3.1 Spiritual love
Spiritual love
The basic spiritual principle of 'loving your enemies' and giving without selfish motives is found in all major religions.  Despite the differences, all religions share some very important, fundamental principles and goals, the highest of which is the realisation of spiritual love.  For our single word love' the ancient Greeks used several words in an effort to clarify love's various shades of meaning.  The distinguished, for example, between the romantic love shared between sexual partners, and the 'brotherly love' that exists among friends. The highest form of love to the Greeks is termed 'agape'.  Agape is love not directed towards a single person or a small group of friends, but toward all humanity even all creation.  As such is it the mainstay of the eight major world religions.
Many people are hungering for a greater connection with nature, and although agape can be traced through all religions it is commonly developed at the human level as a set of qualities including good will, kindness, forgiveness and compassion towards others.   It is only in the Native American tradition that agape is articulated as an over-arching belief system and spiritual heritage  that has a deep connection with nature and gratitude toward it.  From feast days that celebrate harvest to ceremonies that welcome the winter solstice, the earth is honored in many ways.  These deeply nature-based belief systems see the earth as the sacred mother who nurtures all her parts- plants, rocks, trees, animals, streams, humans- everything. We are related to everything on earth because we are an inextricable part of everything; the water, the air, and the minerals of the earth.
Most people, no matter what attitude they take to religion,  bring these spiritual perspectives of nature into our daily lives in many ways. Walking on the earth and feeling more peaceful, watching the birds in their cycles of life, or enjoying the changing beauty of the trees are ways we connect with nature. We may make our natural connections by appreciating a tree that we particularly enjoy, taking a special walk where we can experience the rhythm of nature, or sitting quietly on a solid rock bench. All these actions are sacred when we have appreciation for them. Our grateful attitude is a true gift to both ourselves and the natural world of which we are a part.
Icons of agape
For some, ostensible ruins and the remains of formerly widespread ecosystems, are sites for spiritual, mystical, or religious encounters.  They are places to experience mystery, moral regeneration, spiritual revival, meaning, oneness, unity, wonder, awe, inspiration, or a sense of harmony with the rest of creation–all essentially religious experiences.
These landmarks are also said to be places where one can come to an understanding of and engage in the celebration of the creation–an essentially religious activity. Hence, for people who think like this, designated nature conservation areas can and do serve as a sort of (or in lieu of) a church, mosque, tabernacle, synagogue, or cathedral. We should, then, no more destroy wilderness areas than we should raze Mecca or turn the Sistine Chapel into a giant grain silo. For some, wild places represent and reflect the various spiritual and religious values that they hold dear.
To go one step further, some even claim that since designated areas for nature conservation are the closest thing we have on earth to the original work of God, to destroy them would be tantamount to the destruction of God's handiwork, forever altering God's original intent.
John Muir believed that the closer one was to nature, the closer one was to God. To Muir, "wilderness" was the highest manifestation of nature and so was a "window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator," and all parts of it were seen as "sparks of the Divine Soul."   Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley was, for Muir, a place epitomizing wilderness, a shrine to a higher existence, the destruction of which was tantamount to sacrilege. For this reason, Muir vehemently defended Hetch Hetchy and said of its would-be desecraters:
These temple destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and, instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar.
Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart or man.
Transcendentalists, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Thoreau, went so far as to claim that one could only genuine understand moral and aesthetic truths in what they took to be a wilderness setting. For these thinkers, civilization only fragments and taints one's genuine moral and aesthetic understanding.