‘ENVIRONMENT’, ‘WE’ AND ‘GOD’.. – Jolly Nadukudiyil, S.J.
Today, we live in a world where there is a growing awareness towards the care and protection of environment. Environment is most often perceived other than human beings, as if both human beings and environment have their own distinct existence and extinction. Is that true?
What is environment? How do we understand it? People of various walks of life and academic pursuits try to define and articulate ‘environment’ in the best way suit to them. But I want to reflect about it in my own way after being with and caring for the Mother Earth closely for the last 12 years…
My basic premise is that there is only one God, one creation, one cosmos and finally one environment. I understand that the living and nonliving organism of the creation/universe/cosmos/mother earth is the environment. In other words, environment is the wholesome creation with all its living and nonliving organisms. Every created being belongs to the realm of environment. God, creation, cosmos, universe, mother earth, environment are the synonyms of one existential reality but very often they are spoken of as if having its own shade of existence, and the disregard and destruction of our own life begins at this point.
Most people specially proponents and propagators of various religions seem to have certain religious doctrinal compulsions to adhere that human being is the centre of creation and everything else in the world is subservient to it. Further, to make their stand stronger, they teach that other living beings such as birds and animals live on instinct but not on intelligence. So, the outcome of this belief system is that human being becoming uncaring for the other living and non living beings/environment seeking self gratification and finally destruction of oneself.
If ‘human centeredness’, ‘primacy of human beings’ is the purpose of the creation of the world and its existence, just think the other way too. Human beings cannot survive without the air, water, food, trees, animals etc but all other living beings grow and flourish without human beings!.. So, who is great? Who is at the centre?
Look at, observe and ponder at the world around us… We feel a purposeful creation around us.. We experience a harmonious existence of created beings, an existence which is enhancing one another but not dominating and enslaving. Finally, we are led to understand that we are not the superior beings of creation, environment. We are neither superior nor inferior. We are part of one creation. We have no existence without being part of environment. Human beings and environment are intrinsically, existentially and holistically one. If this is true, it is our sacred responsibility to care for all other beings as much as we care for ourselves.
If we agree with the stand above, we further realize that the ‘environment’ is an integrated intrinsic extension of my being… my well being and my happiness… There is no duality, and if ever it exists, it is only a mental abstraction. Caring for the environment is caring for ourselves. I am the air, birds, trees, animals, seas, rivers, butterflies, rains, thundering, lightening.. I am everything that the creation/environment can hold.
When Jesus, the teacher and Lord of all times was asked to name the greatest commandment in the law:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mathew 22:36-40.)
We have failed to comprehend the depth dimension of the teaching of Jesus. Intellectually, we know that God is everywhere – omnipresent but at the gut level we believe and act as if God is confined to a particular place. (God is a ‘super person’..God moves from place to place.) Our ritualistic expressions of faith and worship are witnesses to this. From our faith dimension we know that God has created the world and we are created in the ‘image’ of God. So, if the spirit of God is dwelling everywhere, can we think of a creator without creation?.. We know the creator/God from the creation (environment) but not vice versa. So, if our faith is that God is omnipresent then it follows that the creation/environment is the dwelling place of God. Further it follows that we need to maintain the innocence/sacredness/purity of the creation…So, when Jesus teaches that ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’, it becomes clear enough that we must love the creation/environment as a custodian but not as owner.
The key words of the Upanishads “I am Brahman,” and “You are That,” and the teachings of Jesus, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ are the two sides of one coin. We can blossom to the full in so far we take care of the environment/creation because we are the extension of God and (the image of ) God is dwelling within us. We can’t have distinct existence.. Our existence intrinsically and substantially depends on creation but not vice versa.
Today the greatest threat to environment is human beings…In other words, Human beings perceiving and acting environment as a distinct entity try to overpower, dominate and abuse it to satisfy and gratify its self centeredness. But by doing this, we kill our own self and that is the world where we live in and orienting to.
Today we are living in a world of ‘speed’…We have made aeroplanes where we can travel faster than sound… We have discovered “God particles”.. The rich have booked their ticket to settle down in Mars… We think we have mastered the God and the universe..
We are in a world where countries try to outsmart the other towards the production of supersonic mass destructive weapons in the pretext of protecting their territory and sovereignty.
We have been building up industries where we produce tons of chemical manure and pesticide to enhance food crops to feed the world… GMOs (genetically modified organisms) has become the catchword for the development for a prosperous world.
The prime and basic elements which can sustain the life principle of the creation/environment is threatened at an alarming phase more than ever before, today. The air is polluted, water is contaminated and food is adulterated and toxified and this is done by none other than human beings. As the days pass by we continue to dig our own grave and set the time bomb.
As the time is clicking for the explosion of the time bomb, political statements are being made by the leaders of various governments of the world community at large towards the care and protection of ecology and environment.. Agents of national and multinational companies, firms and industries producing highly pollutant and toxic products and byproducts make tall claims that ‘environment safety is their motto of their business’ . But in reality these are the prominent agents in the guise of care takers of mother earth, in assembling the parts of the environmental time bombs to be exploded in the future.
Common men and women becoming the victims at the hands of the heartless politicians and profit and self oriented industrial giants do contribute in their own way towards the degradation and poisoning of Mother Earth. In brief except some exceptionally enlightened people, human beings play the role of neglecting the care of environment and the only difference is the intensity in this regard varies.
In this given self threatening situation of human life on this planet, apparent visible signs of awareness towards the care and protection of mother earth is also taking place side by side, but a close watch on this exhibits to a large extent of pseudo care for the environment. Laws are passed and amended by the concerned government, millions of rupees are sanctioned by the government and other grant making agencies, political speeches are made, seminars and workshops are conducted, syllabus for educational institutions are made, paintings are made on the canvas and walls, photos are taken on tree plantation and circulated on print and digital media towards environmental care and protection. But all these initiatives remain mostly in the realm of the understanding that environment is distinct from human beings but the real care for the mother earth should begin and blossom with the indepth and integrated insight that we are neither superior nor inferior among the created beings in the universe but we are integrally, intrinsically and existentially part of it as an organic wholesome..
LOVING MOTHER EARTH AND HER CREATED BEINGS IS LOVING OURSELVES AND GOD..
About the Author
Jolly Nadukudiyil,S.J, www.facebook.com/XavierCenterForEcoHarmony, Vadodara
Educating the children of migrant workers who will not be pursuing their studies on their own. We have a school, Xavier Green School in our campus area to educate these children. We have rain water harvesting/lakes..organic farming..compost manure..biogas plant etc.We have 39 acres land with 50000 tress growing in the campus area..educating the children of migrant workers who will not be pursuing their studies on their own.
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