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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital reading for simple, sustainable and fulfilling living, January 19, 2010
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This review is from: Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich (Paperback)
Have you ever questioned whether we're living at a time when our consumerism has exceeded the earth's capacity to sustain us? Or have you wondered whether our industrial production has contributed to a warming earth that might activate tipping points we can't fully imagine and bring about climate change, including potential flooding, freezing, famine, and species extinction ... maybe our own?! If so, give a sigh of relief. Yes, there's something each individual, no matter how "small", can do to awaken fully to what is happening and what we can do to make a change now, right where we are, to a simpler, saner, sustainable life style, culture, and planet. With elegant competence, Duane Elgin shows us the way with this completely rewritten second edition of his classic, Voluntary Simplicity.

I felt inspired from Edgar Mitchell's uplifting introduction through the 1981 forward written by Ram Das, which explores in detail the needed integration of "West" and "East" (outer and inner), through the introduction, "How the Times Have Changed", where Elgin clarifies six dramatic changes of perspective and values, which create enormous hope for our future. In Chapter One, "Cool Lifestyle for a Hot Planet" through seven chapters concluding with "Living in a Green World", we are guided and awakened to our potential to live conscious, fulfilling lives now that will also secure our future for generations to come. Voluntary Simplicity is short (200 pages), insightful, loaded with resources and highly readable.

I particularly liked the "Pioneers of Green Living", where Elgin reports on the articulate responses gleaned from a 1970's survey of people of all ages and backgrounds who chose a simple lifestyle. Their insights are just as alive today as they were thirty years ago and now even more relevant.

Another favorite for me was "The World at the Tipping Point" where Elgin reviews the key "Global Adversity Trends", as well as two possible scenarios that might play out if there is a breakdown. He also defines the strategies people may use to psychologically protect themselves from the impact of these trends combining to deliver a possible Perfect Storm.

There's lots of hope though. Elgin shows our potential as he reviews humanity's evolutionary journey to awakening. This is a very positive and enlightening section of the book. He shares with us inspiring archetypes for understanding our journey and leaves us with a feeling that we can make the needed changes and together create a sustainable, simple, fulfilling future if we can just align our vision together as we transform our global communications network.

I remember when Buckmeister Fuller introduced me to the metaphor of "Space Ship Earth". With this simple image, I began to see myself on a journey through space with a planet of other crew members and the resources we needed for our flight. With earth seen as a spaceship, efficient use of resources made obvious sense. Fighting across the isles didn't. I began to ask questions: has our on board industrial production contributed to a fowling of the ventilation system? Are we running out of fuel, out of water? Is there a good manual on board?

Voluntary Simplicity is Chapter One in the kind of manual I'd want to have. Elgin lets us know that there is something we can do to become aware of what is happening on Space Ship Earth and how we can change in time to meet the challenge of a world facing an inevitable systems crisis.

Once you've completed Voluntary Simplicity, you'll want to fill out the picture with Elgin's magnum opus, Awakening Earth, and his latest book, The Living Universe. With these works under your belt, you'll have everything you need to know where we are, who we are, and where we're going.
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Initial post: Mar 8, 2010 5:11:21 PM PST
D. Marois says:
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