What is your faith's perspective on the relationship between ecology and spirituality?

Our spirituality is stunted or even perverted if we are unaware of our connection to the environment we inhabit; unaware of the creatures that share these spaces and unaware of the natural laws that govern the interdependence of all life. It is this latter understanding - our interconnectedness - that takes us beyond selfishness and egotism and allows us to see the earth and be glad of the things that grow out of the earth. The mind completely lacking in spirituality only knows the world through prices, figures and statistics.

Ecology is the study of the relationships of organisms to their physical environment and to one another. The environment we inhabit is not only the earth and it's ecosystems but also our own bodies and minds. Buddhist spirituality is based upon an ecology of mind and body as well as environment. We study the mind, the body and the relationship between the two. From this inner ecology it is possible to understand the causes and conditions that result in inner harmony and conversely to understand the causes and conditions that create inner wastelands of alienation and despair.

From inner balance and contentment we can observe, with clarity, the world around us because we are not biased by the distortions of greed, aversion and egotism. This clear seeing results in a heartfelt sensitivity to all forms of life and a deep humility regarding our own place in all of this. From this humility there is an ability to watch, to wait and to gain insight into the laws that govern the natural world. Our spirituality then becomes a life of harmony with the flow of interconnectedness or as one teacher puts it, our "inter-being" with all life.

Ajahn Viradhammo

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