Presentation on theme: "RELIGIONS CARE FOR MOTHER EARTH E-Weekly-3/19 Green Earth Movement An E-Newsletter for the cause of Environment, Peace, Harmony and Justice Remember -"— Presentation transcript:
RELIGIONS CARE FOR MOTHER EARTH E-Weekly-3/19 Green Earth Movement An E-Newsletter for the cause of Environment, Peace, Harmony and Justice Remember - “you and I can decide the future”
Whether we are actively religious or not, religious belief permeates the very fabric of our existence. Namely, it influences – if not directly shapes – our legal systems; and therefore our constitutions; and therefore our nations‘ policy choices, both at home and abroad. It is then only logical to surmise that Religion also influences how we -- individually and collectively -- view our role with regards to protecting the environment. To suggest that any one religion somehow cares more for the Earth than the others would be foolish and simplistic, but within each belief system there lie subtle differences that, many argue, give an indication as to how we view our position in relation to it. Whether we are actively religious or not, religious belief permeates the very fabric of our existence. Namely, it influences – if not directly shapes – our legal systems; and therefore our constitutions; and therefore our nations‘ policy choices, both at home and abroad. It is then only logical to surmise that Religion also influences how we -- individually and collectively -- view our role with regards to protecting the environment. To suggest that any one religion somehow cares more for the Earth than the others would be foolish and simplistic, but within each belief system there lie subtle differences that, many argue, give an indication as to how we view our position in relation to it.
As Lynn White wrote in what many view as a groundbreaking, yet controversial 1967 essay, "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," published in Science magazine: "What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny -- that is, by religion.“
World's Leading Religions by Followers (from Adherents.com) Christianity: 2.1 billion Islam: 1.5 billion Hinduism: 900 million Buddhism: 376 million
How each religion treats environment?
1. HINDUISM Hinduism is a remarkably diverse religious and Cultural phenomenon, with many local and regional manifestations. Within this universe of beliefs, several important themes emerge. The diverse theologies of Hinduism suggest that: The earth can be seen as a manifestation of the goddess, and must be treated with respect. The five elements -- space, air, fire, water and earth -- are the foundation of an interconnected web of life. Dharma -- often translated as "duty" -- can be reinterpreted to include our responsibility to care for the earth. Simple living is a model for the development of sustainable economies. Our treatment of nature directly affects our karma. Gandhi exemplified many of these teachings, and his example continues to inspire contemporary social, religious and environmental leaders in their efforts to protect the planet.
Pancha Mahabhutas (The five great elements) create a web of life that is shown forth in the structure and interconnectedness of the cosmos and the human body. Hinduism teaches that the five great elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) that constitute the environment are all derived from prakriti, the primal energy. Each of these elements has its own life and form; together the elements are interconnected and interdependent. The Upanishads explains the interdependence of these elements in relation to Brahman, the supreme reality, from which they arise: "From Brahman arises space, from space arises air, from air arises fire, from fire arises water, and from water arises earth.“ Hinduism recognizes that the human body is composed of and related to these five elements, and connects each of the elements to one of the five senses. The human nose is related to earth, tongue to water, eyes to fire, skin to air and ears to space. This bond between our senses and the elements is the foundation of our human relationship with the natural world. For Hinduism, nature and the environment are not outside us, not alien or hostile to us. They are an inseparable part of our existence, and they constitute our very bodies.
Ishavasyam -- Divinity is omnipresent and takes infinite forms. Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita (7.19, 13.13) and the Bhagavad Purana (2.2.41, ), contain many references to the omnipresence of the Supreme divinity, including its presence throughout and within nature. Hindus worship and accept the presence of God in nature. For example, many Hindus think of India's mighty rivers -- such as the Ganges -- as goddesses. In the Mahabharata, it is noted that the universe and every object in it has been created as an abode of the Supreme God meant for the benefit of all, implying that individual species should enjoy their role within a larger system, in relationship with other species.
Protecting the environment is part of Dharma. Dharma, one of the most important Hindu concepts, has been translated into English as duty, virtue, cosmic order and religion. In Hinduism, protecting the environment is an important expression of dharma. In past centuries, Indian communities -- like other traditional communities -- did not have an understanding of "the environment" as separate from the other spheres of activity in their lives. A number of rural Hindu communities such as the Bishnois, Bhils and Swadhyaya have maintained strong communal practices to protect local ecosystems such as forests and water sources. These communities carry out these conservation- oriented practices not as "environmental" acts but rather as expressions of dharma. When Bishnois are protecting animals and trees, when Swadhyayis are building Vrikshamandiras (tree temples) and Nirmal Nirs (water harvesting sites) and when Bhils are practicing their rituals in sacred groves, they are simply expressing their reverence for creation according to Hindu teachings, not "restoring the environment." These traditional Indian groups do not see religion, ecology and ethics as separate arenas of life. Instead, they understand it to be part of their dharma to treat creation with respect.
Our environmental actions affect our karma. Karma, a central Hindu teaching, holds that each of our actions creates consequences -- good and bad - - which constitute our karma and determine our future fate, including the place we will assume when we are reincarnated in our next life. Moral behavior creates good karma, and our behavior toward the environment has karmic consequences. Because we have free choice, even though we may have harmed the environment in the past, we can choose to protect the environment in the future, replacing environmentally destructive karmic patterns with good ones.
The earth -- Devi -- is a goddess and our mother and deserves our devotion and protection. Many Hindu rituals recognize that human beings benefit from the earth, and offer gratitude and protection in response. Many Hindus touch the floor before getting out of bed every morning and ask Devi to forgive them for trampling on her body. Millions of Hindus create kolams daily -- artwork consisting of bits of rice or other food placed at their doorways in the morning. These kolams express Hindu's desire to offer sustenance to the earth, just as the earth sustains themselves. The Chipko movement -- made famous by Chipko women's commitment to "hugging" trees in their community to protect them from clear-cutting by outside interests -- represents a similar devotion to the earth.
Gandhi is a role model for simple living. Gandhi's entire life can be seen as an Ecological treatise. This is one life in which every minute act, emotion or thought functioned much like an ecosystem: his small meals of nuts and fruits, his morning ablutions and everyday bodily practices, his periodic observances of silence, his morning walks, his cultivation of the small as much as of the big, his spinning wheel, his abhorrence of waste, his resorting to basic Hindu and Jain values of truth, nonviolence, celibacy and fasting. The moralists, nonviolent activists, feminists, journalists, social reformers, trade union leaders, peasants, prohibitionists, nature-cure lovers, renouncers and environmentalists all take their inspirations from Gandhi's life and writings.
2. CHRISTIANITY Christianity," wrote White, "Not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends." The emergence of Christianity, many, like White believe, marked the moment humans broke away from previously common held beliefs that all beings, all forms of life -- including plants -- had spirits (or souls). "In antiquity every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit," he wrote. And Christianity changed all that, he believed. Man was created in God's image, Christians believed, and notably Man was created at the end of creation and humans therefore inherited the Earth. "By destroying pagan animism," White wrote. "Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.“
Many disagree -- and indeed are offended by -- the assertion that Christians do not care for the Earth and all of its beings and have dismissed White's conclusions. Marcia Bunge in her 1994 essay, "Biblical Views of Nature: Foundations for an Environmental Ethic," published by Chicago's Lutheran School of Theology's journal "Care of the Earth," claimed the Bible "contains ample grounds for environmental responsibility.” Bunge cited examples such as the story of Noah as evidence that God's covenant was not just with humans but with all creatures; that the name Adam stemming from the Hebrew word 'adamah', meaning ground or earth implied "the connection between human beings and the earth," and that, in the New Testament, Paul's vision of redemption or liberation through Christ's death did not just apply to humans but "of all creatures of nature". See next - Pope’s have upheld our responsibility towards nature.
Pope Paul VI ( ) “While the horizon of man is thus being modified according to the images that are chosen for him, another transformation is making itself felt, one which is the dramatic and unexpected consequence of human activity. Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation. Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace - pollution and refuse, new illness and absolute destructive capacity - but the human framework is no longer under man's control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family. The Christian must turn to these new perceptions in order to take on responsibility, together with the rest of men, for a destiny which from now on is shared by all”. Octogesima adveniens Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI
POPE JOHN PAUL II ( ) “When concern for economic and technological progress is not accompanied by concern for the balance of the ecosystem, our earth is inevitably exposed to serious environmental damage, with consequent harm to human beings. Blatant disrespect for the environment will continue as long as the earth and its potential are seen merely as objects of immediate use and consumption, to be manipulated by an unbridled desire for profit. It is the duty of Christians and of all who look to God as the Creator to protect the environment by restoring a sense of reverence for the whole of God's creation. It is the Creator's will that man should treat nature not as a ruthless exploiter but as an intelligent and responsible administrator”
POPE BENEDICT THE XVI ( ) “Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity: the protection of creation and peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation“
POPE FRANCIS SPEAKING TO MILLIONS OF PHILLIPINS DURING HIS VISIT IN JANUARY 2015, SAYS: "You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ! Respect for the environment is more than simply using eco-friendly products or recycling. These are important aspects, but not enough. We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God's saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person. The world is a "beautiful garden," which all of humanity is tasked to protect. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil, and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling," said the Pope, who has previously called the deforestation of a rainforest a "sin.“
3. ISLAM Responsible stewardship is a Theme also shared by Muslims. In "Environmental Protection in Islam“ published by the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prophet Muhammad's stance on the environment is quite clear: "Created beings are the dependents of God, and the creature dearest unto God is he who does most good to God's dependents," it says. Humans' good deeds therefore, "are not limited to the benefit of the human species but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings.“
Quran 2:30 “…Your Lord said unto the angels: “Lo! I am about to place a viceroy on the earth…,” and Quran 22:65 “Do you not see that God has made subject to you (humans) all that is on the earth” In Islam, Muslims believe that man has been given a responsibility by Allah (i.e., Arabic for God) on this earth and that man will be accountable to God for his actions and the trust placed in him. Prophet Muhammad said, ”Everyone of you is a guardian and is Responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people is a guardian and is responsible for them” (Sahih Bukhari ). Islam has urged humanity to be kind to nature and not to abuse the trust that has been placed on the shoulders of man. In fact, to be kind to animals is an integral part of Islam for Muslims. There are two primary sources defining Islam: The Quran (Muslim Holy Book) and the Hadith (the example, sayings, and actions of Prophet Muhammad). Both emphasize the accountability and responsibility of man toward the rest of creation.
Prophet Muhammad announced the rewards of caring for animals and the importance of avoiding cruelty to animals. He urged kindness toward all living things. He recounted a case of a women who was insensitive and cruel to her cat. She had kept locked up until it died of hunger. So God punished her for it on the Day of Judgement. “God said (to the woman), ‘You neither fed it nor watered it when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth.” (Sahih Bukhari). This was 1400 years ago — long before it became fashionable or “politically correct” to care about “animal rights.” Yet even in this barbaric time the Prophet had banned forcing animals to fight for human entertainment (Sunan Abu Dawud #2556).
Nature and environment have always played an important part in the lives of devout Muslims. Muslims understand that God has not created all this for nothing. In fact, Muslims have been commanded to find the wonderful signs of God around them so that they will only increase them in their awe of their Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer). Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding men who celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth (with the thought): “Our Lord! not for nothing have You created (all) this! Glory to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire Quran
Lo! the squanderers were ever brothers of the devils, and the devil was ever an ingrate to his Lord. Quran Muslims have been enjoined to avoid waste and ingratitude to their Lord. Muslims strive to find the signs of God in nature to glorify their Lord, to thank Him, and to order their world in the manner in which their Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) wishes it to be ordered. They do not disorder their world in heedlessness of their Rabb in search of self-gratification, greed, and waste and with ingratitude to their Lord.
Similar to the Jewish and Christian faiths, human beings are seen in Islam as stewards of the environment, but more in line with Judaism, a principal belief amongst Muslims is that, a human is "only a manager of the earth and not a proprietor." Therein lies among Muslims an appreciation of a profound duty to protect the Earth, many believe. But vitally, the belief system is not just based on what humans do now, more what they set up for humans to come. Continuing the theme of stewardship, we are permitted to enjoy the fruits of the earth, but Earth must not be ruined for our descendents: "Man should not abuse, misuse, or distort the natural resources as each generation is entitled to benefit from them but is not entitled to "own" them in an absolute sense.“
4. BUDDHISM Buddhism – with all its different subsets is viewed by many as the most environmentally friendly religion. In fact, Buddhism represents the way of compassion. The Buddha manifested a complete compassion and is respectfully seen as the compassionate protector of all beings. He taught that for those who wishes to follow his Path should practice loving-kindness, not to harm the life of all beings - not only to protect mankind, but also to protect animals and vegetation. With his perfect wisdom, He saw all beings in the universe were equal in nature, and in this phenomenal world, lives of all human and animals were inter-related, mutually developing, and inseparable.
Buddhism teaches to mankind live a contended life. Living in contentment does not mean the elimination of desire of knowledge and truth, but to live in harmony with all beings and with nature. On that basis, those who understand the Buddha's teaching will limit their selfishness, to live in harmony with nature, without harming the environment. They will see what should be explored and to what level, what should be protected for future use by the next generations and other beings. Excessive greed to possess everything for themselves, or for their own group, has make men becoming blind.
For thousand years, the Buddhist forest monasteries have manifested a harmonious living with nature, being established in the mountains, in the forests. Tranquil life in the forest helped Buddhist practitioners to improved their inner mind, and at the same time, they also worked for the protection of animals living in the area. With loving and tolerant heart, the Buddhists live with natural vegetation, wild animals in the forest in harmony and for mutual survival. Today, we can still see the landscape of a number of temples and meditation retreats in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam,... located in native forests, with green vegetation, clean and refreshing ponds and lakes, clean air, and a variety of species living in peace. These are locations which attract people from all directions coming to enjoy the nature, finding peace of mind, getting away from noisy and polluted places.
5. SIKHISM The Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, declares that the purpose of human beings is to achieve a blissful state and to be in harmony with the earth and all of God's creation. The Sikh Gurus showed the world the way to live in harmony with the environment and all their constructions adhered to this principle. Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh Guru developed Kiratpur Sahib as a town of parks and gardens. Located on the banks of tributary of the Sutlej, he planted flowers and fruit bearing trees all over the area. This created a salubrious environment, attracting beautiful birds to the town and turning it into an idyllic place to live in.
The Sikh Scriptures emphasis the importance of the elements in this Shabad (hymn): Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, and Earth is the Great Mother of all. Day and night are the two nurses, in whose lap all the world is at play. Good deeds and bad deeds-the record is read out in the Presence of the Lord of Dharma. The importance of Air, Water and Earth to life are emphasised over and over again in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The earth is referred to as the mother and as such requires the our respect. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that no damage occurs to it while the Sikh is going about his or her daily life. The pollution of these 3 elements is against the principles laid down by the Gurus.
6. JUDAISM Christians are not the only ones looking for guidance in the Old Testament. But when drawing from Genesis, the Jewish faith is not so much divided, many believe, more to say appreciative of two opposing ideas that can happily co-exist. As Daniel B. Fink's 1998 essay, "Judaism and Ecology: A Theology of Creation", published in "Earth Ethics", explains: "We are both a part of nature and apart from it." Jews understand, Fink says, that the fact that Man was created at the end of the sixth day could have two possible meanings: either humans are the "guest[s] of honor" at a great feast, or, it's a reminder in case humans become too arrogant "that even the gnats preceded them in the order of creation". In that regard, the perception is that humans have a "unique" responsibility to "use nature's bounty to our benefit" while also recognizing that "each part of God's creation has its own intrinsic value". Humans, in the Jewish interpretation, are the stewards of the Garden of Eden, but vitally, they are looking after it for God, not for themselves. Underlying the Jewish ethic, Fink writes, is the belief that humans are "only tenants on this earth. The land belongs to God. We are given permission to enjoy the Creator's abundant gifts, but we must not waste or wantonly destroy anything."
10 TEACHINGS ON JUDAISM AND ENVIRONMENT God created the universe. God's Creation is good. Human beings are created in the image of God. Humanity should view their place in Creation with love and awe. The Sabbath and prayer help us to achieve this state of mind. The Torah prohibits the wasteful consumption of anything. The Torah gives an obligation to save human life. The Torah prohibits the extinction of species and causing undo pain to non-human creatures. Environmental Justice is a Jewish value. Tikkun Olam: The perfection/fixing of the world is in our hands.
7. JAINISM Jainism ( जैनधर्म - Jainadharma) is one of the most environmentally Conscious religions in the world. The religion is based on the principal of non-violence towards all living beings. The religion is thought to have its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization and the later Vedic Civilization, a period of intense philosophical deliberations on the Indian subcontinent. Jainism was firmly established in India between 9th and 6th century BC. Today, there are over 4 million followers of Jainism in India and around the world.
Jain Agams depict nature in a very unique way as it says that five main elements of nature; Prithvi (land, soil, stones, etc), Jal (Water resources including cloud), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Aakash (Sky) are living creatures and must be treated as living beings. These five types of elements go on to form five classes of beings such as vegetation, trees and plants, fungi and animals. This unique concept of Jainism restricts its followers to harm any creature and eventually leads to limited consumption as well as help in protecting environment. WHEN WE SUMMARISE ALL THAT WAS SAID ABOVE, WE CAN CONCLUDE THAT:
This educational PowerPoint Presentation (editable) is prepared by GEM Team (courtesy: internet). For other similar GEM PowerPoint Presentations on various environmental issues see next slide. These PPTs may be downloaded from our website The GEM PPTs can be creatively used for various groups like school/college students, NGOs, government officials, Church groups, SCC groups, housing society members and so on.
Zero Garbage Solar Energy -(Darkness to Light) Junk Food Twenty Tips To Save Nature Plastic – a boon or bane? Green Passion Soft drink – A Health Hazard Waste to energy Rain Water Harvesting Eco-friendly Religions Happy Green Diwali Climate Change The future of Biodiversity Genetically Modified Foods Waste Water Treatment Give thanks, Give Life (Body, Organ, Tissue Donation) Organic Farming Waste to cooking gas Reduce, Reuse. Recycle Protect Mangroves Say NO to Bottled water Save Lakes and Ponds Forests are green lungs Coal Mining and Ecology Sin of Food Waste Climate change and Poverty Stop Water Pollution