In December 1972, Apollo 17 gave us one of the most powerful photographs of the 20th century. It was called “The Blue Marble” and it was the first fully illuminated image of the earth taken from 45,000 kilometers away in space. For the first time people could visually comprehend something that mystic traditions have intimated for millennia—the earth as a unified, “absolute” being. The individual ego paled in comparison to the beauty of the earth floating in a vast cosmic ocean. The image continues to inspire contemplation of our existence within a delicate interconnected, interdependent ecological system.
It is too easy to forget the importance of nature to our spiritual nourishment, to forget our commitment to serve all living things—not just other human beings. However, as this issue of SUFI attests, there are remarkable people whose connection to nature translates to active engagement, who seek to adapt to nature’s creative ebb and flow, and for whom service to all of creation is at the heart of spiritual practice. Among the foremost of these are the Kogi people, whom Maria Gutierrez meets at the “Heart of the World” while traveling in Colombia. Les Sponsel reviews the case for a revolution in consciousness in his introduction to the field of spiritual ecology. The threads of his call to action are beautifully taken up by eco-activist and Jain monk, Satish Kumar, in conversation with Llew Smith and Annie Stopford. Wendy Tremayne shares her vision of a modern sustainable lifestyle, underpinned by Sufi principles, and Planetary Collective explores the power of wonder and awe in reconnecting us to a state of unity in CultureWatch.
Alireza Nurbakhsh’s discourse, “Perspectives on Climate Change,” goes to the heart of how taking a spiritual stance towards the world could lead us to overcome the distractions of “right” and “wrong” and change our collective behavior for the better. Andy Goldsworthy’s photo essay reminds us of the constant state of change, evolution and transformation all around us and within us at every moment, summing up anew ecological paradigm with its title: Shaking Hands with Nature.
—The Editors of SUFI