Inner Ecology: Green Spirit & Ethics

Mahatma Gandhi knew that King Ashoka's 37 year reign of peace was possible because of Buddhist ethics and compassion. He knew that we can create a healthy, peaceful civilization, globally, but not without compassionate spirituality and humane ethics. Religious reverence for life and commitment to noble service, great compassion, and ethical integrity are essential to clean, honest politics. Gandhi knew that only great spiritual values and noble motivations keep government from turning into a scam serving only corrupted egos, ambitions, and greed. We now see that Gandhi was right.

Living bodies have inner ecologies, mostly in the guts, but not only there.  Minds have virtual ecologies that cause actual impacts on "outer" and "inner" ecologies, but the science of epigenetics proves that there is no real separation of inner and outer environments.

Karma is an essential principle at the root of physics, ecology, psychology, and politics.  Governance, policy, and law will only be as effective as they are realistic, and that means comprehensive.  Fail to deal with reality and reality will deal with you, usually in an unpleasant way.  That makes ethics essential.  Ethics depend on and determine the quality of our karma (our interactions) and our whole-life wellness.  It is unsustainably unrealistic to pretend that spirituality is irrelevant to decision making, planning, governance, legislation, culture, and education.  Indeed, we can think of that pretense as a symptom of spiritual illness.

In his little classic Ethics 101, John C. Maxwell offers a simple prescription with his diagnosis of our spiritual plague.  Whether they realize it or not...

     "Many people believe that embracing ethics would limit their options, their opportunities, their very ability to succeed in business. It's the old suspicion that good guys finish last. They agree with Harvard history professor Henry Adams, who stated that 'morality is a private and costly luxury.' Ironically, in today's culture of high debt and me-first living, ethics may be the only luxury some people are choosing to live without!
     "If I believe that I have only two choices: 1) to win by doing whatever it takes, even if it is unethical, or 2) to have ethics and lose — I'm faced with a real moral dilemma. Few people set out with a desire to be dishonest, but nobody wants to lose."

Nobody wants to suffer fear, pain, or the consequences of losing.  Since most modern people seem totally unaware of ethics or totally confused about them, they usually deal with what looks like a no-win situation by making what they think is the best choice based on their current need and how they view the situation.

Maxwell attributes the start of the psychic plague to Dr. Dean Fletcher's book, Situation Ethics, published in 1960.  Not so ironically, the disease grew out of its opposite.  Fletcher thought that the only valid standard for telling right from wrong is love.  Maxwell offers this revealing quote from an Executive Leadership Foundation document:

     "According to Fletcher, right is determined by the situation, and love can justify anything—lying, cheating, stealing...even murder. This philosophy spread rapidly throughout the theoretical and educational worlds... Since the 1960s, situational ethics has become the norm for social behavior. After spreading through the worlds of education, religion, and government, it has penetrated a new area—the business world. The result is our ethical situation today."

Maxwell then says, "The result is ethical chaos. Everyone has his own standards, which change from situation to situation. And that stance is encouraged...."

To allay any doubt, he cites part of a description of a college course on The Ethics of Corporate Management (University of Michigan, 2002), which reads...

     "This course is not concerned with the personal moral issues of honesty and truthfulness. It is assumed that the students at this university have already formed their own standards on these issues."

In other words, whatever standard people want to use is OK and/or optional.  Anything goes.  Maxwell agrees with the ancient Chinese sages who noticed that we typically tend to go easy when judging our own actions, considering our good intentions, however weak and temporary, but judging others by a higher standard and only their worst actions.  That accounts for much of our susceptibility and the rapidity of contagion.

Maxwell's little book makes it abundantly clear that the Golden Rule usually works best for about 95% of us. If we mandate and enact a cultural ethic based on the Golden Rule, not only for relationships with each other, but also with the biosphere, the living web of all relations, we could save our civilization from terminal imbalance, cruelty, toxic hate, and needless destruction.

If it helps to foster professional discussion, sane policy, and sustainable bioethics, you could consider "spirit" no more supernatural than the spirit of a winning team in the realm of sports, or business, or war.  Most of us though, either despite or because of the most daunting challenges to human survival and sanity, feel an undeniable need and reverent respect for what we typically call God or divinity or the sacred.  Alcoholics Anonymous, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), and many other religiously inspired organizations and enterprises, provide durable proof of that truth. It is poisoning everything spiritual, psychological, biological, and cultural, but corruption and ethics are of the realm of spirit.

Corruption is not OK, not healthy, nor is it cool or respectable.  Corrupters, the worst of the corrupt, are agents of infection, like deadly bacteria, vectors of virulent decay.  Corruption spoils and makes the corrupter as ugly and tragically pathetic as the results.

The Chinese word for corruption is a double character that literally means rotten meat.  That was an amazingly wise choice of the inventors of ancient Chinese.  While we are strong, vital, vibrantly alive, full of pure joy, grace, love, wonder and the spirit of adventure, we can be like angels, beings of energy, creative freedom, and spirit.  When we die, what we leave behind is dead meat.  What death and microbes do to the body, corruption does to the spirit, the mind, and culture.  So far, modern science remains blind to the spread of this millennial plague.

Now, parasites, fungal microbes, worms, maggots, vultures, and other carrion eating scavengers, love rotten meat and depend on it for their lives.  Other animals, including human beings, will eat decaying flesh if extreme conditions warrant sufficient need.  Healthy, noble, wonderful human beings are not parasites nor vultures.  In the realms of vibrant life, high creativity, and human spirituality, corruption is an ugly disease, a disgusting perversion of what is wholesome, good, noble, beautiful, enlivening and enjoyable.  Corrupters and the corrupted are the ugliest, most pitiful losers of all evil doers.  Why?  Because their sin (Hebrew: shin, for shortcoming) is to fall so low while being so close to the ultimate prize, the perfect opportunity for supreme fulfillment.  Instead of choosing to make the extra effort to overcome negativity, ill will, hurt feelings, fear, despair, anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, spite, stubbornness, ignorance, arrogance and greed (the toxic emotions), the corrupt give in and suffer chronic self-poisoning.  They make their lives uglier with each perverse choice, each decadent decision, each negative action of body, speech, and mind in the snowballing chain reaction of bad karma.

For the enlightened, what makes such evil so tragic is the perpetrator's failure to see the end result from the start, especially all the wasted opportunities for ennobling, ultimately joyful, beautiful, enriching and truly empowering alternatives.  In the end, in dying and death, if not before, they suffer the worst punishment.  They then face their own lack of real enjoyment and true happiness, their own self-inflicted, irrevocable ruin, the waste of their lives of constant underestimation of each pricelessly precious, miraculous moment.  Worse yet, they can never know what they missed for the sake of atrocious tragedy.  Why feel the same compassionate sorrow and concern for the corrupt that a Buddha or Christ would experience, instead of disgust, contempt and indignant rage?  Well, the disease is pandemic.  Almost all of us are infected, more or less complicit in the systemic rot of Consumer Society.

More importantly, not even God or Christ or Buddha know when a corrupter might wake up and get well.  Even the worst of us are animated and sustained by a spark of pure, supreme being and immortal life force (that most of us think of as divinity, the sacred, God or Buddha).  Though the world was long ago rigged to favor delusion and easy corruption — even of baby Buddhas — life, the universe, is really about experiencing and exploring the miracle of creation and the joy of its own being, as us.  Corruption is uncool, not OK, because it short changes the universe being the beings who get corrupted, preventing full development and experience of their full potential.

So, both Christ and Buddha found us not guilty by reason of insanity.  Yet, part of the problem is contextual, it comes with the territory.  Long, long ago, psychic AIDS infected the paradigm via PTSD, popular delusions, language, stories, superstitions, writing and progressively pervasive corporate media.  Culture's matrix of knowledge, ethics, morality and karma got scrambled and distorted.  Ethics were mostly lost and karma mainly forgotten along the way.  We must repair and upgrade our paradigm.

Without a realistic paradigm that supports reverent respect for nature and our biosphere — our planetary life-support system — ethical society and sane environmental policy will remain either impossible or deficient and impotent.  Paradigms are born and bred of attitudes, beliefs, ethics, faith, and all the other elements of spirituality.  Policy made without regard for spirit will lack viable ethics and, contrary to commercially corrupted assumptions, ethics are not optional.  A lack of sustained commitment to ethical integrity lets greedy corrupters turn society and government into diseases that attack the flesh and bones of culture, turning it into a rotting carcass, food for spiritual maggots and scavengers, wolves disguised as sheepdogs, vultures and devils posing as preachers and fundamentalist politicians.

The violent, proto-militant "Reconstructionist" fringe of the right wing of political fundamentalists, like a mirror-image of their Islamist fundamentalist counterparts, are an unfortunate example. In his article on the semi-hidden agenda of the Reconstructionists, including Ms. Bachman and Ms. Palin, Frank Schaeffer, son and former partner of the Father of Reconstructionist Fundamentalism, sums up the evil ironies like this:

     "Government was seen as part of God's plan for creating social justice and defending the common good. Christians were once culture-forming and culture-embracing people. Even the humanism preached by the supposedly "anti-Christian" Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century was, in fact, a Deist/Christian "heresy," with a value system espousing human dignity borrowed wholesale from the Sermon on the Mount.
     "In the scorched-earth post-Roe era of the health care reform debates of 2009 and beyond, evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren't the evil government. The right even decided that it was "normal" for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies—even for military operations ("contractors"), prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.
     "The religious right/far right et al. favored private facts, too. They claimed that global warming wasn't real. They asserted this because scientists (those same agents of Satan who insisted that evolution was real) were the ones who said human actions were changing the climate. Worse, the government said so, too!
     "Global warming is a left-wing plot to take away our freedom!"
     "In denial of the West's civic-minded, government supporting heritage, evangelicals (and the rest of the right) wound up defending private oil companies but not God's creation, private cars instead of public transport, private insurance conglomerates rather than government care of individuals. The price for the religious right's wholesale idolatry of private everything was that Christ's reputation was tied to a cynical political party "owned" by billionaires. It only remained for a far right Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court to rule in 2010 that unlimited corporate money could pour into political campaigns—anonymously—in a way that clearly favored corporate America and the superwealthy, who were now the only entities served by the Republican Party.
     "The evangelical rubes who are Bachmann's foot soldiers failed to realize that the logic of their "stand" against government had played into the hands of people who never cared about human lives beyond the fact that people could be sold products..." >>

Schaeffer's article is short, but packed with insider revelations on how the Reconstructionists, Rupert Murdoch, the oil industry, and the other corporate sponsors of the Theocracy Party really envision their faux-Christian utopia.  Want a preview?  In a global stock pot, mix Idiocracy, A Handmaid's Tale, Bladerunner, A Clockwork Orange, 1984, and Brave New World with 100,000 toxic chemicals and a dash of Soylent Green, add 2 billion fresh dupes, strain out the free thinkers, bodhisattwas, and saints, bring to a boil then simmer until all the dupes are well done.

Historically, where corruption is pervasive, the paradigm heavily polluted and murky, ecocidal terrorism becomes normally (commercially) justified, a profitable mode of socioeconomic control.  Our paradigm must be healed, enabling a sweeping refutation and exorcism of false justifications for corruption and ecocidal activities.  Dr. Julian Edney's diagnosis is holistic:
>> http://www.g-r-e-e-d.com/GREED.htm

Really noble, truly green people in politics, need all the help and support we can give them.  They also need adequate armor, weapons, and lots of high power ammunition, but not metal, guns or bullets.  To develop and sustain green governance, incorruptible officials with compassionate heart, green intent, and mighty will power need the armor of compassion and an invulnerable paradigm, an indestructible knowledge-base of valid concepts, seamless logic, sustaining courage, faith, and integrity.  Adequate legal weaponry enables sustainable policy with piercing insight, precision aim, powerful principles, flawless ethics, evolutionary creativity, superior strategy and adaptive tactics.  Fundamental precedents, ancient wisdom, natural intelligence, passionate devotion, fearless honesty, high caliber humor, inspiring examples, and effective communication make the best ammunition.

Spiritually, ethically, philosophically and constitutionally, green policy makers must be much more capable than the opposition.  Ecocidal maniacs won their status and global dominance by deception, subversion, perversion and economic corruption, but first by undermining positive religious beliefs, biocentric values, ethics and customs, then the laws.  Without ideological, philosophical, ethical, and historical grounding in deep integrity, we will not recognize or exorcise subtle illogic, perverse reasoning, subversive rhetoric and ecocidal mania disguised as science or religious moralism or economic rationalism infecting existing and proposed policies and laws.  Expansive openness and deep consideration of green spirituality, the essence of humanity and healthy religion, are absolutely essential for developing sustainable, successful green policy.

Integrity, the universal principle, is not identical to duality nor to relativity.  Ethics and morality are closely related but not synonymous.  In the realms of culture, society and governance, moral relativism and ethical duality are equally bogus, yet both oppose and negate personal integrity.  One of the most insidiously effective stratagems of the dark lords of corruption is coupling mass confusion about ethics and integrity with the false notion that they are unnecessary inventions, optional at best.  In government, law, and spirituality, there can be no compromise with corruption without negative consequences, disintegration.  Situational ethics, like relative morality and other forms of corruption, are dualistic, divisive, for the sake of cheaters, cheating and abuse.
If we want a healthy world and one fair standard—of value, status, policy, and law—for the sake of all the participants in human culture, we must eliminate special exceptions for corrupt, arrogant, heartless, sociopathic exploiters.  For a sustainable best case scenario, policy makers, politicians, judges, soldiers, police and educators must be required to pass a competency test on integrity, ethics, and green values.  We can use the Green Planning Standard to design and test the test.

If necessary, those in positions of authority and public service must do whatever is needed to educate the public, even direct appeals to conscience, teaching moral and ethical integrity and karma as universal principles of nature and spirit.  It is not enough to hope for sufficient collective consciousness and conscience. The sacred legal duty of law makers, administrators, law enforcement officials, judges and community leaders is to serve and protect all, sometimes from ourselves.  To do that you must know what our best interests are.
If being honest and caring is politically dangerous, then ask the voters for help.  There is no case more urgent than the protection of our ecological commonwealth, our planetary life support system.  We all know that we often fail to make the best choices for ourselves and all generations while we are gravely ill, insane, demoralized, systematically misinformed and deliberately retarded by the forces of corruption. Public officials and leaders who fail to lead, serve and protect all of us are guilty of the worst possible sins, causing themselves and us proportionally miserable results.

The ripening of karma is not a question of if but only when.  For the best possible results, for one and all, leaders and public service employees must stay committed to creating the best possible causes.  Cultivate your spiritual and ethical integrity, courageous openness, honesty, humility and enough inspired wisdom to successfully challenge all stealthy exploiters, false moralists and false patriots.

There are many reasons, wise laws, and cautionary admonitions against mixing politics and religion, but conventional religion is not spirituality.  Humanity's greatest geniuses, philosophers, scientists, artists, writers, culture heroes and leaders realized the essential value of spiritual integrity and spirit itself, as intrinsic to life, being and its nature.  The following quotes make the case for green team spirit more clearly.

     "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism."

     "What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the inquiring and constructive mind." – Albert Einstein, The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press, 1954

The first quote may be semi-fictional, but Einstein's view of the human dilemma is clear enough.  We need effective compassion, effective response.  Human culture is pervaded by religious thinking and the urgent essence of spirit, which spawned the great quests of science, philosophy, and social theory, but most scientists ignore moral and ethical problems.

Without considering the power and persistence of spirituality and the religious content of our mental constructs and social games, we will fail to develop sufficient realization, compassion, biospheric conscience, sustainable green ethics, and effective policy.  We need no special scientific study to see that organized religion and spirit, or the perversion of them, have had and keep having major impacts on interpersonal, international, and interspecies interactions.  Fortunately, some effects of religion are neither destructive nor ecocidal.

We must give up our anti-religious taboos against considering the positive elements of religion. An amazingly green example of these vital issues and attitudes, is embodied in a dialog with Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, quoted below...

     "I think that to revitalize the world, which today seems to be deadlocked, people have to think in terms of a universal perspective, recognizing the essential oneness of their lives with the universe. When they do, they will also perceive a oneness with nature and with the planet. Views of society, nationality, and race will also be revised in light of such a perspective on human life.
     "As long as the window of the human heart remains closed, no great future lies in store.
     "The lives of all people are one with the universe. All the workings of the universe contribute to the individuality of each person. To put it another way, each person is a microcosm that reflects the macrocosm uniquely; fundamentally, the individual encompasses all. Therefore, each person is precious and irreplaceable."
– Daisaku Ikeda, from Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra; World Tribune Press, 2000

It would be hard to find a better perspective for this age of ecological crisis, or a deeper, more inspiring, more encouraging justification for environmental justice, bioethics, biocentric governance and biospheric consciousness.  Dr. Ikeda calls the SGI's modern approach "Humanistic Buddhism" for ordinary people.  We may as well call it Green Humanism.  Although green spirituality and ethics are not exclusive to Buddhism and America is mainly Christian, drawing from all relevant sources seems wise for developing the best green policy and governance to attain and sustain a healthy civilization.  Our challenge is to win popular support for ecological sanity, positive responsibility, dynamic responsiveness and tough political choices in a race against time.  If we fail to deeply consider the meaning and implications of Ikeda's insights and guidance, we risk the worst possible consequences of deficient policy making.

Without understanding green spirit and spirituality, there can be no sustainable integrity or green humanity with heart.  Without heart and the will to face the real scope and depth of the problem, how will we attain or sustain the courage, commitment, and biocentric consciousness necessary to uphold green ethics and to turn or quell the tide of ecocide?

Truly green law makers and policy advisors will retake and hold the higher ground, casting out antigreen demons and their false profits, taking full advantage of the overwhelmingly durable principles and precedents of humanity's ancient spiritual heritage.  We may not be able to claim that God is on our side, but we can appeal to the majority's common sense belief and feeling that life is sacred.  Then, while upholding the moral, ethical, scientific and political superiority of green law, we will see dramatic, systemic change for the better.
Even fundamentalist Christians and Muslims will admit that nature and God may as well be considered equally divine.  Members of organized religions revere the notion that their God or Gods love their creations, Earth and us living beings.  The Judaic, Christian and Islamic faiths are based on a divine mandate of ecological responsibility for God's originally perfect paradise.  The ancient religions of the great primitive cultures are even more devoted to reverent respect for nature and life.

Additionally, most good fundamentalists and young people are very sensitive to hypocrisy and unethical behaviors.  They will support noble leaders and green heroes.

We cannot escape all the pain and suffering natural to life, and so, as Dr. Ikeda  says, "If we cannot avoid these sufferings, then our only choice is to overcome them.  Since we have no choice but to overcome them, we might as well live joyfully and vigorously while doing so."

Bodies get old and die.  Our bodies are not designed to last forever.  None of us know when our last breath will come and go, but we should remember that it will and that it may be a surprise.  We should also know that energy never stops, it only changes form or direction.  That is just as true of the mental and spiritual energies that motivate and animate us as of the natural energies we set in motion with our actions of mind, voice, and body.  The old saying about 'garbage in, garbage out' works in karmic reverse as well.  Low quality output only produces low quality input where our energy, mind, and spirit go hereafter.  Since the universal Law of Karma is unbreakable, I see no better reason for choosing and doing what is best and most compassionately, sustainably green in every moment.

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