Dreamer of the Earth, Earth Community

Thomas Berry Dreamer of the Earth: The Spiritual Ecology of the Father of Environmentalism

Chapter 9 – Earth Community – Joanna Macy

DISCOVERING WHAT WE ARE

Acknowledging the depths and reaches of our inner responses to the demise of our world, we come to the discovery of what we are. The pain we feel for our world is living proof of our mutual belonging. Our raw capacity to “suffer with” testifies to an innate well-spring of compassion. This natural endowment is seen in Mahayana Buddhism as the mark of the bodhisattva. The tradition’s model for heroic behavior, the bodhisattva is also, by virtue of our inter-existence in the web of life, each person’s true nature. Knowing that there is no such thing as private salvation, nor healing without contact, he or she does not try to escape from this suffering world or hold aloof from its pain.

…That is what we find when we hear the sounds of the Earth crying within us. The tears that come are not ours alone… We find we are interwoven threads in the tapestry of life, its deep ecology, its Earth community.

…As living forms evolve on this planet, they move not only in the direction of diversification but also toward integration as well. These two movements complement and enhance each other… In our evolution as life-forms, we progressively shed our shells, our armor, our separate encasements. We grew sensitive and vulnerable protuberances – eyes, lips, fingertips – the better to connect and receive information, the better to interweave our discoveries. If we are ll bodhisattvas, it is because of that natural, inalienable thrust to connect, that capacity to integrate with and through each other.

…We begin to see that a shift of identification can release us not only from the prison cell of ego but also from the tight compartment of a solely human perspective. As John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Center in Australia, points out, it takes us “beyond anthropocentrism.”

When humans investigate and see through their layers of anthropocentric self-cherishing, a most profound change in consciousness begins to take place. Alienation subsides. The human is no long an outsider apart. Your humanness is then recognized as being merely the most recent stage of your existence; as you stop identifying exclusively as this chapter, you start to get in touch with yourself as vertebrate, as mammal, as species only recently emerged from the rainforest. As the fog of amnesia disperses, there is a transformation in your relationship to other species and in your commitment to them… The thousands of years of imagined separation are over and we can begin to recall our true nature; that is, the change is a spiritual one – thinking like a mountain, sometimes referred to as deep ecology. As your memory improves… there is an identification with all life. 

This leads us to a discovery we make in the arising of Earth community. It is the discovery of what can happen through us… One simply finds oneself empowered to act on behalf of other beings – or on behalf of the larger whole – and the empowerment itself seems to come through that or those for whose sake one acts… synergy.

from The Shift from the Anthropocentric to the Ecological Age, Ervin Laszlo:

OBSOLETE, DOMINANT BELIEFS AND MYTHS OF THE ANTHROPOCENTRIC AGE

*In our dealings with others, the bottom line is, “What do I get out of it?”

*We are separate individuals enclosed by our skin and pursuing our own interests.

*The problems we experience are but interludes after which everything goes back to normal.

*Order in society can only be achieved by hierarchal rules and laws and their enforcement.

*Whatever the problem, technology is the answer.

*We owe allegiance only to one nation, one flag, and one government.

*There is a direct link between money and happiness.

*Why should we worry about the welfare of the next generation?

*The earth is an infinite source of resources and an infinite sink of wastes.

*Nature is a giant mechanism that we can engineer to fit our needs and demands.

*Life is a struggle where the fittest survive and natural selection.

*Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ acts equitable by spreading the wealth.

*If other states possess natural resources we want, we have the right to fight for them.

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