Ecospirituality

Ecospirituality – sometimes also called spiritual ecology – is a relatively new branch of theology that’s increasingly a focus in mainstream religious traditions and the emerging interfaith community. It conjoins the empirical sciences of ecology and the essence of our communal quest for the Sacred. Ecospirituality is rooted within the fundamental belief that ALL of nature, our home planet Earth and the entire unfolding universe are Sacred.

Traditional notions of of the relationship between nature and spirituality are actually ancient and have been at the core of primal beliefs across indigenous peoples from continent to continent. Literally, it is the unfolding story of humankind’s understanding of it’s relationship to nature. From the ecospiritual perspective – God, Spirit, Ultimate Reality, Higher Power, the Divine…is not just Creator and Source of all creation. Whatever we consider “God” is, in fact, creation itself. Interacting with creation, therefore, is synonymous with interacting with God.

*The entire Universe is Divine. This includes you and me.

*The Old Testament’s Book of Genesis story of God giving “dominion” to humankind over the whole earth is repeatedly used to justify our use and abuse of planetary resources and co-inhabitants for millennia in the name of “development” and “progress.” The story presents a legacy of human to human and cross-species genocide all too often in the name of God.

*We are all interconnected.

*We are “all” in this together… all is inclusive – think humans, animals, fish, trees, plants, bees, insects, oceans, rivers, streams, bacteria and atomic particles.

*Ecospirituality considers the ethics of violence and sustainability. It considers ALL individuals as interconnected – a complex fabric of relationships with the group… groups with other groups… and the ethics of how all these relationships are bound to the environment within which they occur.

*Ecospirituality within the social justice conversations is pertinent interfaith dialogue.

*There are spiritual implications about our relationship with nature and the ways we collectively treat our planet and environment. Ecospirituality explores the relationship between life and lifestyle.

*Ecospirituality assumes a global response to multiple challenges from what to do with human and animal garbage to energy production and consumption to the consumption of materials.

*There is a profound relationship between “me” and “we.” That relationship has profound meaning for “us.”

*Ecospirituality can be seen as a new name for ideas that emerged in the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, Rachael Carson, Spinoza, Henry David Thoreau, Emerson and John Muir.

something to think about

Ecospirituality

Violence Hurts

The Iraq War began 12 years ago this week on March 19, 2003.
With America leading false charges regarding the immanent threat posed by alleged weapons of mass destruction, the United States invaded another nation.

This ongoing violence is deeply embedded into the psyche and culture of an entire generation of American children:

*best estimates of between 500,000 and 1.4 million Iraqi civilian are dead
*4,486 American soldiers are dead
*32,021 American soldiers are wounded
*Unknown number of soldiers returning with traumatic brain injuries from IED’s
*18 American veterans suicide a day on average
*Iraq War has cost the USA $2.2 trillion dollars which looks like this: $2,200,000,000.00
*Iraq War perpetrated unprecedented violations of the principles of American democracy and integrity of international law
*the psychological & ethical tolls the war has cost our national image in the global community

In addition to these economic and moral costs, the Veterans Administration is pervasively slow and perpetually under-serves our armed forces. The immediate and ready availability of abundant war “surplus” (which you paid for) has lead to the militarization of local police departments (and its not just in large cities). We’ve employed the successful methods of marketing/advertising to orchestrate language spins like “collateral damage” to sanitize the catastrophic destruction and death of war.

The big picture multifaceted costs of the Iraq War continue to shape our society as a culture of violence for us…and our kids.

But collectively we don’t talk it. This conversation doesn’t happen.

I’m ashamed that the color of a dress, TMZ gossip and March Madness are our chatter.

Talk of violence and war…having conversations in our heads and our hearts…among families and friends…is what sacred activism sounds like as it emerges.
These dialogues are the responsibility of religious people in general and spiritual people in particular.

What we consider as Sacred affects these discussion. God matters regarding our perceptions of violence.

Please make no mistake. I honor all American soldiers and sincerely consider our wounded warriors to be some of my personal heroes.
They demonstrate a profound courage that I do not possess.

But my prayers and mediation; reading and thinking; study and ministry…show me that human rights; equality of gender, race and sexual orientation; violence; ecology and economic disparity…these need to be the interfaith agenda inviting all religious paths to provide sustainable solutions.

I won’t stop searching every day for inspiration, hope and moments of compassion and forgiveness (which is the mission of my ministry) or reporting bits of good news. But as my intuitive sense of the urgency of sacred activism evolves, I need to express my growing belief that violence and its pervasive manifestations are a spiritual emergency demanding my attention.

Violence Hurts

Your Own Experience

Regardless of our individual spiritual opinions, we are the architects of our own experience.
From thoughts and feelings, beliefs and judgments, we create our meanings from limited perspectives.
We have control over life’s influences.
There are always choices. You are infinitely more powerful than you realize.
Conjure your vision and hold your purpose.
Plan knowing that life is change. It’a all process. Flow.
Believe in yourself.
Practice patience, moderation and concentration. Ask questions.
Find the resources that you need. Ask for help along the way. Share.
Beware fear, greed, narcissism and drama. Recognize opportunities disguised as loss.
Be open to moments of love and compassion. Accept and tolerate.
Forgive mistakes. Release anything or anyone rotting, decayed or superfluous.
Wander with awe, respect and dignity for all. You are not alone.
All is one. One is all. Unify.
You can change. You are resilient. Hope.

Know for sure you’ve only two choices: be the solution or be the problem.

Your Own Experience

Co-Creation

“How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands!
The heavens declare Your glory, the arch of the sky displays your handiwork.
In Your love You have given us the power to behold the beauty of Your world robed in all its splendor.
The sun and the stars, the valleys and the hills, the rivers and the lakes all disclose Your presence.
The roaring breakers of the sea tell of Your awesome might, the beast of the field and the birds of the air bespeak Your wondrous will.
In Your goodness You have made us able to hear the music of the world.
The voices of the loved ones reveal to us that You are in our midst.
A divine voice sings through all creation.”
~(A Jewish prayer based upon Psalm 104)

Co-Creation

The Origins of Kindness and Compassion

The milk of human kindness came before intelligence:

Skulls of early humans show they developed compassion up to 3 million years ago – before they could even speak.

Early humans are likely to have developed emotions before intelligence. Around 3 million years ago they carried pebbles shaped like a baby’s face.

Homo Erectus was caring for the ill as long ago as 1.5 million years ago.

Early humans developed language skills and intelligence 500,000 years ago.

This study suggests kindness and compassion came before intelligence and may have helped early humans develop reasoning skills and speech.

By CLAIRE CARTER for dailymail.co.uk

Early humans carried pebbles shaped like babies’ faces and appeared to care for disabled children in a sign they developed kindness and compassion millions of years before intelligence, researchers have claimed.

Evidence has been found that humans living more than 3 million years ago may have looked after and even helped each other to survive before they learned to speak, and these emotions may have actually helped intelligence and reasoning evolve.

Researchers point to a skull, dating back 1.5 million years, found with no teeth, suggesting people in the group may have helped this early human find soft food to survive. And evidence of tracks found in east Africa – dating back 3.5 million years – appear to show adults being followed by a child.

The findings, revealed in a study by Penny Spikins of York University, undermine current theories that early humans were characterized by violence and competition, killing each other in a desperate battle to survive.

‘Evolution made us sociable, living in groups and looking after each one another, even before we had language, ‘ Spikins, a human origins researcher, told the Sunday Times. ‘Our success since then, including the evolution of intelligence, all sprang from that.’

Spikins cites an early example of the Makapansgat pebble, found in a cave in South Africa with Australopithecines – which date back approximately 3 million years. She suggests the pebble, which has pits and markings shaped like a baby’s face, may have been carried several miles by these early humans because the markings reminded Australopithecines of a child.

‘It is impossible for tell for sure but this is not the only tantalizing sign of something perhaps approaching tenderness,’ she added. Language skills and intelligence are thought to have developed in the past 500,000 years and maybe as late as 150,000 years ago.

In another example Spikins cites a Dmanisi skull, dating back 1.5 million years, which showed evidence of someone surviving for years with no teeth. The group probably helped this early Hominin, a Homo Erectus found in Georgia, find soft food so it could survive. Another Homo Erectus skull was found in Kenya, which showed evidence of it being cared for after a long illness.

Spikins also points to groups of Homo Heidelbergensis, which lived around 450,000 years ago, who cared for disabled youngsters. A deformed skull of a child with learning difficulties from this period was found in Spain.

Evidence is also seen in some of the objects created by early man. A hand axe, believed to have been created around 250,000 years ago, was found in West Tofts in Norfolk with a fossilized scallop shell as the centerpiece. Rather than being purely functional, the presence of this scallop shell suggests early humans may have had a sense of aesthetics and creativity when creating the tool.

Spikins suggests that the combination of evidence of care and compassion, as well as creativity in making tools, is evidence of feelings millions of years ago. She said that while competition and fighting did happen it would have been a ‘risky’ business in the struggle to survive. ‘It suggests early humans, from 2 million years ago, were emotionally similar to us,’ she added. Spikins’ findings are to be published in a book, How Compassion Made Us Human.

*See the original article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2963807/Early-humans-developed-kindness-compassion-3million-years-ago-speak.html

MY QUESTION: But is caring and compassion just a “human characteristic?”

The Origins of Kindness and Compassion

Anthem

Michelangelo

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

~Lyrics by Leonard Cohen

“The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.”

Anthem

The Divine Masculine

Volumes are written about the contemporary rise of the Sacred Feminine – a cross-cultural, trans-religious movement that honors the female… as Goddess and Universal Mother (think: Isis, Aphrodite, Shakti, Eve, Virgin Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, etc).

I’m suggesting there’s also a new masculinity paradigm that’s emerging. While its origins are spiritual… its manifestations can be seen, heard and felt from prophets of our times… our artists and our mystics.

Think about it.

I believe the new Divine Masculine is beginning to be widely embraced by most women in search of a mate (as opposed to a sex partner). I’ll also contend that this same emerging norm excites some more avante-garde men; terrorizes other more traditional insecure men…however, still the majority of American men are blind, deaf and numb to who they are and who they might yet become. I am not sure that’s the case for European or South American men…but this might all be changing.

As I remember back, it seems like I’ve honored the rise of the Sacred Feminine since I was a boy smack in the middle of the tumultuous 1960’s…in the days of mass protests and angry rioting when millions of Americans took to the streets demanding change – in civil rights, Vietnam and for America’s poor (those days before Fox News, smart phones and social media).

Now my maturity has shown me that my parents raised me to respect women. As women are empowered to be who they are and speak their truth… men need to catch up. This is the stuff of a cultural revolution that goes vastly beyond whether we are ready for a female President or women priests.

Its important to note that my contention that the Sacred Masculine is emerging does not in anyway dilute, cloud or adulterate the Sacred Feminine. No… indeed, I sense that it’s the Sacred Feminine that has conceived, nurtured and birthed the very possibility that a new Sacred Masculine paradigm might emerge. Mothers are transforming our culture…perhaps they always have.

My sense is that the rise of the Divine Masculine will have a profound affect on gender roles beyond male and female, sexual orientation beyond heterosexual and homosexual, economic models beyond competition and cooperation and family cultural units beyond male fathers, female mothers – frankly well beyond who marries who – yes… even what marriage will or won’t look like or mean (e.g polyamory).

The emergence of a new Divine Masculinity should not be confused with the black and white, more traditional moral absolutes of right and wrong. No. The Divine Masculine is not concerned with telling men how to behave. This new focus is gray… very blended. As always, it will take time for ethics to catch up (e.g. medical ethics still playing catch up with the right to die, 3 parent embryos and stem cell research).

Take a moment to look…listen…feel…the new emerging masculine paradigm. Do you see it? Can you hear it? Have you felt it?

I’ll suggest that the rise of the Divine Masculine is connected with the ways some mothers are choosing to raise their sons. Food for thought.

2 more thoughts from my meditation for your consideration:

Moms, please reconsider sending your sons off to war. Might there be other more creative ways for young men to serve and protect? (This being said… I am first to admit that we have witnessed enormous evolutionary gains by allowing women and homosexual people to be warriors). Moms could raise peacemakers.

Secondly, perhaps its time to reconsider the whole pink and blue mystique. Maybe the color purple has more to offer than we thought? Imagine a world in which boys are completely free to play house…and girls are encourage to master STEM courses.

This topic will be a recurring blog theme as it reflects many of the energies of my ministry right now. As always, I welcome your feedback. While I recognize its nontraditional focus, people that I minister to are teaching me that the “status quo” is spontaneously readjusting.

Whether we talk gender roles, our spectra of sexual orientation/sexual behaviors or coexisting in community, with other sentient beings in sync with our environment – we are all one and its ALL interconnected.

Namaste!

The Divine Masculine