The Sacred and the Profane

Most of us would agree that how we behave in this life is important, whether our concern is for living beings around us or to follow sacred fiat. Yet our society acts out a vast indifference toward our home planet and its open field of possibilities, on which all of us rely every moment of our lives.
Religions make a distinction between the sacred and the profane, and warn us not to throw away our eternal inheritance for a few trinkets. But our choices in life are rarely simple. Obliged to navigate through a confusing world, we hope that by remaining true to family and livelihood we can nurture the sacred potential of our deeper being. Communities of like-minded believers can help to keep us on track. In Buddhism, “the Sanga” provides a community to support our intention to manifest a deeper integrity. In Christianity, churches encourage their congregations to be good servants of the divine. Working with the disabled for 20 years, I directly witnessed the power of faith in the courage of many who dealt with immense adversity.
So why, in a world in which many claim to follow traditions that promote love and which counsel us to treat the least among us as in special need of our generosity, is our planet, and the voiceless beings who live upon her, so neglected? Has the secular overwhelmed the sacred? Have spiritual teachings failed to adjust with the times? Are religions inherently at fault?
Perhaps the dismal state of our planet today is in part a reflection of a lack of balance between male and female in our society. When the female is treated as lesser than the male, close behind comes a world in which “Mother Earth” is treated as expendable: useful only as a staging ground for momentums that seek profits, worldly control, and immortality. Failing to honor our shared world as the province of all, we erect gated-communities that separate the chosen within from the homeless without.
Can our modern, technological society learn to open to a “native” understanding that honors the abundant riches of life on Earth? Can we return to an older “naïve” view of what it means to be a human being? Denying our “Mother’s” gift of life and honoring only the seed of the “Father”, our world is losing heart. And our capacity to appreciate the planet that provides all of us with a home is drying up, like a riverbed that is no longer fed by spring rains.
Borrowing from native cultures that have not forgotten to feel gratitude for Mother Earth, could we weave into our modern scientific outlook, a more balanced view of what it means to be human? It may not be too late. But as long as we treat the fabric of life as an expendable shell for our narrow form of rationality, the future will have no choice but to confirm our worst fears.

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