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Quotations about the Spirit of Sustainability

I was trying to come up with a way for our authors to send quotations from sacred texts but also from favorite environmental and other books to us. A deluge of e-mails is hard to manage, and doesn’t give other people a chance to see what’s been sent. So here’s today’s Berkshire experiment: please comment here with your favorite short quotations with the source, including publication and year, and any notes about why it’s meaningful or where in might be placed in The Spirit of Sustainability. All those who submit quotations (or passages) we include in the final volume will be thanked by name.

4 thoughts on “Quotations about the Spirit of Sustainability

  1. Regarding how humans treat animals…from Ghandi “”The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable [including animals]. “

  2. There is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts, and continued injustice among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature…. Moreover, a new ecological awareness is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives.

    Pope JOhn Paul 11, world day message of peace, 1990.

    This shows the importance of sustainability for world peace and security and how he supported environmental justice.

    What is required is an act of repentance on our part and a renewed attempt to view ourselves, one another, and the world around us within the perspective of the divine design for creation. The problem is not simply economic and technological; it is moral and spiritual. A solution at the economic and technological level can be found only if we undergo, in the most radical way, an inner change of heart, which can lead to a change in lifestyle and of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production. A genuine conversion in Christ will enable us to change the way we think and act.

    ‘Declaration on the Environment’, Signed by Pope John Paul 11 and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, June 10th, 2002.

    Shows the world leaders are united in their concern to include environmental issues in the agenda, it is a call to adopt the spirit of sustainability.

  3. I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars . . . I awaken everything to life.
    Hildegard of Bingen

    Pleasant it looked,
    this newly created world.
    Along the entire length and breadth
    of the earth, our grandmother,
    extended the green reflection
    of her covering and the escaping odors
    were pleasant to inhale.
    Winnebago/Native American

    Apprehend God in all things,
    for God is in all things.
    Every single creature is full of God
    and is a book about God.
    Every creature is a word of God.
    If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature-
    ¬even a caterpillar¬-
    I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God
    is every creature.
    Meister Eckhart

    Assuredly the creation
    of the heavens
    And the earth
    Is greater
    Than the creation of humankind;
    Yet most people understand not.

    We sit in the lap of our Mother . . . We shall soon pass, but the place where we now rest will last forever.
    Lakota saying

    Of all that the Holy One created in His world, He did not create a single thing that is not one that is uselesss. the Talmud

    When a tree that bears fruit is cut down, its moan goes from one end of the world to the other, yet no sound is heard.

    If a person kills a tree before its time, it is like having murdered a soul.
    Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav, eighteenth century

    It should not be believed that all the beings exist for the sake of the existence of humanity. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes, and not for the sake of some¬thing else ….

    Maimonidies Guide to the Perplexed, Part III, Chapter 13, quoted in Judaism and Ecology, a Hadassah Study Guide (New York: Hadassah, 1993), p. 110.

    The High,
    the low
    all of creation,
    God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused,
    God’s Justice permits creation to punish humanity.
    Hildegard of Bingen

    In safety and in Bliss
    May all creatures be of a blissful heart
    Whatever breathing beings there may be
    Frail or firm . . . long or small
    Seen or unseen, dwelling far or near
    Existing or yet seeking to exist
    May all creatures be of a blissful heart.
    Sutta Nipata (Buddhist Scriptures)

    Training began with children who were taught to sit still and enjoy it. They were taught to use their organs of smell, to look when there was apparently nothing to see, and to listen intently when all seemingly was quiet. A child that cannot sit still is a half developed child.
    Standing Bear, Lakota Indian Chief

    In order to serve God, one needs access to the enjoyment of the beauties of nature, such as the contemplation of flower decorated meadows, majestic mountains, flowing rivers. For all these are essential to the spiritual development of even the holiest of people.
    Moses Maimonides

    I feed thee, Spirit of the Earth
    Spirit of the Forest, of the Green Trees,
    Spirit of the Forest, Spirit of the Village Sites;
    decree that the Paddy grow,
    that the Fire devour.
    Leading my younger brothers,
    leading my elder brothers,
    tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, I will again act
    in the same way.
    Prayer of the Mnong Gar, Vietnam

    From The Koran
    And the Earth have We spread forth, and thrown thereon the mountains, and caused everything to spring forth in it in balanced measure: And We have provided therein sustenance for you, and for the creature which not ye sustain: And no one thing is there, but with Us are its storehouses; and We send it not down but in settled measure; And We send for the fertilizing winds, and cause the rain to come down from the heaven, and give you to drink of it; and it is not ye who are its storers. (15:19-22)

  4. Bateson, Gregory. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York: Ballantine Books.
    “We are not outside the ecology for which we plan – we are always and inevitably part of it. Herein lies the charm and the terror of ecology – that the ideas of this science are irreversibly becoming a part of our own ecological system.”

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