Spirits and Nature

The Intertwining of Sacred Cosmologies and Environmental Conservation in Bhutan

Authors

  • Elizabeth Allison California Institute of Integral Studies

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.18805

Keywords:

Himalayas, Bhutan, Vajrayana Buddhism, Animism, local deities, spiritual ecology, traditional ecological knowledge, environmental perceptions

Abstract

While religious belief and environmental practice can be at odds with each other in a reductionist paradigm, both are aligned in service of environmental conservation in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan. Government documents assert that the nation’s unique sacred cosmology, a blend of Animism, Bön, and Vajrayana Buddhism, has protected Bhutan’s natural environment, allowing about two-thirds of the nation to remain under forest cover. The widespread belief in spirits and deities who inhabit the land shapes the ways that resource-dependent communities conceptualize and interact with the land. Local beliefs reveal a deep aflnity for and care of the landscape. In this way, local beliefs support the modernist goals of environmental conservation, while arising from a decidedly different ontology. The Bhutanese case highlights the potentials for both convergence and conmict inherent in the precarious intersections of traditional ecological knowledge and scientilc epistemologies of the environment

Author Biography

Elizabeth Allison, California Institute of Integral Studies

Philosophy and Religion, Asst. Professor

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Published

2017-09-25

How to Cite

Allison, E. (2017). Spirits and Nature: The Intertwining of Sacred Cosmologies and Environmental Conservation in Bhutan. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 11(2), 197–226. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.18805

Issue

Section

CLOSED- Special Issue: Ecocosmologies