Global-spiritual eco-healing focuses on the spiritual qualities evoked in human beings when they interact with nature and the Earth as a whole. People report sensations such as awe, reverence, timelessness, continuity, contentment, and majesty.
Rather than losing connection because of the vastness of a global perspective, some people find comfort in being part of the Earth’s whole system and identify the planet as home. Humans often feel spiritually connected to their homes; they both feel taken care of in their homes and want to care take of them in turn. Thus at the global level, a natural response is the desire to heal the whole system.
This desire is found in the religions and practices of indigenous people worldwide who speak of preserving the Earth for at least seven generations hence. It is increasingly found in other religious and spiritual organizations, which are banding together to explore points of unity in their stewardship of the Earth and environmental programs. On a secular level, the Earth Charter, which emerged from the United Nation’s 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, provides an ethical framework for human-Earth interactions (www.earthcharterinaction.org).
Nature awakens transcendent experiences in human beings regardless of cultural or religious background.
Sustainability is a consciousness that happens through education or understanding that helps you know your relationship to the Earth.
Earth: A Living Entity. Do you believe that the Earth behaves like a living entity? In 1972, James Lovelock, a NASA scientist who investigated the possibility of life on Mars, proposed that the Earth’s biosphere behaved like a living organism in its capacity to self-regulate. He called his theory the Gaia Hypothesis (Lovelock, 2000). While many environmentalists took his theory seriously, most scientists did not. Today the theory remains controversial. However, indigenous cultures and ancient European cultures would agree that the Earth is alive. Influenced by her indigenous people, Bolivia created the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth with legal implications, much as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was finally achieved. The first court finding for the Rights of Nature in the world was decided March 2011 in Ecuador (http://therightsofnature.org/first-ron-case-ecuador/).
World Parliament of Religions. The 1983 Chicago-based World Parliament of Religions called together representatives of all the world’s major religions. Topics included (1) religion’s responsibility to nature, (2) its role in the coming century, (3) the creation of a global ethic, and (4) how the World Parliament of Religions could cooperate in the coming years. Since that time, many religions offer sustainability programs, teach about stewardship of the Earth, and participate in interfaith events locally. A World Parliament of Religions is held every four years (http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/).
Earth Meditation: Using your imagination, place an inner image of the Earth in your heart. Fill your heart with love for the Earth. If you find this difficult, think of a place on the Earth that you love. Put your hand on your heart and say the following invocation:
Let this beautiful planet be filled with loving kindness.
Let this beautiful planet be well and healthy.
Let this Mother Earth be filled with great joy, peace, and understanding.
Let all life be respected.
Let this beautiful planet be filled with good will.
Repeat these words as you would a chant. Or write your own version of this meditation.
(Earth Meditation offered by Lorre Eaton)
Oneness and Nature. Have you ever had or heard about someone else who has had an experience of Oneness with all of nature, the entire Earth community? Share this experience or experiences with at least one other person. Has he or she also had a similar experience?
Sacredness and Sustainability. Annalet van Schalkwyk (2011) from the University of South Africa maintains that “the environmental crisis necessitates a world view which recognizes the Sacred in the whole web of life.” Her central question asks, How can we understand and describe an eco-spirituality that creates a sustainable future for following generations and for the planet as a whole?
Forum for Religion and Ecology. Founders Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim organized 10 years of religion and ecology forums at Harvard Divinity School. Presently, they share appointments at the Yale School of Forestry and Environment and Yale Divinity School. They organized the Yale Forum for Religion and Ecology, which is the largest international, multi-religious project of its kind (fore.research.yale.edu/).
Religion and Nature. The most definitive, scholarly work on religion and nature is Bron Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, 2 Volume Set. The 1825-page work ranges from the Oracle at Delphi to Walt Disney’s use of nature in his productions, ancient religious texts to New Age philosophy, and deep philosophical disagreements on religion’s role in the environment. Here you can find information on outstanding contributors to the religion-nature discussion, as well as indigenous culture and philosophy from around the world (Taylor, 2005) .
Center for Religion and Ecology, Yale University. http://fore.research.yale.edu/
Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/
Davis, J. (1998). The transpersonal dimensions of ecopsychology: nature, nonduality, and spiritual practice. The Humanistic Psychologist; 26(1-3), 60-100.
The Earth Charter. http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/read-the-charter.html
Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. http://fore.research.yale.edu/
Garrison Institute. (2012, March 8). Mary Evelyn Tucker: The Emerging Alliance of Religion & Ecology. Retrieved January 29, 2013 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15v6f2moleE&feature=player_embedded.
Gips, T. Sustainability and Spiritual Practice. Power Point presentation retrieved 2013 from http://lifesciencefoundation.org/libraryvideo.html .
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. http://therightsofnature.org/
King, S. (1996). Voices of the Forest. In Adams, C., (ed.), The Soul Unearthed: Celebrating Wildness and Personal Renewal Through Nature. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam Books.
Kung, H. (ed.). (1996). YES to a Global Ethic: Voices from Religion and Politics. New York: Continuum Publishing House.
Lovelock, J. (2000). The Gaia Hypothesis. London: Oxford University Press.
Rudd, M., Vohs, K., Aaker, J. (2005). Awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision making, and enhances wellbeing. InTaylor, B., (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature; 1 & 2 (Psychological Science). New York: Continuum Publishing Co.
Taylor, B. (Ed). (2005). The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. New York: Continuum.
Teasdale, W., Cairns, G., (ed.) (1996). The Community of Religions: Voices and Images of the World’s Parliament of Religions. New York: Continuum Publishing Co.
Van Schalkwyk, A. (2011). Sacredness and sustainability: searching for a practical eco-Spirituality. Religion and Theology; 18, 77-92.
World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. http://pwccc.wordpress.com/programa/