The 10 Spiritual Principles for Climate Repentance prompts religious leaders to call for a re-examination of deep-seated attitudes and identifying ways to transform people’s attitudes toward the well-being of Earth, mankind’s common home. The ecological crisis is a spiritual crisis of how we deal with this ongoing destruction of Planet Earth, our home. As spiritual beings the question before us is “When will religion – the sleeping giant – wake up to address the ecological crisis?”
10 Spiritual Principles for Climate Repentance
The Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders
The leaders of the world are presently gathered in Egypt, during this time of great international tension and conflict, for the Cop-27 meeting. We support them with our deepest prayers and meditations. Theirs is the urgent work of addressing the practical challenges of climate change and for negotiating between nations, in an attempt to help humanity resolve the climate crisis. As religious leaders we offer our voice as a contribution to the gathered leaders and to humanity. Ours is a voice of hope and unity, grounded in a spiritual vision. From this vision, offered as common ground between diverse religions, an positive attitude to life is derived that can inform practical decisions and negotiations. It can also give hope and meaning to individuals struggling under the burden of climate anxiety, who seek to find their place and identify their responsibility at this time of crisis. We must also confront honestly the destructive habits which continue to limit the possibilities and the hopes of human beings, in a call for wake up and self-examination. With the following ten principles we seek to initiate a process of climate repentance, broader understanding, and effective action. Many practical consequences can be derived from the vision set forth here, as well as from the individual principles we offer. Our call is a call to action; and a call to return to a correct vision of the creation, the creator, and the harmonious relationship of humanity with creation.
God and the world – the Nature of Being
- Creation is not our possession. The human person must recognize this and find his/her rightful place in relation to this fundamental fact. For some of us, this leads to a sense of gratitude for God’s gifts and for the gift of life itself, wherein humanity takes its rightful place as partner and co-creator, in advancing the life of all creation. For others,, creation itself is sacred.
Therefore: We recognize human responsibility to love and protect nature
- Creation is not simply external to God. It is, in significant ways, permeated by God’s presence and being, manifesting the divine agency and reality. Such understandings are found in all traditions, whether as the universal view or as one voice among others. Alternatively, nature is permeated by the spiritual, manifesting ultimate reality in every particle.
Therefore: We must treat all of life with reverence.
- Within creation, and between humans and other parts of creation, as well as among religious communities, there is interdependence. All are part of a greater whole wherein each element both receives and gives influence, impact, love, and growth.
Therefore: We must care for each other and the planet.
Humanity and Its Responsibilities
- The distinctive task of humanity is to nurture and serve this interdependent life-giving, and so to resist the temptation to exploitation, waste, and harm. Acting in the interest of human well-being cannot be something pursued in separation from working for the well-being of the whole created order. This finds two prominent expressions:
a. Commitment to not harm creation, and the responsibility to protect it.
b. Commitment to serve, advance, and aid in the growth and evolution of all parts of creation.
Therefore: We recognize that we are responsible for the wellbeing of all life today, as well as for future generations.
- The human person has capacities that are conducive to the realization of this vision, as well as forces that are destructive. Ego, self-centeredness, greed, arrogance, and more are negative traits stemming from a limited sense of the human person. These have the potential to destroy humanity and creation. The soul, or the higher aspects of the human person, have the capacity to realize the fuller vision of humanity’s role in the broader scheme of the meaning of life and creation.
Therefore: A disciplined spiritual life is helpful in overcoming the challenges of climate change.
- There is an inherent relationship between the human person (within) and nature and objective reality (without). Thoughts, speech and action have the capacity to bring harm or to heal.
Therefore: Use thought, speech and action only for the good.
- Based on this understanding of the human person and his/her role in creation, the processes of growth, transformation, return and repentance are fundamental to human existence.
Therefore: The human person is benefitted by the ongoing effort to purify, raise, and transform himself, in view of a higher vision.
Living in Spirituality and Responsibility
- There are reactions when we harm the earth and others. Actions have consequences and no action can be ignored. The weight of our actions and their short and long term consequences lead us to find ways of mitigating harmful actions and to work for the good.
Therefore: Act knowing that every action counts.
- Empowered by mind, reason and spiritual understanding, we adopt a mindful and attentive view of the natural world.
Therefore: take seriously the lessons and observations that humanity has reached by application of its mind in scientific study and through common reason.
- The life of attentive, intelligent love is embodied in compassion: in openness to the pain and vulnerability of the world. Care for the other is expressed in love and compassion as fundamental spiritual principles. These are to be applied to other humans, human communities, and other parts of creation. Compassion means suffering with others—to feel the pain of the earth, of the poor, and of those who suffer the consequences of climate change. Opening our hearts to their pain will lead us to change.
Therefore: Be sensitive to the intolerable insecurities and injustices in which so many of our fellow-humans live.
Image Credits: PRNewsfoto/The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and Josef Abramowitz