Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay as he is known by his thousands of followers outlines (in a lovely blog on the Guardian how a spiritual revolution is needed if we are going to confront the multitude of environmental challenges.
Yet all too often sustainability conferences remain void of spiritual debate – we prefer, it seems, to be comfortably numb when it comes to getting serious about re-connecting to our life force and nature around us. Instead, we find it more comforting to keep ‘busy’ innovating and debating new technologies, new products, new languages, new strategies – all of which are very important. Yet without the fundamental connection to life they are incomplete and akin to building a house on sand rather than rock.
What spirituality offers, Thay says, is the recognition that we all suffer and the way to overcome that pain is to directly confront it, rather than seeking to hide or bypass it through our obsession with shopping, entertainment, work or the beautification of our bodies. The craving for fame, wealth, power and sex serves to create only the illusion of happiness and ends up exacerbating feelings of disconnection and emptiness.
Change is possible only if there is a recognition that people and planet are ultimately one and the same.
“You carry Mother Earth within you,” says Thay. “She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment.
“In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship you have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change your life.”
Lets hope (and pray) that we sustainability people and the people we seek to change start ‘with the man in the mirror’ and re-connect with nature and our deep, authentic human-nature. Only then can we change the world in a complete, truthful and beautiful way.
I pray for conferences that debate spirituality, that debate ways of re-connecting ourselves with the natural world, that debate how we can build the right foundation for a truly sustainable future. The time is now.
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