Social and Spiritual Ecologist, Dr Ben-Zion Weiss, addressed the NSW CoP Network on Zoom on Saturday 6 February, addressing the theme ‘Peace with the Earth’, inspired by 2010 Sydney Peace Prize recipient, Dr Vandana Shiva, who has claimed that we’re living an ongoing war against Nature.
Drawing on his own rich tapestry of knowledge and experience in many spiritual and religious teachings, and his career as an Ecologist, Ben explained how humanity has lost our way with our arrogant desire to own land, with no limits to greed, over intensive farming, violence, control, weapons of mass destruction, etc etc., all destroying the land and nature.
He explained how Ecology, or the study of our home ‘earth’, shows how everything we do affects the whole eco system, and that our planet is grieving and crying out (e.g. fires, flood, climate change), and we need to ‘work with’ nature, to ‘give’ to nature, rather than ‘keep taking’ from nature. That we’re all interconnected with each other and with the earth, therefore we all need to take care of each other and our earth.
Ben, a declared Humanist Jew, shared how he was once at war within and had to search for his own inner peace before making peace with others and the earth. His spiritual journey led him to look into Buddhism, Sufism, the Gita, Jewish Renewal, Kabbalah, and finally led him to his PhD research on anti-racism drama-based learning, and develop a theory of an ‘ecology of culture’. He facilitates dialogues in ‘spiritual ecology’, leads Dances of Universal Peace, which led him to organise a number of retreats at Jamanee Gunya, with Uncle Noel Butler, as well as leading a Jewish Desert Dreaming Journey at the invitation of the late Uncle Bob Randall as a Kanyini experience, (Kanyini is the principle of connectedness through caring and practicing responsibility for all things, not just referring to our home, but wherever we are at any moment in time. Wherever we are, it is our responsibility to get to know that place and to care for it.)
Ben left us with a clear understanding of how our First Nations people for millions of years have respected the earth as their mother, and for us to make peace with the earth requires of us to make peace with our First Nations people. He believes that our relationship between all humanity and the earth is a spiritual one.
As Creators of Peace, he called on us to take peaceful steps upon the earth, to revere it, and respect it – This in itself is a peace-building action.
Tanya Fox 09.02.2021