power and authority flow from the dynamics of religion which can bestow status, cast aspersions and doubt on individuals or doubt on the individuals or groups, or lead to the establishment of elite groups within societies. The reverence and awe associated with social formation and political power raise questions about the function and manipulation of religion, as well as its capacity to inspire order and coherence among inchoate and potentially chaotic groups.

Ritual – an approach which inquires into the meaning of formal and informal actions in religion. Rituals are not seen as static events but actions which take place in meaningful settings and at significant times. Often awareness of the process of ritual is lost in the celebration of spectacular events. Questions concerning the preparation prior to such an event, the purpose, and the means for attaining the intended goal open important aspects of ritual. Roles, relationships, and transformations provide sets of additional questions for interpreting the ritual act.

Mythic/Historic – a way of studying religion that focuses on a people’s sacred stories. These ancient, yet ever-changing, stories transmit personal and social identity, and a means of entry into such deep issues as life, death, food, and sacrifice. Myths themselves are often seen as the means for evoking spiritual presences that psychologically nourish, challenge, heal and transform individuals and groups. Myths are frequently seen as in tension with history. That is, myth is understood as positing timeless truths, whereas history is concerned with the changing character of human interaction. This involves us in questions about the meaning of symbols, the language of symbols, and the systems of symbolic thought that are distinctive to ethnic and cultural expressions. We need to situate our questions both within specific traditions and to inquire using the categories of thought of the people being questioned.

Source of Religious Inspiration/Revelation – a study of the foundational resources of a religious tradition. That is, where does meaning com from? What is the source of the deepest values which move a community? Rather than the values themselves this approach asks about the primal wellspring of life, the root of meaning, and the spirit that renews and transforms life. Where do we meet the sacred? Prayer and Scripture, nature, interior.

Ethical – this approach to the study of religion attempts to understand the principles, ideas, and experiences that inform individuals and groups about appropriate actions. Often the terms ethics and morals are used interchangeably, through some distinguish morals as the concern for the rightness or wrongness of specific actions, and ethics as the system of thought for determining right or wrong. Ethics serve to correlate moral values with myths, experiences, and doctrines. This method of study, namely ethics, raises questions about the normative and evaluative positions from which one interprets religious.  Do we need religion for morality? Faith and Reason—Ethics primarily dealt with humans and now we are trying to expand that out to include nature. Rational philosophy has hijacked the source of ethics.

Cosmological – a study of religion which inquires into the story of the cosmos, the fit of the human in that universe, and the ways in which these understandings are transmitted to individuals and groups. Ironically, although the larger context of meaning and understanding this conceptual tool of cosmology may remain hidden for broad segments of a people known only through symbols and metaphors drawn from local realities.

Christianity and Ecology – Thematic and Topical Considerations

Incarnation

– Jesus of Nazareth, hesed/mercy, healer, rabbi-teacher, mystical Sermon on the the Mount

       Messiah/Christ

       Prophet and “days of the Lord” social justice

Logos Christology

       Redeemer, Cosmic Christ of Paul’s Epistles (1st Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians) John’s Gospel

Sacrament

       matter seen as capable of holding or transmitting the sacred

       ritual practice as participation in the mystical body (Paul’s Epistle 1st Corinthians)

Mystical Participation

       Galatians 2;20, I John 3:2m II Peter 1:4, II Corinthians 12:2-4

       Greek Orthodox Hesychasts (yoga), Pseudo-Dionysius (Platonic “divine rays of darkness”), Maximus the Confessor

       Ascetic Desert Fathers, Francis of Assisi, Victorines

       Catherine of Sienna, Devotio Moderna, Meister Exckhart, Hildegaard von Bingen

Eschaton

– end of time, edge of creation, end that draws us forward, Kingdom of Heaven, Promise

Inquiring minds…

Eco-literacy

Homonization

Challenge and possibilities of Cosmology, can we make a transitional cosmology from an anthropocentric world view to a nature view, reconstructed lucifer

Opposites to ecological ethics, move beyond anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, worship a creator god

We believe in life before death – Christian Aid Slogan UK

Church giving a lead in ethical investments

Giving rights to the nonhuman world, Spain has voted for rights for primate cousins

Until Christian church sorts out issues with sexuality and patriarchy how can it sort out ecological problems

Care, stewardship,

Recreating Ritual to promote Ecological values in Christianity

Creator, redeemer, Sustainer

Jesus the Nazreth, the Christ connected with the Jewish idea of Messiah

His teachings have concern for the poor, teaches in parables

When I go, the spirit will lead

Action, vision, sustenance, tradition, knowledge

Christian Environmentalists connect Spirit with Sustainability

Enthusiastic – filled with the Divine

Baptism

Water in early Christianity is chaos, death

Dying to something and being born as well

Reconstructed

Networks, flows of energy

Baptism is a community of believers

Reconstruct it to community of life

Being baptized into the community of life

Extending respect and responsibility into the community of life and now this is an ethical dimension

Focus should be the relation of the child to the community, respect and responsibility of the community

God parents – a part of the community of life is also a witness, is also a god parent

Get parents to plant a tree when the child is baptized and as the child grows the water from the baptism used to nurture the plant

God parents choose a form of life the child is related to

I baptize you in the name is the creator, redeemer and sustainer

The priest is the cosmological connection with all things

Water is because of life and life is because of water

Introduce Mother of God, Mary   

We reconstructed the ritual of Baptism to include an ecological element. We chose Baptism because we felt it was important to start with the beginning of life. The Baptism

Ritual is the point of entry for most people

Baptism has an ongoing role in life, responsibility to the community of life

Affection. We won’t save it unless we love it.

In new jersey and take that season instead of lent the eco-season. The season of creation.

Green faith in NJ

Larger vision

Participation

Responsibility = an ability to respond

Intellectualize and Empathize

Ubuntu Philosophy

Wednesday, July 23 – Confucianism and Daoism

Karl Yaspers Axial Age

Confucian History

Understand it as a spiritual, ethical tradition

Confucious is a transmitter, cosmology is muted but teachings about the human

Botanical and human cultivation

Mencius – child crawling towards a well, basic human goods

We are seeded and the cultivation of the human is to bring forth these seeds

Human’s lost their authenticity and then nature loses their authenticity

Early Confucians – classical period 500 BCE

Confucias (humaneness, relatedness, always in two), Mencius (human nature is good, education), Hsun Tzu (human nature is in need of reform, ritual, laws (legalism)

Human nature is good, how do we be become more fully human over a life time in this world

Han Confucian (same time as Roman Empire)

Co-relationship, co-relation with the vibrant and alive elements of the universe

Correlative, comology with resonating forces of the human

Empire had this sense of harmony

Interpenetrating, interaction

Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism all interact

Virtue is seen in the human and also in the natural world

Humans complete heaven and earth

T’ung Cheng-shu

Confucianism becomes a political system

Early yin/yang cosmology integrated into virtue ethics—correspondences

T’ang period–Long interval of Buddhism

Neo-Confucianism 10th – 20th Centuries

High culture and civilization—art, philosophy, urbanism and trade

Integration of cosmology and ethics, Tai-Chi, yin yang, five agents

Chu His, Chao Tuni, Cheng brothers later Wang Yang Ming

Spread to Korea and Japan and Vietnam

Important for Civil Service Exams

New Confucians 20th century to present

       Response to devastation of China 19th/20th century

       Internal rebellions and corruption

       External imperialism/Europeans and Japanese

       Destruction of Confucianism

       Reconstruction, especially in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tu Weiming

Anthropocosmic – heaven, earth, human

Confucianism/Neo-Confucianism

Family Regulations

Order in the family will influence order in the state

Beginning of education lies in the family

Family closeness and ties primary, loyalty and lineage are central

Filial piety—hsiao—root of humanity—ien

a.     respect and care for parents as the source of life

b.     honor one’s parent’s name through behavior

c.      respect the body as a gift

d.     revere one’s elders and one ancestors

e.     importance of male heir to carry on family name

Social Ordering

Human relationships are key, role of morality, ritual and education

Individual in relation to the group—sense of belonging; obligations and “rights”

Five relations

1.     ruler-minister

2.     husband – wife

3.     parent – child

4.     older brother – younger

5.     friend – friend

hierarchy and loyalty to superiors important; mutual reciprocity essential significance of ritual (propriety)

(ceremonies of music)

a.     personal (daily life)

b.     communal (rites of passage)

c.      religious (pattern)

d.     political/state (civil religion)

Philosophy of Education

Assumes  human nature is essentially good (Mencius)

Value of learning as a process of oral cultivation and enrichment

Importance of the teacher, contribution of scholarship; model of sage personality

Goal of moral behavior

      practice of righteousness

      contribute to society

      sharpening of moral intuition

      basis of civil society

Political Theory

Mandate of Heaven – moral ruler has right to rule (can lose this through corruption)

Ruler as moral force – like the pole star

Ministers and advisors as check on ruler – many ranks of ministers

All government officials were trained in Confucian classics

Examination system as entry to civil service; exams were based on the classics

Importance of statecraft and managing bureaucracy – key to China’s long-term survival

Cosmological Integration

The Triad of Heaven, Earth, and Humans

Humanism with a large frame of reference; Heaven is not alike a Western God

a.     for Confucius and Mencius – Heaven (will, personal presence, mandate)

b.     for Han Confucians – elaborate systems of correspondence between human and natural world

c.      for Neo-Confucians –Great Ultimate –T’ai chi, connection to larger natural order

1.     In part this was a response to Buddhist’s metaphysical sophistication

2.     Neo-Confucians wished to affirm change not critique it or withdraw from it as they felt the Buddhists had

SELECTIONS FROM CONFUCIAN TEXTS

The Great Learning – The ancients who wished clearly to exemplify illustrious virtue throughout the world would first set up good government in their states. Wishing to govern well their states, they would first regulate their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they would first cultivate their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they would first rectify their minds. Wishing to rectify their minds, they would first seek sincerity in their thoughts. Wishing for sincerity in their thoughts, they would first extend their knowledge. The extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things. (p. 115)

The Doctrine of the Mean – Only people who posses absolute sincerity can give full development to their nature. Able to give full development to others, they can give full development to the nature of others. Able to give full development to the nature of all beings, they can assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and earth, they may, with Heaven and earth for a triad. (p. 120-121)

Chu His on Jen (Humaneness)

Whenever and wherever humaneness flows and operates, righteousness will be fully righteousness and decorum and wisdom will be fully decorum and wisdom. it is like the ten thousand things being stored and preserved. There is not a moment of cessation in such an operation for in all of these things there is the spirit of life. Take, for example, such things as seeds of grain or the pits of peach and apricot. When sown, they will grow. They are not dead things. For this reason they are called jen (the word jen means both “pit” and “humaneness”). This shows that jen implies the spirit of life. (p. 501)

Chang Tsai’s Western Inscription – Heaven is my father and earth is my mother and even such a small creature as I finds an intimate place in their midst. Therefore, that which extends throughout the universe I regard as my body and that which directs the universe I regard as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions. Respect the aged…Show affection toward the orphaned and the weak. The sage identifies his character with that of Heaven and earth and the virtuous person is the best [among the children of Heaven and earth]. Even those who are tired and infirm, crippled or sick, those who have not brothers or children, wives or husbands, are all my brothers who are in distress and have not one to turn to. (p. 469)

All quotations from Wm. Theodore deBarry, ed. Sources of Chinese Tradition. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960). Changed slightly to reflect the inclusive language implicit in the Chinese characters themselves.

China’s response to environmental crisis can be solved through indigenous thought

34 cities over a million in China

deep longing of the human spirit for meaning

Chinese Academy of Social Science

Ethics have to come from writing, indigenous

CHALLENGES TO PROMISE

loss of cosmology vs. live in universe

anthropocentrism vs. anthropocosmic

individualism vs. relatedness

materialism/mechanism/dualism vs. chi, aliveness, matter-energy, vital force

Axial Age civilizations

Multi form, multi cultural, multi religious community that has a gaia sensibility

Earth

Micro-macrocosm relationship

Philosophical, religious and meditative Daoism

Difficulties when you imprint religious terms on the west

Confucianism – you cultivate yourself to give back to the world

Daoism = indigenous tradition of China

Daoism borrows organizational features of Buddhism

Buddhism borrows the language of Daoism to describe itself

True dao cannot be spoken about. Those that speak about the dao do not know the dao. Paradoxical character of life. We cannot commodify the dao

The view of life is organic, holistic

Dao = road, path

As we create a planetary community we are inheriting these interactive distinct world religions, incredibly complex historical traditions, not a syncretic

STEFAN’S TALK

Deep Ecology and Arne Ness

Tremendously important person

When he was 6 he was taken to a cabin in a mountain in Norway

He saw the mountain and was completely taken by qualities in this mountain

The mountain was generous, had magnificence

And decided to devote his life through understanding those qualities

His mom said, that you can’t build a cabin that is arctic tundra

Age of 27 he became professor

Read great texts of western culture and Gandhi

At age of 60 he retired to devote himself to deep ecology

The mountain had come into the room

Arne is the mountain and the mountain is him

When you fall in love with a place your life becomes service to this greater personality, animate earth

The mountain was a psychological being

Western culture has to take this question on board

The facts of climate change will not change our behavior

We need to talk about values

Deep ecology, there is a ecology that is deeper, level

Realm of values how do we live in relation to the facts that science has taught us about the earth

Ecosophy = wisdom of home, there is no ecosophy

Everyone develops their own ecosophy

Pluralistic

Ecosophy T – you need the earth to do it

The grandeur cannot be articulated

SELF REALIZATION!!!

May all beings realize their full potential

To become wise ecologically you need a place to understand

Three aspects of deep

       deep experience, radical connectedness with the earth

       put your deep experience to work (ground it)m deep questioning, how are we living our lives in relation to that deep experience. Do I need to buy myself a new iPod? Methodology

       deep commitment to bring about change in a peaceful and democratic way and you act and this feeds back to a deeper experience and cycle continues

Name of the mountain, take in the glow when you meet him. What he found there we have to find if we have any chance of surviving as a civilization.

Depth of being with the mountain, simplicity

Simple in means and rich in ends, simplicity is the true richness

Our culture wants our experience to be shallow so we have no commitment except to ourselves and we don’t question so we buy more stuff and we become more fragmented

Leopold, founding fathers of the modern environmental movement

Neither the wolf nor the mountain

More than human powers disagreed

Sand company almanac

We humans are plain members of the biotic community, we are like the microbes in the soil

A thing is right when it preserves the integrity, stability, of the biotic community of life

EVENING TALK WITH MARY EVELYN TUCKER and JOHN GRIM

At Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale School of Divinity – Science and Spirituality

How to bring ecology to the heart of spiritual traditions or bring spiritual traditions to the heart of ecology

Effort to build an academic field in which the study of religion and ecology takes place in both

Joint degree in Religion and Ecology

Developing a religion and ecology group, secondary school teacher workshops

Building the academic field

Eco-zoic age, this historical time in which a deeper affection and understanding of the earth is coming towards us

Being, thinking and feeling in the world

Thomas Berry, blessing from his studies. Lifted up the worlds religions for their spiritual depth. Library of 10,000 books.

Profoundly influenced by China, deBerry (Columbia)

There was an inheritance of the worlds religions into our present context, how do we meet these challenges of modernity

These traditions need to be brought into confluence with the environment

Cultural values, cosmology’s, world views, orient humans towards nature these values and ethics could contribute to a broader sense of an emerging planetary community for env protection but deeper spirit

Problems and promise of religion

No human community has to face the scale of the crises so Berry invites to the great work in one century 2-6 billion people.

Macrophase species microphase wisdom

We stopped process of natural selection

Arising huge sensibility in human heart that this is a spiritual issue, human issue. Something at stake if life disappears before us

The wake up call at the museum, 4 of 6 ornithology had their birds extinct

Watching for the edge of extinction or become the advocates of life

Complex dance

This moment is a moral moment

Sense of a spiritual feeling for nature

Allies for a sustainable future

Gus beth, towards a new consciousness bridge at the edge of the world

Working with scientists doesn’t change human behavior

We need new approaches

Critiquing economic growth capitalism from academia

Science, policy economics is necessary not sufficient, religion is necessary not sufficient

Dialogue with science committee is essential

Religious communities are late, need humility, not silver bullet but they are partners

Problems – fundamentalism, dogma, violence, persecution

Promise –  large numbers of people affected by these traditions, billion hindu, Confucianism, islam, Christianity, Hinduism

Spiritual, ethical component must be synergized with the work of sustainability

We need a language to speak about the magnificence and complexity that we are partners, not even stewards of.

The promise is that change has taken place through a prophetic voice.

Apartheid society

His I have a dream speech (MLK) electric moment

I have a dream, prophetic spiritual voice has entered in changes of values and consciousness

Sacred, magnificent earth not going to dissapear without voice of the spiritual qualities of nature

Approach to the study of religion and ecology emerged. Retrieval projects,

Genesis, human is given dominion over the earth

Retrieval, re-evaluation, reconstruction

The ontology of humans, being ness of humans, who we are

Ecojustice issues, poor being affected by the climate

Buddhist philosophy

Conceptual ideas that nourish and feed sacred activism

We need to be nourished at several levels

Dependent origination – all reality is contingent, there is no abiding self

Inter-relational character of all reality

Woodcutter and the family of the woodcutter

Tradition has depth of resources

Northern traditions many buddhas, Buddha nature develops

All reality is Buddha nature

Bodhisattva

Who renounces going away into enlightenment until all sentient beings are saved

We live in the midst of this gaia-en tradition

Environmental and ecological activity is a compassionate activism

Ordination of trees

India and china want their fridge and electricity and car

Pollution, water land loss issues frightening

Suggest, hope the traditions of these great civilizations could be activated based on these traditions

Korea, enormous concern about the environment

Environmental ethics based on our tradition

China is one of the most complex and worrisome places

We in china must draw on Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism not will be solved by technofix. This is an issue of culture and consciousness

Ecological civilization for the planet

Vice minister for the environment

Schumacher is a beacon of the sensibility, eco-design, sustainability, sensibility and we are at a moment of birthing a multi cultural, multi religious planetary civilization and this is the great work we are called to.

Language, awe, wonder, upaya (skillful means)

Phenomenology of nature

Glory of the human, desolation….what will bring us through this bottleneck

Paradox – concern with the transition—post-humanism

No longer focus on the culture of humanity but embed ourselves in the culture of nature

A new culture, transcending the notion of culture so we are embedded in nature to conform natural law

Anthropocosmic – embedded the human in daily, season natural cycles with ritual, sacrament of the holy in bread, wine nature etc.

Part of a larger whole

A reconstruction of these traditions and this will be a long process

New symbolic consciousness

Activating this connection, art, religion and culture can play a huge role

Renewalproject.org

Energy audit

Renewable energy of the human through spiritual practice

Earth Mass – Paul Winter plays

Seasons of creation

Faithless materialists?

No longer willing to let us get away with it.

Materialist matter matters

Global/local

Glocal

Anthropocosmic view give inspiration

Tension between hope and inspiration

The new story

Earth charter – we are part of a vast evolving universe. Earth itself if alive with a myriad community of life

Draw energy from this

Draw hope from earth is live we are birthing a new sensibility about that.

Mircea Eliade

Tu Weiming Tu

Indigenous Traditions

       15 years ago written paper long step from a paper to speak

What would be your understanding of what indigenous traditions contribute to our concern for a transformation of conscious that is needed to meet the environmental crisis?

 Indeterminacy

We can’t understand and bundle native traditions together

Going at native traditions with openness and ambiguity

Stories that are associated with places in the aboriginal Australians

Created their world through stories and song

Biosphere (take without intimate connection) people vs. ecosystem people

Ecosystem people live on the land, biosphere people globalization folks

Biodiversity you must have local action

We still don’t know how many species are on the earth, 15 million, ponderable guess

Every place is unique and special

Indigenous traditions have their connection to the system, to the place

Problem for the biosphere people want everything to be the same

All places are fundamentally different

Particular names for Indigenous peoples

Searching for language

When we study indigenous peoples as community not individual

Dimensions  – experiential

Mystical and numinous (magical)

Genesis farms, prayer of the 4 directions

Mystical relationship with the land  

Diamond – collapse

Life is hard for indigenous peoples

Loving local relationship

Diversity of indigenous peoples

At least 200 million, 600 million if Tibetans, Kurds and Zulus

6000 spoken  languages

4-5000 are indigenous languages

definite link between cultural diversity and biological diversity

highest biological diversity on the globe overlaps with indigenous cultural diversity

from 1960 shift, push to discover new resources and materials

romanticized notion of indigenous people and connection to the environment and if they do not protect environment then it is ok to mistreat (Jared Diamond, “Collapse”)

why this close relationship between indigenous and biodiversity?

Ifeway as a concept for this close connection of peoples, land and biodiversity

Lifeway = seamless relationship between human, more than human and the land

Religion and the spiritual not separate realities even though they can be distinguished

Lifeway as an alternative term for religion

Cosmology-economy-ecology

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

Cosmogenesis

Christie

Noosphere

The role of cosmology in our thinking about ecology

The individual and our place in the larger world

Our placement in the larger universe

Placing ourselves in the emergence of the universe

De Chardin is born in France from Catholic religious life and he goes into the Jesuit order

he makes a very clear decision and studies theology or science and many of his Jesuit advisors tell him to study science

in 1910 he is studying in Hastings and the whole concept of evolution opens to him

deep experience in a place

he returns to France and is involved in WWI

now he is immersed in geological studies and he begins his first writings that speculate about the nature/origin of the universe

he is no longer interested in the book of Genesis

understanding of Genesis in the emerging story of the universe = cosmogenesis

he leaves France for China and the rest of his life he is in exile

involved in some of the most important geological finds of his time

20 volumes of scientifics work 14 volumes of religious writing none of which were published but only after he died did his writings become published

his thought influenced Thomas Berry

de chardin – his concern is to evoke the mystique needed to fulfill the destinies of the universe

that had been prepared over billions of years through evolution galactic, geological, biological systems and now to their highest degree in human consciousness

situated himself in the larger story

Darwin = 1859

Evolution interacting with ecology

Evolutionary origin and development of the universe

De chardin’s cosmology – universe in movement, cosmogenesis and this universe is increasingly expressing itself homonization

De Chardin picks up this term as the human shaping the earth, human is shaping evolution. Having been shaped by evolution is now shaping evolution

Simultaneously evoking mystique and embedded in the discord

He is so awake and attentive

Moments of grace, evolutionary moments where the pressures are so intense an abrupt transition takes place

Vitgenstein

The concern for the human as the conscious mode of the universe and the culmination of the evolutionary process

The universe conscious of itself

The mainstream of human is not where we are placed

Evolution is not conscious so if humans are conscious where are we in the revolutionary stream

Conscious mode of culmination of the universe

Where is consciousness in the stream?

Nousphere – mind sphere, consciousness in the evolutionary process as it is moving through spheres

Consciousness is in matter

Lithosphere

Consciousness = sacred dimension of the universe he saw Christianity as having moved towards a redemptive understanding of Jesus and he wanted to move it from redemptive back to creation, back to cosmology

If we move back to creation, Christ is consciousness

Matter and spirit, the great dualism in the west

Matter and spirit are one but they manifest themselves in unique ways

Matter is everything physical

He was concerned with the activation of energy, effort needed to sustain the evolutionary process

The human phenomenon/phenomenon of man –

Response to the purposeless, dead universe

Activate a zest for life in the human

Any advance in knowledge is essential to the earth process

Scientific act advances evolutionary movement

Science is a mystical communion with the deeper process of the universe

Deep unitive experience with the matter spirit dynamic

If I lose my faith in God, lose my faith in Jesus I would never lose my faith in the world. – Jesuit

Thomas berry raised a question – the glory of the human has become the desolation of the earth and the desolation of the earth has increasingly become the destiny of the human.

His question is, if we have brought this desolation about what way does your work contribute to that desolation stop that desolation and contribute to the life of the earth

Berry looks as cosmogenesis and we need to extend his thinking and his understanding evolution as humans, to pull ourselves out of the earth community is a mistake. De Chardin’s anthropocentrism is a mistake

Extend the consciousness from the very beginning to the entire earth community

We credit ourselves with our technological prowess as being extremely creative but we cannot create even a single blade of grass

Berry disagrees with this idea of the human building the earth

His vision was largely rooted towards human advancement and progress

Deep Affectivity of the natural world- affection

Eco-zoic – there is an age where we will have this love

Xenezoic juxtaposed with eco-zoic

What we need is a scientific engagement for the betterment of the natural world and nurture the biosphere

Academic communities exclusive advancement of the human

Solipsism, self orientation

The Great story – Thomas Berry

We don’t understand the earth as a sacred reality, the universe is a communion of subjects not a collection of objects

He is like a mosaic, a monk and priest out of the catholic tradition, geologian, writer,

Their values are rooted into a cosmology and the direction in which human affairs should go

Cosmology has given us a power but we don’t understand the earth as a sacred reality

Plants can make organic out of inorganic material

Moment of grace, invention of sexuality

The new story

The earth is the center of our consciousness and god is not out of this picture

Developed an alienation from the natural world

Extractive, industrial economy based on use of resources that are limited and do not renew is the disaster

The idea of a millennium that is 1000 years that will occur when the human condition is surmounted but it didn’t come and western christians have yearned for it

How to escape the commercial enterprise

Needed time to think and discovered himself in monastery

Went to china

Personal context with which to think – History

Missionary in a much larger sense

Teilhard de Chardin

Story is a basic orientation towards the universe

Riverdale Center Study of Religions

Penetrate into the essence of religious traditions

Feel this wisdom, birthing of the great work, a vision, a new sensibility of the universe and our connection to it

The divine is manifested in all

Nothing is itself without everything else

The greatest failure of western civilization comes with the type of jurisprudence in America that gave all rights to humans and this is an inadequate way of understanding the earth.

200 million tons of chemicals each year

not to see the stars is a soul loss

recovery of the sense of the sacred, catastrophic events strikes the sense there is a power greater than the human

fear of the lord is necessary to develop reverence

tufu

a new language enable us to discuss the task to be done to prevent the total trashing of the earth which is our life boat

come home to yourself

creating our music art and educating our children about their relationship to their region

we need the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers and the mountains and this evokes the world of mystery, the sacred, awe

universe is a sacred liturgy

reading Thomas berry is a great liberation

we have to dream of a better future because it is the dream that creates

children go in the future as a single sacred community, children of the birds, elements,

the child awakens to a universe the mind of the child to a a world of wonder, imagination

it takes a universe to education a child

part of the original universe, stardust

stand up for nature, listen to nature, great work ahead

 

 

Manifesto: 
The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

One of the articles in Reclaiming Politics (IC#30)
Fall/Winter 1991, Page 62
Copyright (c)1991, 1996 by Context Institute | To order this issue …


Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

 

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Thomas Berry and a New Creation Story

by Majorie Hope and James Young

Marjorie Hope and James Young are associate professors of sociology at Wilmington College in Ohio. Their books include The South African Churches in a Revolutionary Situation and The Faces of Homelessness. This article appeared in the Christian Century, August 16-23, 1989, p. 750. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

 

 

Yet despite all these developments a Yale study has found that in America, the more a person participates in religious services, the less concern he or she is likely to have for nature. Many people of faith are calling religious groups to confront the attitudes that have fostered a progressive devastation of our planet, and to fulfill the biblical mandate to assume stewardship over the natural world.

Is stewardship enough? Do we need a more profound identity with the natural world, one that sees human and other earthly beings as members of a single community? This is the view of Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest who calls himself a geologian, a prominent spokesperson of what is often termed the eco-spiritual movement.

Christians need a new cosmology, a new creation story, says Berry. We must understand the universe as something both psychic-spiritual and material-physical. Human beings are integral to it — indeed, the human is “that being in whom the universe reflects upon and celebrates itself in a special mode of conscious self-awareness.”

“We have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants, our sense of gratitude, our willingness to recognize the sacred character of habitat, our capacity for the awesome, for the numinous quality of every earthly reality,” he writes. Berry believes that the capacity for intensive sharing with the natural world lies within us, but has become repressed by an addiction to “progress.” We have arrogantly assumed control over other creatures, deluding ourselves with the notion that we know best what is good for the earth and ourselves. Ultimately, custody of the earth belongs to the entire earth community.

Such ideas do not always sit well with traditional Christians, nor with the followers of the other two principal Semitic religions, Islam and Judaism. Yet Father Berry does not fit the common image of a radical nonconformist. He is a soft-spoken, retiring person with a gentle smile, bright eyes and disheveled, whitening hair. Those who sit in his plant-filled sun veranda overlooking the Hudson find their eyes drawn to the majestic red oak outside the window. This great tree has endured more than 400 years of nature’s buffets, and has withstood even human-made disasters, like the massive tremors from a gas tank explosion that uprooted a neighbor oak several years ago. To Berry it stands as a symbol of hope. Indeed, he chose to dedicate his book The Dream of the Earth to “the Great Red Oak beneath whose sheltering branches this book was written.”

The Riverdale Center for Religious Research, which Berry founded in 1970, is his present home. He calls it a place for “studying the dynamics of the planet earth and the role fulfilled by humans within the functioning of the universe.” Situated across from the Palisades, it is a fitting place to contemplate the fate of the earth, and to meet with scientists, educators, environmentalists and people of many faiths from all over the world. He speaks often at conferences, and although he sometimes looks frail, he finds it difficult to say No. He seems, at age 74, to be propelled by a sense of urgency.

Berry has always felt an affinity with fellow earth-creatures. Throughout his boyhood years in Greensboro, North Carolina, he often roamed the hills, delighting in the flowing streams, the singing birds and the meadows. “Even at the age of eight,” he recalls, “I saw that development was damaging nature.”

Early on he decided that monastery life would provide the best environment for contemplation and writing. He spent ten years in various Passionist monasteries, pursued his doctorate in history at Catholic University, then spent a year studying Chinese in Peking. Later he became chaplain with NATO in Germany, traveled in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and went to England to meet Christopher Dawson, the distinguished historian of cultures. Berry taught Japanese and Chinese history at Seton Hall University, helped found an interuniversity faculty seminar on Oriental thought and religion at Columbia University and an Asian Institute at St. John’s, established Fordham’s history of religions program, became an adviser to Global Education Associates and served as president of the American Teilhard Association. Throughout these years he has furthered his studies of the American Indian world. His knowledge of Sanskrit and Chinese has enabled him to delve even deeper into the classics of the Eastern religious traditions.

As the ecological crisis deepened, Berry became convinced that it is not enough to seek technological solutions. An effective response requires a more profound change in our vision, developed in a religious context. Western religious traditions, however, are too distant from this new sense of the universe, he says. Indeed, Christianity has encouraged our alienation from the natural world. The Bible’s emphasis on a transcendent, personal, monotheistic deity has diminished our sense of divinity in nature. Especially since the 16th century,, Christianity has focused on redemption and paid relatively little attention to creation experience. Although a general sensitivity to the natural world persisted in Christian consciousness up through the Middle Ages (witness the medieval bestiaries) , gradually nature slipped out of that consciousness. Classica1 Christian theology stressed the spiritual nature of humans as against the physical nature of other beings. It considered the natural world to be an object, without subjectivity or rights, and certainly not as participating with humans in a single earth community. Other factors inhibiting the church from developing a new understanding of creation are the patriarchal nature of the ecclesiastical establishment and the expectation of a millennial period in which human strife will be overcome and superseded by a reign of peace and justice.

Berry began to recognize how powerfully religion shapes cultures when he read Dawson’s Religion and Progress. Eric Voegelin’s writings deepened his understanding of how the Bible generated a sense of direction and purpose in Western history. This sense of direction has its creative side, says Berry, but it has also helped erode spontaneous sharing with the natural world, entranced people with the idea of progress, and given them a compulsion to control natural processes. Now we regard scientific technology with the same reverence that classical culture had for religious worldviews. We are consumed by a mystique of management.

Other important Western philosophers who influenced Berry include Thomas Aquinas and Giambattista Vico. From Aquinas he learned that God from the beginning intended integrity and harmony for the total cosmic order. Berry’s idea that we need a planetary socialism — indeed, an ultimate universal socialism — is based on Aquinas’s statement that because the divine goodness “could not be adequately represented by one creature alone, he [God] produced many and diverse creatures, that what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine might be supplied by another.” Vico’s view of history as a developmental process, involving the age of the gods, the age of the heroes and the age of humans, each age characterized by a distinctive type of consciousness, excited Berry. From this he proposed that humans have moved through five stages of cultural development: the tribal-shamanic, neolithic, classical, scientific-technological, and now the emerging ecological period.

The works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a professional paleontologist as well as Jesuit philosopher, also exerted a formative influence. Teilhard’s importance, Berry believes, lies in his comprehensive vision of the universe as a psychic-spiritual as well as a physical-material process, his perception of the human as the consciousness of the universe, and his shifting of the focus of Western religious concern from redemption to creation. Fundamental to Teilbard’s cosmic perspective is his appreciation of the mystical quality of the scientific venture.

But Berry finds Teilhard’s framework limited for an ecological outlook. Teilhard, he says, fails to comprehend the destructive impact of modem civilization. Fascinated with “progress,” he inherited an imperialistic attitude toward human-earth relations. That the most advanced Christian thinker of the century with a scientific background could not see the conflict in those relations is another sign of the inadequacies of our spiritual traditions, says Berry. The challenge now is to illuminate the way into the great age of the Earth community.

Berry’s conception of that community is sweeping. He is influenced by philosophers ranging from Confucius to Thoreau, Whitehead and Bergson, by poet-visionaries extending from Dante to Blake and Chief Seattle, by ecologists from Rachel Carson and Norman Myers to Anne and Paul Erlich, and by scientists from Ilya Prigogine to James Lovelock and Brian Swimme. And he is entranced with the mystery of the universe, the “impulse whereby the primordial fireball flared forth in its enormous energy, a fireball that contained in itself all that would ever emerge into being, a fireball that was the present in its primordial form, as the present is the fireball in its explicated form.”

Berry points out that today, many scientists have also become enchanted with that mystery. He quotes physicist Brian Swimme: “The universe shivers with wonder in the depths of the human,” and points out that this sense of an emergent universe identical with ourselves gives new meaning to the Chinese sense of forming one body with all things. Physicists, contrasting this view with an anthropocentric worldview, express it in terms of the anthropic principle — the human is seen as a mode of being of the universe as well as a distinctive being in the universe.

Scientific inquiries have produced a certain atrophy in our responses, Berry says. Even when we recognize our family relations with all beings, we have forgotten the language needed to speak to them. “We find ourselves in an autistic situation.” Berry describes a dream of the earth in which “we renew our human participation in the grand liturgy of the universe.”

He suggests that the earth dreams itself into existence in the immense variety of its manifestations. This variety is established by genetic codings. Our bonding with the universe, like that of other creatures, is primarily determined through our genetic coding. But humans also need cultural coding, conducted by education, by which we insert ourselves consciously into the renewing processes of the natural world — and in a sense invent ourselves. The enormous power accrued through our cultural coding spells danger — and also opportunity.

In the beginning Was the dream, says Berry. The new cultural coding that we need will emerge from the revelatory vh sion that comes in the special moments we describe as “dream.”

What changes in our institutions will we need if we are to get from here to there? Berry’s essays on economics, technology, bioregionalism, education and planetary socialism, many of which are incorporated in The Dream of the Earth, provide significant insights on this point. For Berry, the economics of our technological society “is dedicated to the role of moving the greatest amount of natural resources, with the greatest possible efficiency, through the consumer society, to the waste heap that is not the source of new life by way of fertilizing the fields and farms, but a waste heap that is dead-end at best and often enough a toxic source of further death. To increase the speed and volume of this activity is the basic norm of ‘progress.’ ” But economics should be seen not simply as a study of marketing, gross national product, trade deficits, budgetary deficits and the like. It is also a religious issue, because both economics and religion are threatened by the disruption of the natural world. “If the water is polluted, it can neither be drunk nor used for baptism. Both in its physical reality and in its psychic symbolism, it is a source not of life, but of death.” Hence the ethical imperative to go beyond questioning the industrial economy itself. As it stands today, that economy is not sustainable.

Berry’s ideas for a more functional economy are strongly influenced by those of naturalist Aldo Leopold, who outlined in his essay “A Land Ethic” principles that should guide human-earth relationships. British economist E. F. Schumacher, especially his essay praising Buddhist economics, has also influenced Berry. Schumacher’s vision of an economics devoted not to consumption but to attaining given ends with the minimum means, and his promotion of what he calls appropriate technologies (such as implements that local farmers and manufacturers can fashion and/or maintain themselves) , are fundamental, to Berry’s vision of a context for re-inhabiting the earth.

His proposal calls for local patterns of production, distribution and technologies appropriate to our habitat, appropriate lifestyles and appropriate human-earth relations. A model of this is the concept of bio-regions, which Berry defines as “identifiable geographical regions with mutually supporting life-systems that are relatively self-sustaining.” Bio-regionalism is based on an ecological vision; it is more than environmentalism, which remains an anthropocentric attempt to repair humans’ surroundings. Natural communities should form a context for. every aspect of life say bio-regionalists. Their economies should be labor intensive rather than energy intensive; produce more durable goods to reduce waste; use local materials in building; consume locally grown foods; engage in organic farming; utilize organic garbage; depend on perennial polyculture, aqua-culture and permaculture; favor trains as well as human-powered machines such as bicycles; employ solar power and other on-site modes of producing energy; and in various ways operate on self-nourishing, self-healing, self-governing principles. No bioregion, of course, can be fully self-sustaining. There will be a growing need for global cooperation. But breaking nations down into appropriate bioregional communities could promote peace.

In moving toward this paradigm, we need not forego all our technological advances, says Berry. On the contrary, we shall need science and technology more than ever. However, our new technologies must harmonize with nature, which is not always benign, but is consistently creative in the larger patterns of its actions.

As for education, Berry observes that today colleges rarely offer a program for understanding the marvelous story of the universe in its numinous and psychic as well as scientific dimensions, together with our role in creating the next phases of the story. Even humanistic studies in a core curriculum fail to kindle the energies needed for a more vital human mode of being. Berry proposes his own set of six courses, created on the premise that the earth community itself is the primary educator. They range from study of the evolutionary phases of a functional cosmology to the various phases of human cultural development, the emerging ecological age, and the identification of values. These courses should provide students in professional, general and business education an appreciation for the dynamics of the planet — an appreciation which is desperately needed today.

Berry sees hope in the outcropping of movements and modes of perception that suggest an awakening. He points to the growth of bio-regionalism, “green” political organizations, and confrontations by activist ecological groups such as Greenpeace and Earth First! He talks about shifts of consciousness revealed in New Age thinkers, countercultural writers and feminist, antipatriarchal movements. On the international level he is encouraged by shifts within the World Bank (such as the hiring of Herman Daly) toward more ecologically viable programs; the spread of vital information through organizations like the World Resources Institute and the Worldwatch Institute and through various United Nations programs; world conferences on the future of the living species; and even stirrings among national and multinational business corporations.

A number of theologians and other intellectuals have criticized Berry’s thought. Some say he exaggerates the extent to which the Bible justifies an exploitative approach toward the natural world. Others claim that college students would find’ his proposed curriculum too distant from their own experience, or that the challenges we face are more complex than rediscovering an integral relationship with the earth, and inevitably involve specific personal and political questions about our own communities. Berry does not repudiate all such criticisms. He listens, sometimes adapts, sometimes replies. But even many of his critics admire his realism, sweeping synthesis, imaginative insights and courage in confronting the narrowness of traditional theology. This prophetic writer challenges all of us. Is the human species viable, or are we careening toward self-destruction, carrying with us our fellow earthlings? Can we move from an anthropocentric to a biocentric vision? How can we help activate the intercommunion of all living and nonliving members of the earth community in the emerging ecological period?

Biologist Paul Ehrlich has declared that to look simply to technology for a solution would be a “lethal mistake,” and that “scientific analysis points, curiously, toward a need for a quasi-religious transformation of contemporary cultures.” But Berry goes further. It is not enough to attempt to transform contemporary culture, he says. We must move beyond the humanistic ideals that have shaped our cultural traditions and invent, or reinvent, a sustainable human culture by descending into our instinctive resources. There we shall find again the guidance and the energy for renewing the primordial community of all beings

Our educational institutions need to see their purpose not as training personnel for exploiting the earth but as guiding students toward an intimate relationship with the Earth. For it is the planet itself that brings us into being, sustains in life, and delights us with ts wonders. In this context we might conder the intellectual, political, and economic 

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