Photo courtesy of Witty Sandle

If you think contemplative ecology is exclusively a Christian orientation, you’d be mistaken. Understandably so, insofar as the perspective developed across this website is very much issuing from contemplative Christianity. There is alot of truth to that connection because “contemplative” is a significant and ancient tradition within Christianity, and so there is likely to often be strong overlap. But “contemplative ecology” is used by others, too, in non-Christian senses, and this is more important than any proprietary or exclusivist claims to ownership. Contemplation, like ecology, is not owned by anyone, but something that is shared, a universal possibility. Properly practiced and understood, contemplative ecology owns us rather than the other way around!

Here are two examples of contemplative ecology that are not Christian, both of which used the phrase “contemplative ecology” in the years before Douglas Christie’s use of it in 2012:

1. Metta Earth Institute: a Center for Contemplative Ecology

The Metta Earth Institute in Vermont, USA, draws upon Buddhist and Hindu traditions, particularly yoga. “Metta” is a Pali word meaning “active compassion” or “loving-kindness” – so “Metta Earth” means practicing loving-kindness toward the Earth. In its self-description on the website, the Metta Earth Institute “is an educational retreat center integrating contemplative practice, deep ecology, regenerative food systems, and social activism to create resilient community.” Established in 2007 on a 158 acre land base, it has established programs and practices that embody the integration of those diverse components, and has developed from its “institute” status further into a farm and community (and, an inspiration for our own “Institute for Contemplative Ecology” as an established, mature, beautiful realization of a vision).

Contemplative Ecology is defined by the Metta Earth Institute as “the integration of yoga, meditation, and other contemplative practices with pathways for ecologically sustainable, and even thriveable lifeways.” 

2. The Natural Contemplative

A second example is John Crockett’s contemplative ecology (a land-based initiative also, coincidentally, based in Vermont), which takes a mystical approach not derived from any particular religious tradition to argue that direct, unmediated experience of the natural world is one of deep unity that transcends the ego. In Crockett’s words on his website, “contemplation is a relationship with unfathomable reality”. Like the Institute for Contemplative Ecology and the Metta Earth Center for Contemplative Ecology, the acres of land are the setting for workshops, retreats, and programs. Unlike either, and perhaps owing to its non-religious understanding of contemplation, there is a very strong emphasis on music, insofar as contemplation as a practice of listening and stillness, invites hearing the natural music of land, elements, and animals within the ecological manifold.

©2024 | Website by

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?