Ecological Spirituality

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"The third and final building block of an Ecozoic Society is Ecological Spirituality. For the most part, we have lost our sense of the spirituality of the Earth and our ultimate connection with its natural processes. The understanding that has dominated the sense of reality and value in the classical civilizations has been based on a sense of the pathos of the human condition and of the transient and tragic nature of the temporal order. As observed by Swimme and Berry in The Universe Story, the phenomenal world in this understanding has been viewed as oppressive to the more exalted aspects of the human. The spiritual world and the natural world have been viewed as two different orders of being. The conviction that the natural world is a lower, temporal reality, as distinguished from the higher, eternal reality, combined with the apparent benefits of the immense technologies of our time, have lent acceptability to the belief that exploitation of Earth's resource without regard to effect on the ecosystem is good.

Ecological spirituality is grounded in the sense that, from the beginning, the universe has had a psychic/spiritual dimension and that this dimension is manifest in every element of the universe and in the universe as a whole. As Thomas Berry said in his paper on "The Spirituality of the Earth," when we speak of the spirituality of the Earth we are not speaking of the Earth as having an objectively spiritual quality, as when we observe the beauty of the Earth, but of the spirituality of the Earth as subject, the interior numinous reality that gives form to the Earth and in which we participate. Ecological spirituality might be thought of as the "being" dimension of an Ecozoic Society.

In the simplest meaning of ecological spirituality, its practice would involve reconnection with the natural world and its numinous quality. This could involve attention to the singing of the birds, presence to wind and sea, absorption in a starry night, or nearness to earth and seed.

For some, ecological spirituality would involve a communal dimension and, for others, the practice of an established religion. In the communal context, ecological spirituality would involve the renewal of traditions or the birthing of new traditions that awaken sensitivities to the natural world and to the continuing creativity of the cosmos. The primary referent of these ecological spiritualities in their various forms would not be the written text of any religion, but rather the non-verbal or primal awareness of the revelation of the divine in nature. Ecological spirituality would not replace traditional teachings of spirituality and ethics, rather it would broaden the context of these teachings and expand the awareness of the divine-human encounter. "