Cosmic Communion as the message of the East – Sebastian Painadath, SJ

In the encyclical Laudato Si of Pope Francis, we hear a refrain: “Everything is interconnected” (138) “Everything is related to everything else” (92). We are parts of a cosmic network (139). This ecological vision of the pope resonates well with the perception of the ancient Asian sages. The Vedic rishis perceived in the cosmos a percolating stream of life which they called rta. Later it was conceived as Brahman and Atman: the vibrant divine energy in the universe. They looked at the cosmic space as a sacred ambience in which everything is related to everything else in a divine relationship. Hence they could look at the earth as the mother (Atharva Veda 12.1.12) the sky as the father (Rigveda 10.189.1) and the life-giving elements of nature as divine channels (deva). A culture of deep respect and gratitude is the outcome of this ecological spirituality.

In Buddhism too the entire cosmos is perceived as a dynamic whole in which there is a tremendous vibration (sunyata). In this cosmic flow everything is intrinsically related to everything else (pratīta-samudpāda). The resultant ethics is characterized by a loving compassion (karuna). “As a mother would be affectionate towards her only child, so too you should be kind to all creatures everywhere” (Khuddakapatha Mettasutta). In the Taoist tradition the binding force in the cosmos is called Tao, which relates everything with everything else in a cosmic communion.

In the encyclical Laudato Si of Pope Francis, we hear a refrain: “Everything is interconnected” (138) “Everything is related to everything else” (92). We are parts of a cosmic network (139). This ecological vision of the pope resonates well with the perception of the ancient Asian sages. The Vedic rishis perceived in the cosmos a percolating stream of life which they called rta. Later it was conceived as Brahman and Atman: the vibrant divine energy in the universe. They looked at the cosmic space as a sacred ambience in which everything is related to everything else in a divine relationship. Hence they could look at the earth as the mother (Atharva Veda 12.1.12) the sky as the father (Rigveda 10.189.1) and the life-giving elements of nature as divine channels (deva). A culture of deep respect and gratitude is the outcome of this ecological spirituality.

In Buddhism too the entire cosmos is perceived as a dynamic whole in which there is a tremendous vibration (sunyata). In this cosmic flow everything is intrinsically related to everything else (pratīta-samudpāda). The resultant ethics is characterized by a loving compassion (karuna). “As a mother would be affectionate towards her only child, so too you should be kind to all creatures everywhere” (Khuddakapatha Mettasutta). In the Taoist tradition the binding force in the cosmos is called Tao, which relates everything with everything else in a cosmic communion.

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