“Ecology and spirituality are fundamentally connected, because deep ecological awareness, ultimately, is spiritual awareness” - Fritjof Capra
“Deep ecology” as a concept has grown since 1973, when it was propounded for the first time by Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher remarkably influenced by Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’. The concept has since then enriched and is also responsible for having split environmental movements across the globe. This division has also been the cause of dichotomy in the approaches towards understanding ecology. The first approach, that most of us are familiar with, deals with the study of the inter-relationships between organisms and their environment from the point of view of a detached observer. An observer, who is separate from the object of study and is focussed on measurable data that can be collected from ‘there’, or in other words from the study ...view middle of the document...
Naess proposed that we ask 'deeper questions', contemplate on the 'whys and hows' of the way we live and perceive how this matches with our deeper beliefs, needs and values. Deep Ecology can also be perceived as part of a much wider process of questioning some basic assumptions that open up newer paths of looking at science, education, relationships, society, spirituality, and many other areas. The newer outlook enable us to emphasise and also criticise the relationships between different areas, it has the capacity to synergise personal and social changes, science and spirituality, economics and ecology. Deep Ecology also applies this new outlook to our relationship with the earth. In doing this, it challenges deep-seated assumptions about the way we see ourselves, moving from just seeing ourselves as 'individuals' towards also seeing ourselves as part of the earth. This, in the long run can increase both our sense of belonging in life and our tendency to act for life.
In the idea of ‘Deep ecology’, strong influences of Barucha Spinoza and Mahatma Gandhi on Naess can be felt, especially in the manifestation of ‘Self realization’. By Self-realization Naess refers to this-worldly realization of ‘as expansive a sense of self’ as possible. It in fact refers to the realization of a wide, expansive, or field-like sense of self that leads to compassion. The concept of deep ecology thus provides a philosophical basis for environmental advocacy which may, in turn, guide human activity against perceived self-destruction.
Ecologists have described change and stability in ecological systems in various ways, including equilibrium, homeostasis, flux of nature, dynamic structure, etc. Irrespective of what describes best the ecological systems, along with their components and their characteristics, environmentalists contend that massive human economic activity has pushed too far the biosphere from its original natural state through massive reduction of biodiversity, climate change, and other influences. Deep ecologists hope to influence social and political change through their philosophy.