Our planet is in crisis, largely as a result of human actions and attitudes over the last few centuries. This is a book about how we can develop spiritually and try to avoid what seems to be the impending extinction of humankind.
Natural science writer Janine Benyus takes us methodically through the full repertoire of sounds and signals and behaviours of twenty creatures from five different parts of the world in order to help us better understand the ways in which they communicate. Through the pages of this book we come to know not just how to interpret what we see our fellow animals doing when we go to the zoo but who they would be—and how they would be—if we were to able to meet and observe them on their own home ground.
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.
There is a lot we don’t know about water, and the research that Professor Pollack and his laboratory team have been working on is aimed at unravelling some of its mysteries. As well as gas, liquid and solid forms of water, they have discovered a surprisingly extensive fourth phase that occurs at any interface where water meets a hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) surface. This research has far-reaching implications for health and healing, for renewable energy production, water filtration, desalination and a host of other things.
‘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.
‘Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth’ by George Wuerthner (Author, Editor), Eileen Crist (Editor) and Tom Butler (Editor)
Anthropocentrism, instead of gradually going away as so many of us have hoped, is sneaking in again by the back door. The people letting it in are not the familiar enemy who rip the tops of mountains and drill the Arctic but a small bunch of people who are billing themselves as the ‘new environmentalists’ (also known as ‘Anthropocene-boosters’) and who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
‘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 is a book about a journey to find a different way of responding purposefully to the ecological issues of the present time. Peter Reason – husband, grandfather, former academic and sailor – sets out to sail around the West Coast of Ireland looking to encounter wilderness and thereby find a 'right' relationship with that which is not human.
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.
‘All Our Relations: Green Spirit Connections with the more-than-human world’ Edited by Marian Van Eyk McCain
A book that specifically honours all those other life forms with whom we share the planet. They are all our relations. How we treat them, how we perceive them and feel about them and interact with them - and the extent to which we respect them is a measure of our true humanity and a measure of our true worth.
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.
‘Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World’ by Brian Walker and David Salt
Resilience thinking is based on making systems more adaptable, flexible and able to cope with sudden change, rather than trying to optimize their productivity.
Rather than seeing the bare hills of mid-Wales as beautiful in their remoteness George Monbiot sees them as ruined, ‘sheepwrecked’ landscapes and re-imagines them as they once were—and could be again—thickly forested and rich with wildlife. His biggest dream is the restoration to completeness of fractured ecosystems by the eventual re-introduction of the wolf, the lynx and other large mammals to our British landscapes in the same way as this is already being done in other parts of Europe and in certain areas of North America.
Oregon State University , 2003, pbk 168 pp ISBN: 978-0870714993 Reviewed [...]
‘Earthmind: Communicating with the living world of Gaia’ by Paul Devereux with John Steele and David Kubrin
This is a story of the new global consciousness that was inspired by the view of Earth from space and which was represented metaphorically by James Lovelock as the Earth goddess, Gaia. These events were contemporary with the awakening by ordinary people in the West to eastern wisdom in the 1960s and 1970s. It ushered in the New Age and Green revolutions. Ever since, there has been a much greater concern to care for our earthly environment and a slow development in human consciousness to see our lives in a more spiritual context. As Devereux says, "For a whole cultural attitude to alter, we have to change more than our industrial processes – we have to change our minds."
This book explores specifically Darwin’s personal relationship with his God, how this changed over his lifetime and the emotional anxiety that his scientific discoveries caused him because of the impact he knew these ideas would have on religious belief.
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.
‘Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World’ by Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber's Integral approach, which is intrinsically value-free, is a unique method for understanding pretty much anything in a fully comprehensive, multidimensional and holistic way. It has the capacity to break up socio-cultural and ideological logjams and may well be the best tool available, right now, for achieving religious tolerance, peace and (when applied to ecological issues) sustainability.
‘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.
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.
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.
As part of the development of a liberation theology, Anne Primavesi presents a critique of the view that biological evolution is driven almost exclusively by competitive processes and the way this has been carried over into the human SocialScape and used to justify the exploitation of humans and the natural world.
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.
For Brian Goodwin, intelligence, meaning and subjectivity are inherent in nature, not restricted to the human realm. As a scientist, Goodwin is well equipped to show us how this can be so, though he calls on folk stories as well as scientific studies to help him convey the message. His argument equally implies that all our stories, arts and other cultural creations also arise from the endlessly inventive, emergent, unpredictable reality which is Nature.
This beautifully presented and well written book tells us all about the living creatures of the soil. Their numbers and variety are prodigious. Once you have looked through this book your attitude to the soil will never be the same again and it is clear that its title is misleading. There is no soil without the life. It is the living things that create the soil and which, if left alone, will maintain it.
George Monbiot researches the subject of climate change in depth, he cuts through preconceptions and gets to the root of the problem. A breath of oxygen rich fresh air. He shows how we can reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 – this is the level he suggests we need to reach to avoid runaway global warming and the collapse of large eco-systems.
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.
The book is written as a journey of discovery and Russell writes in the context of his own search to find a theory of consciousness. Apparently this is one of the major unsolved conundrums of psychology and even of quantum physics. It is possible to explain most human activities in terms of conventional science but how and why we should be conscious has still no satisfactory explanation.
Logan converts that which seems ordinary into something mystical, taking us with the stardust created in the ‘big bang’, through the ages, to join the other components of earth, dirt, soil, muck, loam, humus, compost, or whatever you choose to call the skin of the Earth.
‘The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World’ by Iain McGilchrist
This is one of the most important books that I've read. I heard Iain McGilchrist talking about it on the radio when it was first published and just knew I had to read it. It's a weighty tome (both in size and content), covering both the structure of the brain and how the brain’s structure and function has shaped Western culture. McGilchrist is eminently suited for the task, as he taught English at Oxford University before training as a psychiatrist and is therefore able to express complex ideas in simple, attractive ways.
‘Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a way to get there from here)’ by Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman
The thesis of Bruce and Steve’s brilliant new book, in a very small nutshell, is that there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that science has moved on but we haven’t. And we need to—fast! The good news is that we can do it because all the tools we need are right here, under our noses (inside our noses too, as a matter of fact).
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.
It is very appropriate that this book should have appeared in Darwin’s year (2009) and I started to write this review on the 150th anniversary day of the publication of The Origin of Species.
The Kids' Book of Awesome Stuff is filled with information, ideas, and activities to develop awareness in children that they are “...part of a wonderful web of life.” Grounded in scientific facts – including explanations of the Big Bang, nuclear fusion, evolution, photosynthesis – the book is engaging and inspiring and should leave any receptive young reader enthralled and sparkling with enthusiasm. Charlene Brotman’s accessible style and creative use of activity-based, interactive learning techniques combine with Jelia Gueramian’s friendly illustrations to make this book a treasure for children and adults alike.
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.
We’ve all been taught – whether by high school biology teachers, college lecturers or the journalists and TV documentary-makers of popular culture – that it is the DNA in our cells which determines who we are. Nurture is important but it is our genes that confer upon us our individual identity.
Sally Andrew is a sublime storyteller. Her brand of delightful whimsicality is so captivating that I predict she is headed for literary fame in the coming years—and not only in her homeland of South Africa, either. Meanwhile, right now, her energy and passion are channelled into raising awareness about climate change and the need for urgent action to avoid eco-catastrophe