World As Lover, World As Self
by Joanna Macy, Tich Nhat Hanh
Parallax Press, 280pp
Publication Date: Nov., 1990
This book was written a decade ago. I read it two weeks after the tragedy at the World Trade Center, and found it filled with wisdom for a compassionate and peaceful response. I hope it will
inspire you as it did me.
Macy is a deep ecologist and a Buddhist. Her book is
about the state of our planet and what can be done to heal it and prevent further destruction. Her intention is to speak of the environment, but her message is big enough
to encompass healing the world of all its violence -- not just violence against the planet, but violence against each other.
Her very first chapter in the book speaks about four
spiritual approaches to the world. One approach sees the world through the lens of good and evil. In such a view evil must be destroyed by those who are good. Another
approach encourages people to escape the world through transcendence to other more spiritual realms. The third sees the world as lover, and the fourth sees the world as
self. If this chapter is the only one you read in the book, it is worth the price of the book. It opens up many possible responses to the terrible events of September 11.
Having read Chapter 1, you will likely want to read all the
other chapters in Part 1 of this four part book. When you reach Part 2, be prepared for difficult going. Part 2 is about the Buddhist concept of dependent co-arising and
you may find that you want to skip ahead to Parts 3 and 4. Part 4 is called Opening New Doors and explores what it will take for the planet to be able to sustain future
generations. Again, the parallel to recent world events is uncanny. What will it take to create peace on the planet so that we can be assured of life for future generations?
This book will disturb and inspire you. I promise it will
make you think deeply about how you are living your life and what you can do to change the world. Such questions are on many people's minds these days, and
certainly need to be on the mind of any of us who coach others.