Global Citizens of a Living Earth
Interview with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
On February 19, 2015, Rhonda Fabian interviewed Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee for Kosmos Journal.
Kosmos: What teaching from Sufism is most relevant for world leaders to hear at this time?
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee: The central Sufi teaching of the unity of being—that all of creation is an expression and manifestation of an inner unity—is the most important mystical teaching at this time. The oneness, which the mystic knows in the depths of the heart and also experiences reflected in the outer world, needs to become central to a world at present driven by divisiveness. Only when we work together from an understanding of living unity will be able to evolve beyond many of the problems that cause suffering in the world today. And together with oneness is the importance of service.
Selfless service is a foundational spiritual quality that is necessary to help humanity at this time of transition. Any real “leader” is one who is in service to the needs of the whole.
However we have to acknowledge the forces of greed and exploitation—of “me” as opposed to “we”—that stand in the way of such an evolutionary shift. We cannot afford to be idealists, but need to recognize the political realities and vested interests of the present time, even as we seek a more sustainable and just world. For this reason I do not see much real hope from today’s world leaders, who are too much a product of, and dependent upon, the present industrial/consumerist system that advocates continued economic growth, despite this being unrealistic and unsustainable.
Kosmos: What does it mean today to be a ‘global citizen’ of a ‘living Earth’?
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee: To be a “global citizen” is first to acknowledge the oneness and interdependence of all of creation. Only from a consciousness of oneness can we participate in the healing and transformation of the living Earth that is so vitally needed at this time, otherwise we will just continue to manifest the symptoms of separation. It is our ideology of being separate from the Earth, that it is a “resource to be exploited,” that has created our present ecological devastation and crisis of climate change.
Acting from a place of oneness we need to return to a conscious relationship with the Earth as a living being rather than dead matter, which our ancestors understood as having a soul, anima mundi, as its indwelling spiritual consciousness. When we remember our relationship with the Earth as a sacred being we can work together with the forces within nature, the primal powers of creation that shamans and indigenous peoples have long understood as central to our shared well-being. We can no longer afford to ignore or reject this inner dimension of life.
Being a global citizen of a living Earth is to return to the ‘great conversation’ with all of its many inhabitants, in both its inner and outer worlds. We can no longer live in isolation, alienated from the very planet that supports and nourishes us both physically and spiritually. We need to learn once again how to respect and listen to the Earth, to its ancient wisdom and spiritual depths. The Earth can teach us how to live in harmony and oneness as part of the great web of life. Once again we can learn how to walk in a sacred manner, experience her wonder and mystery, care for her soul as well as her soil.