10 Spiritual Principles for Climate Repentance
The Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders
The 10 principles are followed by bullet points that offer suggestions for practical consequences and applications.
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.
● Many of our liturgies lead us to this recognition. Use prayer and meditation as means of recollecting this fundamental truth.
● There are existing rituals in all religious traditions that give expression to this recognition. Periodic cessation from activity, in a manner similar to Sabbath or Jubilee practices, helps reorient our vision.
● Living in a predominantly technology-oriented awareness leads to loss of appreciation of nature. So, rebalance how you encounter technology and creation.
● Pay attention to the daily miracles of sunrise and sunset.
● Cultivate awareness of the miracle of life itself in all its manifestations.
● We must direct our spiritual training and religious education towards stimulating this awareness.
- 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.
● This translates to an invitation to encounter spiritual reality in every action we undertake, that can be performed with due mindfulness.
● Pilgrimage often provides opportunities for encounter with the divine, both through manifestations of the divine in nature and through encounter with models of spirituality and excellence in human spiritual exemplars.
● Our entire existence is nourished by nature. The manifestation of the divine in creation leads us to the recognition that we have what to receive from an encounter with creation. Spend time in nature and listen, and attune yourself to the presence of God. This will help offset the sense of ownership, commodification and exploitation that are current.
- 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.
● Expand your awareness of objects, commerce and what you encounter to take note of their origins, source and implications.
● See yourself as part of nature/creation and not as outside it.
● Listen to the traditions that have cultivated an awareness that situates the human person in this light. Learn from them.
● A spiritual view is all- encompassing and its mandate is for all sectors of society.Boundaries between countries cannot constitute an obstacle to the broader recognition of interdependence of all life.
● Mental and spiritual health is enhanced by the company of diverse creatures, humbling and expanding our mind and consciousness.
● Deep reflection on the identity of the human person leads us beyond the superficial sense that sets us apart from the rest of creation.
● Religious leaders should be trained with an awareness of their responsibility to educate about and to address climate change.
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.
● Minimize violence against other forms of life
● Seek out and support initiatives to protect biodiversity
● Commit to eating lower on the food chain and more plant centered diet.
● Simplify life, learn to live with less.
● Make sustainability and care for creation a core principle of our education.
● Make low emission choices.
● Act with generosity towards those facing issues of loss and damage and costly adaptations due to climate change.
● Study religious and scriptural sources that offer a comprehensive vision of creation.
● Invest with an eye to the consequences of your investment to creation.
● Advocacy, undertaken by religious leaders, is one expression of working for the well being of creation.
● Religious actors should carry their vision also into the political arena, where choices are made.
- 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.
● Spend time away from consumer culture.
● Serve others as a form of decentering and rising above ego self.
● Cultivate actions for the common good to cultivate selflessness.
● Cultivate partnerships for local prayer and meditation, linked to service and advocacy for climate change.
● Let our spiritual practice give us the power to say no to harmful urges.
● Let conscience be a driver of actions and let uslegitimate a sense of shame in relation to our actions.
● Cultivate an appreciation for beauty, especially in nature, as an antidote to possessiveness.
- 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.
● Be attentive to what you let influence your thinking.
● Avoid to the maximum speaking of others, certainly speaking ill of others.
● Purify your mind through meditative, contemplative or prayerful practices.
● Communicate with compassion; avoid violent and harmful communication.
● Do not force your opinions on others; respect diversity in opinion.
- 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.
● Identify teachers and individuals who can serve as guides and guideposts on a spiritual journey.
● Review your life periodically in order to recognize patterns of growth or in order to cultivate them.
● Associate with people, friends and communities that have the capacity to uplift you.
● Cultivate strength to make positive choices for yourself and others.
● Practice gratitude as a means of orientating yourself in life towards the good and away from habitual resentment.
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.
● Encourage forms of agriculture that do not drive up emissions.
● Apply discrimination to all actions with an awareness of its impact and long term consequences.
● Plan ahead. Consider your actions and your life in the context of a long term vision.
● Consider your actions in relation to their motivations, in order to reach maximal benefit and purity of intention, which in turn will make your actions more potent.
- 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.
● Embrace scientific knowledge that protects the planet.
● Avoid setting up a dichotomy between scientific knowledge and religious faith.
● Use nature as a basis for meditation and observation. This will deepen your affiliation with it and teach you to learn from nature and not only to use it.
● Cultivate an analytical perspective that can lead to better understand our place in the universe.
- 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.
● Open your eyes to suffering around you and ensure you are not its cause.
● Assist those who are suffering the consequences of climate change and do not have the resources to respond.
● Cultivate wisdom as a foundation for compassion.
● Put yourself in the place of the other as you consider life. It is a gift that you were placed where you are, and not a value you are entitled to.
● Be attentive to young people suffering climate anxiety and insecurity relating to their future.
● Consider the suffering of the poor and the suffering as signals of alarm for what might befall all of us.
● Be the voice of the species that otherwise have no voice.
● Be brave and denounce injustices.
● Support courageous voices for the common good when they are under attack.