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Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in Buddhism and Ecology Paperback – August 9, 2001
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If we are to halt our progress toward the ruin of our environment, more is called for than a few changes in lifestyle. Our destructive ways did not come haphazardly into existence; they spring from a particular attitude toward the earth and our relation to it, and it is that attitude that these essays address. Dharma is the Buddhist teaching; Gaia is the concept of the earth as a living being, an organism that is whole the way a body is, each part of it inseparable from the rest. When you look at the earth through the eyes of Buddhism, you arrive at a picture very like Gaia: the idea of the interdependency of all things is at the heart of Buddhism. Damage one element, and you damage the whole. This is in the spiritual realm what ecology is in the scientific, and so the two systems of thought lead naturally into each other. The essays in this book come at the subject from different angles, all the way from Christopher Reed's Eco-Precepts ("I vow to recycle everything I can") to David Abram's philosophical look at how the Gaia hypothesis influences our perception, to Joanna Macy's thoughts on "the greening of self' - the change from the self as a separate entity to the self as "coextensive with other beings and the life of our planet." Some essays - such as Macy's - are thought-provoking and lively. Others are more dutiful, more academic. But on the whole, the good essays make up for the poorer ones, and the matching of Buddhism with ecology points us in fruitful directions. -- From Independent Publisher
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Edited by Allan Hunt Badiner; Foreword by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
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For me, "The Perceptual Implications Of Gaia," by David Abram is all by itself reason aplenty for buying this book.
Sulak Sivaraksa, summarizes our sad situation succinctly:
"Our world is caught up in a vicious cycle. The more development there is, the more problems appear-- and faster than they can be solved. The technocrats cannot stop the spiraling monster because they are afraid if they do everything will come to a standstill, or the system may go haywire and plunge us all into financial ruin."
There is optimism here too. Something for everyone-- just as consciousness and life itself always actually is. If the more pessimistic among us ends up being correct, at least you will know, having read this book, what hit us.
265 pages, $18.00
More a collection of meditations or prose poems than essays, this book contains a wide range of short pieces from prominent writers and practitioners in the fields of Buddhism (Thich Nhat Hanh and Robert Aitken, for example), East Asian philosophy and religion (Padmasiri De Silva and Joanna Macy), and the environmental and ecology movements (Bill Devall and John Seed). There are even selections from the Beat poets who introduced Buddhist ideas into the pop culture of the mid-twentieth century, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg.
Some titles of a few essays will provide a good indication of the nature of the contents: "Orphism: the Ancient Roots of Green Buddhism;" "The Perceptual Implications of Gaia;" "Rock Body Tree Limb;" "Animal Dharma;" "Women and Ecocentricity;" "Earth Gathas;" "Haiku & the Ecotastrophe."
As a whole the collection is a little dated only in that one might wonder how recent developments such as acts of global terrorism and the now confirmed understanding of the dire effects of human activity on climate are viewed in the Buddhist ecological context. Otherwise, all the readings are superlative. Care of the earth is a long-established precept among Buddhists; Dharma Gaia offers enlightenment not just to Buddhists but also to anyone of any faith interested in the spiritual ground for environmental awareness. Suzanne Head, one of the contributors, prays that "other human beings of this planet would also find the confidence, courage and integrity to honor inner Nature and outer Nature.... Realizing the sacredness of the Earth that supports us and the sky that inspires us,...we would find ways to live that could be sustained by the biosphere. Instead of poisoning and plundering the Earth until all life expires, we could fulfill our Nature by being warriors for the Earth."