Spiritual Practice and the Art of Ecological Living
Keywords:Spiritual exercises, Christian meditation, Holism, ecological living, attentiveness, self-restraint
Arguably, responses to the ecological crisis need to go further than renewable technology and emissions policy to embrace deeper and wider changes in ideas, attitudes and behaviour and more broadly cultivate an art of ecological living. This article discusses two sets of spiritual practice that contain within them seeds that implicitly cohere with an ecological ethos and therefore might be conducive to cultivating an ecologically sensitive way of living. These are the spiritual exercises of Greek and Roman philosophical schools, especially as understood by Pierre Hadot, and the contemporary practice of Christian meditation. This article discusses three aspects that, despite acknowledged differences, are common to both the ancient spiritual exercises and contemporary Christian meditation: the way they aim to transform the whole of the practitioner’s life, resonating with ecology’s broad and holistic scope; the
centrality of paying attention, enabling the practitioner to be grounded in the present time and place which in turn facilitates greater awareness of what is other to us; and the advocacy of an ethic of self-restraint, countering the ideology and practice of constant growth and consumerism.
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