Green Spirituality in Faith Traditions

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Part of GreenSpirit’s vision connects with honouring wisdom traditions of all ages, especially Earth-centred teachings. The following is a selection of past and present quotes from various people about our interrelationship with the natural world. Some use the word ‘God’ or other words to describe the great mystery. You may wish to interpret or replace the words to what is meaningful for your spiritual path.

Awe and Wonder

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature… I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

~ Jewish Diarist Anne Frank

 The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the centre of the universe dwells the Great Spirit and that this centre is really everywhere, it is within each of us.

~ Black Elk, medicine man of the Oglala Lakota tribe

The idea that a God exists who created heaven and earth is truly profound. It means that the earth that we walk upon, the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, are all signs that the world is filled with mystery. Those who cherish this idea sense that everything they encounter is sacred. Nurture this idea, and it will guide the choices you make and the way you live your life.

~ Rabbi Ellen Bernstein

 The universe reflects the stunning beauty of its supreme Creator… Not only [do] all things come from God but in a way they also manifest God.

~ Ahmad Javid, writer on Sufism

If we learn to love the earth, we will find labyrinths, gardens, fountains, and precious jewels! A whole new world will open itself to us. We will discover what it means to be truly alive.

~ St Teresa of Avila

There is about us, if only we have eyes to see, a creation of such spectacular profusion, spendthrift richness, and absurd detail, as to make us catch our breath in astonished wonder.

~ Rev Michael Mayne

Air is the Guru.
Water the father
Earth the great mother.
Day and night,
Male and female nurses
In whose lap the whole world plays.

~ Japji Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib

Everyday we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.

~ Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh

 Divinity is not outside us. We are in God and God is in us. That is the unitive experience of the mystics East or West. Its technical name is panentheism, which means that ‘God is in all things and all things are in God’.

~ Rev Matthew Fox

All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colours, the fragrancy of smells, the splendour of precious stones, is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world.

~ Rev William Law

…the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers.

~ Zitkala-Ša, Yankton Dakota writer and activist

O life-giving sun,
off-spring of the Lord of Creation,
solitary seer of Heaven!
Spread thy Light,
and within thy blinding splendour
That I may behold thy radiant form
That cosmic Spirit which lies at thy heart,
For I myself am That.

~ Isha Upanishad

Compassion and Co-Creation

We are the heirs of the long evolution of Spirit. Each of us is the latest unfolding of the event of Creation. Our bodies are composed of the material that was shaped in the Big Bang. And, so, too, our spirit. The loving goodness of the universe breathes us and breathes through us, giving us life and consciousness, and the capacity to recognize and love others.

~ Rabbi Michael Lerner

The Sufis also speak of creation not only as an act in the past but also as a continual process. This is what is called the renewal of creation at every instant.

~ Islamic Scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr

We are creators at our very core. Only creating can make us happy, for in creating we tap into the deepest power of self and universe and the Divine Self. We become co-creators, that is, we create with the other forces of society, universe, and the God-self when we commit to creativity.

~ Rev Matthew Fox

With nature’s help, humankind can set into creation all that is necessary and life-affirming.

~ St Hildegarde of Bingen

Environmental Responsibility

See to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world; for if you do, there will be no one else to set it right after you.

~ Midrash, rabbinical commentaries

Do not cut a tree, do not soil a river, do not hurt an animal, and always be gentle and humane towards God’s creatures, even if they are your enemies.

~ Muslim Caliph Abu Bakr

Do not denigrate anything God has created. All creation is simple, plain, and good. And God is present throughout his creation.

~ St Hildegarde of Bingen

If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift for him.

~ Prophet Muhammad, Hadith

Arouse a heart of boundless kindness for all things and creatures – upwards and downwards and across the world. Unhindered, free of hate and enmity.

~ The Buddha, Nipata Sutta

Since our thirst cannot be sated, it must be transformed… It also means that our collective preoccupation with economic growth and ever-increasing consumption must also be transformed.

~ Buddhist Teacher David Loy

What we must do is see the whole world as our ‘self.’ Only then will we be worthy of being entrusted with the World.

~ Lao Tzu, Dao De Jing

 In happiness and in suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.

~ Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara of Jainism

I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow human beings.

~ Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

To wantonly destroy another species is to silence a divine voice forever.

~ Rev Thomas Berry

Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they all are organs of God’s body; remembering this, a devotee respects all species.

~ Bhagavata Purana

Our love and admiration for the Earth has the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation and discrimination. Centuries of individualism and competition have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation. We need to re-establish true communication – true communion – with ourselves, with the Earth, and with one another as children of the same mother.

~ Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh

Leaflet

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Three Low-Cost GreenSpirit Books for Further Reading and Reflection

Rivers of Green Wisdom: Exploring Christian and Yogic Earth-Centred Spirituality, by Santoshan/Stephen Wollaston

Pathways of Green Wisdom: Discovering Earth-Centred Teachings in Spiritual and Religious Traditions, multi-authored, edited by Santoshan/Stephen Wollaston

Meditations with Thomas Berry: With additional material by Brian Swimme, compiled by June Raymond

For Additional Inspiration: Low-Cost GreenSpirit Book on the New Universe Story 

The Universe Story in Science and Myth, by Greg Morter and Niamh Brennan

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Helpful and informative links

Wikipedia Page: Religion and EnvironmentalismYale Forum on Religion and EcologyReligion and Nature: Encyclopedia and JournalThe Eco MuslimGreen ChristianEco JudaismOne Earth SanghaHindu Climate Action / Eco Sikh / Celtic Christianity / All Creation: Online Magazine / Creation Spirituality Communities / Joanna Macy & Her Work / Matthew Fox / Thomas Berry / American Teilhard Association / Wikipedia Page: Engaged Buddhism