While the Amazon Rainforest Burns….

Deepak Chapra has written that Evil will be the Number One issue in spirituality of the 21st century.*  We consider homicide evil; and genocide very evil; ecocide is most evil for it signals the death of nature as we know it, the extinction of millions of species, our own among them, the end of humanity as we know it with all its diversity and beauty and faltering attempts to celebrate life and pass practices on to our children to do the same.

“This natural-color image of smoke and fires in several states within Brazil including Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia was collected by NOAA/NASA’s Suomi NPP using the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument on August 20, 2019.” Image by NASA, Wikimedia.

Today we are witnessing one of the worst moments of ecocide ever.  The rainforest of Brazil, which not only contains untold special species of birds, insects, wildlife, plants, and medicines, but which accounts for 20% of the planet’s oxygen output and is busy cleansing excessive CO2 for the world, is burning like never before.  Since January 75 thousand fires have burned in the forest representing an 85% increase over last year, and in the last two years the square acreage of miles subject to fires has doubled.  In July alone this year an area one half the size of Rhode Island has burned.*   A million indigenous and other dwellers in the rain forest are affected and cases of pneumonia and respiratory emergencies have tripled.  In addition to all the melting of glaciers in Greenland, Iceland and the world over, now this.  It takes your breath away—quite literally.  And words.

“Untitled” Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

It seems that most of the fires in the Amazon were deliberately set by ranchers wanting to denude the forest to set up cattle ranches to make fast bucks.  Brazil’s president Bolsonaro, who is a climate change denier, ran on a platform of replacing the forest with ranches and now complains that NGO’s that have been dedicated to preserving the Amazon for decades are “making him look bad” by starting these forest fires.  The two largest economies in North America and South America can now boast presidents and their political parties in denial about climate change.  These fires in the Amazon will only hasten the warming of the planet.

What do we do?  In these Daily Meditations we have been sharing from the start the critical role of developing our capacities as mystics and prophets—lovers and defenders–of Mother Earth.  We have been examining how to make those shifts in human consciousness that might make a profound difference in how we live on the planet.  We will look at remedies in tomorrow’s DM.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/08/23/amazon-rainforest-fires-brazil-world-reaction/?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Banner image: “Driftwood in Desert” Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

We invite you, as you enter into the deeper contemplation below, to listen to the sounds of the Brazilian rainforest on the following video, and to connect with the creatures making these sounds.

For Deeper Contemplation

We might begin our response to the current news of the Amazon on Fire with a silent meditation that guides us into the darkness, into the suffering and pain so many creatures are experiencing now in the Amazon and beyond.  Be with the Darkness.  Be still in the Via Negativa.  And journey into your own darkness, sadness, grief, loss.  Be in touch with your deepest feelings, no matter how dark. What do you perceive? Journal, draw, or otherwise record your experience.

Recommended Reading

Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.

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19 thoughts on “While the Amazon Rainforest Burns….”

  1. Avatar

    The meditations in last few days enable me to grieve at loss of many places by fire as well as find sources of hope and strength. They evoked recall of my first readings of Original Blessings more than two decades ago and when I served as Creation Spirituality Connector in NY and TN. This work now shapes much of what I do in my United Religions Initiative (URI) Nashville Cooperation Circle.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Joyce,
      Thank you for your comments about grief and hope and your recounting of how Original Blessing has shaped your life work. Creation Spirituality is more than a belief system, its a way of living, restoring us to our proper relationship to Creation. Thank you for your important work.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    I always remember Matthew Fox saying ( years ago) that we are living in a matricidal world.
    Such truth. And yet how do we heal ?

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Ellen,
      Your reference to matricide and how we are attempting to kill our relationship to Mother Earth reminds me that we all go through a season in our own development of hating the mother and wanting to take her place as the one with power. May we mature quickly into our next phase of development. We must envision our species as the best form of post adolescent young adulthood – a beautiful human stage of principle, cooperation, and community. May it be so – soon!]
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  3. Avatar

    Thank you Dr Matthew for this helpful encouraging way to deal with all that is bringing grief and pain to the planet and so many of us!!

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Julia,
      Thank you for writing. Feeling the grief and pain is hard work. I hope that the beauty of our planet offsets some of that for you. Staying balanced between the Positiva and Negativa is our ec-spiritual practice now.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  4. Avatar

    It moves me to hear the sounds of life in the Amazon. It’s like a musical chorus. How precious. I have feelings of sadness and melancholy about what could be lost.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Nancy,
      Thank you for sharing your appreciation for the sounds of the Amazon and your sadness over this enormous loss. May your grief become your fuel to work for restoration of the rainforest.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  5. Avatar

    What comes up from delving into sadness are two more emotions, anger and helplessness.
    What is the way out of these two heavy emotions? Is there a bright star somewhere to use to rise above feelings of powerlessness as one citizen among the power monger evil greed that continues to expand destruction of our planet? Where to go?

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Jan,
      In the depths of your sadness, anger, and sense of helplessness lies your passion for Creation, the source of your complaint, and where you place your ultimate hope. WHat lies at the bottom of the negativa? Your valuing of the Earth, this rainforest, the honoring of all Creation, your yearning for a citizenry that honors each other and all creatures. It may sound ludicrous, but the bright star you are seeking will be revealed through your pain. Authentic emotions are a potent force for change.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  6. Avatar

    It’s so hard for me to even listen to the beautiful sounds of the Amazon – the call to life is so heart-achingly beautiful that it makes the reality of the fires even more heart-wrenching. Even with the preparations of Via Positiva, it’s challenging to stay with wonder as the dark clouds of grief cover the golden greening light.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Jennifer,
      Your sentiments about the sounds of the Amazon and the burning of the rainforest are shared by so many. Staying with those feelings is challenging, but its so important to do so. They connect you to the rainforest and to the larger community who shares your positivity and grief, a source of power and hope in this situation.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  7. Avatar

    I am intrigued by this statement at the beginning of this article: “Deepak Chapra has written that Evil will be the Number One issue in spirituality of the 21st century.*” I have done a Google search for this statement. Evil is cited in many of Chapra’s talks and works but I can’t find this precise statement.
    Can anyone help?

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear David,
      The quote from Deepak Chopra is from the first page of his Foreword to the revised edition of Matthew’s book, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh, Paragraph #2, lines #2-3. No doubt that would have been difficult to find on your own. Here’s fair warning, ff you pick up that book, you may not be able to put it down!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

      1. Avatar

        Dear Gail, You sure were right when you wrote :”Here’s fair warning, if you pick up that book, you may not be able to put it down.” I got the book on August 28, the feast of St. Augustine (originator of “original sin”, how fitting). I presided at a wedding the following Saturday in Houston and didn’t get a chance to start the book till Sept. 2nd. I did come across the quote in the Foreword. I’m on page 79, but I have to put it down at times to spend some time with what I have read. Thank you for your response.

  8. Avatar

    “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Thank you for this audio reminder of what the world God created is like. There are other biomes too, of course. Amazing dunes of sand and deep, rocky canyons (as you once said, Matthew, speaking of rocks–“talk about elders!”), but the rainforests are so excruciatingly exquisite that they fill my belly with astonishment at what God has given us. What we need is to allow more of this to flourish. May we someday understand that. What a moving soundscape you have given us for our meditations.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Michele,
      Thank you for this affirmation and for the opportunity to appreciate once more the “excruciatingly exquisite rainforests” and our elders, the rocks.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  9. Avatar

    After three weeks of strengthening my root chakra and my connection to the Earth every day, I received this daily meditation from Matthew. As I sat silently with the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest, I spent over 10 minutes with tears pouring down my face and had multiple realizations about my life’s repeated callings to serve the Earth through her plants and her animals. Up to now I have answered that call with weak and small advocacy efforts… essentially short bouts of lip service, gardening, and pet guardianship. I am leaving behind the shame that brings to me so that I can go forward doing more and better work on their behalf.
    Thank you for this.

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