- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: The Golden Sufi Center (July 1, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1890350451
- ISBN-13: 978-1890350451
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth Paperback – July 1, 2013
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"Despite the gloomy ecological outlook, these essays exude optimism in their belief that love and harmony can prevail over greed and insanity. They are eloquent and passionate pleas for the planet." —Publishers Weekly
"This gathering of elders from all over the globe…is nothing short of a modern oracle whose voices translate the wisdom of the Earth we must care for. Whatever your passion or work, read this book to better know the irreplaceable ground we all depend on." —Mark Nepo, author Seven Thousand Ways to Listen and The Book of Awakening
"This book is a call to action. It requires us to put down every-day concerns that preoccupy our minds and listen with our hearts to the testaments of how desperately the earth needs us. I thank the authors in the book for reinforcing my commitment to protect the earth as much as is in my power." —His Holiness, The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
About the Author
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi teacher who has lectured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He is the founder of the Golden Sufi Center and is the author of more than 15 books, including Alchemy of Light, Return of the Feminine and the World Soul, and Prayer of the Heart. Thich Nhat Hanh is the founder of the School of Youth Social Service, a relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives after the Vietnam War. He was nominated for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize. Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, deep ecology, and general systems theory. She lives in Berkeley, California. Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, and poet. He is a former professor of English at the University of Kentucky and a past fellow of both the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. He lives in Port Royal, Kentucky. Sandra Ingerman is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), and professional mental health counselor. She was awarded the Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine in 2007. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bill Plotkin is a depth psychologist, wilderness rites guide, and ecotherapist. He lives in Durango, Colorado. Mary Evelyn Tucker is a senior lecturer and research scholar at Yale University where she holds appointments in the Divinity School and in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut. Brian Swimme is the director of the Center for the Story of the Universe and a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He lives in San Francisco. Vandana Shiva is an environmental leader, and recipient of the 1993 Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.
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A few of the texts here I'd found previously, including one that blew open my mind when I read it aged 19: Joanna Macy's "Greening of the Self". It is even more amazing than I remember. Thich Nhat Hanh is here as well and just because he's a beloved Zen master who knows the right way to eat an orange doesn't mean he pulls his punches: "In my mind I see a group of chickens in a cage disputing over a few seeds of grain, unaware that in a few hours they will all be killed." He knows we may not make it. Even acknowledging we may not survive, there is a way forward, a way to take action and not be paralyzed by helplessness.
Of the thinkers I discovered for the first time while reading this book, the most helpful and inspiring was Sister Miriam MacGillis. The interview here with Sister Miriam, a contemplative inspired by Thomas Berry, was stunning - perhaps the most profound example of skillful means united with a vast perspective that I have ever come across. Her understanding is so vast - and she brings it to bear on the farm that is in her stewardship. I read it three times in a row. It is magnificent.
I loved, too, Susan Murphy's essay, "The Koan of the Earth". Susan Murphy is a Zen teacher in Australia and her gaze is stark and clear. When the situation is as serious as this one, it is best to have a physician who does not mince words. In order to survive, we will need vast compassion, and it is compassion like this, tough as nails. (After reading this essay, I wanted very much to read `Minding the Earth, Mending the World', Murphy's book on this subject, but it appears to be unavailable. Somebody please bring this book back to print!)
I was particularly grateful to Geneen Marie Haugen and the essay "Imagining Earth". Haugen writes about how the imagination can be used to reacquaint ourselves with the sacred in the land and how this practice, which involves some "make-believe", might turn out to be essential for our survival.
Haugen helped me a lot to understand my own experience. As a boy in New Hampshire, I experienced my family's farm as a place vastly alive and full of spirits. Certain places had certain powers; there was even an area I believed to be "the heart of the farm". I grew up, thought myself foolish, and it was years before I was able recognize how correct I'd been as a child! This essay is a beautiful guide to this practice. She helped me understand, too, why I find the unfortunate fate of my family's farm (and life in Tokyo) so wrenching. Haugen writes, "A practice of attending an animate world may have a cumulative effect of rearranging our own consciousness in a way that we cannot later withdraw from without pain"(166). Yes, indeed.
Anthologies like this one aim to reach many people by providing many styles and approaches. I admit there were a few essays here that seemed to me "keynote addresses" - general statements aimed at an audience already convinced. I hope that this book will serve as a sort of general introduction for a series of books on this subject.
Hopefully these essays will serve to fuel discussion. Admittedly, I did not agree with all the approaches found here. A few, like the essay by Sandra Ingerman, seemed to be examples of cheesy, old-style New Age thinking that is too busy being airy and optimistic to actually be useful. This sort of thing was good enough for 1987 (when "The Aquarian Conspiracy" was going to save us all) but - we're going to need to think a lot harder now.
In a book of strong essays, there was one essay that dismayed and even offended me: Satish Kumar's "3 Dimensions of Ecology: Soil, Soul, Society." As a keen student of Hinduism and Buddhism, I think the ecological perspectives of these traditions are both fascinating and urgently necessary. This essay, however, is an embarrassing concoction of platitudes, generalities and sentimentality. This is not 1893, Mr. Kumar is not Swami Vivekananda, and we do not need dumbed-down, platitude-ridden, soft-serve presentations of Hinduism anymore. Pardon me for being rude, but I think this is an argument worth having!
Kumar translates yagna, tapas and dana as soil, soul and society. I'm sorry, but that's not what those words mean. If he wishes to give a creative translation or reinterpretation, that's great, but he should give the traditional meanings and the reasons for his reinterpretation - not just assume that we are ignorant and cannot handle the actual definitions of words. It is no longer necessary to gloss over what is complicated in these faiths -- we can handle the complexity of the real tradition. For a brilliant discussion of how Hindus see the divine as manifest in the land around them, please read Diana Eck's marvelous book India: A Sacred Geography, a book that is as necessary to ecologists as it is to students of religion.
I am grateful to this wonderful collection of essays for giving me so much to investigate and ponder - as well as a few things to argue about! May there be more books like this one - and fast! May the conversation continue deep into the night.
He goes on to say that his people were told in prophecy that there would be two very important systems to warn of a degradation of the earth. One would be the acceleration of the winds. "When you see that the accelerations of the winds are growing, then you are in dangerous times." Chief Lyons says the second warning would come in seeing how people don't care for the children. Both these signs are now present on the earth. Various kinds of horrible exploitation of children are taking place and society doesn't do anything about it.
And this is only Chapter 1! Each chapter, each author has a unique viewpoint to offer, yet all agree that the answers will not come from the thinking that has created them and thereby desecrated the earth. We can no longer afford to treat it as an object, manipulate and exploit it.
Thich Nhat Hanh says, "...we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing ... Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps."
Let's hope we can. Chief Lyons is right. Options are running low.
More of us putting its concepts to practice may also buy Gaia (and all of her life forms) more time.