page 3 - Ten Sufi thoughts on climate change by Firos Holterman ten Hove
7. There is one moral, the love which springs forth from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.
More than ever before, man is the dominant living being, influencing all other living beings. Since maybe sixty years ago he has developed such a tremendous power that he has even changed the geological processes on Earth.
We don´t realise how far reaching our influence on nature has become. An example: of the total mass of all vertebrate animals, 30 % are humans, 67 % are domesticated animals, 3 % wild animals.
Hazrat Inayat Khan: In the Quran it is said, "We have made man the Caliph of the whole creation", in other words, the master of creation.
In the actual philosophical discussions about the monstrous results of mankind ´s mastery some take the position that man has lost his right to play any special role at all on earth. Any form of anthropocentrism has to be cancelled.
Others proclaim that these disastrous effects are just an interim phenomenon and that man will in the end reach a promised utopia when he just continues on his path. An unbroken Anthropocentrism based on neglecting reality.
The Sufi attitude is anthropocentric and theocentric at the same time. Hazrat Inayat Khan: The perfection of God's manifestation is man. When man reaches perfection His manifestation is perfect and without man's perfection God's manifestation would not be perfect. Perfection is reached when man becomes altogether human.
So, in the eyes of the Sufi, God is dependent on „man becoming human“ in order that creation reaches its goal.
Morality untill recently had mainly to do with our duties toward our fellow men. Moral commandments were given by the great teachers of humanity. But since the Renaissance we principally no longer obey commandments. Philosophers like Kant elaborated on moral freedom. Sufism stands in the line of all religions and at the same time in the line of philosophical enlightenment.
Today with the dawn of the Anthropocene age, morality receives a new connotation. If mankind wants to live on this earth, a moral necessity is the result. Our first obligation is to take care of the earth, before anything else.
Only mankind has this unique moral obligation. No other creature has any such responsibility. We are no longer free to do whatever we want. We are on our way to finding out that we have to curb our behaviour. It is up to us to prove (to God) that it is right that man dominates the world.
How to do that? By developing our love capacity. Renunciation as an act of refraining from taking more than one is giving comes out of love alone.
„O, it is excellent
To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.“
Isabella in Shakepeare's "Measure for Measure"
The 7th response of our Inayati Order is to help ourselves and others to experience the joy that is hidden behind renunciation. Nothing is lost, all is gained.
8. There is one object of praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshippers through all aspects from the seen to the unseen.
The main source of beauty used to be wild untouched nature. An overwhelming sadness overcomes us realizing that most of it has been destroyed.
The next most important source of beauty used to be the age-old countrysides created by man cooperating with nature. Again a deep sadness overwhelms us, when we realize that more and more of these landscapes have disappeared and may never come back.
The third source of beauty used to be the rich diversity of human creativity in the innumerable different cultures around the world. With sadness we see how globalised consumer culture has just one direction: uniformity worldwide.
When we observe the upcoming populist political leaders around the world it is the growing coarseness of their expression that hits our ears. Maybe what one considers to be ugly, for others is pleasing. Hazrat Inayat Khan says: „that which is beautiful to one is not beautiful to another.” But what destroys our planet cannot be beautiful.
There is just one way left over to treat our beloved earth and all her inhabitants: by respecting her proportions and integrity. Sufis search for the face of the beloved in all they see and create. So in our ways of production we will have to be consonant with the earth if we want to maintain our love affair with her and bring peace to her and ourselves.
That´s why Hazrat Inayat Khan considers gardening and farming as art forms. He even says: “Gardening is music, farming is music”. The times where beauty had its place in the museum and pesticides “maintained” our crops is over. Apart from the fact that it is ugly, maintaining our livelihood by killing innumerable other creatures is no longer possible because we are discovering that these other beings are part of the life of the whole that sustains us.
After destroying most of the natural paradises, man will start to create new ones and so will start pleasing not just himself, but also the earth.
The 8th response of the Inayati Order to climate change is to create new paradises, thus pleasing not just ourselves, but also the earth.
9. There is one truth, the true knowledge of our being, within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.
The truth about the Anthropocene is that man worldwide influences his environment in ways more powerful than some of the great powers of nature.
This thesis from the Dutch Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen and his team stands today as largely acknowledged in the international scientific world (1 and appendix).
Some conclude from this thesis that man reigns over nature or at least will do so in the near future. Climate change is in the eyes of these just a crisis that will pass because man will in the end create a happy world for happy people. As a matter of fact, such an ideology denies the fact that global economic development is creating worlds that are incompatible with the possibilities of our earth.
The consequences of the discovery of the Anthropocene are much more far reaching. The fact that man developed a power that influences the basic rhythms and structures of the planet does not mean that he can reign the world. It simply means that the state of the planet depends on the state of the human being. The division between inner and outer world has been overcome.
If we want to understand what happens to our earth, we will have to study ourselves. If we want to understand the state we are in as humans, we can study our planet.
This insight should put an end to the megalomania of ideologies such as ecomodernism. But it does not. Because knowledge in itself is not enough to generate change. We will have to give up habits. We will even have to give up any concept of who we are as individuals and as humanity. These processes of shattering concepts and habits on the rock of truth is the age-old science of Sufism.
Scientific truth is not enough for a turnaround on our planet. It needs truth in practice, not just in theory.
The 9th response of our Order is to prove our truths by applying them.