Deep Ecology and Lay Spirituality as an answer to the evolution of our urbanized society – (Ecologia profonda e Spiritualità laica come risposta evolutiva per la nostra società urbanizzata)

In this collage of thoughts I would like to condense how I feel regarding Lay Spirituality of man and his relationship with deep ecology. Its been a long time since I have been waiting to have the opportunity to talk about this subject, I believe that the proposal to organize a meeting on the subject of Lay Spirituality and Deep ecology, to be held simultaneously with the celebrations of St. Francis of Assisi on the 4th of October, would be an appropriate time to discuss this matter.

Strictly speaking, considering its aim, lay spirituality and deep ecology, establish their existence in the conscience. Man has always questioned regarding the forces of nature and life and this questioning has produced spirituality, deep ecology is a way of going in depth from the material point of view of this research. Both approaches are born from what exists, from the way we perceive ourselves and the reality that is around us, the first is a metaphysical approach and the second examines the physical but there is no difference between the two aspects if not in the way it is described.

Both in deep ecology and natural spirituality a “quid” is implied which soaks the story lines of life. This has been described as the source of all things, whether you call it “spirit” or “living force”. All Gnostic philosophies, all oriental religions as well as all monotheistic religions were born from this initial questioning in which, even though from different points of views, the great mystery of life is praised, this i also a need in ecology that is always considering the delicate balance of all vital manifestations. I have often found myself describing man’s need for externalization like the birth of virtualisation. As a matter of fact virtuality was born through thought and mental speculation imagination, supposing truth according to a thought. (of a belief) and this projection, a specific human “vis”, is present in all other living creatures, who knows? For example in the Karma theories, individual life is described as an evolutionary journey that begins with a spark of intelligence that then is transformed in many forms, sometimes opposite to each other, but are tightly connected one with the other continuously rising to the same purpose. A kind of unity that has never fallen short, not even during the “karmic journey” but because of illusion, or rather the virtuality of thought, it appears to be separated and imperfect (and therefore perfectible?) Deep ecology, it is of great help to understand that from a materialistic stand point , in the general setting of life, there is no front or back that is not strictly consequential, that does not belong to the same substance and therefore it is impossible to separate, unless you extinguish life itself.

And now a question: how could we live on this earth if we all decided to seclude ourselves and become hermits, “going back to the earth” as you say in slang, without immediately disrupting, destroying the equilibrium of this planet that is already unstable? The Earth already carries many billions of people, most of whom are gathered in urban areas, its also true that many animal species are diminishing but on the other hand many domestic species (tamed by man for economical reasons or for lack of affection) are out numbering the human race e just like the human beings that live in cities, they are also gathered in large farms. If we were all go and live in the country, imagining an equalitarian society, we would probably not have more than 200mt of land each without considering desert territories, ice lands, high mountains, and if we were to bring our pets with us we would have to share that small space with dogs and cats, and if we were to eat meat, we would have to share furthermore with sheep, cows, rabbits and pigs etc. It is easy to imagine the throng we would create in our 200 square meters of land, not only, but how would we be able to produce enough food for all the members of our personal rural community in such a small vegetable garden? Its useless to say how this kind of choice would be unthinkable for the masses as well as , for other more serious reasons, its impossible to think that life can carry on much longer on the planet if we keep exploiting its resources to satisfy the paroxysmal consuming needs of the great urban areas.

The lemming is a race of rodents that immigrate when they get overpopulated, would have already undertaken their final voyage. (that as we all know ends up in the icy cold water of the North Sea) to re-balance nature. This type of auto destructive behaviour is somewhat happening also in our society, with the increase of wars, suicide, perversions, and stupidity. But finding that natural balance for survival is not enough and this is because man is arrogant enough to think he is a “superior” being to all the other species and so any kind of solution must include the game that is presently being played , in other words the idea that our species is dominant.

But at this point I re-insert the concept of natural or “lay” spirituality. To tell you the truth, this spirituality cannot resemble the previous religious spirituality at all as it must take the vital context, in other words ecology. An ecologic spirituality in which imaginary ultimate aims are not pursued (heavens, hells, etc) but that takes care exclusively of the present state of existence. An “individual” consciousness raising of how it is possible to balance our lives without thinking that we are in its control, its dominion (or subject to some other hypothetic divinity).

Each one of us should, as from now, face his own personal survival course knowing that all that we steal today, will surely have to be paid Tomorrow, this is regarding the surplus, while if our breathing, eating and living is within the togetherness of living, breathing and eating of every other living creature we could finally start to enjoy life, without any guilt, without having to abandon our strongly social and that –obviously- apart from the above mentioned rebalancing, has contributed to the flowering of our beautiful species.

In this stage of millenary history of man we have given privilege that which is secondary, superfluous, at the expense of that which is primary, in other words, food, water, air. It’s important for us integrated human beings to analyze the reasons for this going astray. This going astray was never the less necessary to discover the value of abstract theories such as art, writing, aesthetics, morality, but it must not continue occupying all the possible space of our existence. For example, we must be aware of the deep significance of the research and production of our daily food.

I will now describe the “historical excursus” on our evolution. The story of man is very simple and reflects the four principal changes of life. Man is his evolutionary race makes four seasonal jumps.. At the beginning he drinks milk, at the base of milk you find vegetables and meat and that becomes his food, then there is the earth and behold, man that devours it, but beyond the earth there is the spirit and man, by feeding himself with the “spirit”, he completes another cycle of his spiral towards evolution. This symbolism can be translated in this manner: milk represents the moment in which humanity is reverent to its nourisher, nature, that takes care of him and supports him in her bosom (we could say that it corresponds to the “heaven on earth”); then comes the ability of self sustainability and use of the appropriate technology to obtain his nutrition on his own. (corresponds to the moment of patriarchal foundation) ; and behold then the moment of maximum technological and social development in which man tends to devour and consume even the earth that sustains him. (the moment of the consumeristic fall and the religious and scientific idolatry); Lastly come the moment of undifferentiated consciousness, man is touched by the “spirit” and is pervaded by it and finds his foremost unity (which corresponds to the original “quid”, to the awareness of Himself), the cycle repeats itself, step by step. It is obvious that this historical moment is marked by a great leap between the extreme ideological or religious materialism to that of re-discovering the “non dual” awareness.

How can we face conditions and contingencies that are completely opposite? First of all we need to consider one thing: the evolutionary push is not driven by mass ideology, the thought of the crowds is only useful to keep the psychophysical compactness of the species, the rate of change is always and only represented by “forme pensiero”, pseudopodi, that radiate towards possible evolutionary oulets , these pseudopodi represent only a small percentage of the masses, it’s a minority… the two minorities that are presently opposite, in the development of the human intelligence “program”, are represented on one side by the individual centralization of power (ideological freelance self – lobbies) and on the other side a snagged web of little people that issue forme pensiero connected to “all” (a type of universal syncretism)

These historical cycles or ways are manifested at the same time, both in the span of one individual life that in the seasons or historical waves, cosmic eras. It seems to me that this transitional moment, between one human condition and the other is dedicated to the destructive aspect of any super structural thought, a setting to zero of the pre-constituted standard. As a matter of fact today like never before, the pulsion towards the exit from fixed schemes provokes a seismic mental state (psychic shocks) to the mass-body of humanity. It would be enough to know that, as it happens in the realization process of oneself, every single cell of the social human body must be touched and must be able to perceive individually the real evolutionary possibility that is in course. And while the egocentric tendency acts on the masses on the mechanisms of forced gatherings,(see informative massification) on the contrary “the increase” of conscience happens on the individual emotional levels. We must be conscious of this when as forerunners, we propose a bioregional direction that will not be able to use the means of the counter-party but must anyways include them organically and begin evolving from there. This is the only way that the sense of difference will dissolve and conscience may find its space. The inner man is still a whole world to be discovered but also the outer part is just as infinite and unknown. This is why we always suggest the middle road, moderation, as the only road possible for the continuity of the species. The non dual integral awareness does not divide. This is why it is that in the deepness of ecology and in lay spirituality we talk about the return to Earth, listening to its message, and this way integrating with it. Enjoying the silent joy of here and now. A joy that is not built, no cause, no mechanism to satisfy, no possession, it just is…. It is called existence.

But keep in mind…. This vision does not hypothise the return to primitivism moreover it recognizes in the present conditions of advanced society the opportunity to find a balance. Continuity for our society as a human species, needs an evolutionary key, a global comprehension, through which our minds can be opened to the consciousness of sharing our life experience with the whole planet. (or better, with the universe). This is the science of indivisibility of life. As a result also human economy must take this vision into consideration to begin a technological process that is not in contrast with the vital process but that is much rather in tune with it. All science and all technology will have to answer the question: ” Is it ecologically and spiritually compatible?” Machinery, energy resources, waste disposal, social life and culture, will have to be accomplished in a sustainable manner. If this stimulus will manifest itself in the human mind then there will be a necessity of a rapid re-conversion and re-qualification of the industrial and agricultural process that will be capable in itself to sustain economy. As a matter of fact the “ecological re-conversion” itself will help to surpass the present state of “empasse” giving a great push to the economical and social development. A big revolution that will include our making peace with the planet and with all living beings that inhabit it. .

Paolo D’Arpini –

President of Circolo Vegetariano Calcata


Tel. 0761-587200 – Via Fontanile snc – 01030 Calcata (Vt) Italy


Appendix of thoughts on the common belonging of Man-Nature-Animals:

“Animals have feathers, horns, fangs or claws, they fly in heavenly skies or they crouch and run; we cannot exclude that they may have human intelligence”.

“When Huang-ti fought against Yen-ti in the Pan-ts’uan country side, he lined up bears, wolves, leopards, tigers, vultures, pheasants, hawks, sparrow-hawks and they were his standards.”

“Yao ordered K’uei to tune the music. When the jade instruments were hit, the animals would gather and dance and the phoenix would come and listen to the nine tunes of Shao. This demonstrates that with sound one can tame the animals”.

“So intelligence is common both to animal and man. Of course in appearance and sound, animals are different from man, but do means to communicate and understand each other exist? There is nothing that the wise did not know or which they never achieved to understand: that is why they were always able to attract and tame animals.”

“We all know that the intelligence of animals is the same as that of man, and that they have the same desire to live.”

“In the most ancient times, animals lived together with man. When man started creating emperors and kings, they were frightened and drew away.”

(Lieh-tze, tanslated from the original Chinese by Giuseppe Tucci)

English reddition by Ilaria Gaddini

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