Creators of Peace in New South Wales hosted Dr Ben-Zion Weiss, social and spiritual ecologist, at a Zoom event on Saturday 6 February. His talk addressed the theme of ‘Peace with the Earth’, inspired by the work of scientist and environmentalist Dr Vandana Shiva, recipient of the 1993 Right Livelihood Award (the alternative Nobel) and many other awards, including, in 2010, the Sydney Peace Prize.
Drawing on his own rich tapestry of knowledge and experience in many spiritual and religious teachings, and his career as a social ecologist, Ben stated that we, as humanity, have lost our way with our arrogant desire to own land, unlimited greed, over-intensive farming, violence, control, and weapons of mass destruction—all of which are destroying land and ecosystems.
He explained how the study of our Earth shows our planet is grieving and crying out—through fires, floods, and climate change—and that we need to work with nature and ‘give’ to nature, rather than to keep taking. He highlighted that we are all interconnected with each other and with the Earth, and therefore that we all need to take care of each other and our Earth.
Ben, a proponent of Humanistic Judaism, recounted how he was once ‘at war within’ and had to search for his own inner peace before making peace with others and the Earth. His spiritual journey led him to look into Buddhism, Sufism, the Bhagavad Gita, Jewish Renewal, and Kabbalah. His search finally led to his PhD research on anti-racism drama-based learning, and to develop a theory of an ‘ecology of culture.’ He now facilitates dialogues in spiritual ecology, and leads Dances of Universal Peace. This work has led him to organise a number of retreats at Jamanee Gunya on the New South Wales south coast with Uncle Noel Butler, as well as leading a Jewish Desert Dreaming Journey at the invitation of the late Uncle Bob Randall, as a Kanyini experience.
Kanyini is the principle of connectedness through caring and practicing responsibility for all things, not only for our own home and locality, but wherever we are at any moment in time. Wherever we are, it is our responsibility to get to know that place and to care for it.
Ben left us with a clear understanding of how our First Nations people for thousands of years have respected the earth as their Mother, and that for us to make peace with the Earth requires of us to make peace with our First Nations people. He believes that our relationship between all humanity and the Earth is a spiritual one.
As Creators of Peace, he called on us to take peaceful steps upon the Earth, to revere it, and respect it. This in itself is a peace-building action. - Tanya Fox