The churches have tended to regard creation as sacred only in so far as it reveals God to us and the focus is on our obligation to be responsible stewards rather than being in a real relationship with the rest of creation. Beck’s religious faith is important to him and he makes the case for Christian animism. The definition of animism that he uses is the attribution of a living soul to inanimate objects and natural phenomena and he argues that this is that is compatible with Christian tradition and the Bible.
This book describes itself as offering a path of self discovery in Nature. There is an introduction by Jack Kornfield, who commends the author for providing a way to: be joyful, see anew, be amazed. It has about forty sections, mostly of three or four pages, with a short teaching session, followed by guidance for a meditation.
In this useful book, Ingerman not only totally demystifies shamanism for the lay reader but shows how its various tools can also be used as a self-help toolkit by individuals. We can use it to bring our own mind body and spirit back into internal balance, provide our lives with new meaning and hope, bring ourselves back in balance with the rest of Nature and, most importantly of all, do our part in healing our damaged Earth.
SACRED SEED: A Collection of Essays. Compiled and edited by the Global Peace Initiative of Women with an introduction by Vandana Shiva
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. 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.
‘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.
This is not simply a book about trees. It is a book about you and me and all of us and how we can draw on a reservoir of help and energy that we might not even realize is available to us—i.e. the help and energy of those silent, deeply-rooted companions whose presence we all tend to overlook.
I have not always been a fan of Russell Brand’s comedy; the little I heard did not strike a chord with me. And so I was surprised to read his book Revolution which is both refreshing and insightful. Rather like the Court Jester of the Middle Ages who had the King’s ear – Russell Brand is the modern day Jester – telling us how things really are and prodding us to change.
'Occupy Spirituality' is a superb dialogue between two important contemporary progressive Christian thinkers and activists. Though the subtitle partly suggests the book is focussed on the younger generation, there is nothing within the pages that is not relevant to us all, to the times in which we live and to the materialistic greed, bigotry and complacency that is bringing about the greatest spiritual crisis human and more-than-human life have ever faced. If this gives the impression this might a negative read, then it would be a wrong one. The book is truly inspirational. This is a spirituality that is prepared to get its hands dirty, to do something and work towards positive changes.
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.
With her whole-hearted commitment to celebrating the Earth and its cycles, Glennie Kindred delves into the living tradition of our Celtic ancestors and arrives at a magnificent collection of sacred ceremonies based on the eight Celtic festivals: the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the four cross-quarter points of Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas and Samhain. However, the celebrations in the collection are not in any way fixed or immutable; for her …they help us to discover more about ourselves and our intrinsic connection to Earth. Glennie believes we are free to celebrate the festivals in whatever way we choose, and her book is packed with suggested ways to do just this.
In a collapsing world, it is no good surviving physically unless we can also survive—and help each other survive—emotionally and spiritually, and the aim of this book is to help us do just that. The first two-thirds of the book describe and explain, in 109 easy-to-read, wisdom-packed pages, the psycho-spiritual preparations that need to be made for the collapse that has already begun, and why, even though the collapse may be a long, slow process, it is so vital that we start making them. The last third consists of a carefully-chosen set of 52 weekly 'meditations' – in the sense of quotes and thoughts to be pondered upon – all geared towards helping us deal with the collapse of our old world whilst also saving and guarding the seeds we hope to plant in the new one that will—we hope—eventually rise from the ruins.
An inspiring collection of personal stories, told by sixteen people who are each, in their own individual ways, involved in working towards what Joanna Macy calls 'The Great Turning,' i.e. the movement away from the madness of our materialist, militaristic, industrial culture and towards the sanity of living sustainably and co-operatively on our planet.
This author, a scientifically trained veterinarian, who has worked with animal all her life, talks to us about the way animals think and feel and dwell--unlike us--in the ever-present moment. They have a lot to teach us. She encourages her readers "…to think of intuitive, telepathic communication with animals as a natural ability that you once had and have temporarily misplaced rather than as a supernatural power that you are trying to acquire." It is, she says, a skill that is achievable by all of us. A lovely, thought-provoking and insightful book.
‘The Third Covenant: The Transmission of Consciousness in the Work of Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, Thomas Berry, and Albert J. Lachance’ by Albert J LaChance and Rebecca LaChance Goodwin.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin devoted his life to reuniting the artificial fracture between science and religion and Thomas Berry furthered this reunification by repositioning the human in the unfolding of an evolving universe, integrated and interdependent with the rest of the life systems of the planet. Albert LaChance, himself a six-year, face-to-face student of Berry, brought this new paradigm into his work as a poet, psychologist, addiction recovery professional, and as a mystic and scholar of religion. Along with his daughter, Rebecca LaChance Goodwin, he explores, here, the development of this crucial shift in human understanding and its implications for the future.
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.
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.
It has been said before that we will not protect what we do not love. In this sweet book, Thich Nhat Hanh not only shows his love for our beautiful planet, but fully explains how the planet is lovable. He reminds us of Earth's many blessings and leaves us with practical examples of how it behoves every one of us to create a loving relationship with her.
‘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.
‘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.
Working as a Zen cook in a Buddhist centre in Wales, this author begins to learn more about who she really is, not just through being part of the community but also through creating and serving meals. This is a beautifully-crafted book, part personal journey, part reflection on life and part cookbook
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.
‘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.
Interest in working with labyrinths is on the increase and this book is written to give interested people ideas about how to develop them--in both portable and permanent forms. Examples in the book include labyrinths in hospitals, schools, universities, hospices, spiritual centres and public spaces. The book also covers personal development issues such as the use of labyrinths for stress management and self-care.
The Guardian critic described this as ‘The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain. It is a tiny volume, hardly more than 100 pages of A5 and it describes one person’s experience of the Cairngorm mountains. Nan Shepherd, a lecturer in English at Aberdeen University, fell in love with the mountain which she could see from her childhood home. As an adult she walked the mountains many times until she learnt to understand them with all her being.
Matthew Fox’s third book on the remarkable mediaeval Rhineland mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, coincided with her canonisation and being officially recognized as a Doctor of the Catholic Church. It covers a lot of ground – some familiar as well as new – and supplies revealing snapshots about her life and teachings.
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 [...]
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.
This book is an autobiographical spiritual journey - the story of the author’s enlightenment. He qualified and practised as a scientist, but realized that science alone does not have all the answers to some of the greatest questions and most uplifting phenomena relating to human life. He was raised in a tradition of organized religion but found also that their rituals and dogma alone are little help in resolving life’s most challenging issues. The answers to the most profound questions as to the reasons for existence must be sought within, by freeing oneself from the limitations of fundamentalist science or religion.
‘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."
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.
“Green spirituality,” writes editor Marian Van Eyk McCain, is “a spirituality centred on this planet Earth, the only home we humans and our ancestors have ever known.” Rooted in the Earth and in all creation, greens’ spirituality focuses in a deeply connected way with living in and caring about and for the Earth and every living entity in and on it.
An epic, personal journey to meet whales and wolves, bears and wild horses, guided by outstanding biologists and other observers who are renewing an ancient way of connection with the wild.
‘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.
The overall aim of this book is to define and describe dark green religion which, reduced to one simplistic sentence, means a belief in the intrinsic value and sacredness of Nature, and to examine the influence of this strand of belief upon our contemporary culture, particularly in the West.
‘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 book is a call to action – to heal our wounds and our fractured society, and most importantly halt the violence we are inflicting on this planet before it's too late. The author points out that, through increasing urbanisation, most of us have lost contact with the land and the soil and as a result part of our soul has died. She writes from a Christian perspective but draws on the wisdom of other religious traditions as well. She assures readers that her message is for those of all faiths or none: what matters is that they possess 'the honesty of intention' She tackles big questions such as how we move into a new era of social responsibility, lay the foundations of a just society and reform our economic system so that we value people and not money.
‘Climb up to the Moor: Moorland Life through the Seasons of the Year.’ Words and pictures by Judith Bromley with selected paintings by Robert Nicholls
This book about the moorland of the North Yorkshire National Park is a feast for the senses. Everyone reading it will certainly want to experience the moorland as Judith has. She walks there in every season: observing, watching, writing and painting. Each month she describes the impact on all of her senses of what is above her head, below her feet and within her field of vision. By itself the language that she uses paints glorious pictures in our minds, but the written words are accompanied by stunning paintings of the places she describes.
‘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.
It is so easy to become fearful, isolated and despondent about the enormity of the environmental and social challenges that we, as a human race, are currently facing. This book tells us how we can sustain ourselves through these challenges and live positive, compassionate and hope filled lives
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.
Judith Bromley's book is unlike anything I have ever read. I would say that I have experienced it rather than read it. As she led me through the seasons of a single year, I found myself wanting it not to be autumn but to continue to be summer. I found myself engaged in the process of gauging the height of the sun, and the point in the valley where the sun never shines. I felt really glad that the populace don't have access to 'our' wood, and that it remains undisturbed and sacred.
Part personal story, this book begins among the bright green terraced rice paddies of Bali as the author sets out on a study tour through Asia to document the relationship between magic and medicine. Rather than travelling as an academic, he goes simply as a magician, using his own well-developed magic skills to make a collegial connection with the various sorcerers and shamans he meets along the way. Soon, however, he begins to discover the deeper truths of the shamanic role in community, which is to be the knowing, sensing bridge between the community and the greater reality, both psychic and organic, in which all our human communities are embedded.
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.