By Sharon Ray
One of the beautiful transformations that happens to us along the spiritual path is that compassion for and oneness with all things increases. We don’t have tunnel vision on our own needs anymore. Our scope becomes much wider and ultimately covers the whole world and everything in it. The feeling of Ahimsa (harmlessness), grows strong in us and we care about the health and welfare of everyone and everything, including the planet.
Driving into the Sunburst Sanctuary, I am often struck by how feminine the lines of the earth are, those rolling hills are so reminiscent of the female outline in all its softness. “Earth Mother,” the planet is often called for her loveliness and for all she gives to support and sustain the lives of all who live upon her.
Sunburst teaches that good “stewardship” of the Earth’s resources and refraining from waste are practices that belong to the virtue of temperance. Norman Paulsen, Sunburst’s founder, wrote, “If God is indeed all things, then all images should be treated with respect. With this in mind, waste not that which God has created. Be temperate in all pursuits.” When we love something we take care of it well. Love is the center from which temperance and all the virtues emanate.
I recently viewed a documentary on YouTube called, “The Overview Effect,” and it powerfully deepened my appreciation for and love of our Earth. In the movie, astronauts who have seen the Earth from space were interviewed. Their description of this life-changing experience is accompanied by footage of our lovely blue-green planet floating in space. The astronauts say that it is a moving experience to see the Earth from the rocket’s perspective where the background is the black sky of outer space. As the Earth turns, the ozone can be seen as a very thin layer glowing and hugging the surface of the Earth. One astronaut said that it struck him how “paper thin” the atmosphere is, and how sobering it is to think that this tiny layer “is all that protects every living thing from death.”
“The overview effect” is the name that was given to describe the transformational shift in perspective that so many of the astronauts experienced in space, where this feeling of unity and oneness with all life came upon them. They felt without a doubt that their individual self and the species as a whole is a manifestation of a larger Whole. They saw the Earth as an exquisitely beautiful, “living, breathing organism, extremely fragile.” It was seen that Earth is “an oasis against the backdrop of infinity,” and that everything we do on one side of the ecosystem effects the other side of it.
How important, and what a joy is the practice of temperance towards the Earth’s resources—not to waste or harm, but to choose wisely, realizing that Her welfare is in our hands. In thanks for all we are given, we can give back the gift of good stewardship!
Oh, Mother Earth, how lovely you are! Thank you for sustaining my life with oxygen, water, food, and for blessing my life with your natural beauty. Help me to be a good steward of your health and wellbeing, to be temperate and use only what I need, and to think of your welfare as I live and make my choices. Help me to find ways to make my life a healing blessing to you, dear Earth Mother!