Joanna Macy is one of the best-known eco-philosophers and spiritual activists in the country. She is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. This is an updated and revised edition of a popular book she wrote many years ago. The title chapter lays out four ways we have seen our world: as a battlefield where good and evil clash, as a trap, as a lover, and even as our larger self. Macy opts for the last two approaches since they honor the interconnectedness of all beings.
"Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art," Macy writes. "Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create." Macy proposes that all who want to act on behalf of the Earth follow the fourfold spiral of 1) opening to gratitude, 2) owning our pain for the world, 3) seeing with new eyes, and 4) going forth.
In the face of all the destruction of the environment, Macy counsels patience: "Panic and paralysis are twins: both are born from the refusal to wait." She quotes Pablo Neruda who invites us to develop "a burning patience in order to bring the light of justice and dignity into our turbulent time."
Spiritual practices of compassion, reverence for life, and loving kindness are shared as catalysts for activists. Macy quotes this prayer from the Laguna Pueblo people:
"I add my breath to your breath
that our days may be long on the Earth,
that the days of our people may be long,
and we shall be as one person,
that we may finish our road together."
The book concludes with the author's thoughts on what she calls "The Great Turning," the greening of the self, perseverance for the long haul, and the challenge of reclaiming the Earth for future generations. World As Lover, World As Self by Joanna Macy is a rich resource for those who have dedicated their time and energy to global justice and ecological renewal.