Sciece and spiritualism must work together if the Earth is to avoid environmental disaster, the Prince of Wales warned in Oxford today.
He said focusing on your “soul” and nature is as important as relying on science to find the solutions to global warming.
The Prince made his comments while on a visit to the city to mark the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, where he has been patron since 1993.
His lecture, called Islam and the Environment, was delivered to an estimated 1,000 people at the Sheldonian Theatre, in Broad Street.
The Prince said: “When we hear talk of an environmental crisis or even of a financial crisis, I would suggest that this is actually describing the outward con-sequences of a deeper, inner crisis of the soul. It is a crisis in our relationship with, and perception of, nature, and is born of Western culture being dominated for at least 200 years by a mechanistic and reductionist approach to our scientific understanding of the world around us."
“I would like you to consider very carefully whether a big part of the solution to all of our worldwide crises does not lie simply in more and better technology, but in the recovery of the soul to the mainstream of our thinking. Our science and technology cannot do this. Only sacred traditions have the capacity to help this.”
Earlier the Prince was given a tour of the centre’s new premises in Marston Road, which are currently under development, by its founder director, Dr Farhan Nizami. Although independent, the centre is linked to Oxford University.
The Prince told the audience the West could learn from the Islamic approach to nature.
The audience, which included the Lord Mayor of Oxford, John Goddard, Muslim community leaders and students, gave the Prince a standing ovation after his one-hour lecture.
From a report in Siasat. More Here.
'Follow the Islamic way to save the world,' Prince Charles urges environmentalists
Prince Charles yesterday urged the world to follow Islamic 'spiritual principles' in order to protect the environment.
In an hour-long speech, the heir to the throne argued that man's destruction of the world was contrary to the scriptures of all religions - but particularly those of Islam.
He said the current 'division' between man and nature had been caused not just by industrialisation, but also by our attitude to the environment - which goes against the grain of 'sacred traditions'.
He added: 'The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason - and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us.
'Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with creation.'
From Rebecca English's report in Daily Mail. More Here
"If we ignore the calling of the soul, then we destroy Nature" said Prince Charles
In short, when we hear talk of an “environmental crisis” or even of a “financial crisis,” I would suggest that this is actually describing the outward consequences of a deep, inner crisis of the soul. It is a crisis in our relationship with – and our perception of – Nature, and it is born of Western culture being dominated for at least two hundred years by a mechanistic and reductionist approach to our scientific understanding of the world around us.
So I would like you to consider very seriously today whether a big part of the solution to all of our worldwide “crises” does not lie simply in more and better technology, but in the recovery of the soul to the mainstream of our thinking. Our science and technology cannot do this. Only sacred traditions have the capacity to help this happen.
In general, we live within a culture that does not believe very much in the soul anymore – or if it does, won’t admit to it publicly for fear of being thought old fashioned, out of step with “modern imperatives” or “anti-scientific.” The empirical view of the world, which measures it and tests it, has become the only view to believe. A purely mechanistic approach to problems has somehow assumed a position of great authority and this has encouraged the widespread secularisation of society that we see today. This is despite the fact that those men of science who founded institutions like the Royal Society were also men of deep faith. It is also despite the fact that a great many of our scientists today profess a faith in God. I am aware of one recent survey that suggests over seventy per cent of scientists do so.
I must say, I find this rather baffling. If this is so, why is it that their sense of the sacred has so little bearing on the way science is employed to exploit the natural world in so many damaging ways?
I suppose it must be to do with who pays the fiddler. Over the last two centuries, science has become ever more firmly yoked to the ambitions of commerce. Because there are such big economic benefits from such a union, society has been persuaded that there is nothing wrong here. And so, a great deal of empirical research is now driven by the imperative that its findings must be employed to maximum, financial effect, whatever the impact this may have on the Earth’s long-term capacity to endure.
This imbalance, where mechanistic thinking is so predominant, goes back at least to Galileo's assertion that there is nothing in Nature but quantity and motion. This is the view that continues to frame the general perception of the way the world works and how we fit within the scheme of things. As a result, Nature has been completely objectified – “She” has become an “it” – and we are persuaded to concentrate on the material aspect of reality that fits within Galileo’s scheme.
Understanding the world from a mechanical point of view and then employing that knowledge has, of course, always been part of the development of human civilization, but as our technology has become ever more sophisticated and our industrialized methods so much more powerful, so the level of destruction is now potentially all the more widespread and un-containable, especially if you add into this mix the emphasis we have on consumerism.
It was that great scientist, Goethe, who saw life as the masculine principle striving endlessly to reach the “eternal feminine” – what the Greeks called “Sophia,” or wisdom. It is a striving, he said, fired by the force of love. I am not sure that this is quite the way things happen today. Our striving in the industrialized world is certainly not fired by a love of wisdom. It is far more focussed on the desire for the greatest possible financial profit.
This ignores the spiritual teachings of traditions like Islam, which recognize that it is not our animal needs that are absolute; it is our spiritual essence, an essence made for the infinite. But with consumerism now such a key element in our economic model, our natural, spiritual desire for the infinite is constantly being reflected towards the finite. Our spiritual perspective has been flattened and made earthbound and we are persuaded to channel all of our natural, never-ending desire for what Islamic poets called “the Beloved” towards nothing but more and more material commodities. Unfortunately we forget that our spiritual desire can never be completely satisfied. It is rightly a never-ending desire. But when that desire is focussed only on the earthly, it becomes potentially disastrous. The hunger for yet more and more things creates an alarming vacuum and, as we are now realizing, this does great harm to the Earth and creates a never ending unhappiness for many, many people.
I hope you can just begin to see my point. The utter dominance of the mechanistic approach of science over everything else, including religion, has “de-souled” the dominant world view, and that includes our perception of Nature. As soul is elbowed out of the picture, our deeper link with the natural world is severed. Our sense of the spiritual relationship between humanity, the Earth and her great diversity of life has become dim. The entire emphasis is all on the mechanical process of increasing growth in the economy, of making every process more “efficient” and achieving as much convenience as possible. None of which could be said to be an ambition of God. And so, unfashionable though it is to suggest it, I am keen to stress here the need to heal this divide within ourselves. How else can we heal the divide between East and West unless we reconcile the East and West within ourselves? Everything in Nature is a paradox and seems to carry within itself the paradox of opposites. Curiously, this maintains the essential balance. Only human beings seem to introduce imbalance. The task is surely to reconnect ourselves with the wisdom found in Nature which is stressed by each of the sacred traditions in their own way.
My understanding of Islam is that it warns that to deny the reality of our inner being leads to an inner darkness which can quickly extend outwards into the world of Nature. If we ignore the calling of the soul, then we destroy Nature. To understand this we have to remember that we are Nature, not inanimate objects like stones; we reflect the universal patterns of Nature. And in this way, we are not a part that can somehow disengage itself and take a purely objective view.
From what I know of the Qu’ran, again and again it describes the natural world as the handiwork of a unitary benevolent power. It very explicitly describes Nature as possessing an “intelligibility” and that there is no separation between Man and Nature, precisely because there is no separation between the natural world and God. It offers a completely integrated view of the Universe where religion and science, mind and matter are all part of one living, conscious whole. We are, therefore, finite beings contained by an infinitude, and each of us is a microcosm of the whole. This suggests to me that Nature is a knowing partner, never a mindless slave to humanity, and we are Her tenants; God's guests for all too short a time.
If I may quote the Qu’ran, “Have you considered: if your water were to disappear into the Earth, who then could bring you gushing water?” This is the Divine hospitality that offers us our provisions and our dwelling places, our clothing, tools and transport. The Earth is robust and prolific, but also delicate, subtle, complex and diverse and so our mark must always be gentle – or the water will disappear, as it is doing in places like the Punjab in India. Industrialized farming methods there rely upon the use of high-yielding seeds and chemical fertilizers, both of which need a lot more energy and a lot more water as well. As a consequence the water table has dropped dramatically – I have been there, I have seen it – so far, by three feet a year. Punjabi farmers are now having to dig expensive bore holes over 200 feet deep to get at what remains of the water and, as a result, their debts become ever deeper and the salt rises to the surface contaminating the soil.
The full text of the speech is here