–by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (Aug 16, 2013)
At this moment in time we are more and more consciously confronted by the reality of climate change, global pollution, acidification of the oceans, massive destruction of forests and wetlands and other natural habitat. All of it is contributing to the first man-made mass extinction of species that the Planet has suffered, caused by industrialization and our addiction to a materialistic lifestyle. And we are all responsible—just by traveling in a car or a plane, we are actively participating in an ecologically destructive culture. [...]
Moreover, our materialistic culture has co-opted the concept of sustainability to its own ends. Our collective objective now appears to be to sustain our materialistic, energy-intensive way of life, rather than to sustain the ecosystem and its diversity of inhabitants. There are few signs that the world is prepared to give up its materialist pleasures. [...]
We have lost and entirely forgotten any spiritual relationship to life and the Planet, a central reality to other cultures for millennia. Where for indigenous peoples the world was a sacred, interconnected living whole that cares for us and for which we in turn need to care—our Mother the Earth—for our Western culture it became something to exploit. And as we move into a global age, it is these Western materialistic values that are dominating more and more of our Planet. Our increasingly global consumer-driven civilization is amplifying our exploitation and the resulting pollution to an unsustainable level. As the world grows more and more out of balance, we urgently need to regain a relationship with the Planet based upon the understanding of the world as a sacred living whole, and to reclaim a consciousness that is centered in that understanding. Only if we redeem the problem at its root can we hope to heal and come back into balance with our environment. [...]
While there may be a growing awareness that the world forms a single living being, we don’t really understand that this being is also nourished by her soul or that we are a part of her, part of a much larger living, sacred being. Sadly, we remain cut off, isolated from this spiritual dimension of life itself. We have forgotten how to nourish or be nourished by the soul of the world. [...]
How do we respond to such a hidden crisis? How can we awaken from our dream of forgetfulness? If we have a sense that something deep within our being, and within the being of the world, is out of balance, we can listen. We then may hear the cry of the world, her call to us. This is not just the call of creation as her physical ecosystem is being destroyed, but the cry of the world soul, the anguish of the anima mundi as she feels her sacred substance being depleted, her light going out.
And from hearing this cry we might begin to awaken, to sense a lack of the sacred, of this primal substance that gives meaning to all of life. We will each hear this cry in our own way, as it touches our own soul, but what matters is how we respond—whether we turn away, returning to our life of distractions, or whether we dare to follow the call and sense what she is telling us. Then, for an instant, we might catch a fragrance that is vanishing, a color that is fading. We might begin to notice what is happening.
In the outer world the signs are all around us. Daily we see the physical signs of our ecological crisis: the glaciers melting, the floods and droughts. We may also sense the deep anxiety of a civilization that has lost its way, forgotten its primal connection to the sacred that alone can give real meaning. If we are to take real responsibility for our present predicament we need to respond both outwardly and inwardly. We need to work to heal both the body and the soul of the world.
The first step is always to recognize what is happening. We can no longer afford to be blinkered by the surface values of our materialistic culture. Just as real sustainability embraces the biodiversity of the whole Planet, it also includes the sacred within creation. We need to relearn the wisdom of listening to life, feeling its heartbeat, sensing its soul. But first there is a pressing need to reconnect matter and spirit. All of life is sacred, every breath and every stone. This is one of the great secrets of oneness—everything is included. Within our heart and soul we can reconnect with our primal knowing that the Divine is present in everything.
We cannot return to the simplicity of an indigenous lifestyle, but we can become aware that what we do and how we are at an individual level affects the global environment, both outer and inner. We can learn how to live in a more sustainable way, not to be drawn into unnecessary materialism. We can also work to heal the spiritual imbalance in the world. Our individual conscious awareness of the sacred within creation reconnects the split between spirit and matter within our own soul and also within the soul of the world: we are part of the spiritual body of the Earth more than we know. [...]
The divine oneness of life is within and all around us. Sometimes walking alone in nature we can feel her heartbeat and her wonder, and our steps become steps of remembrance. The simple practice of “walking in a sacred manner”—in which with every step we take we feel the connection with the sacred Earth—is one way to reconnect with the living spirit of the Earth.
There are so many ways to reconnect with the sacred within creation, to listen within and include the Earth in our spiritual practice and daily life. When we hear the morning chorus of birds, we may sense that deeper joy of life and awake to its divine nature; at night the stars can remind us of what is infinite and eternal within us and within the world. Watching the simple wonder of a dawn or a sunset can be an offering in itself. Whatever way we are drawn to wonder, to recognize the sacred, what matters is always the attitude we bring to this intimate exchange. It is through the heart that a real connection is made, even if we first make it in our feet or hands. Do we really feel our self as a part of this beautiful and suffering Planet, do we sense her need? Then this connection comes alive, a living stream that flows from our heart as it embraces all of life. Then every step, every touch, will be a prayer for the Earth, a remembrance of what is sacred.
Our present ecological crisis is calling to us and it is for each of us to respond. This crisis is not a problem to be solved, because the world is not a problem but a living being in a state of dangerous imbalance and deep distress. This distress belongs to her body and soul, and there are different ways we can respond to this calling. What matters is how through our own response we reconnect to what is sacred, and return to a sense of deep belonging, here in this place of wonder we call the Earth.
There is action to be taken in the outer world, but it must be action that comes from a reconnection with the sacred—otherwise we will just be reconstellating the patterns that have created this imbalance. And there is work to be done within our hearts and souls, the foundational work of healing the soul of the world, of replenishing the spiritual substance of creation—of bringing the healing power of divine love and remembrance where it is most needed. The crisis we face now is dire, but it is also an opportunity for humanity to reclaim its role as guardian of the planet, to take responsibility for the wonder and mystery of this living, sacred world.
–Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in Spiritual Ecology (The Call of the Earth).