Planet as Self
Collectively, our institutions are slowly destroying life on our planet and many of us feel helplessness and despair as we witness ecocide all around us. We want to act. But first we must understand why it is that so many people seem to care so little about the planet’s health .
This book focuses on the key question: Why don’t people love the Earth? Why, when we know what must be done, do we deflect and argue, doubt and contend?
Perhaps it is because age-old, limiting and often damaging cultural beliefs are passed down unexamined. These beliefs blind us to the astonishing and enlightening discoveries of modern science and to a full awareness of our embeddedness in Nature. But we can learn new ways of understanding and appreciating our world and develop beliefs more suitable for this century.
Planet as Self calls for an Earth-based spirituality: one that acknowledges Gaia as a living, and lovable being created by—and radiating— the creative energy of the universe. It teaches us how to love God through Nature.
Planet as Self is now available at your favourite bookseller. Click here for more details.
I enjoyed the afternoon of my book launch with eight people attending. Actually, the day was just too great to be indoors. Better to be with the trees and flowers than listening to somebody talk indoors. Actually, Aro Ling has a cool outdoors area where we sat in folding chairs and people could have sat in the full sun. My books are on sale there at a discount with all proceeds donated to the Drala Jong retreat centre appeal. Stop in and look around. I was surprised at how the supply of potted plants, flowers were quickly snapped up.
7 January, 2011
Today has been a big day. First, the arrival of the book The Field, by Lynne McTaggart that I’ve been waiting for. More about that in the near future. Then there is a beginning and yet not really the beginning. This morning I uploaded the unedited manuscript of my book- Planet as Self: An Earthen Spirituality- to the O Books database where it will be assigned a copy editor. Thus set in motion is a decision made on June 6th 2009, the day after my 69th birthday. I had arrived at Lake Roberts Cabins and General Store along Highway 35 in the Gila mountains (New Mexico) with the reservoir down below behind a ridge as I remember. Actually, I couldn’t see that there was a lake-front drive available so I saw very little of the lake- nothing like the views on the internet. I wanted to stay there mainly because of my plans to arrive at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument bright and early the next morning. So it was Lake Roberts or Silver City and Silver City would mean an alarm awakening at dark-thirty. I viewed a cabin and it was old and a bit cluttered but homely and adequate for me. I was shocked at the $100/per night fee but decided to treat myself. In retrospect, it certainly was not worth that much, but C’est-La-Vie. In the late afternoon of a bright sunny day, I ambled around behind the cabins and then worked my way along a gully opening out onto the North side of the road. I followed it back a few hundred yards as the clay sides became higher and higher.
After a light supper, I was just sitting quietly on the front porch looking out from under the shade of a couple of trees, relaxed and just enjoying the quiet and the air.
Suddenly it came to me that I would start my ministry next year, my 70th, the ministry that I had given up in 1959-yes, almost exactly 50 years back. At 17, I held a local preacher’s license in the Methodist Church. I attended DePauw University in southern Indiana for one year as a pre-theo student. Of course, it was a liberal arts college so I had the prerequisites to complete first thus there were no theology classes in the first year. To make a long story short, I found during the year that certain fundamental doctrines of Christianity, as I had been taught, were unacceptable. Primarily, I couldn’t accept that millions of Jewish, Islamic, and in fact all non-Christians were to be consigned to hell forever-no parole program approved- and that a wanna-be preacher was not expected to be seen consorting with sinners such as those that frequented bars or were what we called bums. Of course, I had got it all wrong and thought that Christ expected us to save sinners and not preach to the converted. Also, I remembered that in my home town Methodist church it was only the upper-crust of the local society that took up the collection whilst all the actual volunteer work of cooking, making costumes, cleaning was done by our blue-collar, so to speak, church goers- members I suppose as they would have been allowed to join up. I was oh so naive, as my dream was to be a country preacher that worked in the fields during the week and visited the sick, made friends with the non church goers and preached on Sunday. Well, it just doesn’t happen that way. Much later, I read about Vincent Van Gogh who wanted so badly to serve God as a preacher. He was allowed to sign on and then was sent to the desperately poor coal mining region of Alsace-Lorraine and couldn’t bear living up on the hill in church digs so he joined his parishioners in their poverty giving his wages to help save them from starvation. Well, you could guess that this wouldn’t go down favorably with the church administration. No, they visited him and left in horror, throwing poor Vincent out on his ear as unfit to serve the church. So, he decided to serve God as a painter. The rest is history. Now, I do not, in any way whatsoever connect myself with Van Gogh or want to leverage on his name. I just become sad when I think of how he must have felt. Anyway, I resigned my non-commission and tried to figure out what I was supposed to do now. I remained a bit out of it until one evening in Albuquerque, New Mexico a couple of years later when I metaphorically looked God in the eye and said “Do with me what you will because I just cannot figure it all out. I can’t find an answer so I will just do what I think best and take the consequences.” I have had no fear since. Oh yes, this reminds me of another story concerning my mentor, Henry David Thoreau. Evidently it was on his death bed with the preacher summoned and in attendance wherein the preacher said to Henry, “Well Henry, have you made your peace with God?” Henry responded thus: “I didn’t know that we had quarreled.” So, I just figured that I was on the losing end of the saying from the New Testament that “many are called but few are chosen.” So be it.
My ministry, right, but my ministry would be to preach Gaia. To witness for what I believe to be the truth: that Gaia is a living, loving conscious being with wisdom and powers beyond our ability to understand. Of course, just how that would come to be was not evident then and is only now unfolding. However, it seemed obvious that I must get busy when I returned and write down the nature of what I came to call Earthen Spirituality, a name that came from [or at least pioneered by] the inspired writing of Jesse Wolf Hardin. Yes, a spirituality embedded in the structure of Gaia, the living Earth. So, my efforts over the last 18 months have culminated in this 100 pages short book. [June 2011 – to be published in January 2012] Next, there are requests to those that I hope will have a look at the manuscript and write a short endorsement. Then there are various internet activities that I need to engage with so at an appropriate time, I can draw attention to the book. Very high on my list of things to do are preparations for public speaking. Unknown authors such as myself must do a lot of book promotion. Small publishers can market but do not have the funds to heavily promote. It is up to the author.
So, I will try to regularly communicate here on this website and hope there will be some followers and some discussion. In fact I suggested some discussion items just today on the Dark Mountain forum as follows: Then perhaps a few minutes of meditation and a few minutes honoring Gaia – adding to her loving energy. Perhaps discussing a question like: How do we honor Gaia? Why do people trash their home? Do people see themselves as Earthlings? Is Gaia just a test fixture on our way to eternal life somewhere else in a spirit world? Where did the idea emerge from that we are other than Earthlings and if we are Earthlings, why should we be wanting to go somewhere else? What evidence is there that there exists “somewhere else?”
I focus here because I believe that unless we truly own our existence in and among other planetary life, we just will not be too concerned about Gaia’s welfare even though logic points to the fact that we cannot maintain our health as Gaia’s health diminishes because we are Gaia.
Update – 20 April, 2012
Update – 30 March, 2012
I’ve decided that travelling around giving speeches is not the way forward. It is part of the old paradigm. So, I’ll make plans to obtain the equipment to make videos to place on Utube. Of course if takes carbon and pollution to make and ship the equipment, but there is no perfect solution – just a compromise and a cutting back. More later.
A lovely Tribute to the Book
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/
My first Book Review
Review from Drala-Jong blogspot by Lama Namgyal Dorje
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.
Review of ‘Planet as Self’ by Sky McCain
It’s self-evident that the health of planet Earth is crucial to our very existence. But if there are any doubts about the need for us to be reminded, one reading of Sky McCain’s book ‘Planet as Self’ dispels them. He argues for a radical rethink of our relationship with what we ought to regard as 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 notion that humanity has dominion over all the earth certainly ought to be challenged if the hallmarks are a consumerist treadmill and the ravages of environmental degradation. Sky pulls no punches in castigating apathetic and destructive attitudes.
But what I find so heartening is his remedy for this spiritual malaise. He charts an inspiring path to a new awareness of the natural world. A key factor is to stay in the present moment. ‘Be aware of what you are doing, thinking, feeling,’ he says. ‘Out of this awareness comes … the capacity to be completely attentive.’
He talks of the ‘utter delight in observing Nature’ and of ‘a reciprocal loving energy flowing whenever my heart is open to it.’ I like the way he draws upon the philosophy of Native Americans. ‘We are the land,’ they say. ‘You cannot separate us from the land.’
Sky’s book benefits greatly from passages in which he describes his own response to the natural world and I am impressed with the extensive range of sources he quotes in advocating an Earth-based spirituality.
The challenge he sets humanity is a profound one but the path to a more ecocentric world is illuminated by this book. Anyone reading it will feel empowered to take those first vital steps towards a new awareness. The beauty is that in reconnecting with Mother Earth we reconnect with ourselves, our senses are awakened and our lives enriched. What greater incentive than that do we need to start putting an ‘earthen spirituality’ into practice?
28 February, 2012
My Latest Review
Planet as Self – an Earthen Spirituality
This book engaged my attention from the start. In the opening pages, Sky McCain asks why, when we know the destruction that is being done to the planet and we know what must be done, do we ‘deflect and argue and doubt and contend?’ (pg 6). His answer is that deep down we don’t love the Earth, because we haven’t been taught that Gaia is loveable (pp 7-8).
The reason we don’t love Earth is that our cultural worldview is outdated. He goes on to explore how both Christianity and Renaissance science have taken us ever further from our enspirited planet. Like it or not, we now see and experience the world through these filters (pp 25-6). One replaced the worship of the forces of nature with that of saints and martyrs. The other viewed nature, as it did women, as ‘passive and compliant to the needs of commerce and industry’ (pg 40). In time this developed into the philosophy of a new, machine-like world which sanctioned the manipulation of nature (pg 41).
Science has, of course, moved on and the influence of Christianity has declined, but their legacies remain. If we are to love the Earth, we must strip out these outmoded beliefs and replace them with ones that acknowledge our deep connection with the planet and all other living creatures. This is the Earthen Spirituality of the title.
McCain goes on to outline how we can do this. It involves, amongst other things, acknowledging that we are not necessarily at the pinnacle of creation. Other creatures have a much more important role in maintaining the continuance of healthy life on Earth – bees, worms and bacteria, for example (pg 73). Nevertheless, we do have a role to play which is tied up in expressing the collective consciousness of nature (pg 80). I particularly liked the suggestion that we, along with all other life forms, are the nerve endings of Gaia, allowing her to be conscious of herself (pg 81).
McCain also gives a number of Earthen Spirituality practices, both communal and individual, to help us to reconnect with the Earth. The sharing of food, and blessing food before meals – such things show the reciprocity of love between us and Gaia. My own favourite is to give the ego, the thinking function, a rest – not by fighting it but by loving and appreciating it, and giving quiet assurance that you will call on it when you need its analytical skills (pg 88).
This is a small but very thought-provoking book. In addition to analysis of what’s wrong and suggestions for putting it right, several chapters end with a reflective passage on the author’s experience in various locations around the world which deepens the subject matter.
Earth Books, 2011
Comment by a good friend who is also an author and an excellent writer
I really enjoyed reading it! And I should have let you know that sooner – sorry to have become distracted by other things.
Your writing style is very clear and personal, by which I mean I can see you behind it. You ask questions that many people have asked themselves, in one form or another, while resisting the urge officiously to provide ready-made answers. Thus, you have side-stepped guru-hood – thank goodness for that!
If you don’t write another word (and I hope you do) this book will stand as a beautiful summation of your good and inquisitive nature and guide many people in their quest to see the wood for the trees.
Love and best wishes
23 July, 2013