I first became acquainted with the problems of pollution and ecology in the 1960s when I was attending art school. In 1974, when I was working as a writer for a large advertising agency in New York City, I could not help noticing long lines of cars at the gas pump because of the oil embargo.
Spiritually, this was the same year that I was introduced to the revolutionary ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg and George Gurdjieff.
When the second oil embargo hit in 1979 it became clear to me that no one was going to solve the energy problem. So I decided to take things into my own hands. I was now living in the St. Louis area and good agricultural land could be found within 20 minutes of downtown.
I purchased five acres in Southern Illinois and built a passive solar home. I created a garden of raised beds and a large compost pile and grew organic vegetables. Then I planted dozens of fruit and nut trees. Not long after, I bought another five acres and allowed it to grow undisturbed.
During the 1980s I read such magazines as Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News. I specifically remember reading an article about how the current (and destructive) economy could only exist as long as fossil fuels and energy costs were low and that this cheap fuel had a time limit.
Well, here we are.
Today, energy costs are not low and it is apparent that the current “Tower of Babel” of modern life is about to fall on all of our heads. The world is going to have to adopt a new paradigm to survive. For me, sustainability equals spirituality. Creating a sustainable world requires that people’s actions benefit all living things and a knowledge that this is God’s great plan.
I wrote my first book on the topic of how sustainability and spirituality were the same, because both express the quality of one’s heart and spirit. My book is called Sermon From The Compost Pile. It demonstrates how one can find spiritual wisdom in a backyard garden from observing the relationships between soil, plants and animals and how they exalt each other’s existence in a way that is perfectly analogous of higher heavenly and angelic love.
Such a worldview is not the view of the world. India and China, with immense populations, are hungry for oil in order to accommodate their own growing middle class. This “middle class” has the spiritual level of an American TV sitcom and lives in illusion and dreams. As fossil fuel sources dwindle, every citizen and institution in the world will be seriously challenged.
This does not mean we simply have to find alternative energy sources to keep the sitcom going. It means we also have to make a similar drastic change to the quality of our innermost world of the heart (will) and mind (intellect). Buying an electric car or solar panels won’t necessarily help us reach heaven unless our spirits are being sustained by God’s tenets of mutual love. (Even sustainable energy can be misused!)
The earth is self-correcting. If the human race fails to become nobler, it will perish from its own stupidity. The physical earth, its weather patterns, social conditions, etc., are only expressing the results of the inner qualities of people’s belief systems.
The world is corrupted to the same degree that human hearts and minds are corrupted.
Do we need to be replaced by a better species of human beings? Or, do we each decide to become a better representative of humanity—right now?
Swedenborg and Gurdjieff both believed that such a new orientation and trajectory was essential for the harmony and survival of this planet. Unfortunately, this will not happen without suffering. This suffering is creatively symbolized in Holy Scripture by the Exodus story of the Israelites having second thoughts about God leading them out of Egypt and into a strange new world.