In the UK, near Birmingham, the Hindu community has reclaimed an area of polluted industrial scrubland. Here they have built a beautiful Hindu Temple within surroundings that now incorporate a historic canal, woodland and hills. From early beginnings where there was much resistance from local communities, there is now a place of beauty that is available not only for Hindu worship, but also cultural and educational events. The Hindus have healed the earth and restored a green and healthy environment to wildlife and the local community.
I really like that story.
Here is a religion that teaches its followers to live simply and to see God in everything in the Universe. ‘Conserve ecology or perish,’ says the Bhagavad Gita, (or Song of God), the Hindu sacred scripture.
‘God’s creation is sacred. Humanity does not have the right to destroy what it cannot create. Humans have to realize the interconnectedness of living entities and emphasize the idea of moral responsibility to oneself, one’s society, and the world as a whole.’ Hindus teach that we can learn spiritual happiness and find fulfillment by living simply and without chasing after material wants and pleasures:
"They have to milk a cow and enjoy, not cut at the udder of the cow with greed to enjoy what is not available in the natural course. Do not use anything belonging to nature, such as oil, coal, or forest, at a greater rate than you can replenish it…do not destroy birds, fish, earthworms, and even bacteria which play vital ecological roles; once they are annihilated you cannot recreate them. Thus only can you avoid becoming bankrupt, and the life cycle can continue for a long, long time."
All these statements that I am drawing upon tell us how the different faiths view creation and their part in it - they are fine words. But how about the reality? How do we really behave towards nature? Do we all take our faiths into the workplace? Indeed we do not!!
But great work is being done by all the different faiths in the field of conservation and environmental sustainability.
The Alliance of Religions and Conservation, formed to help religions live out their beliefs within the environment, supports many different such projects across the world.
For the above I have used the faith statement for Hinduism from Faith in Conservation, 2003, which consists of three distinct sections reflecting the major strands within Vedic (Hindu) thought – these specific quotations are from the statement based on the comments by: Swami Vibudhesha Teertha, Acharya of Madhvacarya Vaishnavas, Udupi, Central Advisory Committee Member of the Visva Hindu Parishad.
The photo is from Photobucket - I don't know which temple this is. As far as I know it is not the one in Birmingham!
My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.
"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden