Your latest book, a long-term report on different eco-spiritual places, was born out of an event organized at the Karma Ling Buddhist Institute, in Savoie. How did this idea take shape?
The Shangpa Karma Ling Institute is known for cultivating a great openness to other spiritual traditions and for the dialogue it initiates between different disciplines. It is also a community which, accompanied by Lama Denys Rinpoche, has developed an avant-garde vision on the major social issues, particularly on the ecological question. In October 2004, the Institute organized a symposium in partnership with the WWF entitled “Ecology and Spirituality: sages at the bedside of the planet”. For three days, this important meeting brought together nearly 500 Karma Ling participants, with speakers such as Pierre Rabhi, Jean Bastaire, Jean-Marie Pelt, etc., precursors each in their own way of this contemporary reflection on eco-spirituality. Personally, seeing the two terms ecology and spirituality side by side produced in me a form of "explosion of consciousness". This is where the eco-spiritual path that I have been following since then clearly took shape.
Why did the combination of these two terms, ecology and spirituality, seem so relevant to you?
I saw it as a key to reading the world. At the time, I was engaged for various causes: for organic canteens, for animal welfare, against nuclear power or pesticides, for example. I was really in a form of militant societal action. I practiced eco-gestures systematically (turning off the light, brushing my teeth without running the water, sorting my waste, etc.), but I was well aware that all this had a limit. I didn't necessarily feel the connection with the dimension of interiority that was calling me. And in the reality of our universes, I also noticed that the world of militant ecology often turned its back on the world of “spirituals” and meditators, and vice versa. There was a kind of duality between these two worlds. Through ecospirituality, I understood that these two approaches were, on the contrary, perfectly complementary. We must pay tribute to the work carried out by the precursors, to Lama Denys and Lama Lhundroup of Karma Ling in particular, who have supported and developed this vision for a long time.
How would you define this notion of ecospirituality?
It is the awareness that our inner nature and the outer nature are not dissociated. It is to understand that our deep nature and the nature around us are one and the same reality. This approach, quite Buddhist in its foundations, was for me the source of a new understanding of ecology and, at the same time, of spirituality. In fact, ecology and spirituality both carry and bear witness to the life and breath that animate it. Heaven and earth are within us. And we are, as human beings, at the junction of the two, like a tree with its earthly roots that go deep into the ground, and its heavenly roots that draw light. Ecology and spirituality tell us about energy – spirit and matter – in its two coexisting forms.
You speak of a necessary "quantum leap of consciousness" that we would have to make to really hope to change the paradigm. Could you elaborate on this?
It is not a question of trying to achieve a simple adaptation to the circumstances or to modify a few small parameters, but rather to engage completely in a path of transformation and radical mutation. We really have to change our point of view, to nourish other references and to invent another culture to access a new field of consciousness. Einstein expressed this idea well when he said that a problem could not be solved with the same way of thinking that had generated it. This is why spiritual practice is important, a spiritual practice engaged in the world, which rubs shoulders with reality. In ecology, there are no definitive solutions, you have to constantly adjust and readjust. It's a bit like cutting a diamond: you have to carve the different faces to allow it to best reflect the light. It is work that takes time.
“Ecospirituality is the awareness that our inner nature and the outer nature are not dissociated (…) We are, as human beings, at the junction of heaven and earth, in the image of a tree with its earthly roots that go deep into the ground, and its celestial roots that tap into the light. »
Today, we sometimes have the impression of a debate of the deaf between those who believe that one must first start by working on oneself and cleaning oneself inside before working in the world, and the others who say the opposite and advocate action above all else, faced with the urgency of the situation, remaining in a very external posture, not knowing where to turn to repair what needs to be repaired. If, internally, we do not have a path of coherence between our actions and our deep intentions, based on a process of appeasement and connection through meditation, then there is a significant risk of distortion. Conversely, it is also important to be able to put spirituality to the test of the world, because that is how it “improves”. In fact, both approaches are important: to engage in the world is a spiritual act.
Can the emergence of collapse theories, which are taking an increasingly important place in public debate, around Pablo Servigne for example and the collapsology movement, also help raise awareness?
The notion ofcollapse and its corollary dimension of cooperation seem to me to be key points of conversion for our time. This brings us to a degree of lucidity in relation to reality, which is very important both on a psychological level, but also from a philosophical and ethical point of view. I think it accelerates our awareness of ecological issues and refines our sense of reality, while also raising the question of our position within nature. Who am I ? What role can I play? How can I find my rightful place as a human on this Earth? In fact, it allows you to ask the right questions in the right place. And the increase in the level of knowledge and lucidity also leads to a deepening of questioning, which opens up a dimension of interiority, and therefore a form of spirituality.
Check out Part 2 of this interview:
> Christine Kristof-Lardet: Becoming Guardian of the Earth