She wanted to serve the world and became a nun, but hung up her cassock to become one of the world’s leading experts on religious matters. She has received honors and international awards, including the Princess of Asturias for Social Sciences in 2017. In her essay Sacred Nature (Criticism), she uses a very powerful idea to save the planet: restoring our spiritual connection to the natural world. “Intellectual and spiritual transformation is needed to change the course and repair the damage. The great sages, mystics and prophets have revered nature. Now it is up to us to restore this knowledge, the connection that unites us to the natural world. We must not only change our actions, but also our way of seeing nature. Learn to emotionally align with her
As a nun, did you encounter the sacred?
No, after four years of living in a monastery, completely isolated from the world, I hung up my cassock. But I have a childhood memory.
I lived in a village surrounded by forests and I knew their sacred nature, I saw light in them and rediscovered it through the study of religions.
What does this holy character consist of?
In the past, all religions saw the divine in nature as a living whole. God, or however the sublime is defined, was present in every living being.
Tree, plant or animal?
Yes, in ancient religions nature was considered sacred and we were aware that we depend on the sacred to live. God was not secluded in a supernatural heaven, but present in everything and everywhere.
When did he ascend to heaven?
This idea that there is a God somewhere in the heavens is a Christian and Western idea.
What happened and when?
During the Renaissance and the pre-industrial period, the connection between nature and the divine was severed and Christians began to see God as a reality distinct from the world.
No remission in time?
Where the modern Westerner sees a series of independent beings and phenomena, the tribal populations and even the worldview of China, Hinduism and modern Buddhism see something else.
What do you see?
A continuum of space and time in which plants, animals, people and natural phenomena are a unified whole.
Taking away the sacred character of nature had consequences.
Yes, for the last five hundred years we have lived in a worldview very different from the sacredness of nature, forgetting that deep connection between humans and the natural world that has led us to plunder nature, treating it as a mere resource.
Let us delve deeper into the sacredness of nature.
In the ancient world they did not take the natural order of things for granted, in Egypt for example they were amazed every day when the sun rose and set, they followed the course of the sun in a mythical way and with wonder. They cultivated wonder because they understood that life depended on this sacred nature.
And we continue to depend on it.
Indeed, whether we realize it or not, we depend on nature for every breath we take, for every drop of water we drink. The danger is that we take it for granted instead of cultivating that sense of wonder, of gratitude, of awe; and if we don’t change that, we won’t be able to stop the destruction.
We have learned to believe that we control nature.
The result of this utilitarian worldview is the terrible harm we do to nature and therefore to ourselves.
That’s how it goes.
We have drastically separated ourselves from nature, how many times have you been in an amazing valley or in front of the ocean and people around you have not stopped taking pictures or sending watsaps instead of enjoying the wonder in awe and in silence.
Today, contemplation reappears.
Yes, but we look inward, we practice meditation and yoga, very different from what the Buddha practiced, which was to send his good energy to every creature that exists in every corner of the world.
Nothing to do with belly buttoning.
In the West, what we must learn is to look outward and feel affection for all that is alive. Buddha would be mad if he saw how we treat yoga and meditation and for what purpose.
To save the planet, we must restore this sacred connection?
Yes, otherwise we will continue to hope that science and technology will save us. Only if we human beings feel deeply united with the earth and sky, only if we treat the thousands of beings with whom we share the planet as we would like to be treated, will we fully realize our human condition.
For our existence depends upon this myriad of natural events and beings; so by honoring, protecting and serving them, we will contribute to the reconstruction of the world. There is no planet without them.
Will be required.
Sit for ten minutes in the park, watch and listen, feel the force of the wind, reconnect. Nature should be a part of us, a blessed state of mind. We need to recover a sense of wonder, to see the magic behind every leaf, ant or tree.