“We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” – Chief Seattle
Deep Ecology or Spiritual Ecology is a term that may be familiar for some and new for many. What is it exactly?
It is about putting Life at the Center of everything we do. About regenerating ourselves, building resilient communities and nurturing our environment. Taking care of everything that sustains our own livelihood so that we and future generations may continue to enjoy the abundance of Life.
Spiritual Ecology invites us to grow a larger, ecological consciousness. Understanding that we are Nature, that the Earth is our larger body and that are personal well-being is completely intertwined with planetary well-being. Soil, air, water, plants, etc. all sustain us, nourish us and become part of our bodies, we are totally interdependent. It is the understanding that we are deeply interconnected to everything in a great Web of Life. That we form an ecosystem and for it to thrive we need to act with deep reverence for Life in all its forms: human, animal, vegetal, mineral. All of life is sacred and we as human beings aren’t here to be at the top of the pyramid and take, take, take until there is nothing left. Every living thing is seen as having inherent value regardless of its utility to mankind. We have the opportunity to be guardians of Life on Earth, to all that is given to us, to co-create with nature in a way that helps Life to thrive.
The term “Deep Ecology” was first coined by Arne Naess in 1973 but many before him held this philosophy and lived by it such as many indigenous cultures. It is a completely different way of approaching life than our modern, industrial growth society offers.
Many are turning to more regenerative ways of living aware that modern society is clearly reaching its limitations and responsible for the destruction of so many ecosystems, climate warming and species extinction. The story of endless economic growth and “Business as Usual” is slowly crumbling and with it comes the opportunity to move forward in a more harmonious way that nurtures Life rather than depletes it.
Joanna Macy, eco-philosopher, Buddhist practitioner and activist for 50+ years, created a path to awaken and strengthen our deep ecology or our ecological consciousness. She is the root teacher of the Work that Reconnects and in this day in her 90s is still going strong alongside Chris Johnstone to encourage Active Hope through circles creating ripple effects of positive change around the world. Consult the Work that Reconnects & Active Hope Circles pages to find our more about this work and my offerings around it.
In my practice of mindfulness, I am deeply inspired by the Plum Village tradition and Thich Nhat Hanh teachings in which reverence for Life and honouring Mother Earth is a central component of the practice.
The importance of living in harmony with ourselves, others and all of Life in Earth is central to all the work I share through mindfulness, deep ecology circles as well as nature walks and retreats.
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost‘s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one less travelled by – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.” ~ Rachel Carson, author and conversationist, pioneer of the ecological movement in 1960s. Her book Silent Spring became a huge source of inspiration for many after her.