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International Journal of Environment, Ecology, Family and Urban Studies (IJEEFUS) ISSN 2250-0065 Vol. 3, Issue 2, Jun 2013, 107-112 © TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.

INTEGRATING SPIRITUALITY AND NATURE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ANEESYA SHARMA & AKANKSHA S. CHATTERJEE Assistant Professor, IBM, GLA University, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India

ABSTRACT We all are proud of our nation’s swift development but are we able to sustain and preserve this development and if so, then the question is at what and who’s cost? In fact the development we all are talking about is fundamentally based on the US business model which is often questioned at the international level in seminars and conferences. We all are trying to construct our survival in the time of ecological destruction, in which our worldly and selfish culture is posing a disastrous bang on the ecological unit. In fact we have exploited our earth up to the extent that now the creation itself is calling us for its help by sending the danger signals of imbalance. Thus, our paper argues that for sustainable development of any system connectedness of spirituality with a strong conviction in support of ecological and social justice is imperative. This transition from a contemporary to inclusive world view can be termed as spiritual transformation that leads to deeper understanding and awareness about the environmental crisis and contribution that can be drawn from the field of spiritual ecology.

KEYWORDS: Environmental Crisis, Sustainable Development, Spiritual Ecology, Spirituality INTRODUCTION One of the sad effects of advancement is devastation of environment and with it nature. Large-scale deforestation, pollution of air, introduction of toxic chemicals in rivers and oceans and way towards our present technological progress is depleting biodiversity. We enjoy the beauty of nature, appreciate it and this helps us in preserving it as much as possible and hence is a step towards sustainable living. In all religions of the world the respect for nature is preached and the maxim of simple living and high thinking is ingrained. Efforts have been made in recent years to encourage everybody to become extra susceptible, vulnerable and receptive towards the connection between people and environment (Hoff & McNutt, 1994; Besthorn, 2000; Coates, 2003). Research in the field of sustainable development points out that negative change will occur if existing trends of environmental destruction continue this is going to have its alarming impact on quality of life as well as on the social interaction phenomena. (Randers and Behrens, 1972, Berry, 1988; Daly & Cobb, 1989; Meadows, Meadows). We should have the feeling from the bottom of our hearts that we should save the earth. And cognitive thinking should be done regarding how to save the earth. Global quality can be improved by implementing change that ensures dignified life for all and foster all human rights. These changes must embrace the abolition and mitigation of widespread state of affairs of poverty, joblessness, and unfair social conditions. Sustainable development ensures well-being of all individuals by integrating social development, economic development, and environmental preservation and fortification.


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Spirituality is the state of mind, which understands that the Truth is beyond the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed, race or geographical boundaries. It is universal in nature and a great spiritual thought is a cause of celebration for the whole mankind. It connects us to universal Consciousness and gives a certain perspective in life. Spirituality helps in taking charge of our greed for materials and resources and as Mahatma Gandhi once said sustainable development can take place only when we utilize these resources for our needs and desires and not for our greed. Spirituality also facilitates us to have a compassionate outlook of nature. This averts us from over exploitation of available resources. As we evolve spiritually we try to bring more harmony to things around us which includes nature.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Sustainability implies creating and maintaining balance between current community and overtime. A sustainable ecosystem seeks a better quality of life for all inhabitants while maintaining nature’s ability to function over time by minimizing waste, preventing pollution, promoting efficiency and developing local resources to revitalize the communities. Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges faced by humanity. The three indicators of sustainable development are social ecology which takes into account social equity, environment protection which comes through creating and maintaining ecological balance and spiritual ecology which is a response to ecological crisis. The realization of sustainable development will begin to be manifest, when the relationship between environment and human beings will be guided by the spiritual perspective of life. Thus, sustainable development can be achieved by creating harmony between environment and human beings.

INTEGRATING SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY WITH SOCIAL ECOLOGY AND ECOLOGICAL BALANCE TO CREATE HARMONY BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT AND SELF TO ATTAIN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Figure 1


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CREATING HARMONY BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT AND SELF TO ATTAIN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Man and environment are interdependent on each other and one way to attain sustainable development is to create harmony between both. All living beings are interconnected with each other through natural cycles and ecological systems and all such cycles are naturally and recurrently subject to changes that results in growth and development of all the living beings. But simultaneously the ecosystem is also subjected to major changes which are now resulting into environmental crisis. This is due to the lack of spiritually principled behavior in us that has resulted in creating the ecological imbalance. Therefore, we should understand that the environment and living beings are exceptionally fragile and once they are gone, there are no replacements. The fundamental requirement is inner consciousness of individuals towards deep commitment towards the earth. The unsustainably of our ecosystem arises because we treat it as unlimited. We tend to ignore the biggest truth that we live on a finite earth where recourses are scarce and rationality is required for its optimal utilization. We should respect the limits of the environment so that we can ensure that the natural resources are unimpaired and remain for future generations.

SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH INTERDEPENDENCE: SPIRITUAL- SELF AND NATURE Mundane There are two major systems in this world, the mundane and spiritual. These two systems are like two eyes, thus it is important to know them both. Mundane is worldly, materialistic, of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one. The environmental crisis currently facing us is a result of our viewing the world in terms of separateness. We are closing doors of spirituality that lies deep inside us and moving towards outer surface were our behavior is dominated by materialism. Materialism promotes many other negative feelings as well like lust, selfishness, jealousy, sense of hopelessness, etc. However, an increase in materialism has actually little or no effect on the well-being and happiness of its people. We are moving or rather have moved to a great extent towards a "joyless society". Social Ecology As we move away from spiritualism towards behavior directed towards materialism, in the mid way we neglect or rather surpass the relationships and emotions. The ecological crisis is the result of deep-seated social problems. Social ecology advocates a Holistic World View- a view of collectivism rather than individualism and envisions a society that moves beyond scarcity and materialism towards a world that re-harmonizes human communities with the environment. Social ecology is a discipline which is concerned with values, ethics and process of change. Environment Global warming and its mounting effects have thrown many global environmental issues. As a result of industrialization and advanced technology our very own planet's fragile ecosystem is under attack on many. Nothing can happen overnight, it is our inner consciousness that is need to awaken, on the other hand worldwide change is desirable in order to prevent the environmental devastation, as such the expansion of alternate source of energy is absolutely necessary. Spiritual Ecology Spirituality gives people the strength to sustain their action throughout their lives. Sustainable development cannot be achieved unless we determine ourselves to rejuvenate the relationship between we, the people and the environment. But the question is how to orient ourselves to reestablish this vital relationship. The answer to this is Spiritual Ecology, which is a response to this crisis. Spiritual Ecology acknowledges the critical need to make transition from the physical world


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towards spiritualism so as to respond to the ecological crisis. It address the need to realize that the world is much more than just the physical world we perceive through the senses, just as we are much more than just our own physical bodies. There is vast environment beyond the physical world and there is spirituality beyond our physical surface. In a world of social disintegration and individual loss of meaning, spirituality offers a sense of responsibility towards the whole environment. Need, Desires, Emotions, Relationships Human needs and desires are endless. There is lack of emotions and insensitivity towards relationships. Sustainable Development is about balancing the human needs with environmental protection. It is equally important that humans should be allowed to grow and develop but the sad part is that the rate at which they are growing is destructive in nature. We can't expect poor factories in poverty stricken countries to use cutting edge, expensive technology, when many western world factories who can afford it don't. A better plan for sustaining resources is needed. We have four main areas that need to be sustained; the natural environment, industry, agriculture, and the social needs of humanity. Materialistic Behavior People with materialistic behavior consider physical matter as the only component of reality. Personal satisfaction and greed are the most important aspects of life of the society driven by materialism. It acts like a brainwasher and removes the sense of responsibility towards our ecosystem. People tend to view the world in terms of separateness. Materialistic-dominated culture use to consider nature and the earth as a material and mechanical object, instead of acknowledging the interdependence of the ecosystem. The sad part is that people are forgetting their ethical and moral values and often fail to understand the distinction between right choices and the wrong ones. The only thing that people give much importance is good quality life and false comforts. They think that everything around them is dictated by need of humans and the environment is compelled to provide this. However, an increase in materialism has actually slight or no effect on the well-being and contentment of its people. Thus materialism has unfavorably affected the complete framework of our society.

Figure 2: Sustainability through Interdependence: Spiritual- Self and Nature

DISCUSSIONS The consciousness or awareness of a connectedness to everything will facilitate us to move towards the aspiration of sustainability. Though we human beings have exploited our environment through our interventions and have produced the problems facing our planet earth, yet we have this innate ability to take corrective actions. All it requires is fundamental changes in human attitudes and behavior. This fundamental change calls for a transition of core self from mundane to


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spirituality. It is about our honesty to assimilate the significance of interdependence and interconnectedness of all forms of life. The golden threads connecting spirituality and sustainability included relationship, sacredness, consideration, significance and accountability/reciprocity. It was determined that one cannot achieve sustainability in the absence of a strong personal intuitiveness that comprise of spirituality or social dimension. Overall, it is our inner consciousness and love that act as a glue that binds all of the connections and is thus essential for achieving any level of sustainability and world transformation.

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Besthorn, F. (2000). Toward a deep-ecological social work: Its environmental, spiritual and political dimensions. The Spirituality and Social Work Forum, 7(2), 1, 6-7.

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Meadows, D., Meadows, D., Randers, J., & Behrens, III, W. (1972). The limits to growth: A report for the club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind. New York: Universe Books.

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21. www.soc.hawaii.edu 22. www.doc.mmu.ac.uk 23. www.crcresearch.org


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