John Michael Greer
“John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America and the author of more than twenty books on a wide range of subjects, including The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age, The Ecotechnic Future: Exploring a Post-Peak World, and The Wealth of Nature: Economics As If Survival Mattered. He lives in Cumberland, MD, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.”
I don’t recall ever reading a series of reports, extremely candid, clever and well organised essays actually, that held my interest like these. I think you are missing something special if you don’t have a peak at them from time to time.
Soon, I will be reporting on his latest, I think, book entitled “Apocalypse NOT, Everything you Know About 2012, Nostradamus and the Rapture is Wrong” I bought the book immediately after reading, with horror, that 47% of the members of the Republican party believe in some degree or some form of Apocalypse, especially the Rapture. I must admit that I have not read his other books but if they are anything like this one, they’ll be terrific.
What is so good about this book? 1st, I am very personally interested in knowing more about this Rapture and 2nd coming phenomenon. It scares and deeply saddens me to know that so many people applaud ecocide because they think it brings them closer to when they will be wafted up into heaven. Before reading Greer’s book, I found it unbelievable. Now I believe it and understand where it and other apocalyptic ideas came from. 2nd, John’s style is clear, to the point and flowing. Even if you were not especially interested in the subject, it would most likely interest you. 3rd, As a retired technical instructor who is always interested in better methods of presenting material, I like it that John subtly and interestingly follows a method that I learned in my Train the Trainer course. 1st, Tell ‘em what your going to tell ‘em – 2nd, Tell ‘em and 3rd, tell ‘em what you told ‘em. There are even cleverly written transitions at the end of each section moving you smoothly into the next point. These things are sorely lacking in most non-fiction I read.
If your not sure what the Rapture is, then I strongly suggest looking it up. You can start here. http://christianity.about.com/od/faqhelpdesk/a/whatisrapture.htm
If you want an eyeful, then have a link at this link; http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com/
Its been a couple of years since I’ve come across a book I wish I’d written myself, and interestingly this one is by the husband of the last author /editor I raved about (that was + is GreenSpirit Marian Van Eyk McCain) And this is written better than I could do. Sky has a lovely way with words, easy to read. I can imagine a twinkle in his eyes when he speaks of the Earth, and his love radiates out of the pages. For a very long time I have been looking for ways to convey the sense of I am Earth, her food my body, her water my blood, and I share the molecules from the stars with every other creature and plant. This isn’t just a fanciful worldview, it is a most fundamental fact and such understanding is vital for our survival. Sky takes it further: my mind is Earth’s mind, Earth as perceivable manifestation of God. It has been told in a style of someone speaking to me.
In this book is the first time outside of science fiction I have heard us referred to as “Earthlings.” Yes! And he puts into graspable practicality what Peter Russell (among others) has been helping me to understand since my aha! days in the early 1980s. This read is more to me than preaching to the converted: it is speaking for me, taking me further into life and builds my store of how. It is available as hard copy and e-book.
Cynthia Alves February 2012
“In The Global Brain Awakens Peter Russell shows that humanity has reached a crossroads in its evolutionary path. [Our expanding communications] technology, combined with a the rapidly growing human potential movement, is helping to create a collective consciousness that is humanity’s only hope of saving it from itself. However, Russell warns if we continue on our current path of greed and destruction, humanity will serve only as a planetary cancer.” http://www.lifepower.org.uk/
GreenSpirit, Summer 2005
Jesse Wolf Hardin
GAIA EROS:Reconnecting to the Magic and Spirit of Nature
The Career Press, Franklin Lakes NJ (USA) 2004.
ISBN 1–56414–729–0 (pbk)
Jesse Wolf Hardin’s new book bears an accurately descriptive title. Gaia, the living, conscious, inspirited Earth, and eros, the love of the Earth. Gaia Eros – Earth love. Its thirty-eight small chapters felt to me more like a collection of love poems than a series of essays. Unconnected by a logical, progressive unfolding of ideas, each is complete in itself like musical variations on a theme – the theme of Earthly love.
In much the same vein as John Muir, Robinson Jeffers, Annie Dillard and Henry David Thoreau, Wolf writes and talks from out of his personal experience, revealing his love affair with the larger domain of himself. Love for others, and for all of Nature, must be grounded in love of self. Not so much the egoic, personal self, but more the larger Self fully embodied in the sacred skin of the living Earth. ‘Earthen Spirituality’ or ‘New Nature Spirituality’ is what Wolf likes to call it.
All his chapters – or poetic vignettes – are like expressions of the lover speaking from a heart saturated with over twenty-five years spent in the sensual, erotic bower of his beloved canyon. It is a place of cool breezes and laughing waters, thick and luxuriant with a backdrop of forest and stately cliffs rising to lofty crags and pinnacles. Cool boulders of bold design dotted with hardy cacti lie among fallen limbs in and among sand washed down with Autumn thundershowers. “I’m excited,” says Wolf. And having walked the sacred canyon myself, I understand and share that excitement.
Of course, the American Southwest has no monopoly on beauty. Equally, there may be the loveliness of a potted plant, hedgerows of campions interspersed with the withering bluebell blossoms past their prime and forming seed. The joyfully sounding song of the robin shortly before his summer silence or the melodious notes of the blackbird taking a short break from the relentless task of feeding her young; all are equal parts of Gaia. As Wolf puts it, “the interpenetration and interrelationship of all her sacred parts.”
Interwoven with the affirmations of joyful communion with Gaia are several invigorating themes. I’ll just touch on a few. Earthen Spirituality promises no transcendent answer or creed. Where is it that we think we might go? The Tao is within, not out there somewhere. There is no need to look further than our Earthly home for sustenance. In my own words: let us wholly immerse ourselves in the love and beauty of Gaia and let Gaia, who is better equipped, deal with cosmic consciousness. Our connection to the cosmos must come through Gaia. We, as earthling animals, simply don’t have the sensors to deal directly with galactic spirit.
And why should we be concerned? Can we not be satisfied with being Earthlings?
Wolf says-“Earth is a spirit-embodied being, sexually charged and reproductive, but also sensitive and vulnerable. In this way our playmate, partner, and lover.”
In Chapter 11, there is a fairly detailed ‘Anatomy of a Quest’ as guided by the residents of the Earthen Spirituality Project in the magical Gila Mountains of New Mexico, USA, once the abode of the Mogollon (‘Sweet Medicine’) people.
A major part of the New Nature Spirituality involves “recreating a practice that is true to our mixed heritage and found homes, true to the current needs of self and earth in these contemporary times.” Avoiding ‘cultural appropriation’, we need authentic rituals that reflect our new understanding of Gaia, (what I call ‘rituals of uncertainty’). These must be pulled from the heart and shared. Early on, in Chapter 2, there is a ‘sweet medicine query,’ a preparatory rite of passage into the book. This mental preparation seems to parallel the two mile walk into the canyon, where the visitor must cross the usually calf deep river seven times.
Some other charming chapters feature such things as ‘Mulberry Truths’ – a collection of affirmations and truths from Nature’s storehouse, and ‘Lessons of the Furry Buddhas’ – things the author has learned from bobcats, such as: “Anytime you’re not actively being pursued, don’t bother being afraid”. Then there is Wolf’s ‘Ode to Wilderness’, an impassioned testimony rather than reasoned argument. In Gaia Eros one also finds a detailed example of restoring and resacramenting land, beautiful suggestions for reclaiming the ever present ‘now’ and several interviews which help the reader to be come better acquainted with the author. These and others are all illustrated with Wolf’s art.
In a culture that is currently threatening to bring about “the end of Nature”, Gaia Eros is a Song of Songs, an inspirited beacon piercing through the darkness.
The Music of Life
Biology Beyond Genes
It has been popular to speak of the genetic program as a causal agent, a blueprint for human development. The theme of this book is to show that there is no such program.
Genetic determination fails to tell the whole story.
“In each gene, the chemicals are arranged in specific ways to facilitate the production of specific proteins.” However, exactly how the genes are expressed or how the protein is made varies according the cellular environment, the age of the organ and what type, out of over 200 varieties, of cells in question. Finally, “there is no one-to-one correspondence between genes and biological functions.” Noble uses the first few chapters to provide us with an extremely clear picture, in an easy to understandable way, an alternative, a systems biology, explanation of cellular and organ development. Noble asks the following question: How do we use detailed knowledge of the small scale to understand the processes that “govern entire living systems?”
This book takes us on a fascinating journey of exploration seeking answers as to why a century or more of picking apart and documenting the “how does it work” details of the genome has not answered the question above. Who is running the show? For instance, “DNA does nothing outside the context of the cell.” All of the over 200 kinds of cells used to make up the various organs of the body contain identical DNA. Therefore, DNA alone cannot determine how the cell will develop functionally.
Having established the extent of DNA activity in the cells, Noble turns to higher functions and the challenge offered to systems biologists who begin to look at levels of functionality where there seems to be a flow of movement with bottom-up, top-down and even sideways pressures in development. You will enjoy Noble’s most interesting and comical metaphor in a story he calls “the Chinese Emperor and the poor farmer.”
Of course, when an almost complete understanding of cellular function offers very little help in understanding higher level functions, the road becomes bumpy and vision somewhat blurred. Both scientists and the public demand clear, concise, mathematically perfect answers. Unfortunately, Gaia doesn’t work that way. As Noble says: Nature is inherently messy. And yet there is and must be multi-cellular harmony. Our over 200 cell types have had over 2 billion years of experience in cooperative ventures. Our organism may not be perfect, but most of the time it works.
Noble is convinced that a bottom-up, reductionist scientific outlook on biology cannot answer the important questions we need to know about ourselves and how we operate in our environment. The last two chapters were the most interesting to me because they journey into territory that demands a more holistic view, an integrated view of multiple, nested processes. I like the concept of a holarchy where each higher level of function is greater than the sum of its lower operations. This takes us to chapter 9, the penultimate chapter, where we find the question: “So how do biologists and philosophers think we see the world?” This a deeply important question because our actions and reactions are largely, if not completely based on our world view – or the meaning we glean from our environment both far and near. Too often we see and hear what we think is there.
The favoured scientific view of how we see the world is based on a proposition, a physicalist position that our senses turn their inputs into electrical movements that are interpreted by the brain that contains an “I” or self, that creates our world. Noble asks; (1) Where and what is the “I?” (2) Where or what is the map or the translator that gives meaning to the sensory outputs? Recently, several neuroscientists suggest that the brain is the self. The book cites several experiments that do not support this view.
Neuroscientists will never find a physical explanation for how intentional action is performed by the body because this action occurs at a higher level. As I mentioned above, a holarchical concept seems to be necessary. I liked a subheading which reads:
The Self is not a neural object.
At the end of the day, we may come to the conclusion that the self is more like a process than an object. I admire the fact that the author is willing to engage with subjects, since Descartes, considered outside the realms of science. Unless we are destined to morph into robots, we need to be concerned about consciousness and how we can best see ourselves as beings of intention – of purpose not strictly limited to survival. We need to go softly and listen to the orchestra so we can play in tune. Yes, as Noble says, let us listen to the music of life.
Additional personal observations on the book
Personally, I was extremely impressed with the way Noble, from a scientific frame of reference – as I understand it – may be agreeing somewhat with a philosophical outlook held by Advaita Vedanta and some adherents of Buddhist thought. I can state my point quite clearly, but my statement cannot be understood solely by our thinking function, or bear logical analysis. There is no separate me that does the seeing, the hearing, etc. There is only the seeing and the hearing. There is the absence of the doer. There is just the doing. Consciousness, and I don’t mean sensory inputs and outputs, permeates our reality. It isn’t something we possess, it is something we are. The “I” that we think we are is not a separate object to be observed. We can never find ourselves out there because we are that which we so desperately seek. I accepted this way of viewing existence supposing the one consciousness pervaded the universe. Recently, it came to me that Gaia mediates this pervading energy and that we are the planet. Gaia is the one consciousness as far as we Earthlings are concerned. All of what we term objects around us reflect the beingness and consciousness of Gaia to the extent of its development. As self reflective beings – and I do not exclude other species here – we are more being lived than living. From this perspective, “going with the flow,” “communing with Nature,” the sense of awe and reverence we feel when we encounter the energy of dolphins, whales, and recently from an article printed in the Orion magazine, the presence of an octopus.
All these phenomena take on new meaning when we think of being in and not on a planet. We share, at the highest level of our evolutionary abilities, the mind and heart of Gaia. There is so much freedom in this way of thinking of how we are in the world. No guilt, no alienation, no aloneness. One can sense the loving care and intimate relationship with all around. From this perspective, who dies? Where else would we go?
There are so many more implications here that I won’t go into now. Let me conclude with the following. I recall a saying from a great teacher and former medical doctor, Richard Moss. “You have nothing to offer another being but the quality of your presence.”
Panpsychism – A book Review
Panpsychism: The Philosophy of the Sensuous Cosmos, Peter Ells, 20011, O-Books,Hants,UK
This lovely book might have been more accurately named idealistic panpsychism.
Idealistic panpsychism is neither idealism nor is it panpsychism, hence the distinction. It differs from idealism in that it does not stress the extreme importance of human spirit but like panpsychism sees everything as having spirit. It differs from panpsychism in that it does see everything as mind, and not just mind like qualities. Having said this, perhaps Ells used just panpsychism because of the plethora of distinctions around the use of the word. As Ells puts it: “…is the doctrine that the universe is composed of hierarchies of experiential entities, (beings) and of nothing else.” Experiential entities are beings that have both experiential existence and empirical existence. Further, to actually exist then is to be either an experiential entity or composed of experiential entities as is the case of more evolved organisms such as plants and animals. The implications are vast. Obviously, if the universe is composed of nothing but beings and beings are seen as alive, then the universe is alive. This explains the book’s subtitle: The Philosophy of the Sensuous Cosmos.
Ells proposes that science’s claim of objectivity is false. Physicalism, some call it materialism, has achieved its extremely successful reputation off the back of the discipline of science. This is evident in the following: “Science can in principle give a complete account of all the entities in our universe.” Actually, this statement is not within science but about science thus a metaphysical claim. This book sets out to challenge the many assumptions that are metaphysical in character and cannot be upheld through the success of the scientific method. Ells intends in this book to point out how a sensuous cosmos composed of living entities is a far more profound metaphor than the prevalent materialistic view cited above. Further, he criticizes the materialistic paradigm “for imposing a nihilistic helplessness on contemporary culture.”
The author proposes to show that idealistic panpsychism is a superior alternative to physicalism for the following reasons.  It reconciles our intuitive, commonsense understanding of ourselves as persons with the revelations of science and  provides clarification and solutions to philosophical problems beyond the reach or remit of physicalism. As an aid to understanding, the book compares and contrasts physicalism with idealistic panpsychism finding idealistic panpsychism superior for the two reasons cited above.
Sometimes it is more effective to define something by showing how it affects our understanding of major pieces of life’s puzzle. Thus there are chapters on areas where the implementation of panpsychism makes a difference. First there is a discussion of the present state of Science. Then a section on consciousness. Following that the author provides a detailed investigation of existence revealing explanatory problems with physicalism. One of the more interesting chapters contains a discussion of how mental causation relates to physical causation. Explaining the nature of causation has been a vexing philosophical problem, especially that posed by skeptics from the time of David Hume. For instance, how does a feeling cause a physical action?
Near the middle of the book is a chapter entitled résumé. Here, Ells summarizes in relaxed layman’s language the contents of the preceding three chapters on existence, causation and idealistic panpsychism. I found this particularly helpful. Further, the whole tenor of the book consists of a fugue of a philosophical treatise and ordinary language. Following are chapters on pain and suffering and free will. In the last chapter, sensuous cosmos, I was reminded of the works of Maurice Merlo-Ponty and David Abram and phenomenology.
In conclusion, Peter Ells has not only spoken eloquently and with uncommon clarity but actually fired a fatal shot into the idea that the questionable marriage of science and materialism has unlocked or will ever reveal the mystery of life.
This review is from the Drala-Jong blogspot at:
One definition of stupidity is ‘Doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result’. Sky McCain explains how we participate in a form of cultural stupidity by believing that our thoughts and ideas about the planet upon which we live are truly our own. In reality – he demonstrates – they are the result of a philosophical shaping that has been driven for centuries by the thinkers and spiritual traditions that have come before us. In taking us through a literature review that spans more than two millenia of thought, Sky demonstrates that this process is a natural one – a cultural, societal process – yet one that can lead to the most unnatural of conclusions. The conclusions that we accept, unchallenged, have resulted in a disharmonious way of being – an assonance – a persistent act of mass stupidity in which we all participate, that fails to appreciate the poetry of being. Recognising that we are unconscious slaves to the ideas of others is a vital first step if we are to break free of preconception, and develop a real, open, communicative relationship with the world around us and the very earth upon which we walk. As Sky puts it ‘. . . out-dated beliefs can linger. . . if they are not consciously examined’. Planet as Self makes that challenge, and suggests some steps that can be used to sustain that challenge and avoid falling back into inherited ways of thinking.
It is important to be clear – this is not a Buddhist book. The conclusions drawn from Sky’s challenge lead him to what he describes as an Earthen Spirituality. Readers will find that spiritual view compelling – or not – depending on their personal proclivities and passions. However the deconstruction of the cultural processes that have driven our corrosive effect on the environment is something valuable for everyone to understand. The author’s passion for his subject sings out of the pages.
Posted in the Drala-Jong blog by Namgyal Tuesday 12 July, 2011
Lama Namgyal serves in the Aro lineage within the Nyingma or “old tradition” of Tibetan Buddhism along with other western ordained men and women and lives with his wife Lama Shé-zér and their young son Tomas in southern Wales.