Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk, is an activist and educator who has studied both Eastern religions and Western economics and cultures. He writes that recognizing a benevolent universe helps us participate in the flow of generosity:
We live in a benevolent universe. . . .
The benevolence of the soil is endless; it helps one single seed to multiply into millions of seeds for hundreds of years, producing colourful, aromatic, juicy and delicious fruit, feeding birds, bees, humans and animals. The tree celebrates the benevolence of the soil and becomes benevolent in return, offering its fruit to whoever is in need, without condition and without judgement. . . .
The benevolence of the sun is beyond the capacity of words to describe. It burns itself to maintain life. . . . It provides conditions for photosynthesis for the whole plant kingdom to nourish itself and give nourishment to bacteria, insects, birds and animals.
The moon is benevolent. It maintains the cycle of life and cycle of time. Time and tide are sustained by its presence. . . .
Rain is benevolent. It . . . delivers itself to every farm, field, forest, mountain and human habitat, free of charge, without needing any external supply of energy. It moistens the soil, quenches the thirst, fills rivers, ponds, lakes and wells and in partnership with the sun it feeds the world. . . .
Air is benevolent. We breathe, therefore we are. Air is related to the spirit, to inspiration, to spirituality. . . . Air is breath of Brahman, breath of the universe, breath of God. In Sanskrit air is prana, which means life itself. . . .
Space is benevolent. All and everything is held in space and by space. All movements, all changes and every kind of dynamism are sustained in the stillness of space. We always need to be mindful of reducing our clutter and maintaining spaciousness in order to be detached and free.
Soul is benevolent. Compassion, kindness, generosity and inner luminosity are the qualities of the soul. Mind, intelligence, and consciousness are held in and processed by soul. Soul is the seed of life. Feelings, emotions, sentiments, intuition and reason pass through soul and manifest in the world. . . . It is not only humans who have soul; animals, birds, insects and microbes have soul. Soil, trees, rocks and rivers have soul. . . .
The world is how you see it and what you make of it. If you look at the world with benevolent eyes, the world reciprocates with benevolence. If you project suspicion and self-interest, you get the same in return. Trust begets trust and fear begets fear. Recognizing the benevolence of the universe is not to deny the shadow side, but seeing nature as red in tooth and claw and people as selfish and greedy makes us respond in similar vein. If we sow seeds of malevolence, malevolence will grow; if we sow seeds of benevolence, benevolence will grow.
Satish Kumar, Soil, Soul, Society: A New Trinity for Our Time (Brighton, UK: Leaping Hare Press, 2017), 160, 161–162, 163.
Explore Further. . .
- Read CAC teacher Barbara Holmes on indigenous cosmologies.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled – Sandia Mountains (detail), 2022, photograph, Albuquerque, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge photo.
Image Inspiration: when i began photographing birds during the pandemic it was meant to fuel a creative need. as i continued it began to fuel a life need, a missing connection to nature. i not only felt a need to see different birds but to see the change in nature around me. a connection to my own heritage – wondering again and again if my ancestors roamed the same fields, came across the same animals or took meditation in the same plots. —Benjamin Yazza (photographer), Albuquerque, New Mexico
Story from Our Community:
I’m inspired to live the truth of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Therese writes that when she read about the lives of the saints, they were full of great deeds and important people. She knew that she was too small to do great things, and so she decided to do little things with great love. Every day, I have opportunity to do little things: forgive someone who was rude, forgive someone who hurt me, and of course, forgive myself. —Catherine F.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.