HAF Participates in First Yeoju Ecoforum: Interfaith Dialogue on Ecological Civilization

Washington, DC (October 7, 2019) — Last week Hindu American Foundation Director of Communications Mat McDermott traveled to Yeoju, Korea to speak and present on Hinduism and ecology at the first Yeoju Ecoforum Interfaith Dialogue on Ecological Civilization.

Taking place at the SunValley Hotel from October 3-5 and sponsored by Yeoju City, the Institute for the Postmodern Development of China, Daejin University, and Daesoon Jinrihoe, the event brought together leading religious leaders and scholars to gather constructive wisdom on how to deal with our urgent ecological crises and discuss how we can help foster a new ecologically-minded civilization.

In addition to giving opening remarks in the plenary, McDermott chaired and presented in a panel on the role of independent spiritual practitioners. Speaking there on the role that practicing bhakti yoga can having in building ecological awareness, McDermott said:

“If we truly believe that all of the world around us is Divine, that all of our interactions are with manifestations of Divinity, and make the effort to remember this as often as we can, then all of our actions can become acts of devotion, acts of worship, expressions of bhakti.

“This has particular importance to developing and deepening our connection to the natural world around us — to our landscape, to the seasons, to the other animals and lifeforms with which we share this planet. If we see these all as aspects and manifestations of Divinity, all playing their part in a great divine play then we can engage with them in a more loving, more reverential, spiritual, and considered way.

“With this attitude all of our life becomes absorbed in devotion in a very practical and simple way.

“Even activities that aren’t generally seen as religious or spiritual in any way can become so when seen through a lens of devotion and omnipresent Divinity."

Reporting back to the plenary after his panel , speaking to a packed room of some 150 people, McDermott noted:

“I firmly believe if we learn to deeply love and embody gratitude for the natural world, each of us in our own way, that many of our current ecological challenges — challenges which many speakers over the past two days have reminded us are truly threatening the future of our current civilization — become far easier to solve. If each us individually cultivates this sort of devotion towards the natural world, upon which we are entirely dependent, we become more thoughtful in our lifestyles, more considerate in how these things may be damaging our shared home.”

Read more:

The Yeoju Eco-Forum Declaration

Bhakti yoga as a foundational eco-spiritual practice