A comparative overview of the major religions and ecology, from an Asian Christian perspective.
Excerpts taken with permission from Office of Theological Concerns, Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (2015) 'Towards Responsible Stewardship Creation: An Asian Christian Approach', Rev. Fr. Clarence Devadass (ed.)
For the people's and cultures of Asia, the ecological system plays an integral part of their daily lives as it provides them with sustenance, protection, and also a sense of the Divine. Asian is blessed with vast forests, beaches, mountains, rivers, and many other aspects that maintain the ecosystem. They not only provide for humankind but also for the many other species that depend on their survival.
Every day we come across impending warnings that the survival of human beings is in question due to climate change and global warming. Recently, a spate of unprecedented natural disasters occurred in every part of the world. When we look into the causes of these natural disasters, it may be more correct not to define them as just 'natural' disasters, but as 'unnatural' natural diasters. Climate changes derived from the 'glasshouse (greenhouse) effect' led to abnormal expansion of tropical storms, ending up with monstrous super typhoons, super hurricanes, and super cyclones.
On the other hand, in a blind pursuit of profit, we have lost the feeling of awe and sense of reverence for life. Greed means humans have become obsessed with the logic of productivity and efficiency. These days the logic of materialism lays bare its arrogance to disturb and modify the natural flow created by God. It is a pity that the logic of materialism comes prior to the value of human life; as human greed doesn't know when and how to stop despite countless warnings from Mother Nature.
Not only are many of the major religions of the world born in Asia, but also the variety of cultural traditions provides us a foundation to discuss ecological issues. In this section, we will take a look at the teachings of the major religions in Asia on ecology. The purpose of this section is to show that ecological issues are shared concerns among many peoples of Asia, and that many of the major religions and spiritualities in Asia share a common heritage.
One of the first assumptions of the Bible is that God is the creator of the whole universe. The entire world is God’s creation, and its continuing life and preservation are thoroughly dependent upon God. Likewise, man who is part of God’s creation, is also dependent upon Him for his life and survival. In this regard, the Bible does not recognise or make a distinction between such categories as “world of nature” and “humanity”. The whole sweep of the existing realities is “creation”. The creation category unites both humanity and the world of nature with God as the centre of this unity. Without the divine element, the creation category does not come into existence. Creator God, humankind, and the world of nature are thus united and brought into organic wholeness through the act of creation. The doctrine of Creation teaches that the whole of creation is a sacred gift. God creates, sustains, and preserves all life, both animate and inanimate.
And in this regard, humanity is no different from the rest of God’s creations. The creation saga is a poetic expression which proclaims the divine intention and love behind the act of creation.
The Genesis story begins by affirming the goodness of God by affirming the goodness of everything He has created. God is good in Himself and good in everything He desires and does for His creatures — humankind and the world. God’s goodness is attested in the on-going creation. The creation story also tells us how humankind and the world may individually and collectively participate and share in this divine goodness. The continual goodness was experienced in maintaining a harmonious and creative interdependent relationship within the cosmic community, a symbiotic and systemic relationship. Psalm 104, more than anything else, speaks about this interdependent order and the symbiotic relationship.
Secondly, the Bible also confirms that the purpose of creation is to proclaim God’s glory. The divine life is actively manifested in and through the created world. Therefore it would not be right to deal with the world of nature merely in materialistic terms.
Nature has its own intrinsic value, teleology, and destiny, and humanity is called to recognise this fact and respond to it with respect and reverence.
Thirdly, Biblical writers were keen to give a theological explanation for the presence of evil in the whole created order. They identified evil as a breakdown in the on-going creative relationship that existed between God and humankind, thus introducing death and decay. The ecological crisis we experience is a direct outcome of this failure and a sure sign of this breakdown.
And finally, Biblical writers go on to propose a way out of this cosmic disintegration and deterioration. They affirm that restoration of the broken down system is possible. The human predicament and all contemporary crises are not beyond divine redemption. And the deteriorating trend within the cosmic community is reversible. And this possibility is offered through an active faith in Jesus Christ, the very God who authored the whole of creation and came into the world in human form to restore the working model once again. The emerging new cosmic order is made up of transformed humanity within a renewed universe of a new heaven and earth -- a world free from strife, tension, pollution, sickness, poverty, deterioration, and ultimately free of death itself. Humanity is called upon to actively participate and share in restoring this disintegrating cosmic order, thus ushering in the Kingdom of God. And it is up to the present generation either to accept or reject this offer of Biblical promise of cosmic salvation and restoration in Christ.
Hindus are known for their search of the absolute. Hindu philosophers have reached lofty metaphysical heights which merit appreciation. In Philosophy, the living schools of Hinduism generally speak of some form of unity, but not necessarily identity, of the soul with the Supreme Reality, which in different traditions is named in various ways: Brahman, Vishnu, Shiva, etc. On the one hand in the Kevaladvaita VedantaSchool (to use its technical name, since there are various forms of Advaita) there is only One Reality and everything else is illusion. They of course follow the path of knowledge (jnana). But they also ascribe a role to the path of devotion (bhakti): by itself, devotion does not lead to liberation (moksha). It is not necessary to practice bhakti, but it can help to purify the soul so that the soul can practice the path of jnana. It is the exponents or followers of this School who say that the path of knowledge is for the advanced, and other practices like bhakti, etc. are for the common people. It permits pluralism on the practical level or the level of ignorance, but on the absolute level there is only One Reality.
In this way, they reconcile in a limited and partial way, the path of knowledge with that of devotion, and monism (on the absolute level) and pluralism (on the practical level). However, this is only one of the many of philosophical schools in Hinduism. Though this school is not the main school yet it seems to enjoy prestige among intellectuals. In reality, there are several other schools that claim that the path of devotion is the best path to salvation and they say that the path of knowledge leads only to a lower form of liberation. In fact, the neutral Brahman, who is the Supreme and Only Being for Kevaladvaita Vedanta, is put on a lower level, just as Kevaladvaita Vedanta puts Vishnuor Shiva, etc. On a lower (and even unreal) level. The vast majority of Hindus actually believe in and practice bhakti as the path to salvation. Hence there are differing schools with greatly differing understandings of God, humans, other beings and the metaphysical and other (e.g., spiritual) relationships between these (God, humans and other beings). The vast majority of Hindus emphasise love of, and devotion to, God which is known as — BHAKTI. And they express distaste for non-dual unity and identity with the Absolute. This practice of devotion is extended to and embraces inanimate objects such as plants, stones, water, fire, rivers and trees. Animals such as snakes, monkeys and cows become objects of worship and adoration.
The following hymn from the Atharva-veda, XII, 1, is one of the most ancient testimonies to the Hindu attitude to the cosmos. The hymn brings out the beauty, splendour, order and harmony of nature and environment in the context of faith and spirituality. There is a personal and dialogical relationship with the earth which has to be upheld. However, there does seem to be a tendency towards sacralisation of the earth and elements therein for their eventual inclusion into the Hindu pantheon. Since the entire earth hymn is too long, a few select verses are cited here below:
1. Truth, greatness, universal order (rita), strength, consecration, creative fervour (tapas), spiritual exaltation (brahma), the sacrifice, support the earth. May this earth, the mistress of that which was and shall be, prepare for us a broad domain!
2. The earth that has heights, and slopes, and Great Plains, that supports the plants of manifold virtue, free from the pressure that comes from the midst of men, she shall spread out for us, and fit herself for us!
3. The earth upon which the sea, and the rivers and the waters, upon which food and the tribes of men have arisen, upon which this breathing, moving life exists, shall afford us precedence in drinking!
4. The earth whose are the four regions of space, upon which food and the tribes of men have arisen, which supports the manifold breathing, moving thinas (things), shall afford us cattle.
5. The earth upon which of old the first men unfolded themselves, upon which the gods overcame the Asuras, shall procure for us (all) kinds of cattle, horses, and fowls, good fortune and glory!
6. The earth that supports all, furnishes wealth, the foundation, the golden-breasted resting-place of all living creatures, she that supports Agni Vaisvânara (the fire), and mates with Indra, the bull, shall furnish us with property!
7. The broad -earth, which the sleepless gods ever attentively guard, shall milk for us precious honey, and, besprinkle us with glory!
8. That earth which formerly was water upon the ocean (of space), which the wise (seers) found out by their skilful devices; whose heart is in the highest heaven, immortal, surrounded by truth, shall bestow upon us brilliancy and strength, (and place us)in supreme sovereignty!
9. That earth upon which the attendant waters jointly flow by day and night unceasingly, shall pour out milk for us in rich streams, and, moreover, besprinkle us with glory!
The following verse of Tukaram witnesses to the devotees’ association with nature and his great appreciation of all the elements of nature, even in the context of his desire to unite with God:Trees, plants and animals are all our relatives (kith and kin) | The birds also sweetly chant || By this bliss we relish abode in solitude | No defects and vices do we contract || ch || The sky is the canopy, the earth is the throne | The spirit therein engages and plays.”(Indu Prakash 2481)
In short, the Hindu view of the eco-system and celestial galaxies are all connected and are considered one rhythmic cycle.
The roots of Islamic view on the environment are to be found in the Quran and the guidance (sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad. The Islamic worldview is based on the belief in the existence of an all-powerful creator, Allah. From the Quran, it is said that Allah created the universe and every single atom and molecule it contains and the laws of creation include the elements of order, balance and proportion: “He created everything and determined it most exactly”
(25:2) and “It is He who appointed the sun to give radiance and the moon to give light, assigning it in phases... Allah did not create these things except with truth. We make the signs clear for the people who know” (10:5)
[Fazlun M Khalid, Islam and the Environment (Volume 5, Social and Economic dimensions of global environmental change, pp 332 – 339) in the Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change, Peter Timmerman (Ed)].
It is said that there are over 6,000 verses in the Quran, of which more than 500 deal with natural phenomena. Allah repeatedly calls on His people to reflect on His signs, which include all aspects of nature such as trees, mountains, seas, animals, birds, stars, the sun and the moon – and our own hearts. The Quran refers to creation or the natural world as the signs (ayat) of Allah, the Creator, and this is also the name given to the verses contained in the Quran.
Islamic jurisprudence contains regulations concerning the conservation and allocation of scarce water resources; for the conservation of land with special zones of graded use; for the establishment of rangelands, wetlands, green belts and for wildlife protection and conservation.
In short, the Quran says that Allah (God) is the Creator of the world. Human beings are on the world as trustees or ‘vice-regents’ - they are told to look after the world for Allah and for the future. In the Quran, Muslims are instructed to look after the environment and not to damage it:
Devote thyself single-mindedly to the Faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah(Surah 30:30).
Islam calls on its believers to look after the earth because it is all Allah’s creation and it is part of a human’s duty to Allah:
Allah is He who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne, and constrained the sun and the moon to serve you; each planet pursues its course during an appointed term. He regulates it all and expounds the Signs, that you may have firm belief in the meeting with your Lord. He it is who spread out the earth and made therein firmly fixed mountains and rivers, and of fruits of every kind He has made pairs. He causes the night to cover the day.
The Hadith also teaches that the Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it. The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean. Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded. If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and humans and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is love on his part.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasised the Quranic decree of treating the earth as a trust, and humankind its guardians. Likening our planet to a sacred place of prayer, “All of the earth has been made to me as a mosque,” Muhammad promoted respect and responsibility towards the environment amongst his companions. He encouraged water conservation, instructing them not to be wasteful even if they were next to a flowing river, and stipulated the importance of keeping public places tidy.
Nature and environment have always played an important part in Islam. Its believers understand that God has not created all this for nothing. In fact, Muslims have been commanded to find the wonderful signs of God around them so that they will only increase in them their awe of Allah.
In conclusion, Islam teaches that Allah has given man a responsibility and that man will be accountable to God for his actions and the trust placed in him. Prophet Muhammad said, “Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people is a guardian and is responsible for them” (Sahih Bukhari 3.46.730). Islam has urged humanity to be kind to nature and not to abuse the trust that has been placed on the shoulders of man. In fact, to be kind to animals is an integral part of
Islam for Muslims. There are two primary sources defining Islam i.e. the Quran and the Hadith (the example, sayings, and actions of Prophet Muhammad) and both emphasise the accountability and responsibility of man toward the rest of creation.
Buddhism tries to point to the roots of the problem and to show a possible way towards a more responsible use of nature. Buddha has actually incorporated some forms of environmental attributes in his preaching and views humanity as an integral part of nature. We should immediately notice that in a Buddhist context the question of the beginning of the world is not addressed. For this reason it is more proper to use the term “ecological consciousness” referring to the context of our study.
Buddhism considers the destruction of natural resources as unethical and it encourages sustenance of human existence through the balance of the eco-system. The relationship between man and nature should be based on a wide range of interests: present and future, human and non-human. It should be purposeful, farsighted and everlasting. Unfortunately humans concentrate primarily on satisfying their present “wants” (a now-oriented society) instead of their own present and future needs and the needs of future generations, as well as that of other forms of life on earth.
Buddhist ethics show that the ecological adaptation is a process of advantageous variation and progressive modification by which human beings are adjusted to the condition of the environment in which to live a harmonious life. Buddha suggests that human beings are supremely capable of going deep into the causes of their suffering. They understand what is good for them and adjust themselves without passing the responsibility for their suffering on to some invincible forces. They make an effort to walk on the noble eight fold path (1.right view, 2. right intention, 3. right speech, 4. right action, 5. right livelihood, 6. right effort, 7. right mindfulness and 8. right concentration)to lead a good ethical life. Buddha regarded every environmentally harmful action as questionable and ethically wrong. Our intention depends on our mental makeup. If it is polluted with lust, hatred and delusion, it will translate itself into the external environment as a complex of physical life and material development based on exploitation of nature without moral restraint. Delusion associated with greed results in environmental problems, because satisfying one’s appetite can lead to natural resources being mercilessly exploited, resulting in the suffering of people.
Buddhism always believes in the middle way. The middle way, in today’s terms, means harmony. Any extreme measure may produce opposite results. In the light of the Buddhist doctrine of the middle way, economic recovery measures should not go to any extremes. The middle way economic recovery measures have to be the ones that will aid environmental protection, and drive economic growth towards being in harmony with nature.
Life is not an isolated process starting with birth and ending in death. Each single lifespan is part of a series of lives having no discoverable beginning in time and continuing on as long as the desire for existence stands intact. Rebirth can take place in various realms of human beings and animals; on the higher level we meet heavenly worlds of greater happiness, beauty and power and on the lower level we find infernal worlds of extreme sufferings. Karma is the cause of rebirth.
Karma determines the sphere into which rebirth takes place, with wholesome actions bringing rebirth in higher forms, and unwholesome actions bringing rebirth in lower forms. It is clear that in Buddhist teaching, all forms of living beings are interrelated, particularly because they can be considered the individualisation of the same being in different forms. Therefore, care and love for other beings and creatures is basic and important in Buddhist ethics and morality. The human world and nature are joined together in a reciprocal causal relationship: change in any one of the two necessarily brings about change in the other too. The human world and its environment stand or fall with the type of moral force at work. If immorality grips society, humankind and nature decline. If morality exists, the quality of human life and nature also improve. Buddha says that change is universal; neither man nor any other being, animate or inanimate, can be exonerated from it. Everything is framed in a constant process of change.
In short, Buddhism presents its teaching on care for the environment as follows:
- Buddhism states that Karmais the major factor responsible for what we are and what we will be. Man has an element of free will or personal endeavour; by practicing it one can change his own nature as well as his environment.
- According to the Buddhist idea of dependent origination, everything in the ecosystem is interdependent and interconnected to some other; for this reason everything has its own intrinsic value. However, in the scientific world, nature is conceived as a material thing which has a merely extrinsic value and can be used in order to fulfil the desire of the people. From this point of view we can say that the relation between human beings and nature may be spelled out in a threefold way: human beings are superior; nature is superior; and both human beings and nature are interdependent and interrelated. Only this last way can be considered the correct one. Therefore a new paradigm of development should promote economic activities and a lifestyle based on the concept of ‘man with nature’ and not ‘man against nature’.
- Buddhism aims at eliminating human suffering and bringing peace and prosperity to all mankind. It is a religion that in its core has a deep sense of responsibility in protecting the environment. Environmental protection has to begin in the mind. Buddha clearly ruled out the two extreme positions of self-indulgence and self mortification and adopted the middle path. Buddhist concedes that re-orientation of our inner life is a sine qua non to preserving nature. Everything is interconnected and interdependent in the ecosystem. However, due to our ignorance, often we are not able to understand this interdependence. We think that our happiness depends upon our maximum consumption. Hence in order to diminish the problems, we will have to moderate our consumption. The only way to minimise our consumption is to restrain our desires, walking on a middle path which rejects the waste of resources in displays of wealth designed to gain ephemeral status. Instead we should focus on friendship, good relationships, and meditation. Metta (Mercy) can be extended to the protection of other species, and indeed to the whole ecosystem. This is a great contribution that Buddhists can offer to the world.
- In Buddhism there is a close relationship between science and spirituality. When science is only based upon the concept of self-interest, it will become the cause of destruction. But when it is built upon spirituality, it will be connected with the welfare of all human beings. Buddha gave the wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and all living things. A holistic approach towards a solution must consider that everything is interdependent and interconnected to each other in the ecosystem. Everything has, therefore, its own intrinsic value. Therefore when speaking of the conservation of the ecosystem we should not only be concerned about the preservation of flora and fauna in its totality, but also about their regeneration. Through his eight-fold path, Buddha was not only aware about preservation but he also emphasised on regeneration.
Confucianism and Taoism
Confucianism traces its origin back to 6th Century B.C. with Confucius. He stressed a way of life which looked into the past for a guide to behaviour in the present. Virtues, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and sincerity are basic ethical principles of Confucianism. Confucius’ teachings encouraged human beings to live in ordered social relationships, and to have “religious” reverence for all life. A place for every human being, and every human being in his or her place is the only way to achieve harmony. These ethical principles are found in the Book of Analects (Lun Yu): “Fix your mind on truth; hold firm to virtue; rely upon love-kindness; and find your recreation in the arts.” Confucianism teaches that human beings are not intended to overindulge. Preservation is a virtue:
“With coarse food to eat, water to drink, and bent arm for a pillow, happiness may still be found.” A human being’s relationship with his or her surroundings and the environment, then, is moderation.
Although not a religion, religious sanctions are alluded to in Confucianism in reference to Heaven: “Does Heaven ever speak? The four seasons come and go, and all creatures thrive and grow. Does Heaven ever speak?” and “He who does not recognise the existence of a Divine Law cannot be a superior man [sage].”
Confucian humanism then understands human beings, not only from a human point of view, but also from a cosmic point of view. The full significance of a human being is found in the relationship to Heaven and Earth, realising the Heavenly endowed potential in the human. The sage is the person who fully realises his or her Heavenly endowed potential.
The Confucian sage is the person who truly practices “reciprocity”−“Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you” — not only in human and social contexts but also in the context of nature and the universe. In this respect, Confucian humanism is based on a reciprocal relationship with Heaven and Earth, nature and the universe. Reciprocity can be achieved when we become receptive. In this sense, a Confucian sage is a receptive person who is able to discern the signs of Heaven and Earth. The sage is the person who has developed the wisdom and art of seeing and listening in order to feel and be able to respond to Heaven and Earth.
The Taoists inherited from the Confucian tradition the idea of the “three spheres” of heaven, earth, and the human, which are intimately inter-fused with each other. The Taoist conception of creation is metaphysical: it is “Tao”, eternal and nameless. Yet, at the same time, it is “all-pervasive, eternal, life-sustaining, and nourishing.” Tao stands for the ultimate reality of nature. In Taoism there is a natural relationship between humans and nature. Humankind is viewed as a “member” of creation and is, therefore, without exception internally linked to the Tao as well as to everything else. A human being receives no special place from Tao; thus, homocentrism is an alien thing in the Taoist axiological ordering of beings. As well, human beings are considered to be endowed with intellect, and thus quite capable of living in harmony with nature. In Taoist thinking this means that there is no unbridgeable chasm between the two. They are interconnected. The extent of Taoist harmony between human being and nature reaches down to the smallest of creatures, even insects and crawling things, herbs and trees may not be injured.
Uncontrolled attitudes to nature can only result in disharmony and hurtful results. Anyone who tries to do things in violation of this interconnectedness is doomed to failure. In order to prevent such transgressions, the Taoist books refer to two classes of officials whose duties were concerned with preservation and conservation. One is Shan-yu, inspector of mountains, and the other, Lin-heng, inspector of forests. These officials, through their protective duties, enforced conservation practices by admonishing, for example, what trees could be cut, by whom and when, and warned against the consequences of deforestation.
The regulation of nature also finds its philosophical roots in an appreciation of nature and in feelings of painful sentiment which arise out of the senseless destruction of nature. An ancient compendium of songs, the Shi Ching, contains such lines about trees torn up by “cruel brigands” and “no one knew of their crime”, and of trees being so lovely that they were not even looked to for firewood.
Chinese ancient religions or philosophies, then, present an image of human beings in harmony with, and sympathetic to, nature. Whatever harm humankind does to nature inevitably creates human being’s own self destruction because of the interconnectedness between the two life systems.
It is difficult to give a definition to Shinto for it does not have a founder. It seems to be originally a common feeling of the Japanese people. Shinto is a culture rather than a religion. Shinto had been formed little by little based on ancient feelings and folk beliefs. Being influenced by the rule of the Emperors, the aristocrats and Samurai, some practices and attitudes like expressing deep and sincere gratitude towards the work of gods by praying, has produced ceremonies and content for the Shinto faith.
Although Shinto doesn’t really have its own specific doctrines and scripture, it is believed that there are gods in all things in the universe and people have worshipped these gods in their excellence and celebrated several festivals in their honour. Humans and gods are strongly connected. Moreover, gods lead people in this world and therefore people must live under their guidance.
Humans receive the life from gods and are regarded as sacred as well. That is why people must respect their individuality, each other and must cooperate with one another.
As a basic way of life according to Shinto, one must stay clean, happy and honest in as much as possible. People must have Makoto, i.e., people must see gods in their life and being connected with gods, live with sincerity and humbleness. Shinto establishes a harmonious integrity that come from the Emperor’s empire and directed to the local deities. This concept of the unity of various powers gave way to open the minds of the people in accepting the different thoughts and cultures that came from other countries. And so this has been a Japanese way of thinking with regards to coexistence with others as well.
From a Shinto perspective of the world, the word “nature” is identified with anything that exists in the universe. For Shinto “nature” means “the essence of existence” or “anything that exists in its pure state, hence untouched and uninfluenced”. In other words, nature is not an abstract existence but a concrete one.
In the ancient books of Shinto for example, “Universe” is defined as “the infinite space and time continuing from the past to the future.” Sometimes it refers to the ground world. There is also another expression, “heaven and earth” that means a concrete space composed of ground and heavenly worlds. Therefore in Shinto, the concrete world is the major premise.In the classic book of Shinto, the universe consists of three vertical layers: Takama no hara (plain of high heaven – the kami’s world), Ashihara no Nakatsukuni (middle land – the present world) and
Yomi no kuni (Hades – the world after death). These three vertical layers are not considered separated but are connected through Amano mihashirawhich is believed to be the centre of the world.They also categorised time in three layers: the former life (zense), this life (gense) and the future life (raise). These on the other hand are considered separated, although it is believed that spirits can communicate and move. Having these concepts intact, in Shintoism, it can be concluded that from the very beginning, the gods were just hiding somewhere and decided to appear as gods at the right time and at the very exact moment as they did. In Shinto however, the existence of the world was spiritual and not created by God. Its essence appeared as many different Gods. To follow on that,
Izanagini no mikoto (deity born of the seven divine generations) and Izanami no mikoto(goddess of creation and death) got married and gave birth to the Japanese Islands and its people (as mentioned earlier). Gods appointed Amaterasu omikami (sun goddess) at the centre and let her rule the country. Therefore, Shinto believed that Japan is the only existing world at that time.
Shinto always does not consider the world in a general sense (the whole existence of world), but in a particular sense (Japan). Shinto tries to believe in concrete existence, to recognise the existence concretely and individually.
In Shinto it is believed that gods, humans and every creature are all connected and inseparable and if ever this connection is cut, it will result in chaos. Therefore, for the Shinto, it is very important that all creatures should learn to live harmoniously with each other and in accordance and as a reflection of Gods in order to obtain a peaceful and prosperous life.
In reference to ecology, the ancient people of Japan lived in harmony with nature. This is because they thought that all things come from nature. Because nature sustained life, they respected nature. Moreover they knew well which parts of nature they could or could not touch. The parts of nature that people could not touch are the top of the mountain, riverside, seaside and hillside, which are protected by the Shinto shrines and temples located there. As a result, these temples and shrines took measures to prevent nature from destruction.
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