Over at Whole Earth God, author (and former Tricycle editor*) Clark Strand writes about “Green Meditation,” which he explains in this way:
Green Meditation overturns pretty much everything we know (or think we know) about our existing religious practices and beliefs. Or, rather, it reinterprets them so radically that they aren’t recognizable any longer to most people.
For all that, the basic idea is easy to understand: Green Meditation tells us that all theology (interpreted broadly to include any religious teaching) is ecology. Where it isn’t, theology has gone astray. Nature is never wrong.
Green Meditation sees doctrines like heaven, the Pure Land, and nirvana as evidence of humanity’s ongoing effort to think its way outside the box of Nature—as if there were any outside of that box. It sees natural selection as entirely wholesome, but regards the idea of humanity as an arrow pointing forward toward some evolutionary perfection as deluded to the core—and possibly even evil. It recognizes the belief that the world was created for human beings as the mother of all suffering, and the belief that human consciousness is the point of the universe as the father of every lie.
In short, Green Meditation teaches us that we have no future and no point apart from Nature. Nature is where we find the meaning and value of our lives.
I’ve quoted a lot of it in this post, but you can (and should) read the whole thing here.
Clark says Green Meditation is still very new, and there will be a lot more to come on it, but I’ll give a few thoughts here as a prod to see what others think. On a general level I agree with this notion, Nature as God, since Nature is our “Creator” and there is nothing “outside nature.” Respect for the Earth should be one of the highest virtues. We can put many masks over it, but in the end Nature is behind all our religious ideas and discoveries because we are in Nature.
But will viewing Nature in this way lead to less suffering? It’s all well and good to say it’s “wrong” that eucalyptus trees were introduced to California, but try getting rid of them. Most people don’t know they’re an introduced species, and others are introducing natural predators — insects — from Australia to eat them, which seems like a pretty dim idea. We have to take the world as it is. We can’t hit rewind.
We have committed many crimes against nature. Every action of every human is a crime against nature, our clothes, food, and shelter. Maybe we can lessen our negative impact on the Earth but all notions of harmlessness (“carbon-neutral”) are fallacies, tossing the hot potato somewhere else.
As soon as humans developed agriculture, and probably earlier, we placed ourselves in opposition to Nature, because we placed ourselves in opposition to natural selection and did our own selecting. We built roads, dug irrigation ditches, put up walls and roofs to keep out the rain. in the truest sense we are one with banana slugs and bacteria that live in our intestines, but I don’t really see how Green Meditation will help humans off our current collision course with environmental calamity. (Do we want to “save the Earth” or do we want to “save ourselves?” What would saving ourselves mean, leaving in a spaceship?)
Helping people see Nature is something grand and universal may be a start. It can’t hurt, can it?
This is no reason to give up hope. But hope is pretty unnatural.
Clark is writing more about this, he says. It will be exciting to hear what he says.
*In the spring of 1996, I applied for a job at Tricycle and was interviewed by Clark, as well as Tricycle’s founder and first editor Helen Tworkov and current editor and publisher James Shaheen. As I recall, much of the interview was taken up with a discussion of an obscure grammatical oddity, and my steely insouciance in the face of this high-level editorial disagreement doubtless pushed me over the top of the pile and into the comfortable and well-cushioned seat upon which I now rest.
Sign up for Tricycle’s newsletters