Green Spirituality

By Chris Philpott

An answer to our global environmental problems and world poverty

Green Spirituality is a book with a purpose; to alert the people of this planet to the perils that face us all, and to show that, if we are prepared to heed the teachings of ancient and modern spiritual wisdom, we can still face the future positively.

The main themes of the book are a combination of detailed information about global environmental problems and world poverty, along with solutions to those problems rooted in the spiritual teachings of different traditions. The book includes extracts from over one hundred interviews, with spiritual leaders throughout India, undertaken by Chris Philpott in 2002.

The Great Spiritual Traditions

The information presented in the book allows people to make positive and informed choices in their lives. At the end of each chapter there are listings of relevant websites so the reader can pursue their interests further. There is also a very extensive bibliography of books and resources found on this website.

Part 1 concerns the world of spiritual traditions; ideas and values designed to guide and govern the behaviour of mankind. The author reviews a range of ancient traditions, such as Paganism and Shamanism, as well as the mainstream religions of Christianity and Islam and introduces the reader to newer spiritual traditions, including Spiritualism and the Bahai faith. The book focuses on twelve spiritual traditions, giving a detailed analysis and explanation of their attitude to the environment and poverty.

Global Environmental Problems and World Poverty

Part 2 explains how the physical world, the basis of our survival on earth, is decaying, apparently irrevocably. The first five chapters focus on the resources we need as a species to survive – food, water, air, bio-diversity and climate – and how our activities are threatening the earth’s eco-systems to the point where our future survival is uncertain. The theme of this section is that our abandonment of spiritual values, and the adoption of consumerist values, has led to polluted water and air on a global scale. In addition, diminishing food supply, loss of bio-diversity and catastrophic climate change has added to our concerns about our future. Global examples to support this are found throughout the book.

This book is different from most others that deal with environmental issues. Instead of doom and gloom, Green Spirituality conveys a positive message: that, with the right spiritual guidance, every one of us should be able to live in harmony with each other, and with the earth. This section is illustrated with references to the ancient and modern wisdom of the spiritual traditions and their perspectives on the environment and world poverty. Traditional spiritual teachings, the principal theme of the book, are interspersed with quotations from contemporary spiritual leaders interviewed by the author. They offer refreshing modern reinterpretations of environmental spiritual wisdom, showing us how to live to in a way that provides less disruption of global life-support systems.

For most of the world’s great spiritual traditions, and the majority of their contemporary interpreters, the issue of material wealth is inextricably bound up with environmental concerns. Their teachings show quite clearly that following a spiritual direction, rather than striving to accumulate unnecessary material wealth, is the path to true happiness and fulfilment. The last two chapters of this section focus on the gulf in resources between the rich and the poor throughout the world. The penultimate chapter illustrates how the rich create mountains of unnecessary waste, and how this impacts mainly on the poor. The final chapter explains the causes of world poverty, and how the rich exploit the poor to amass wealth.

At the end of each chapter in this section there is a list of positive practical actions, hat readers can carry out in their lives to alleviate world environmental problems and poverty. This advice is backed up by a list of extensively researched websites. This is another of the book’s unique features, taking theoretical concepts and putting them into practical use.

Practical Utopia

Part 3 of Green Spirituality describes practical solutions to both environmental degradation and widespread poverty, arguing that we all need to aim for a future in which we live together in harmony and peace, and still meet our basic physical needs. Green Spirituality introduces practical new approaches to the need for sustainability by exploring the contribution of Eco Villages to developing new models of living in balance with the earth. This section also shows that good world governance can achieve great success in dealing with global environmental problems. Finally this section highlights the importance that all of as individuals in the choices that we make can make a difference to the kind of world we inhabit in the future.

Published January 2011

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