3 6 S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 8 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 2 1 Introduction Each day, with growing urgency, the reality of the ecological crisis is confronting us everywhere, so much so that the World Health Organization has identified it as the “greatest threat to global health in the 21st century” (World Health Organization 2019). Consequently, millions of people around the world – one in eight individuals or 970 million people worldwide – live with mental illness (Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation 2022). The profound connection between self, other sentient beings, the environment, and Spirit has been recognized in all previous times and places. In the present day, the truth that “no man is an island” (Donne 1923, 98) and that all of existence is interconnected – consisting of an irreducible unity – is often ignored. However, the human psyche is an integral part of the web of life and its underlying cosmic order. With the heightened levels of alienation that we experience today, it is difficult to discern any apparent wholeness. Isolated and disconnected, the human psyche remains fractured, unable to find psychological health and well-being. The experience of being in our body and mind is intimately connected to what is going on in the world around us, and likewise, we are influenced at the psycho-somatic level by what occurs on earth. The word ecology derives from the Greek word oikos, meaning “home” or “dwelling”, and the Latin oeco or “household”. Thus ecology, in its truest sense, is the study of earth as our home. But what we see today is the very destruction of this home. Incidentally, the word economy, which has the same prefix as ecology, signifies the management of our home. If we explore the environmental crisis through the traditional ecological knowledge of the world’s cultures as informed by their spiritual traditions, it is not a great leap to see that anxiety and depression – even extreme states such as psychosis, suicidal ideation, sleep disorders, and other serious conditions that are so prevalent today – are a reflection of the plight of our terrestrial abode. The demise of the planet is reflected in the escalation of violence as mirrored in humanity today. Ronald David Laing (1927–1989) urged us to acknowledge: “If we can stop destroying ourselves, we may stop destroying others” (1972, 76). We might add that many of the somatic illnesses of the human body closely resemble what is happening to the body of the earth. Although we are rarely cognizant of the soul’s many facets and how these influence our thoughts and behavior with respect to ecological degradation, we must not forget our kinship with the earth. Any true therapy must acknowledge this affinity. The relationship between our human microcosm and the environment is arguably more perceptible today than in any previous era. One can stand in a busy megalopolis anywhere in the world and feel a pronounced sense of dislocation. Even when one is alone in nature, we can sense that all is not well – even in the midst of tranquility. Seyyed Hossein Nasr delivered his Rockefeller Foundation Lectures at the University of Chicago in May 1966, where he stated the following: “Because of the intimate connection between man and nature, the inner state of man is reflected in the external order” (1968, 96). The environment, both ecological and societal, is mirrored in the human being, and the person is correspondingly a mirror of society and the world that surrounds them. The relationship between the human psyche and the environment is difficult to fully discern given modernity’s repudiation of a cosmology and psychology grounded in the Sacred, i.e. , connected to an underlying metaphysical order. The tripartite structure of the human being – consisting of spirit, soul, and body – is mirrored in the spiritual, intermediary, and corporeal realms. The three fundamental degrees of manifestation – the formless, subtle, and gross – are ontologically present in both the microcosm and macrocosm. The soul is a mystery, as it is immersed in time while also being rooted in the timeless. The human psyche belongs to the intermediary realm between body and spirit, but it partakes of both dimensions. The environment is therefore inseparable from the soul, which, in turn, is rooted in higher degrees of manifestation, all of which comprise an irreducible wholeness. To fathom the ecological degradation, we find today requires a metaphysical understanding of the human soul, along with an ability to see an abiding unity between the environment and all sentient beings.