Deep, Spiritual Change Of Heart Living Gently - From Blind Materialism To Spiritual Development
Rampant blind materialism lies at the root of petroleum crisis. We are recklessly using up a precious source of energy in a mere 150 years which took nature millions of years to create. Such rate of consumption, to put it mildly, is nothing short of mass insanity. The solution lies at turning our face towards spiritual development, once again.
Its heartening to see that several influential environmental organizations in the world, though secular by constitution, are echoing this theme.
Once such forum is the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization that works for an environmentally sustainable and socially just society, in which the needs of all people are met without threatening the health of the natural environment or the well-being of future generations.
Alan Durning of Worldwatch Institute writes, “In a fragile biosphere, the ultimate fate of humanity may depend on whether we can cultivate a deeper sense of self-restraint, founded on a widespread ethic of limiting consumption and finding non-material enrichment...Those who seek to rise to this environmental challenge may find encouragement in the body of human wisdom passed down from antiquity. To seek out sufficiency is to follow the path of voluntary simplicity preached by all the sages from Buddha to Mohammed. Typical of these pronouncements is this passage from the Bible: "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
Allen adds,“....action is needed to restrain the excesses of advertising, to curb the shopping culture, and to revitalize household and community economies as human-scale alternatives to the high consumption lifestyle. There could be many more people ready to begin saying "enough"....After all, much of what we consume is wasted or unwanted in the first place. How much of the packaging that wraps products we consume each year - 162 pounds per capita in the United States - would we rather not see? ...How many of the unsolicited sales pitches each American receives each day in the mail - 37 percent of all mail - are nothing but bothersome junk? How much of the advertising in our morning newspaper - covering 65 percent of the newsprint in American paper - would we not gladly see left out?”
Allen continues, “How many of the miles we drive - almost 6,000 a year a piece in the United States - would we not happily give up if livable neighborhoods were closer to work, a variety of local merchants closer to home, streets safe to walk and bicycle, and public transit easier and faster?
Keith C. Heidorn sums this up when he defines ‘Living Gently’ as a voluntary manner of living which pursues a positive, satisfying life that is considerate, noble and easily managed and that seeks to produce as small an impact on the environment as possible. It is a lifestyle chosen not only for personal satisfaction, but also for the good of our fellow inhabitants of Planet Earth: animals, humans and plants. It involves frugality but goes beyond.
Overall Spiritualization of Society Bad Theology Creates Bad Ecology Humanity is on a "spiral to suicide" and that the environmental discourses of academia often suggest an ‘end-of-the-pipeline approach’. Mary Evelyn Tucker echoes this misgiving. "We're all concerned about simply rhetorical statements or a superficial approach [that] is not going to tap into the deep spiritual reservoirs of people. A spiritual change of heart could only offer a solution towards this ‘much talked about and little done for’ crisis.
Ideas Have Consequences Adolf Hitler had ideas that he expressed in a book entitled “Mein Kampf.” Karl Marx had ideas that he expressed in “Das Kapital.” Both sets of ideas have had enormous consequences for human history.
Our environmental crisis has its roots in incorrect and imperfect idea of the self and the universe. When we understand our true spiritual nature, our unlimited urge to consume things and to produce things for consumption can be curbed. The natural result will be a better environment in which to pursue spiritual growth instead of excessive economic growth.
The theologian Jürgen Moltmann wrote that the “alienation of nature brought about by human beings can never be overcome until men find a new understanding of themselves and a new interpretation of their world in the framework of nature.”
With a deep, spiritual change of heart, a permanent change of goals and values, environmental reform would take place as a by-product, almost automatically.
Philosophical Dimensions Of The Problem One difficulty is that most individual and collective attempts fail to recognize the philosophical dimensions of the problem.
Says Vanamali Dasa, former head of the 225-acre Hare Krishna community near the town of Czarnow, Poland. “The biggest problem in society today is that almost all of us claim God’s property as our own. By trying to possess and enjoy more than our rightful share of this planet, we continuously act against higher laws of the universe. One result is unclean industrial enterprises and factories that create enormous amounts of waste, pollution, noise, and anxiety.”
Another tragic irony is that, while modern society has been highly effective in producing material goods, it has failed to provide us with a deeper sense of fulfillment. Consumer society's excessive use of throwaway food and beverage containers, for example, is as much an economic, cultural and spiritual issue as an environmental one. We can no longer afford to isolate our problems and our solutions, they are all interrelated. As the late futurist Willis Harman suggested, we need to address the "systemic failures" of industrial civilization head on. To heal consumer society's wounds - including its environmental damages, cultural decay, economic disparity, and spiritual shallowness - we must examine and treat it as a complete organism, much the same way holistic medicine attempts to restore the whole individual.
But environmental, political, economic or cultural changes are not enough. A truly holistic vision for both people and planet must include Cosmic Consciousness or God - the source from which everything originates, maintainer of everything be and in whom everything rests.
Pollution Of Consciousness And Pollution Of The Environment Humanity has reached a turning point, a defining moment in history. We stand at a crossroads, and the path we choose to follow will affect future generations at least as profoundly as the industrial revolution affected our lives. The main problems of modern planetary civilization can no longer be solved in isolation. Environmental destruction, cultural decay, and technological excesses, along with increased poverty, even in the world's richest nations - are all systemic problems that cannot be changed with the fragmented approaches so far employed by politicians and scientists. We need bold, new, comprehensive concepts and visions.
But most of all, we need a change of heart. As former president of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel said before a Joint Session of the United States Congress in 1990: "Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness a more human society will not emerge."
Science Joins The Holy Bandwagon Moscow hosted, in January 1990, an environmental meet called Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders. Practically for the first time, some of the world’s leading scientists endorsed need for a spiritual solution to our planet’s resource and environmental crisis. Thirty-two leading scientists signed a document entitled “Preserving and Cherishing the Earth: An Appeal for Joint Commitment in Science and Religion.”
The signers included astronomer Carl Sagan, nuclear winter theorist Paul J. Crutzen, physicist Freeman J. Dyson, paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, environmental scientist Roger Revelle, and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) president Jerome Wiesner.
The scientists said, “We are close to committing - many would argue we are already committing - what in religious language is sometimes called Crimes against Creation.” They therefore issued an urgent “appeal to the world religious community to commit, in word and deed, and as boldly as is required, to preserve the environment of the earth.”
“The environmental crisis requires radical changes not only in public policy,” said the scientists, “but also in individual behavior. The historical record makes clear that religious teaching, example, and leadership are powerfully able to influence personal conduct and commitment.”
“As scientists, many of us have had profound experiences of awe and reverence before the universe,” added the signers. “We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred.”
On November 18th, 1992, some five months after the largest gathering of heads of state in history at the Earth Summit in Rio, a document was released entitled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity." It was signed by more than sixteen hundred senior scientists from seventy-one countries including half of all Nobel Prize winners still alive at the time. It was one of the most unprecedented consensus ever made by the intellectual elite in the world. The warning was eloquent but blunt. No more than a few decades remain before current human practices make human life, as we know it on the planet today, unsustainable.
A certain degree of physical comfort is necessary but above a certain level it becomes a hindrance instead of a help; therefore the ideal of creating an unlimited number of wants and satisfying them, seems to be a delusion and a trap. The satisfaction of one's physical needs must come at a certain point to a dead stop before it degenerates into physical decadence. Europeans will have to remodel their outlook if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Everyone is engaged in producing motor tire, car, and they are flattering the Arabians for petrol. The same energy, if it would have been engaged in producing food grain, then where is the poverty? -Srila Prabhupada(Room Conversation with Press reporters, March 21, 1975, Calcutta)