In his Politics, the Greek seer Aristotle uses the term "political animals" to describe human beings as social creatures who use their speech and moral reasoning in their work or when collaborating with others. In that sense, Joanna Macy is a political animal as well as a deeply spiritual one. She has spent a lifetime reverencing the complex and beautiful world we live in through her talks, essays, and retreats.

Her Buddhist philosophy, ecological wisdom, and social commitment to create a better world are signature markers of her work and writings. As we pointed out in our profile of her in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, she excels in creating and sharing practices and prayers for the planet. Her writing is an impressive melding of science and spirituality and an inspiring repertoire of Earth wisdom.

Macy believes we are living in perilous times and need to bring to fruition "The Great Turning." She encourages us to campaign in defense of the green self, to have the patience and the fortitude to persevere, and to rise to the challenge of reclaiming the good Earth for future generations.

To Name This Day:


Listen or read and savor Krista Tippett's wonderful interview with Joanna Macy titled "A Wild Love for the World."


"I consider myself fortunate to live in these times. To be alive in this wonderful self-organizing universe, involved in the dance of life with the senses to perceive, with lungs to breathe, with organs that can obtain their nourishment — this is a miracle for which there are no words. Furthermore, it is an incredible privilege that we have been given human life with a self-reflective consciousness that makes us aware of our own actions and enables us to make decisions. Now is the time we human beings can decide to consciously and actively participate in this dance of life."
— Joanna Macy in Pass It On

Contemplate more inspiring quotes from Joanna here.

Spiritual Practice

In a blog post on Huffington Post, Joanna Macy shares five of her favorite practices for times of crisis. One of them is "Engage the Power of Benevolence." Here Macy comes full circle as a political animal who uses all her inner work for loving care and compassion for the world. This is the practice.

"Metta or loving kindness is a Buddhist meditation-in-action that many today are finding wonderfully efficacious. It is good for dispelling fear and ill-will, as well as generating care and understanding.

"This practice functions not as a vague, diaphanous feeling, but as a series of fairly precise person-by-person intentions. One traditional Burmese practice, for example, takes a four-fold form such as this:

"May (a specific person) be free from physical suffering.

"May he/she be free from mental suffering.

"May he/she be free from conflict.

"May he/she have ease of well-being.

"It’s important to extend this to oneself as well ('May I be free from mental suffering' etc). Variations are encouraged ('May he/she be free to develop the beauty of his/her mind.') This practice, when in play, cannot co-exist with fear."