Coming Back to Life
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Coming Back to Life

The Updated Guide to The Work that Reconnects

Joanna Macy, Molly Brown

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  1. 379 pages
  2. English
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  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Coming Back to Life

The Updated Guide to The Work that Reconnects

Joanna Macy, Molly Brown

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About This Book

Inspiration, practices, and meditations to empower us in the face of planetary suffering: "True wisdom for tough times." —John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America Deepening global crises surround us, causing many to fall prey to denial and despair. Coming Back to Life shows how grief, anger, and fear are healthy responses to the harsh realities of our time, and that when honored through the revolutionary practice of the Work That Reconnects, they can free us from paralysis and move us toward creative action. This new, completely updated edition of the classic text illuminates the extraordinary Work that has inspired hundreds of thousands to make strides towards the creation of a life-sustaining human culture. Buddhist scholar and environmental activist Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown introduce the Work's theoretical foundations, revealing the angst of our era with remarkable insight. Pointing the way forward out of apathy, they offer personal counsel as well as easy-to-use methods for group process that profoundly affect people's outlook and ability to act in the world. "If you want to connect with your joy even in the midst of sadness, if you want to see new life arise out of despair, Coming Back to Life has my highest possible recommendation." —John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and co-founder and president, The Food Revolution Network "A must for all who want to mobilize humanity in service of all beings. These concepts, exercises, and meditations have proven to work across generations, religions, ethnicities and races." —Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Director of Social Justice Organizing, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

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How shall I begin my song
in the blue night that is settling?
In the great night my heart will go out,
toward me the darkness comes rattling.
In the great night, my heart will go out.
— Papago Medicine Woman Chant
I call heaven and earth to record this day to your account, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed shall live.
— Deut. 30.19
WE LIVE IN AN EXTRAORDINARY MOMENT ON EARTH. We possess more technical prowess and knowledge than our ancestors could have dreamt of. Our telescopes let us see through time to the beginnings of the universe; our microscopes pry open the codes at the core of organic life; our satellites reveal global weather patterns and hidden behaviors of remote nations. And our electronic surveillance capacity leaves no aspect of anyone’s life safe from corporate and governmental scrutiny. Who, even a century ago, could have imagined such immensity of information and power?
At the same time we witness destruction of life in dimensions that confronted no previous generation in recorded history. Certainly our ancestors knew wars, plagues and famine, but today it is not just a forest here and some farmlands and fisheries there. Today entire species are dying, and whole cultures, and ecosystems on a global scale, even to the oxygen-producing plankton of our seas.
Scientists may try to tell us what is at stake when we burn rainforests and fossil fuels, dump toxic wastes in air, soil, sea and use chemicals that devour our planet’s protective ozone shield. But their warnings are hard to heed. For ours is an Industrial Growth Society.i Our political economy requires ever-increasing extraction and consumption of resources. To the Industrial Growth Society, the Earth is supply house and sewer. The planet’s body is not only dug up and turned into goods to sell, it is also a sink for the often toxic products of our industries. If we sense that the tempo is accelerating, we are right — for the logic of the Industrial Growth Society is exponential, demanding not only growth, but rising rates of growth and market share. The logic of ever-expanding need for resources and markets is generating what is increasingly recognized as a global corporate empire, secured by military threats, interventions and occupations.
The Industrial Growth Society generates great suffering worldwide. Buddhist social thinkers see that what is at work here are institutionalized forms of the three mutually reinforcing poisons at the root of all human suffering: greed, aggression and delusion. Consumerism can be seen as institutionalized greed, the military-industrial complex as institutionalized aggression and state- and corporate-controlled media as institutionalized delusion. It follows that we are confronting in the Industrial Growth Society universal errors to which all humans are prone, rather than evil or satanic forces. It also follows that once these errors become institutionalized as political, economic and legal agents in their own right, they attain a degree of autonomy extending beyond the control and the conscious choices of any individuals involved. This understanding can motivate us not to condemn so much as to work to free ourselves and others who...

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