Deep Ecology Education: Learning from its Vaisnava Roots

Martin Haigh

Abstract


Deep ecology arises from the personal intuition that one’s self is part of the world’s environmental wholeness. This awareness may be constructed upon scientific foundations but it is more commonly thought a spiritual concept. Deep ecology pedagogy emerges from its three-step process of ecological Self-realization. This paper traces the roots of the ecological Self through the work of deep ecology’s founder, Arne Naess, and his studies of Gandhian philosophy to its foundations in Gandhi’s Vaisnava religion. These foundations include the Vaisnava goal of Self-realization, and the scriptural three steps of Lord Vishnu and His Vamana avatar. Vaisnava ethics such as humility, non-harming, non-possession, simple living, and devotional service helped inspire the Gandhian political economy of permanence called sarvodaya, which still influences thinking in the environment and peace movements.

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