North Atlantic Books, 2018 ISBN: 978–1623172480 Reviewed by Ian Mowll [...]
With a Foreword by Larry Dossey North Atlantic Books [...]
‘The Shamanic Journey: A Practical Guide to Therapeutic Shamanism’ (The Therapeutic Shamanism series Book 1) by Paul Francis
Paul Francis, 2017 ISBN:9780995758612 Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk [...]
This book is primarily about Thomas Merton (31 January 1915 – 10 December 1968), a Trappist monk in the USA. But it is also about Creation Spirituality (as articulated by Matthew Fox) and Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic of the Middle Ages who influenced both Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox. It is a good way not only to understand Thomas Merton but also to see the strands of Creation Spirituality in Eckhart, Merton and Fox.
This ebook is about the Universe Story (the story as revealed by science from the Big Bang to the present day) and how it can inspire us in our lives and help to create a better world.
Beginning with an evocative quote from the Tao to set the ambience for the material that follows, this work creatively holds many diverse areas in an integral manner covering, with a commanding scholarship, such fields as economics, psychology, cosmology, ecology and spirituality. It also displays a strenuous commitment to issues of social justice combined with a path-breaking reflection on sustainability in a larger evolutionary context, exploring the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme in the context of cosmology.
In recent years, as modern life causes more and more of us to become emotionally disconnected from the Earth upon which all our lives depend, we are realizing that it is not just the land we live in that needs rewilding but our own selves. This means finding ways to break down all the artificial boundaries that we humans have tried to place between ourselves and the rest of Nature. It means recognizing that we are—and always have been and always will be—an intrinsic part of the Earth, cells in the body of a living planet. Furthermore, it means re-learning how to live our daily lives out of that knowing. It means coming back 'down to Earth' in the truest sense of that phrase: consciously re-immersing ourselves in every way possible in the natural world that surrounds is, both without and within. That way lies healing—for ourselves and our planet.
Growing plants, particularly as food, can enable wonderful insight into the processes of life. Biodynamics, which links our work as gardeners to our cosmic context and to microscopic processes is a powerful invitation to step into a sense of the sacredness and wonder of these processes.
‘Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World ‘ by Eric Dietrich
Have we not always been led to believe that religion is the purveyor of mysteries and all that is supernatural rather than natural? And have we not learned that science destroys mystery by discovering truth? In fact, as Dietrich—professor of philosophy at Binghamton University—so thoroughly and competently explains, religion is actually a biological phenomenon, a property emerging from the process of human evolution. Meanwhile science, we have all discovered, is what destroys our mysteries and reveals to us all that is real about the world.
By lighting up the Earth to the point where hardly anyone gets to see the stars any more we are cheating ourselves and our descendants out of an experience that should be their birthright—but which, after a few generations, nobody is going to know is even possible. Also, since all living beings evolved on a planet where nights are dark, we are unthinkingly disrupting countless ecological systems and cycles that have existed since life began. This book chronicles its author's journey across the USA in search of really dark skies and his conversations with those he met along the way, including astronomers, who face increasing challenges from light pollution, and urban planners who are starting to look at how we might light our cities and towns more subtly and sustainably in order to preserve the darkness our bodies—and our souls—actually need for good health.
This is a book about Meister Eckhart, the 13th/14th century mystic who was born near Gotha in what was the Holy Roman Empire and is now in Germany. But the book is about much more than Meister Eckhart himself. Matthew Fox picks out key thinkers, philosophers, social and eco activists from modern times and shows how they have been influenced by, or resonate with, Meister Eckhart.
Plotkin, an eco-psychologist and wilderness guide well known for his earlier books Soulcraft and Nature and the Human Soul, turns his attention now to a complete and holistic re-visioning of psychology. Rather than focusing on pathology and dysfunction as most psychologists—except perhaps the Jungian ones—have done, his focus is on wellness. Not just wellness in the sense of being ‘normal’ and well-functioning but in the much wider and deeper context of our existence as just one species among many and just one aspect of ‘all-that-is.’
Our present ecological crisis—accelerating climate change, species depletion, pollution and acidification of the oceans — is the greatest man-made disaster this planet has ever faced. There is a pressing need to articulate a spiritual response to this ecological crisis if we are to help bring the world as a living whole back into balance and in this book, under the editorship of Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, twenty powerful voices take it in turns to do that, each in his or her own way.
‘Ecology and Religion’ (Foundations of Contemporary Environmental Studies Series) by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker
These authors have spent many years studying world religions. Their particular interest is in the relationship between religion and ecology and between them, they have probably done more than any academics anywhere to bring religious and ethical perspectives into environmental discussions. The aim of this textbook is to bring the fruits of their thought and study to the coming generations.
‘Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe’ by Bob Berman and Robert Lanza
Lanza is a cell biologist and his co-author Berman is an astronomer. What they are saying—and explaining very cogently in this book—is an updated but by now well scientifically backed version of the idea Bishop Berkeley was trying to promote back in the early 18th century, i.e. that there is in fact no objective ‘reality’ out there, independent of the consciousness and perception of living organisms.
The concept of ‘multiverses’ – i.e. the idea that the universe we live in is just one in a vast or even infinite collection of universes – has been around in some form or another since at least the time of Plato. This book traces the history of this concept and discusses the different models now from the fields of cosmology, quantum mechanics, and string theory.
‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Whether working alone in her garden, facing a bunch of students in her classroom, out doing fieldwork in the forest or patiently learning, word by difficult word, the language of her ancestors, Robin Wall Kimmerer is awake and aware and open to new understandings. Through her, we see connections and relationships where we never noticed them before. As she tells her stories, they come alive for us until we can feel the sun on the wild strawberries, hear the ‘plink’ of maple sap into the buckets and marvel at the stately pecan trees that only fruit in certain years but when they do fruit, always do it in concert, in the same year.
This book describes our planet's whole evolutionary journey from the Big Bang to the present day, as revealed to us by science. It then goes on to explain why the story is so relevant for our time and to discuss some of the many inspirations we can draw from it.
‘Rivers of Green Wisdom: Exploring Christian and Yogic Earth Centred Spirituality’ by Santoshan (Stephen Wollaston)
Possibly the first book ever to take Yoga in one hand and Christianity on the other and examine them both through the lens of an Earth-centred Spirituality. Is there, in fact, ‘green wisdom’ to be found within these two great traditions? If there is, then surely these need to be emphasised in this era of climate change and ever-worsening ecological crisis.
Drawing on the teachings of Buddha, Ghandi, Rabindranath Tagore and E.F. Schumacher, Satish Kumar outlines a spiritual vision of sustainability in which we can learn from Nature as well as about Nature. Offering practical guidance for how we can achieve this vision, Satish teaches that only love and reverence and not fear will lead to long term sustainability.
A book that is completely in tune with GreenSpirit philosophy and presents a view of spirituality derived from the natural world. The author is an eminent professor of biology who gives us a non-theistic world-view in which a sense of the numinous originates from the wonder of the cosmos – the improbability of its very existence, its grandeur and infinite diversity, culminating in the emergence of human consciousness and our ideas of value and meaning.
An exploration of often mutually exclusive and even contradictory opinions as to the purpose of human existence – explanations offered by religion and humanism, and by scientific rationalism or ideological belief; that we exist to fulfil a divine purpose versus humankind as the result of meaningless random mutation, and so on. The author will already be known to most readers in Britain as someone who served as a junior minister in a former UK Government.
‘Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea,’ by Carter Phipps
We have, as a human race, to combat climate change, over population, the destruction of species and more. These have to be addressed collectively by humans, no one country or group can go it alone. How can we do this? This book provides sign-posts, sometimes answers, sometimes questions, but at least broad pointers to the ways in which we can integrate an overarching story to help us to address the pressing issues of today.
‘Planet as Self’ argues for a radical rethink of our relationship with Mother Earth or Gaia and points out how beliefs – scientific or religious – can so easily be mistaken for truths. Nothing less than a paradigm shift in our basic beliefs is called for.
The aim of this book is to encourage a fundamental and beneficial re-evaluation of the way the sciences are defined and practised in our modern world. It does so by carefully and systematically examining ten core beliefs that most scientists accept without question, all of which are in fact untested and untestable and which severely limit the ability of our modern sciences to respond convincingly to the challenges we face in the twenty-first century.
Most cultures have creation stories. And for many centuries, those creation stories have served to bond people together in a shared sense of history and of destiny. Our modern, Western culture, with all its book learning and its technology and its scientific knowhow has long since outgrown tales of Adam and Eve and fig leaves and yet there has been nothing coherent to put in their place. For a long time now, we have been a people in need of a creation story.
An essential first step in repairing the damage we have done to the planet and to ourselves may be to go back to basics and, literally, to come to our senses. Not only must we fully re-inhabit our animal bodies but we must also become aware of our vital interconnectedness with all other creatures. And for tutoring us and inspiring us in these twin tasks I have never met a better teacher than David Abram.
In this book Marija Gimbutas provides us with a scholarly but also readable account of the Goddess tradition of Europe from the late Palaeolithic and Neolithic eras, through the megalithic and henge building periods and into recorded history.
Margulis' research has shown that symbiosis, the term used to describe the phenomenon of organisms living together to their mutual advantage, has played a major role in biological evolution. This represents a significant shift from classical neo- Darwinism which sees competition as the virtually the only selection mechanism.
Ramon maintains that Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1600, is the true founder of modern cosmology, and that he goes far beyond modern physics in linking cosmology and spirituality. Bruno put forward a view of the Universe which is close to that – indeed goes further than that – which is held by early twenty-first century physics.
In this book, Chris links his extensive, first-hand knowledge of modern physics with a deeply-felt creation spirituality, aided by a powerful grasp of the history of science and philosophy. He wants to tell us what it means to really live in moment-by-moment connection with all-that-is, or, to use a favourite term of his, with the Other. To do this, he sets out the new world-view that makes living in connection possible.
This is a very readable presentation of the life and tribulations of Galileo Galilei enlivened and enlightened by extensive extracts of letters, translated for the first time, written to him by his daughter, Marie Celeste. We see, through her eyes, not simply Galileo the scientist, philosopher and martyr but also Galileo concerned about his son, his wine casks, his weak health, and his financial and other day to day affairs. We learn about the affairs of the convent and about the steady stream of medicines prepared by Maria Celeste—who was the apothecary to the convent—which she supplied to her much loved father.
Readers of GreenSpirit will be profoundly aware of the ecological stress now facing our planet as a result of human action, and of the call which many of us feel, to respond by embracing the earth more closely, connecting with it more intimately, so that we can know in our bones what is happening and respond more with our whole being. Many of us also feel that the underlying cause of what is happening is the progressive loss of any meaningful worldview within our society.
How many of us, staring up into the unfathomable reaches of the Milky Way on a clear, moonless night, have felt a shiver run through us? Who could not feel a shiver of awe – perhaps even of terror – in contemplating his or her puny insignificance against a background of stars? Compared to the immensity of even this visible fragment of the mysterious universe, we are mere specks of dust. And yet… perhaps we are less puny and less separate than we think.
The ‘sacred story’ referred to in the title is the awe-inspiring story of our Universe from the so called Big Bang to the present day, as revealed by modern science. In this booklet, Erna and Michael Colebrook invite us to literally walk this story in our imaginations, by scaling the 14 billion years of our still-expanding universe to a human walk of 1.4 kilometres (just over one mile).
Though a little book, it tells a big story--one that inspires hope for a way in which Earth and its human civilizations could flourish together.
“The Cosmos in its power and splendour provides all we need in order to move into our full humanity in harmony with the earth. It is up to us to accept this gift of the cosmos, and to take up our part in its constant ongoing weaving of itself.”