From Kirkus Reviews
A stimulating, though not elegantly expressed, vision of the evolution of the cosmos--and of our role in its future. California social-scientist Elgin (Voluntary Simplicity, 1981- -not reviewed) draws on ancient spiritual traditions and modern scientific insights to form a picture of where we're going in the universe. The present, he argues, is crucial, since advances in technology and communications suggest a new expansion of human consciousness even as ecological problems cast doubt on any ``sustainable future.'' Elgin discerns three decisive stages in the development of consciousness: the era of hunter-gatherers, beginning roughly 35,000 years ago and marked by limited self- reflection; the era of agrarian-based civilizations, beginning about 10,000 years ago; and our own scientific-industrial era, begun in the 1700's. He contends that now we're entering a new era, one in which mass communications make possible the beginning of a global consciousness, as well as hoped-for reconciliations among ourselves and between us and our planet. Looking forward, Elgin projects three further stages: ``bonding,'' in which community and viable future can be built; ``surpassing,'' which will foster free creativity; and ``maturity,'' a wisdom-culture of enlightenment and cosmic consciousness. The author claims that his thinking isn't New Age, since he envisages a process involving matter as well as consciousness--a process he terms ``co-evolution.'' Elgin's stress on human responsibility avoids the determinism of many evolutionary views, and his suggestions that the ideal world government will resemble that dictated in the US constitution, and that ultimate reality is ``democratic,'' will please patriots. But Elgin's final vision is of consciousness being freed from matter, and his concept of an eternal ``Meta-universe'' seems to align him with the Taoists or pre-Socratic Greeks. Moreover, it's difficult to see how personal individuation has a place in his view of the fully evolved consciousness. An ambitious and provocative call to greater awareness, marred by sometimes tortuous turns of expression and thought. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Challenging, thoughtful, original, well-documented, and plausibly hopeful. One of the best long-term futures books in many years! (Future Survey, Volume 15, Number 10, October 1993)
Awakening Earth argues that we are now collectively poised for a major species shift. If the first stages of human awakening involved separating ourselves from nature, developing our sense of autonomy as a species and discovering our ability for remaking the world, the next stages of evolution will require reintegrating ourselves with nature, exploring our deep bonding with one another and with the cosmos and developing our capacity to act in harmony with the universe.
Though at times daunting in its comprehensiveness, the book's ultimate achievement is its balance of vision and sober reasoning, in the tradition of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller. Without denying the tension and suffering that go with change, Elgin conveys a powerful sense of what he calls enthusiasm for the conscious coevolution of life on Earth, for it is only through our individual awakening and creative action that the Earth will awaken as well. (San Francisco Chronicle, Review, April 10, 1994)
Elgin bases his tour de force on an awesome synthesis of his reading over the last dozen years and a personal spiritual experience documented as an appendix. He is the West's version of Sri Aurobindo, an Eastern sage who created a mighty synthesis of East and West. For weaving together the strands of spiritual traditions, various thinkers and the new physics, this book is worth the read. For anyone who wants, as I do, the grand overview, you certainly get it here. (Initiatives, Newsletter of the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the Western United States, Vol. X, No. 3, Summer, 1994) -- Initiatives, Newsletter of the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the Western United States, Vol. X, No. 3, Summer, 1994