Golden Sufi Center Publishing, 2014, 242pp
Reviewed by Howard Jones
This is a collection of essays dedicated, as the front matter tells us, …to all those working to preserve and care for the Earth and Her life systems…the most dangerous war humankind is engaged in is the war against nature. Until we can learn to live peacefully with Nature we will not live peacefully with one another. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee comments: As we live in the wasteland of a materialistic culture…amidst its images of abundance we have to search hard for fragments of meaning.
The profundity of this compact volume is clear from the introduction. Science and spirituality come together as a thread throughout the book, and similarities between diverse beliefs become obvious. The seed is frequently referred to in belief systems because it provides such a powerful metaphor for the hidden depths within natural systems that are essential to our existence on this planet, both physically and spiritually; the spiritual and the practical are brought together seamlessly in the essays in this book. The content is enhanced by the beautiful illustrations in full colour and the balanced design of the book; it is a book to enjoy holding in your hands.
With so many corporations wreaking havoc on the natural world it may seem unfair to single out any one, but the impact of Monsanto as the world’s largest manufacturer of over ninety percent of all genetically modified (GM) seeds and agrochemicals across the globe is immense. Not only is the company criticized for its impact on farmers’ livelihoods in poorer countries but in the disingenuous nature of the company’s persuasive techniques to elicit co-operation in an enterprise that is clearly ill-founded from an ecological and spiritual point of view.
Only a few facts and statistics are needed in the introduction and scattered thinly throughout the essays to reinforce the view of most people that those who invest in and manage Monsanto care only about their profits. The cost to the lives of others, both in living and dying, is enormous, and we do not yet know the full cost of GM foods. It will take many years and perhaps many generations before it can be assessed. We are exhorted by governments to pursue diversity in business, yet genetically engineered seeds represent monocultures in the extreme. Even so, some governments support GM in the belief that it is improving the welfare of their people. In his Introduction, the Editor details the importance of maintaining biodiversity of crops and castigates this development.
We are constantly defending human rights on a global scale and yet politicians seem to ignore the basic human right of being able to eat natural, unadulterated food. We need to insist on GM information being included on packaging, but Monsanto has used its industrial might to force the U.S. government to include GM foods on the supermarket shelves without any labelling. Their products are now so widespread that it will forever be impossible to reverse this process. Christoph Quarch writes: …genetic engineering is the most impudent offspring of a modern mind-set full of ignorance and presumption.
The greater part of the book is optimistic about the future of Mother Earth. All the articles have been written with great care based around the individual beliefs of the contributors. Their writings are soothing, almost lyrical, to read and they give us such a diverse collection of wisdom that can comfort us through the continual changes in society masquerading as progress. There are observations and ideas for improving our stewardship of the Earth. Spirituality and practicality are brought together beautifully to make this a fascinating read and a book that will need to be referred to again and again to remind us of our purpose here. To capture the deep spirituality of this text, one must read these inspired words for oneself.