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World as Lover, World as Self

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  270 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
This overview of Joanna Macy's innovative work combines deep ecology, general systems theory, and the Buddha's teachings on interdependent co-arising. A blueprint for social change, World as Lover, World as Self shows how we can reverse the destructive attitudes that threaten our world.
Paperback, 252 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Parallax Press (first published 1991)
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The parts of this book that deal with Dependent (or Interdependent) Co-Arising, the history of Buddhism, and the parallels between Buddhism and Systems Theory are very good. Joanna Macy's approach to the problem of radioactive waste, however, suffers from her own admitted fear and despair of the issue. I'm not eager to be critical of that fear: radioactive waste is a scary-ass problem; however, in order to see the issue more clearly, I think it's important for readers to be willing to do widen t ...more
Kate Savage
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was taken by the first section of this book. It helped me think harder about forming my own spiritual practice around caring for the Earth.

But then it became a long text on the nuances of different forms of Buddhism, and their superiority to Hinduism, and I'm not really here for that.
Christopher Heimarck
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
it was this book that brought me back to a respect for, and belief in, buddhism that i had years ago, before i left it and went the direction of the Bible and Christianity. and though i am primarily a Christian, i am also a buddhist. this book might be considered to be "eco-buddhist" in the sense that it reflects an understanding of buddhism, but also a deep love for the world, the creatures and plants in the world, and a desire to help do whatever possible to help human beings survive indefinit ...more
Julie Fiandt
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My review:
World as Lover, World as Self is a uniquely large scale meditation on social justice and ecology. This newly revised and entirely relevant book may inspire activists of all causes and backgrounds. Buddhist philosophies inform Macy's work, which realistically depicts the world's devastations. At the same time, it promotes philosophical approaches to despair, shares heartening poems, and guides readers through meditation exercises. For example, she does not shy away from di
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. So rich, so deep, so inspiring. Written by an eco-Buddhist, who uses her deep understanding of Dharma to mobilize our energies and compassion toward healing the earth. I will be reading this book again and intend to attend workshops that the author runs or others run based on her Work that Reconnects. I also was so taken with Joanna Macy that I am now reading her memoir. She has written other books as well; I will be reading them all! If you have any itch to do something ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
(i want to thank Goodreaders for their opinions-- you ARE this "review")

World as lover, world as self; readers’ responses to Joanna Macy’s words

This is a collation of Amazon and Goodreads readers’ responses to Joanna Macy’s book, “World as love, world as self. (up to Oct., ‘13). My voice, in italics, structures and adds comments. Joanna’s voice is mostly indirect, seen through the mirror of her readers; readers identified by initials. The average reader ratings of Joanna Macy’s book were sky-hi
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this because B finished reading it and was talking with me about depression. I came to realize during that conversation that I can work against depression on an individual self level, I could talk all day about that, but that there was something else he was getting at. This bigger thing.

This book is about a lot of things. Mostly about future looking. A new idea for me was "reinhabiting time" to be responsible to future generations. I question whether I work for the sake of futu
Sep 14, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
from the library c1991

Table of Contents c2007

Stephanie Kaza

Part One: Harvesting Wisdom from the Past

World as Lover, World as Self
It's All Connected
Self and Society
Karma: The Co-arising of Doer and Deed
Mother of All Buddhas
Part Two: Cultivating the Present

75 (12)
The Bestiary
87 (4)
Despair Work
91 (12)
Faith, Power, and Ecology
103 (10)
Three Lessons in Compassion
113 (7)
The Shambhala Warriors
120 (3)
Taking Heart: Spiritual Practices
May 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book as much as I loved Joanna's memoir, Widening Circles. Perhaps this is because I am coming to her work a little later in the game, having already seen it come alive through the voice of Bill Plotkin (and likely the work of others). I appreciate Joanna's efforts to emphasize the necessity of having a spiritual practice if one wishes to engage successfully and mindfully in social activism, yet found her guided imagery exercises a bit tedious and unconvincing. Her writing ...more
Sep 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: hippies, buddhists, the demographic where they intersect
I'm a huge fan of her based solely on her autobiography, so I picked this up. There's a lot of fairly technical stuff about early Buddhist doctrine, which I probably didn't understand at all. Also some stuff about 'speaking for the earth' which I just kind of ignored. The most interesting part for the non-Buddhist were the essays on her experiences studying and doing community work in Tibet and Sri Lanka.
Nick Mather
Joanna Macy merges Deep Ecology, Buddhism and systems theory to address the many environmental crises we face. Grounding her activism in spirituality, Macy provides a road map for the rest of us so that we can see the infinite extent of our relations and develop the compassion to act wisely and not get lost in despair. This is a personal and beautifully written book.
Jun 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book seemed fractured to me between her environmental activist and deep ecology voice and her as a scholar of Buddhism. The two are woven tightly together along with her personal stories and fears for the world. I didn't get a grip on how to deal with one via the other but was left with compassion for her suffering.
Jan 10, 2009 added it
This book helped clarify for me the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism while pointedly and eloquently addressing the self-destructive worldviews that many of us hold, that simply do not allow for a peaceful coexistence of humans and humans, let alone humans and other life. I'm eager to read it again.
James Giddings
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystic
This book connects ecological activism, psychology and Buddhism together in a wonderfully encouraging way. I particularly like the guided meditations that are found throughout the book, especially the "Meditations in Deep Time" section where we reconnect with the beings of the past and the future and ultimately with Gaia herself.
Ann Manning
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book--Buddhist, Environmentalist, Philospher, translator of Rilke all wrapped into a book that helps you when you feel so discouraged by the state of the world. A gifted writer/thinker she has the capacity to clarify what matters and how to stay the course no matter how discouraging things look on the surface. A deeply spiritual book.
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
agree with one reviewer-- "felt like i'd been hit over the head with a 2 by 4; ;changed my life."

full review at my editors
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nothing more profound, nothing more life-saving
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism, ecology
Employing Buddhist practices to confront ecological destruction, this important work lays out practices for those struggling with despair for a challenged planet.
Mandy Haggith
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rather crowded with Buddhist doctrine, but with some great insights about how to survive as an environmental campaigner. I tried a bit of 'despair work' with some colleagues and it was insightful.
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Dr. Joanna Macy, activist, ecologist and author, is one of the pioneers of engaged Buddhism. Her online work includes the article "World as Lover, World as Self"; "Bestiary" (an ode to wildlife); Nuclear Guardianship, her testimony at the World Uranium Hearings in Salzburg, 1992; and The Vegan Vision, on the ethics of a vegan diet. Her other books include Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General S ...more
More about Joanna Macy
“Of course, even when you see the world as a trap and posit a fundamental separation between liberation of self and transformation of society, you can still feel a compassionate impulse to help its suffering beings. In that case you tend to view the personal and the political in a sequential fashion. "I'll get enlightened first, and then I'll engage in social action." Those who are not engaged in spiritual pursuits put it differently: "I'll get my head straight first, I'll get psychoanalyzed, I'll overcome my inhibitions or neuroses or my hang-ups (whatever description you give to samsara) and then I'll wade into the fray." Presupposing that world and self are essentially separate, they imagine they can heal one before healing the other. This stance conveys the impression that human consciousness inhabits some haven, or locker-room, independent of the collective situation -- and then trots onto the playing field when it is geared up and ready.

It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up -- release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened.”
“In the first movement, our infancy as a species, we felt no separation from the natural world around us. Trees, rocks, and plants surrounded us with a living presence as intimate and pulsing as our own bodies. In that primal intimacy, which anthropologists call "participation mystique," we were as one with our world as a child in the mother's womb.

Then self-consciousness arose and gave us distance on our world. We needed that distance in order to make decisions and strategies, in order to measure, judge and to monitor our judgments. With the emergence of free-will, the fall out of the Garden of Eden, the second movement began -- the lonely and heroic journey of the ego. Nowadays, yearning to reclaim a sense of wholeness, some of us tend to disparage that movement of separation from nature, but it brought us great gains for which we can be grateful. The distanced and observing eye brought us tools of science, and a priceless view of the vast, orderly intricacy of our world. The recognition of our individuality brought us trial by jury and the Bill of Rights.

Now, harvesting these gains, we are ready to return. The third movement begins. Having gained distance and sophistication of perception, we can turn and recognize who we have been all along. Now it can dawn on us: we are our world knowing itself. We can relinquish our separateness. We can come home again -- and participate in our world in a richer, more responsible and poignantly beautiful way than before, in our infancy.”
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