A Vision of Earth Community


Virtually every religion has not only an origin story, but also an ethic for living in harmony with nature. Christianity, Native American religions, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism--all teach ways of living gently on the Earth, of seeing the Divine in creation. If healing is to take place in the natural world, then people from every spiritual tradition will need to contribute to the process. Where can we find common ground? What values and goals do we share? How can we best work together?


CHRISTIANITY

"A Christian nature spirituality is not nature romanticism. Nor is it very optimistic about the future (the planet may well deteriorate). It is, however, determinedly realistic: it begins and ends with a hymn to the things themselves. A Christian nature spirituality praises God for the wonder of the ordinary and promises to work on behalf of the sick and outcast. A Christian nature spirituality is also determinedly hopeful because it believes that the creator of these wonderful, ordinary creatures is working in, through, and on behalf of us all."

Sallie McFague
Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature

To see what the Episcopal Church is doing about Creation Care, click here.


JUDAISM

"Jewish tradition teaches us that, as humans, we are part of the created world--inextricably joined to the myriad other creatures which God created and God called good. The tradition also teaches that we are unique among the creatures, created in the Divine image. The Jewish people have for millennia understood ourselves to be responsible for healing the fractures of our imperfect world, as we as Jews are called to serve as 'partners in Creation.'

"What does it mean in this generation for us to be partners in Creation? What fractures in the integrity of the world are we compelled to heal?

"In this generation, the ecological integrity of God’s world is at risk. Wetlands, forests, rivers, lakes, coral reefs and many other whole ecosystems are threatened by pollution, human encroachment, and resource extraction. Many species that depend upon these systems are in danger of being extinguished forever from the face of the earth. Unless we change our course, humankind will destroy millions of species in the next half-century."

The Noah Project

NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS

"The cosmic visions of indigenous peoples are significantly diverse. Each nation and community has its own unique traditions. Still, several characteristics stand out. First, it is common to envision the creative process of the universe as a form of thought or mental process. Second, it is common to have a source of creation that is plural, either because several entities participate in creation or because the process as it unfolds includes many sacred actors stemming from a First Principle (Father/Mother or Grandfather/Grandmother). Third, the agents of creation are seldom pictured as human, but are depicted instead as “wakan” (holy), or animal-like (coyote, raven, great white hare, etc.), or as forces of nature (such as wind/breath). The Lakota medicine man Lame Deer says that the Great Spirit “is not like a human being. . . . He is a power. That power could be in a cup of coffee. The Great Spirit is no old man with a beard.”1 The concept perhaps resembles the elohim of the Jewish Genesis, the plural form of eloi, usually mistranslated as “God,” as though it were singular.

"Perhaps the most important aspect of indigenous cosmic visions is the conception of creation as a living process, resulting in a living universe in which a kinship exists between all things. Thus the Creators are our family, our Grandparents or Parents, and all of their creations are children who, of necessity, are also our relations."

Jack D. Forbes
"Indigenous Americans: Spirituality and Ecos

ISLAM

"There are many Koranic verses which refer to nature as part of the Islamic revelation itself. One says that the sun and moon prostrate themselves before God; so there is a sense of religion as permeating the cosmos. Sometimes God swears by fruits—like the olive, the date, and so forth. God speaks to the mountains, the streams, and the stars.

"The verse of the Koran that contemporary thinkers in the Islamic world dealing with the environment refer to over and over again is the one in which God chooses the human being as his khalifa: 'We place man upon the earth as vice-regent.' The most outward political meaning of khalifa is 'the person who rules over the Islamic world,' but that’s only one of its meanings. The real meaning is vice-regent, representative, someone who fulfills the function of someone else. That’s what khalifa means in the deepest sense. Since God is the creator and protector and preserver of his creation, by virtue of being God’s khalifa, humans must fulfill that function here on Earth. And so the human is the guardian of God’s creation."

Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

SUFISM

"Most of the followers of the Sufi path strive to lead a simple life as per their teachings; thus, they try and be environmentally friendly compared to those who harm nature in the pursuit of greater luxuries.

From a worldly perspective, Sufis can take a leading role in raising environmental awareness. Keeping the environment and nature healthy and green helps them so that a follower of the Sufi path does not feel detached from the environment. In fact, the environment should be so conducive that the salik (seeker of the sublime truth) is driven towards attaining the state of oneness with nature."

Muhammad Tauseef Ansari
"Sufism and Nature"

HINDUISM

"The Hindu view of nature is based upon the Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta and their philosophical views, as well as Hindu devotional and ritualistic practices. According to Hindu thought, there is no separation between the Divine and the world of nature. They are the two aspects of the same reality. The cosmic reality is one like the ocean. Nature or the manifest world is like the waves on the surface of the sea. Brahman or the unmanifest Absolute is like the depths of the sea. But it is all water, all the same single ocean.

"Ultimately for the Hindu as the Upanishads say, “Everything is Brahman,” Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. This does not mean that the informed Hindu mindlessly worships the forces of nature on an outer level out of superstition and fear. The Hindu perceives a Divine and sacred presence working behind the forms of nature as their inner spirit, which is the real object of their adoration."

David Frawley
"Hindu View of Nature," American Institute of Vedic Studies

BUDDHISM

"The Buddhist declaration at Assisi stresses the need for all people to have respect for wildlife and for the environment. The main threat to the world so far has been that human beings have been indifferent to the effects of their actions on other creatures.

"Most Buddhists believe that it is only when this indifference ends, and we become mindful and compassionate, that the world will return to peace, harmony and balance. This will then allow people to live positive lives and break free from the negative effects of craving."

BBC
"What does Buddhism teach about the environment?"