Monkey ForestA programme to consider values that would allow sustainable development of humankind was held at 43 Lancaster Gate in UPF - UK's Headquarters. It was an opportunity to present some of the ideas and initiatives of the Universal Peace Federation stemming from its Founder, Father Sun Myung Moon, while contemplating the beauty of nature and its inter-connectedness with humanity through the astounding video 'Home' by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and discussing these issues at length afterwards. Photo from Monkey Forest in Staffordshire UK; a reserve for the Barbary Macaques monkey that is on the endangered species list.

Quotes from sections that commented on the environment in 'A Peace Loving Global Citizen', the biography of Father Moon, were read out. 'As the environmental issues grow more serious, many environmental groups have sprung up. The best environmental movement, however, is the one that spreads love. People take care of things that belong to people they love. They do not, however, take care of or love the natural environment that God created. God gave this environment to humanity. It was His will that we use the environment to obtain food, to have it in abundance, and to experience the joy of living in the beauty of nature. Nature is not something to be used once and thrown away. Our descendants for many generations to come must be able to rely on it just as we have.

The three greatest challenges of modern society are solving pollution problems, creating a consciousness for protecting the environment, and increasing food production. If any one of these is neglected, humanity will become extinct. The earth has already been damaged extensively. Endless greed for material possessions has brought about serious air and water pollution that is destroying nature, including the ozone layer that protects us. If present trends continue, humanity will find itself destroyed by the traps of material civilization.'

The most powerful force in the world is love, and the most fearful thing is a mind and body united. If you quiet yourself  and focus your mind, there is a place deep down where the mind is able to settle. You need to let your mind go to that place. When you put your mind in that place and go to sleep, then when you awake you will be extremely sensitive. That is the moment when you should turn away all extraneous thoughts and focus your consciousness. Then you will be able to communicate with everything. If you don’t believe me, try it right now. Each life form in the world seeks to connect itself with that which gives it the most love. So if you have something that you don’t truly love, then your possession or dominion is false and you will be forced to give it up.

Spending time in the forest cleanses the mind. The sound of leaves rustling in the wind, the sound of the wind blowing through the reeds, the sound of frogs croaking in the ponds: All you can hear are the sounds of nature; no extraneous thoughts enter the mind. If you empty your mind and receive nature into your entire being, there is no separation between you and nature. Nature comes into you, and you become completely one with nature. In the moment that the boundary between you and nature disappears, you feel a profound sense of joy. Then nature becomes you, and you become nature.

I have always treasured such experiences in my life. Even now, I close my eyes and enter a state in which I am one with nature. Some refer to this as anātman, or “not-self,” but to me it is more than that, because nature enters and settles into the place that has been made empty. While in that state, I listen to the sounds that nature hands to me—the sounds of the pine trees, the sounds of the bugs—and we become friends. I could go to a village and know, without meeting anyone, the disposition of the minds of the people living there. I would go into the meadow of the village and spend the night there, then listen to what the crops in the fields would tell me. I could see whether the crops were sad or happy and that would tell me the kind of people who lived there.

You may ask, “What do you talk about with bugs?” Even the smallest grain of sand contains the principles of the world, and even a speck of dust floating in the air contains the harmony of the universe. Everything around us was given birth through a combination of forces so complex we cannot even imagine it. These forces are closely related to each other. Nothing in the universe was conceived outside the heart of God. The movement of just one leaf holds within it the breathing of the universe. 

From childhood, I have had a gift of being able to resonate with the sounds of nature as I roam around the hills and meadows. Nature creates a single harmony and produces a sound that is magnificent and beautiful. No one tries to show off and no one is ignored; there is just a supreme harmony. Whenever I found myself in difficulty, nature comforted me; whenever I collapsed in despair, it raised me back up. Children these days are raised in urban areas and don’t have opportunities to become familiar with nature, but developing sensitivity to nature is actually more important than developing our knowledge. What is the purpose of providing a university education to a child who cannot feel nature in his bosom and whose sensitivities are dull? The person separated from nature can gather book  knowledge here and there and then easily become an individualistic person who worships material goods.

We need to feel the difference between the sound of spring rain falling like a soft whisper and that of the autumn rain falling with pops and crackles. It is only the person who enjoys resonance with nature who can be said to have a true character. A dandelion blooming by the side of the road is more precious than all the gold in the world. We need to have a heart that knows how to love nature and love people. Anyone who cannot love nature or love people is not capable of loving God. Everything in creation embodies God at the level of symbol, and human beings are substantial beings created in the image of God. Only a person who can love nature can love God.

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