Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Deep Ecological Awareness Is Spiritual Awareness

--by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi (Feb 12, 2018)

The sense in which we use the term "ecological" is associated with a specific philosophical school, founded in the early 1970s by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess (1912-2009) with the distinction between "shallow" and "deep" ecology. Since then, this distinction has been widely accepted as a very useful term for referring to a major division within contemporary environmental thought.

Shallow ecology is anthropocentric, or human-centered. It views humans as above or outside of nature, as the source of all value, and ascribes only instrumental, or "use," value to nature. Deep ecology does not separate humans — nor anything else — from the natural environment. It does sees the world not as a collection of isolated objects but as a network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. Deep ecology recognizes the intrinsic value of all living beings and views humans as just one particular strand in the web of life.

Ultimately, deep ecological awareness is spiritual awareness. When the concept of the human spirit is understood as the mode of consciousness in which the individual feels a sense of belonging, of connectedness, to the cosmos as a whole, it becomes clear that ecological awareness is spiritual in its deepest essence. Hence, the emerging new vision of reality, based on deep ecological awareness, is consistent with the so-called "perennial philosophy" of spiritual traditions.

There is another way in which Arne Naess characterized deep ecology. "The essence of deep ecology," he wrote, "is to ask deeper questions." This is also the essence of a paradigm shift. We need to be prepared to question every single aspect of the old paradigm. Eventually, we will not need to abandon all our old concepts and ideas, but before we know that we need to be willing to question everything. So, deep ecology asks profound questions about the very foundations of our modern, scientific, industrial, growth-oriented, materialistic worldview and way of life. It questions this entire paradigm from an ecological perspective: from the perspective of our relationships to one another, to future generations, and to the web of life of which we are part.

From the book "The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision" by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi.

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On Feb 9, 2018 david doane wrote:

 Shallow ecological awareness is the dualistic view that sees us as separate from nature and supports exploiting nature.  It is shallow, and harmful.  Deep ecological awareness means to me that there is one
activity/process/network/web called the universe that we are inseparably part of, in which all that is including us humans is  fundamentally and totally interrelated and interconnected.  As Thich Nhat Hanh says, we are interbeings that interarise in interisness.  I have had this awareness for a long time, and it helps me see that all is one, which is the foundation of my spirituality.  It feels very right for me and I allow and nurture the ongoing growth and deepening of such ecological awareness.

On Feb 9, 2018 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Deep ecology does not difference between nature and us as human beings.We all are intimately connected with nature. The philosophy of us vs nature has caused a great deal of harm to the world of nature.We as human beings are interconnected and interdependent with us and the world of nature. This cosmic connection paradigm is an ancient non-dualistic paradigm. Deep ecological awareness is indeed spiritual awareness I am very glad to notice the revival of this holistic cosmic paradigm. I know there are people including our policy maker politicians are still holding on to the  industrial-growth oriented materialistic shallow ecological paradigm. I hope more and more people embrace the deep ecological paradigm as a way of protecting and saving the web of life.

I was blessed to be raised to relate to nature as a living organism just like us as human beings. I work with children in a school that upholds the deep ecological view of life.When I see young children watering the plants and relating to squirrels,rabbits and birds with wonderment and compassion, I feel very happy and optimistic. I think the younger generation is more open to relate to ecology deeply and it is our responsibility to  help them cultivate the awareness of interconnectedness and interdependence. This is spiritual awareness which can create harmony and peaceful coexistence.

May we cultivate deeper and compassionate connection with life at all levels!

Jagdish P Dave

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