Thursday, August 11, 2005

Spirituality/Sustainability Handout - IREA Fair 2005

Welcome to Spirituality/Sustainability -- a discussion about the spiritual elements of committing to and living sustainably. Here are materials created for the panel presentations and discussion at the 2005 Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair, Oregon, IL

Some of our thoughts and references follow. Feel free to add your comments.

If there are any problems or questions,
contact: raelearth (at no spam)

References submitted by Becky Wilson (2004 panel member) -- Books: Power VS Force by David R. Hawkin ; Wisdom from the Greater Community, and Greater Community Spirituality by Marshall Vian Summers; Sacred Space by Denise Linn.

Website and List Serves: (New Heaven New Earth)

Core Question: We have enormous assets that we can deploy for the conversion to sustainable development. Whether we can mobilize the inspiration to do that in practice is an open question. - John Ashton (OnEarth, Summer 05 p9)

Inspiration and spirituality have a common source and remain entangled. The following questions come to mind: Are there spiritual tools to nurture and enhance the needed inspiration? What might a spiritual toolbox look like? Contain?

Tool #1--Communing with Nature
Books: Quest,-Denise Linn; The Spell of the Sensuous,-David Abram (Caution: too many words and too much right-brain thinking gets in the way of reading the book of nature.)
Tool #2—Ritual Books: The Healing Wisdom of Africa, -Malidoma Some; Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings,- John Seed, Joanna Macy,; Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World, - Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown;
Tool #3—Permaculture Books: Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability,-David Holmgren; The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in Rhythms of Nature-Starhawk

Tool #4—Deep Ecology Books: Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings,- John Seed, Joanna Macy,; Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World, - Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown;
Tool #5—The Universe Story Books: The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, -Brian Swimme; The Universe Story, -Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry; The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, -Thomas Berry
Tool #6—Creation Spirituality
Books: One River Many Wells:Wisdom Springing from World Faiths,-Matthew Fox.

Spirituality… spirit stuff… transcendence… essence... assumed to reside inside me, yet suffusing everything.
…reeks of relationship, requiring both subject-object and sensor …I and Thou ….inspiration, dedication, transformation

Spirituality seems to primarily address the realm of the subtle, which is armored against accurate measurement. Yet, it also appears to have directional and magnitude components, as I can generally rate X (a behavior, person, place, aspect, feel...) as manifesting more spirituality than Y.

Some Magazines to explore:
"What Is Enlightenment?" magazine, "the most exciting and provocative spirituality magazine available. Proclaims spiritual transformation is a human evolutionary imperative, while mapping the emerging field of 21st-century spirituality. The Spring/Summer03 issue includes The Challenge of Our Moment: A roundtable discussion with Don Beck, Brian Swimme, and Peter Senge.

Permaculture magazine sometimes includes articles on Zone 00, located in the head -- the inner self, one's own consciousness. In #36 (p25), the core question of applied RE spirituality, "How do we inspire people that the green life is a better life?" was answered in part with "We need to find ways of making green lifestyles aspirational ...because we want people to aspire to a lifestyle which is in tune with nature and is as joyful, fun and energetic as any other" -- Ed Mayo of In Zone Zero Zero: An integral Approach to Permaculture (p51) ends with: "If all you do is agitate to fix the exteriors -- and you do nothing to help grow the interiors -- then you have not fundamentally helped Gaia at all. In fact, you have actually hurt Gaia by not promoting the only thing that can finally save her. -- Ken Wilber, Boomeritis Ken Wilber is considered the most influential integral thinker in the world today.
Kosmos: An Integral Approach to Global Awakening - committed to the birth and emergence of a new planetary culture and civilization. In The Social Artist - Leadership for the 21st century, Jean Houston invokes magic faith and healing in the Fall/Winter 2004 issue. "the art and science of transformation leadership ...engages spiritual technologies ...spiritual energy joined to emotional energy ...calls realities into being ...the entry into the super human ...spiritual renovation of the earth." In the same issue, Frank Dixon ( advocates Total Corporate Responsibility, encouraging corporate and investor awareness of interconnectedness, actualization and posterity using performance ratings to promote change.

Websites: includes What IS the Spiritual Arena? -Where Science and Religion Meet Common Sense.

A Guiding Spirituality Quotation: " 'If spirituality is the [transport system driving the] journey, then a religious tradition functions as a map of the territory [considered worth exploring].' [My additions in brackets...Rael] This statement by John Testerman (1997:288) provides a good analogy that clarifies well the difference between spirituality and religion." From: What Is Spirituality? Memetics, Quantum Mechanics, and the Spiral of Spirituality - Caleb Rosado Essential Spirituality by ‘lumper” Roger Walsh (a 1999 book) ...under the surface differences [of religions] rests a common core of wisdom and practices. The six practices are redirecting motivation, transforming emotions, living ethically, developing attention or concentration, refining awareness, cultivating wisdom, and expressing these in service.

However “splitter” Bruce Lincoln, in Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11 (2003), focuses on the differences between religions. He finds that there are dominant distinctions in the relevance of religion to people’s lives: 1) The modern minimalist position, where it’s chiefly metaphysical and/or confined to church rituals, with consequent diminished religious constraints on greed, violence, and scientific inquiry; and 2) The ancient (and still current) maximalist approach, where religion (spirituality) permeates all aspects of living. Lincoln also categorizes the opposing trajectories of religions as follows: 1) religions of the status quo; 2) religions of resistance; and 3) religions of revolution. See

Seeking sustainability. According to Philip Sutton, who manages a listserve for leapfroging to an ecologically sustainable economy ( ), people have become less confident about the meaning of sustainability. After classifying over a hundred definitions of sustainability into four basic types, ranging from the differentiating essence to the key indicators or desired outcomes, he makes the intriguing statement, Sustainability is fundamentally about maintaining valued things or dynamics that already exist. This contrasts with the concept of ‘genuine progress,’ which is about the creation of improvements that go beyond anything that has ever existed. (2000) In a later paper, (May 2005) he frames three initial questions for designing effective sustainability actions. 1) What am I trying to sustain or what do I want society to sustain? 2) For whose benefit is sustainability being pursued? 3) What is the appropriate scale and urgency of action? Can anything other than spirituality reveal the answers to 1 and 2?

Consciously caring for food and the earth, some farmers use spirituality to practice regenerative farming.
Producing Israel’s first organic strawberries.

Sufi vision inspires southern Illinois permaculture farm.

Shumei Natural Agriculture - a faith-based pursuit.

Mokena mixes faith, hope and agriculture. integrates cosmic and earth literacy with bioregionalism and biodynamic CSA farming.

Integrating spirituality and sustainability in the greater Chicago metropolitan area,
Seven interfaith Sustainability Circles integrate economic and ecological practices – food, energy, etc. aids congregation’s "green teams" with food, energy and developing sustainability metrics.

Voluntary Simplicity – a monthly gathering and resource for simplifying hectic lives

Exploring new celebrations to promote sustainability that are globally/bioregionally relevant.

Integrating spirituality and sustainability in Ecovillages.
Ecological spiritual and social/community building components are equally valued core aspects. A Community Sustainability Assessment audit (CSA) has been created to monitor progress. The spiritual portion, which provides 1/3 of the rating, includes seven categories. Examples of the queries follow for each category: 1. Cultural Sustainability -> D. Cycles/transitions of life are acknowledged and shared in celebrations, ceremonies and rites of passage 2. Arts and Leisure -> H. The extent to which the expression and experience of beauty (in - art, ceremonies, poetry, gardens, architecture,etc.) is a natural part of the community's way of life: 3. Spiritual Sustainability - rituals & celebrations; support for inner development & spiritual practices -> B. Opportunities for contemplation and development of the inner self are available in the community: [Check as many as apply] 4. Community Glue -> G. The level of harmony, caring and support: 5. Community Resilience -> C. How often is the community able to help members facing personal or existential problems, transform the crisis into an opportunity for inner growth and self-realisation is: 6. A New Holographic, Circulatory World View -> D. The extent to which the concept of sustainability is gaining acceptance and use in the community is:... 7. Peace and Global Consciousness -> C. When making important community decisions, the community engages in activities that open the heart to deeper truths and balance mind, body and spirit:

For Dancing Rabbit, a developing north-eastern Missouri ecotown/village, Spirituality…determines what is valuable. Consequently, they are considering “building a spirituality” unique to their culture.

Some other links: Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign
National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group
National – Interfaith Climate & Energy Campaign:
Web of Creation (faith and environment resources):
Council on the Environment and Jewish Life: