Why do tribal peoples regard the tropical forests as God's cathedral?

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  1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
    MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years ago

    I have lived and worked with Philippine tribes for more than five years and observed their spiritual connection and respect for the forest.
    I was in awe when an elder told me one day that the animals, birds and insects daily sing their praises to "D'wata" (God) and therefore consider the forests as sacred.
    I was once stuck in a desolate road during my photography assignment in Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario and was forced to sit out while waiting for CAA. With nothing but the forest around me, I listened to the sound of birds and wildlife and realized what the tribal elder told me. "The forest is God's cathedral where insects, birds and wildlife sing praises to their creator." Perhaps, if we give due reverence to the forest, the "God" of creation may help save us from floods, soil erosion, climate change and other environmental disasters.
    What do you think?

    1. pylos26 profile image72
      pylos26posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I don/t think so...some arrogant delusional missionary done went and put the word in their heads. really sad.

      1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
        MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        What is sad about this concept? Tribal peoples who lived in the hinterlands and forested areas have lived harmoniously with their forest environment for centuries and showed much respect for the trees, rivers, lakes and other animate and inanimate species of the forest.
        They believed that the trees, rivers. lakes and the land are their brothers and sisters.
        North American natives also have similar beliefs since time immemorial.

        1. alternate poet profile image67
          alternate poetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          What is sad about this concept ?   It is the babbling arrogance of lesser people to attribute beliefs to your delusion of a god.  Most of the worlds people have a 'spiritual' side that reflects on our being in the Universe, only modern 'religions' are founded on the mass stupidity of the personification of metaphysical concepts.  To have a respect and 'oneness' with natural things is nothing to do with god.  The 'native' words do not translate into 'god' - they clearly and unambiguously translate into 'nature' or the 'spirit of nature' - only christians try to replace the true meaning with their own - but then, that is how christianity itself works so . . .

          1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
            MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Thanks for the input into this forum. Let me ask you these: A)" Are native peoples lesser people because they have respect and 'oneness' with their natural environment?" B) Are modern religions founded on the mass stupidity of the personification of metaphysical concepts?" Your words not mine.
            What is "God" to China may be different to the "God" of India. What is "God" to Christians in the West may have a different name to the "God" of other faiths. And persoally, I wont dare call myself greater than these other peoples of other continents.
            We may not agree on certain points but I do appreciate your  insightful comments.
            By the way, where do correct ideas or concepts come from? "Does it fall from the sky?"

            1. alternate poet profile image67
              alternate poetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              You ask a lot of questions - most of them are already answered in my post above.

              It is quite clear that by lesser people I am referring to those who are unable to grasp that the god of their books is a metaphysical concept and not a 'thing' - something native peoples can do almost wihtout exception.

              1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
                MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Thanks for  your explanation. Now I understand what you were trying to say.

    2. profile image0
      sandra rinckposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I think it sounds nice and a bit like Avatar but I think the best we can do as a whole to help protect us from floods, soil erosion, climate change and other environmental disasters would be to lessen the impact we have on the Earth.

      We could replant the trees we take down, clean up the pollution in the water, limit the amount of carbon pollution that get's released into the air from big polluting companies as well as take small steps in the amount of waste we produce such as recycle, reduce, reuse, you have heard it all before.

      Other things we can do to help protect ourselves would be to build better systems.  Switch to Clean Energy etc... Nothing we can possibly do will ensure that no one ever has to get killed by natural disasters again and no amount of praying to any god is going to change it for us.

      The things we wish for, we have in our control to some degree, so we have to 'do' not pray. Of course if it makes you feel better  while 'doing', then pray  and pray away but I am certain that the 'doing' part is more effective.

      1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
        MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks for these suggestions Sandra. I may not have realized the similarity but the more I replied to many posts,  the more I am reminded of "Avatar" the movie.
        However,  I am more inclined to think about it in terms of my own experience which predates the release of the James Cameron movie. There is in fact a T'boli epic about the mythical hero Tudbulol who rides a white flying horse during epic battles which is sang for 24 hours during the Lemlunay ( T'boli term for Paradise) festival by Mendung Bensawan, a T'boli poet in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines which reminds me of the Avatar movie (again).
        Going back to your post, I am amenable to the idea of clean and renewable energy, reforestation, cleaning up pollution etc. However, there are corporations who profit from plundering and polluting the environment not only in the Gulf of Mexico but in many underdeveloped countries like the Philippines. I must admit there are huge obstacles to overcome.
        I am happy, though, that there are people like you who understand the importance of doing something good for Mother Earth.
        Beside the Avatar movie, the BBCs "Planet Earth" documentary and others there are many moving stories we can  get inspiration from even in 1854 in which Chief Seattle of the Duwamish tribe from Washington State wrote to the American President in response to a request by the government to buy the Indian lands and relocate the tribe on a reservation.
        The text written over one hundred and thirty years ago has a prophetic ring about it. Chief Seattle's letter might help spark within us a similar sense of compassion for all things and a realization that everything is interconnected. He warned us a long, long time past that we tamper with it at our own peril.
        With my best wishes. Happy reading.

  2. profile image0
    klarawieckposted 12 years ago

    "In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beasts, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and the moon should man learn.... all things tell of Tirawa."

    Eagle Chief (Letakots-Lesa) late 19th century - Pawnee

    1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
      MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing this klarawieck.

    2. hanging out profile image59
      hanging outposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      and yet strangely odd when the God of the bible speaks through people no one believes. Yet this animal talk is okie dokie.

      1. profile image0
        klarawieckposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Ah! Hanging out... it might be because it's human nature to exagerate and to lie. "The more I know people, the more I love my dog!"

        1. hanging out profile image59
          hanging outposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          dogs never lie, its true!
          i look up i see God
          i look down i see my dog

          1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
            MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            When I posed my question as to "Why tribal peoples regard the forest as God's cathedral?" I have no inkling as to the scope and magnitude of my question in this forum. I have mentioned the Tboli "D'wata" (God) and creation based on my personal experieince.
            After reading such rich and diverse comments I feel I have the urgent need to define my own perspective to this religious and philosophical question. My apologies for my shortsightedness. So let me go back to the question of caring for the earth and our responsibility as humans and people of various religious or agnostic beliefs.
            We, in the Western world  who are identified with the Christian religious beliefs have a very destructive perspective and feel that we are 'superior to nature', contemptuos of it and are prone and willing to use it for our slightest whim.
            However, Rene Dubos, the renowned ecologist and microbiologist also "maintains that almost every civilizations - Chinese, Greek, Romans, Aztec and even Hindu Indian and Budhist Southeast Asian - abused their environment to some degree by deforestation and overintensive grazing."
            So where does this arrogance and contempt for nature bring us? I hope to hear what you think we should do about the environmental and ecological problems we are all facing right now.

        2. Beelzedad profile image57
          Beelzedadposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Are you sure it's human nature? Seems that the only ones who exaggerate or lie are those who are steeped in myths and superstitions. smile

          1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
            MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Thanks for this very intriguing and interesting comment.  It is fascinating to know that you truly believe that only people who are "steeped in myths and superstitions" are the "only liars" or their superstition or myths should now be considered as "lies". Hmmm...I wonder what other hub readers have to say about this ?

            1. Beelzedad profile image57
              Beelzedadposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              It isn't anything necessary to believe, the hard evidence is on these forums for you to read yourself. smile

  3. Mighty Mom profile image79
    Mighty Momposted 12 years ago

    These people have obviously not been corrupted into worshiping money and power.

    1. dutchman1951 profile image60
      dutchman1951posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      agree totaly

      1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
        MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I say "Aye" to you both Mighty Mom and dutchman1951.

  4. schoolgirlforreal profile image81
    schoolgirlforrealposted 12 years ago

    well it's very nice to appreciate God's creation and beauty and enjoy it
    but giving praise to "it" would be wrong, we should give praise to the Creator of it.

    1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
      MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Point well taken. I'm amenable to your keen observation schoogirlforreal.

    2. kerryg profile image85
      kerrygposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I'm agnostic, so I'm obviously biased here, but it seems to me that giving praise to some invisible guy up in the sky who may or may not actually exist is just a distraction from the main point, which is that intact forests offer tangible benefits to every single person on this forum every single day of our lives and because so many of us are preoccupied with the invisible sky guy and the illusion of wealth and various other religious and secular gods, most of us don't realize it, so we're destroying the forests at a rate of millions of acres a year, and with it everything they do for us.

      Do we think the invisible sky guy is just going to wave his hand and the land will be covered with trees again, so we can start cutting them back down again? If your children deliberately break a toy and then come sobbing to you for another, do you give it to them?

      1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
        MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I do understand your perspective. You are right when you say we're destroying the forest at an alarming rate. The forest gives us life, food, source of  clean water and sustained native peoples for countless generations around the world. Therefore, we must protect and ensure that they remain healthy and productive for all creatures.
        A native Indian Chieftain once said:  " We don't inherit  the earth from our parents. We borrow it from our children."
        I am not sure if there is this invisible guy up there, either. But the 'D'wata'
        of the tribal peoples is the spirit that guides them. Who are we to say they have no right to their beliefs?

        1. kerryg profile image85
          kerrygposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I don't know anything about the 'D'wata' specfically, but based on the tribal religions I am familiar with to some degree, there is a difference that I think is key. The tribal religions I know of tend to consider humans special, but still essentially one equal part of a vast creation. They might take life to sustain their own, but they give thanks for it, sometimes very elaborately. In some cases, this is extended even to inanimate things such as rocks and water.

          Most of the current dominant religions on the planet, on the other hand, regard humans as being distinctly separate from all other life on earth, and barely give a second thought to anything inanimate. In some cases, including all three of the Judeo-Christian religions, which collectively make up more than half the world's population, humans are specifically given dominion over other creatures.

          I think this is the root of the problem. I've read some beautifully argued essays by Christian and Jewish environmentalists talking about concepts such as husbandry, but the fact still remains that the tribes have it right: humans are special, but we are fundamentally just one strand in the web of life, no more and no less. By claiming dominion over other living things, we make their destruction inevitable, and thereby ensure our own.

          1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
            MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Your last paragraph touched on the misinterpretation of the Genesis. But there is a distinction between the correct and incorrect interpretation of this biblical passage. I am of the belief that due to the cooptation of Christianity by the Roman Empire and its imperialist tendencies at that time the “Stewardship of Creation” has been supplanted by “Having Dominion over other living things”. The result of which is the destructive influences of human civilizations which you correctly stated.
            I would like to bring your attention to the United Nations World Charter for Nature. The Charter states that (A) Mankind is part of nature and life depends on the uninterrupted functioning of natural systems which ensure the supply of energy and nutrients. (B) Civilization is rooted in nature, which has shaped human culture and influenced all artistic and scientific achievement, and living in harmony with nature gives man the best opportunity for his creativitiy, and for rest and recreation.
            The document then calls for a moral code to guide human interaction with the natural world. A) Every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to man, and to accord other organisms such recognition, man must be guided by a moral code of action. B) Man can alter nature and exhaust natural resources by his action or its consequences, and, therefore must fully recognize the urgency of maintaining the stability and quality of nature and of conserving natural resources.
            The Charter proposed two important general principles 1). “That nature shall be respected and its essential process shall not be impaired.” 2). “The genetic viability of the Earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all forms, wild and domesticated, must be, at least, sufficient for their survival, and to this end necessary habitats shall be safeguarded.” (To Care for the Earth, Sean McDonagh).
            One of my most memorable experience while working with tribal peoples was rescuing a wounded Philippine eagle ( protected as threatened species and declared as national bird) from being sold at the blackmarket or cooked as food by a poor fisherman in Lake Sebu. After reasonable negotiations and getting in touch with the conservation authorities, the eagle was brought back to its healthy state and I was tasked to release it to the forest. To touch, grasp and release a live eagle which is perhaps the largest eagle in the world is a rare opportunity. It was an unforgetable experience since the eagle represented the top of the food chain and respresents the barometer of the health of the ecosystems in the tropical forest of Mindanao and the entire Philippines.

  5. salt profile image61
    saltposted 12 years ago

    I spent part of last week trying to save a peice of native bushland that went for a roadway. It was a pretty special peice of land, both historically and naturally. I learnt so much from the people around me and we had to stand and watch the trees felt.

    On the Tuesday, there were over 80 police for 30 protesters. One boy went up a tree and we are so proud of the good role model he was with his calm, strong character. He was a role model for the workers and police who observed a man who stood by his principles and stood up for what he believed.

    I didnt want to be arrested as it can upset travel - I will get better legal advice regarding this in the future and need to build some strength, both physically and mentally. Its not easy standing up to these people paid to allow this to happen.

    Ive also had to stop a few times in the past few weeks and tonight, watched as a couple of rosellas or lorikeets ate their dinner from a flowering eucalypt. Which, in Australia is their food source. If we keep destroying our native bushland, we loose so many species specific to our part of the world.

    And at the lights the other day, the bee that flew in the window, Im sure heard me when I told him he had to get out before the lights changed, or he'd be lost. He moved to the window and I opened it and he flew out.
    As a side note, I kept having bees around me and it was wonderful. I think they like me and understand my feelings about Monsanto and the effects of genetically modified crops on the food chain.

    1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
      MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for sharing. Writers like you are, indeed, the salt of this forum. Like salt you give flavour and substance to this forum. You described your experience and observation in a way that kept me captivated to read on.
      The struggle to save a "piece of native bushland.The lorikeets eating a flowering eucalypt, a food source for the rosellas. The bee that flew in the window. And yes, Monsanto and the effects of genetically modified crops on the food chain."
      High Five! Way to go "salt".

  6. rebekahELLE profile image84
    rebekahELLEposted 12 years ago

    I often wonder the same thing. But from what I've surmised, a lot of it is nothing but a political statement. I studied a lot about the rainforests while teaching and was amazed to find out how much we need them. Food, medicine, oxygen are all resources we can't live without. they remove carbon dioxide from the air and help to balance the ecosystem. besides their beauty and exotic animals and insects which all play a part in maintaining the health of the rainforests.  young children can understand why they are important. I don't know why some adults shrug their shoulders, although I do know part of it is lack of education and understanding as to their necessary role on our planet.
    I prefer listening in the cathedral of the woods over some man telling me how to live. smile

    here is something I have used in class, but adapted to younger children.  It is 5 ways to help, and easy to remember from the word TREES.
        * Teach others about the importance of the environment and how they can help save rainforests.
        * Restore damaged ecosystems by planting trees on land where forests have been cut down.
        * Encourage people to live in a way that doesn't hurt the environment.
        * Establish parks to protect rainforests and wildlife.
        * Support companies that operate in ways that minimize damage to the environment.

  7. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
    MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years ago

    Thanks for your wonderful poem about "Trees" rebekahELLE. In the past decade, many individuals and groups have begun to wake up to destructive influence of humans, profit hungry corporations, genetic modification (genetic engineering) and a host of others. Rachel Carson’s book the Silent Spring published in 1962 raised a cry about the toxic effects of chemicals used in agriculture.
    Anthropologist Sean McDonagh in his book to Care for the Earth wrote, “It is essential for the well-being of the planet Earth that we give up our exploitative ways and move into a more ecologically harmonious relationship with the Earth.”
    The BBC series on Planet Earth, a compilation of HD and Blue Ray DVDs is a valuable tool in the understanding of the value of the Earth’s finite resources.
    It is important that we continue to reflect, discuss and act on the environmental and ecological challenges confronting our one and only home and source of life – Earth. We owe it to the future generations and we must act today.
    To go back to the my first question, "Why do tribal peoples regard the forest as God's cathedral?" listen to the sounds of the forest cathedral or place your arms around a huge tree and listen to its 'heartbeat'. Goodluck!

  8. rebekahELLE profile image84
    rebekahELLEposted 12 years ago

    the 'Trees' is not my creation, it is part of an education teaching tool for elementary school students. I thought it may help others. smile thanks. [I do have a poem about trees, though.]

    1. MercuryNewsOnline profile image61
      MercuryNewsOnlineposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks rebekahELLE. I like to get a copy of your poem about trees. Send it to my email: canadianworkplace@gmail.com. I do appreciate your concern and environmentally friendly articles.


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