Sunday, May 27, 2007

A spiritual perspective on climate change
Tomás Bonek
an abbreviated translation, reprinted from Das Goetheanum Nr.5.07
for the complete article see the summer issue of LILIPOH

In primeval times the people regarded climate change as a result of their own actions, as we do today. In many cultures this was portrayed in legends of the flood. The immense water disaster described in Genesis was not only destructive—Noah became the founder of a new culture. From destruction and chaos a new world and a new humanity were born. The end of the ice age which is identified with the flood brought fundamental climate change, which allowed the development of modern mankind in the different cultural epochs. We are also in a time of global climate change. Much that was learned about weather during the past centuries seems not quite to apply anymore. The sun was never as active during the past 12,000 years as it has been since the 30s of the 20th Century. It is a sign of the times that even experts find it hard to predict the next developments. As against this we are obviously embedded in a larger cosmic order. Maria Thun, interestingly, can predict the main climate trends in any given year by her study of the planets and constellations (see her Bd Sowing & Planting Calendar 2007). This past winter for example she predicted that there would not be any real winter weather in Central Europe until the middle of January, and she was correct. Can we consider that climate change may be influenced by us but that its movements are also part of a cosmic evolution? If so, we can say: 'humanity influences climate ' and likewise: 'climate influences humanity. ' Although it may have been understood very differently in ancient times this still seems to be a relevant maxim. Indeed, while the question of how to arrest these changes is justified, it appears that the larger natural system is no longer stable—and therefore not in our complete control. So the question ought rather to be: 'how do we learn to live in and with the changed situation?
A fascinating aspect of our times is that there is fundamental change in three areas at once. So-called globalization is an immense 'climate change'. Subjectively the earth has never been as ‘small’ as it is now. Never before have so many people felt homeless--inwardly and outwardly--and yet so connected with one another. Never have time-honoured traditions come under such scrutiny before and never was there such worldwide insecurity regarding the future.

All three changes—in the heavens, the elements, and among people—are described in the Gospel: ' And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring [...] for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.' However, an important motif is added: ' And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke: 21) When the solid earth starts to disappear under one's feet and everything comes into a state of flux, people are especially open to the spirit. Then it is time to consider the message behind the phenomena. If the world is unstable tomorrow the question will no longer be how and why it is happening, rather how we will react to it. Everyone clinging to the experiences of the past will be helpless. For the future, a living understanding of the present will be crucial. Those learning to love their destiny in the midst of all change, and who can look inward with a newly awakend conscience and outward with compassion will prevail. Only then can we hope that chaos will not end in catastrophe, and that we will be raised to a heightened/etheric rather than a destructive/merely biological, condition of life.

Tomás Bonek is a priest of the Christian Community in the Czech Republic

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