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The vast natural world we all live in is a fragile and beautiful place but we tend to distance ourselves from it in the high speed hamster wheel that is western society today. The teachings of buddha and other wisdom traditions can mend and heal that bond and connectivity we have with all living beings and the natural world around us. But also secular philosophy can be a great tool to deepen our natural bond and respect for the natural world and also contribute to the protection of it.

Deep ecology or ecosophy a movement started in the late 20th  century like wisdom traditions challenge our way we view ourselves in relation to our fellow human beings and the natural world as a whole, the proponents of deep ecology does not believe that the world exists as a resource to be freely exploited by human beings and that the nonhuman life have a intrinsic, inherent value in themselves. And that declination and destroying the natural world is a declination and destroying of the self. It also encourage non violent defiance to protect the environment in general.

Deep ecology can be summed up in three propositions:

-Recognizing the interrelationship between living and non living beings in the Cosmos as well as Biodiversity in general.
-Human population control.
-Simple living or treading lightly on the planet.

It is the foundation of the green party and a important movement today as a sane approach to meeting the global destruction of the natural world.

The term Deep Ecology was first coined by the Norwegian Philosopher Arne Næss (1912-2009) in 1973. Næss rejected that beings can be ranked according to their relative value. “All life has intrinsic value, irrespective of it’s value to humans,” Næss said. He believed that the environmental crisis of the 20th century had arisen due to the lack of acknowledgement in our modern societies concerning the value of the natural world as a whole. He believed that through a process of falling in love with the world, the wish to protect the environment itself would come naturally.

Arne Næss combined his ecological vision with Gandhian nonviolence and on several occasions participated in direct action, with great friendliness they offered coffee to the police when they came to remove them from a protest. He was a great scholar and have written many works and is known, loved and remembered for his openhearted and playful approach to life as an environmentalist educator and philosopher.

Sigmund Kvaløy Sætreng, a philosopher, mountain climber, illustrator and environmental activist also considered a pioneer of deep ecology, as many others found unity between deep ecology and Buddhism, he traveled to Nepal many times where he climbed and lived with sherpas as well as exploring Tibetan Buddhism. He also at one time functioned as an environmental counselor for the king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the country known for Gross National Happiness and its development in a sustainable direction. He used among many things poetry and illustrations to express his great love for nature He also was a politician and environmental activist and as Næss participated in direct action .

Gary Snyder, a Zen Buddhist, translator, poet, educator and environmentalist described as the poet laureate of Deep Ecology has written many great works on the relationship to nature. And have said this about the needs of the world:
“We know that science and art can be allies. We need far more women in politics. We need a religious view that embraces nature and does not fear science; business leaders who know and accept ecological and spiritual limits; political leader who have spent time working in schools, factories or farms and who still write poems. We need intellectual and academic leaders who have studied both history and ecology, and like to dance and cook. We need poets and novelists who pay no attention to critics. But what we ultimately need most is human beings who love the world.”

The process of protecting nature and preserving it for future generations starts withe the way we think and view ourselves in relations to the natural world. And wisdom traditions as well as secular philosophy can contribute towards a more just and enlightened society.

About the Author
Endre Vaslestad

Endre Vaslestad

Childcare worker at a Steiner Kinder garden, Buddhist, and student and lover of Natural Science.

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Featured image provided by the author. Landscape photo by Alain Audet, Canada.

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