Learn What World Religions Say about Caring for the Planet
April 26, 2022
Earth Day is a welcome opportunity to reflect on the conservation and health of the world we live in, as well as chance to celebrate, with joy and blessings, the natural world. Religious traditions and philosophical perspectives have long centered the Earth—whether in its creation, its beauty and grace, or the respect due to it as a life-sustaining force.
IFYC’s Shared Values Guide reflects this interfaith commitment to the environment. This resource offers short excerpts from various worldviews about values that are important to us all, like hospitality, service to others, and forgiveness. A critical section of the guide highlights how environmental conservation is treasured by faith and philosophical communities. I’m struck by the wisdom contained in each line of scripture or reflection, but the Sikh excerpt particularly stands out to me for its poetic encapsulation of all that surrounds us: “humans, trees, pilgrimage places, banks of sacred streams, clouds, fields. Islands, spheres, universes, continents, solar systems.”
Whether you’re staring at those distant solar systems or just enjoying some restful time on a park bench, I hope you take a chance to connect with the environment and the people around you today.
Texts on the Shared Value of Conservation
Bahá’í Tradition of Conservation (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá)
Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving kindness to every living creature…The feelings are one and the same, whether you inflict pain on human or on beast.
Buddhist Tradition of Conservation (Nirvana Sutra)
A tathagata’s (buddha’s) helping hand sees no distinction of friend or foe. A tathagata always acts for other living beings, not just for him or herself.
Christian Tradition of Conservation (Revelation 4:11)
Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.
Hindu Tradition of Conservation (Isa Upanishad)
Everything in the universe belongs to the Lord. Therefore take only what you need, that is set aside for you. Do not take anything else, for you know to whom it belongs.
Jain Tradition of Conservation (Sutrakrta-anga 1.11.33)
A human should wander about treating all creatures as she or he would be treated.
Jewish Tradition of Conservation (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
When G-d created the first human beings, G-d led them around the Garden of Eden and said: “Look at my works! See how beautiful they are—how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it.”
Muslim Tradition of Conservation (Qur’an 40:57)
Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of humankind; but most of humankind knows not.
Secular Humanist Tradition of Conservation (Neil deGrasse Tyson)
We are all connected. To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically.
Sikh Tradition of Conservation (Guru Granth Sahib)
Humans, trees, pilgrimage places, banks of sacred streams, clouds, fields. Islands, spheres, universes, continents, solar systems. The sources of creation, egg-born, womb-born, earth-born, sweat-born, oceans, mountains, and sentient beings. The Lord, knows their condition…having created beings, the Lord takes care of them all. The Creator who created the world takes thought of it as well.
This article was originally posted on April 21, 2022.
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