Digging into Deep Ecology

One thing that distinguishes Novasutras from many other spiritual or religious movements is that its heart, the core philosophy of its origination, is eco-centric. The Novasutras movement does not put humans at the center of the universe, but instead encourages us to embrace our role as one among countless participants in a vastly complex dance of creation.

Novasutras has its roots in Deep Ecology, watered by mindfulness traditions, and growing up into the world to nurture everyone, stretching forth branches blossoming with enticing ritual and bearing the fruit of care and kindness for all.

Essential to the Novasutras principles is our experience of agaya. Agaya is our expression of this profound awareness of interdependent co-arising, and the wonder, joy, and awe that nature’s sacred beauty inspires within us.

This awareness is also fundamental to the Deep Ecology movement.

“Through deep experience, deep questioning and deep commitment emerges deep ecology.” ~Arne Naess

The Deep Ecology Platform

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

—Arne Naess and George Sessions (1984)

Deep Ecology is sometimes described as an eco-centric worldview, in opposition to an anthropocentric (human-centered) worldview. This (largely false) dichotomy becomes a basis for accusations of a misanthropic intent behind Deep Ecology. Yet, as seen in the first principle in the above Deep Ecology Platform, the emphasis in Deep Ecology is that humans are a part of Nature, not apart from Nature, and as such deserve the same respect and care as other organisms.  As humans, it is entirely expected and appropriate to have more empathy and emotional connection to others of our species, and so we must encourage our capacity to extend our circle of ubuntu.

“When we defend our loved ones or are moved more by human suffering than the suffering of other beings, we are acting as descendants, parents, friends, lovers, etc. One can support the deep ecology movement consistent with such feelings. What is inconsistent is refusing to recognize the inherent worth of other beings to the extent that one is willing to allow unmerciful exploitation and destruction of life forms purely for human convenience and profit.”    ~ Alan Drengson

Learn more at deepecology.org, thechurchofdeepecology.org, “What is Deep Ecology?”“Ecophilosophy, Ecosophy and The Deep Ecology Movement”, The Trumpeter: A Journal of Ecosophy, and other places around the Web. (Please let us know of other good resources on Deep Ecology in the comments below.)

It is clear that the principles of Deep Ecology are not new, but are in fact embedded in many indigenous beliefs and practices from around the world.  Novasutras embraces these varied traditions that resonate with agaya.

800px-exposed_mango_tree_roots
Aaron Escobar, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia

2 thoughts on “Digging into Deep Ecology

  1. Another good resource is “What is Deep Ecology?” by Chris Johnstone at https://www.thegreenfuse.org/johnstone.htm. Johnstone talks about The Four Drections of Deep Ecology – Ideas (especially systems thinking and Gaia Theory), Feelings, Spirituality, Action. His “Deep Ecology Critique” https://www.thegreenfuse.org/deepcrit.htm – is also very important for consideration.
    Don’t be lured to “ChurchofDeepEcology.org – Personal Blog of a Singaporean Guy” site! (Notice the lack of “the” at the beginning of the URL, unlike the good link mentioned in the post above.) This “Singaporean Guy” appears to have absolutely nothing to do with deep ecology.

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