As I review the spiritual life of the Indigenous people, I am struck by how their spirituality is the primary organizing principle of their knowledge, lifestyle and traditions in their relationship with the environment. There is such an edge in power for these people to create a sustainable environment through customs and practices orally transmitted.
This kind of cultural spirituality is present in Sikhism as it is outlined in their Holy Scripture and the practices of their Gurus. They believe, “Water is the father and the earth, the great mother.”
In Hinduism the Sriti and Verdic literature, emphasizes man must live in harmony with nature. Their Lord Krishna maintains, “Water, Earth, Fire, Air and Nature are sacred.”
In Islam, the Shariah law refers to ethical norms as guidelines for man’s actions to fulfill his role as the trustee of nature. Moreover, their Eschatology reminds believers that while caretakers of nature will be blessed, evil transgressors will be punished. Would this not guide men to work to a sustainable environment?
For Bhuddists, the Tipitala Scripture forbids the killing of any living creature. D? ghaNit26,27 warn man to avoid greed especially in their actions toward the resources of the earth.
The beliefs of the Indigenous people of North America and Eastern religions guide man to live in the context of a dynamic spiritual cultural realm so that as adherents follow proscriptions of their religions they preserve and conserve nature. The guidelines and encouragements are there! It Is not suggested that one of the adherents of these religions could not or would not exploit nature.
For there will be in all humans at every instance, impulses toward greed and selfishness. These lie at the heart of the destructive anti environment forces. Apart from this individual threat within poor countries there is the crush of poverty on the one side and the power of capitalists on the other creating the stage for the exploitation of nature for profit.
As we explore Christianity, the guidance of the Bible, there is the emphasis that man must give glory to God through his love and respect of nature. De Weese suggests that Christians take a prayer approach to care of the environment. He believes that once you have identified the problems in the environment then you can use the principles of Scripture to sort out the environmental mess. This venture is a personal, spiritual journey intertwined with our redemption.
The orientation of the Jewish religion starts with the eternal God who through the Torah guides man to deal with contemporary environmental problems. It is at the beckoning of the Talmud, man is reminded, “Thou shall not destroy”. The wonder of Nature is the beauty of God’s work.
Robert Gottlieb in his book, A Greener Faith, lists the kinds of result attributed to “creation care”…. The celebration of Earth Day, protesting logging in the Pacific Northwest, the lobby for more stringent anti pollution laws and the objection to industrial globalization. Gottlieb reminds us that religion has a profound influence on our collective response to the environmental crisis. He insists that it is religion that encourages us to give witness to what is happening to the environment and acknowledge where we fail individually and collectively. Then he encourages us to accept responsibility with optimism and fortitude to make the world a better place.