Natural spirituality

Hamzeh Atrash, Jerusalem, 2015, Palestinian Territory
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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Currently, with the devastation in the mode of modernity, the paradigm of care is necessary if we want to guarantee the ecological conditions of our survival

The crisis of our way of living on this single planet involves everyone, including imperial nations. Who knew there was a severe erosion of democratic values ​​in the United States? The original American dream, he repeats, “implied a new world in which people lived free to realize their dreams, within a social environment that produced enlightened, responsible and committed citizens, with a passionate concern for dignity and rights individuals and others from the perspective of the common good”.

Evidently this was the dream of the population, not of the government bodies and the military security apparatus that sought and still seek, by all means, including warfare, the monopoly of world power. This was and is a different dream.

What has been happening since the 1960s, tells us Steven Rockefeller, from the Rockefeller family of billionaires, one of the creators of Earth Charter, of Buddhist option, one of the most dialoguable people I interacted with in the work of drafting the aforementioned Charter, notes that the current youth have forgotten the aforementioned values, live centered on their own self, depreciate their own country and have lost the sense of solidarity. Concludes saying: “America is a nation searching for its own soul”(Sipiritual democracy and our schools, p.15).

What is said about the United States practically applies to all or the main countries, even ours, since we are all interdependent and hostage to the culture of capital, accumulator, materialist, consumerist, exclusionary and insensitive to the fate of the poor majority. As a teacher and pedagogue, Steven Rockefeller wrote the aforementioned book “to renew the American spirit through education from early childhood”.

It manages three categories with which I identify and have been working with them for years, in view of a new paradigm and another style of education: spirituality, ethics and care for the Common Home.

Steven sees spirituality as an essential dimension of the human being with the same right of citizenship as the body, intelligence, will, and psyche. That's why it's natural. Spirituality should not be identified with religion, although there may be interrelationships between them. Natural spirituality is innate. Religions are born from it as cultural channels of this original data.

As Steven Rockefeller says, philosophy, depth psychology and neuroscience have shown us, “spirituality is an innate capacity in the human being that, when nurtured and developed, generates a way of being made up of relationships with oneself and with the world, promotes personal freedom, well-being, and the flourishing of collective good” (p. 10). Natural spirituality poses the unavoidable questions of human beings: why we are in this world, what awaits us beyond this life and the perception of a supreme reality. It is expressed through unconditional love, reverence for the Universe, solidarity, care for everything that exists and lives and compassion for those who suffer.

This understanding reminds me of Mikhail Gorbachev's speech at the end of writing the Earth Charter in the UNESCO spaces in Paris in 2000: “If we want to save life on the planet we need new values ​​and another spirituality”. It is worth saying that neither our material goods nor technoscience are enough. All of this must be imbued with the values ​​of the heart, thirst for love, affection, empathy, ethics, care and spirituality.

Only in this way can we establish an emotional and supportive bond with all beings and with the Earth and thus save them. Every being has a value in itself, beyond human use. Natural spirituality allows us to feel all of this, it is a kind of natural organ of our life that no portion of our nature can perform adequately.

Quantum physicist Danah Zohar and her neurologist husband, I. Marshall, demonstrated that we have within us what they called “the God point in the brain”. Every time sacred and spiritual themes are approached in an existential way, there is a significant acceleration of neurons in a part of the brain. It is a kind of inner organ through which natural and innate spirituality captures that powerful and loving Energy that sustains everything and also acts within us. (Danah Zohar, The quantum being).

Natural spirituality takes us directly to ethics, in the classic Greek sense: the House (ethos) well cared for, now the Common Home, the Earth. O "ethos” seeks good living. “Ethics”, the forms and ways of achieving good living, through the virtues of love, justice, fair measure, beauty and other virtues depending on the feelings of various cultures. From a young age and in the educational process, one must unearth the natural spirituality that is always supported by the ethics of good living.

Today, care is more urgent than ever, understood as the essence of all living things, especially human beings, according to the Roman myth of Hyginus, explored by philosophy and anthropology (cf. L. Boff. Knowing how to care: human ethics-compassion for the Earth, Voices). Left to itself, no living organism survives without care.

Currently, two paradigms are confronted: that of power and that of care. Current power as domination characterizes modernity. It was with this power that people submitted, many made slaves, nature ruthlessly exploited, matter, life and the Earth itself today with little sustainability. The care paradigm renounces power as domination and establishes a friendly relationship with nature and respects the Earth as the Great Mother and Gaia. Currently with the devastation in the mode of modernity, the paradigm of care is necessary if we want to guarantee the ecological conditions for our survival.

Humanity finds itself at a crossroads: either it follows the path of power that involves unlimited exploitation of natural resources to the point of having affected the Earth's balance, given irreversible climate change; this path could lead us to an ecological armageddon. Or follow the path of care. Humanity stops, reflects on the risks to its survival and then sets a more benevolent course, marked by care for nature, for each other and for the Earth. Otherwise, tell Earth Charter, “we risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life” (Preamble). Pope Francis said nothing else in Fratelli tutti: “we are in the same boat, either we are all saved or no one is saved” (n. 24).

If we still have time for this change in our common destiny with the Earth, we will survive and inaugurate another way of inhabiting the planet, with a feeling of belonging and with the awareness of being its faithful guardians.

Education has this messianic mission of unearthing, from birth, natural spirituality, Earth ethics and care for creation. Along this path there will be salvation.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Inhabiting the Earth: what is the path to universal fraternity (Voices) [https://amzn.to/3RNzNpQ]


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