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Lions Roar : November 2014
Minding the earth, Mending the world: Zen and the art of Planetary Crisis By Susan Murphy Counterpoint 2014; 320 pp., $16.95 (paper) How can we wrap our minds around something so vast as the destruction of the planet, and—instead of going mad or numb—grow interested? And how do we slow down enough to quickly take right action? These are the opening questions of Susan Murphy’s new book, Minding the Earth, Mending the World: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis. Murphy does not shy away from the stark realities of the destruction we are wreaking in every ecosystem on Earth. And though her book is dense with facts, it reads like poetry or a series of koans. The reader can feel the author’s presence, the inspiration of her roosters and dog, and the ©ToMáSSánchEz,courTESyMArlBoroughgAllEry,nEwyork rhythmic shadow of trees and winter grass outside her window. It’s a book that must be absorbed slowly. Murphy writes, “The hour is beyond ‘late’ and in our heart of hearts we know it.” Indeed, we are living today with the con- sequences of carbon emissions released two decades ago—and they have only been increasing more rapidly each year since. It’s not surprising that so many of us turn to skepticism or silent despair. we do not know how to hold in our hearts the disaster we’ve created, which may well make the planet uninhabitable for our grandchildren. At the root of the environmental crisis is our overconsump- tion of the Earth’s resources, our never-satiated greed for more pleasure and comfort. The west has enjoyed the benefits of postindustrial technology for decades, and now billions of people in the developing world, coming out of poverty, under- standably want the same. According to our capitalist economic Bodhi Trees In nature we see Buddhist truths unfold, while in Buddhism we find ways to heal the natural world. Jessica morey on Minding the Earth, Mending the World. Reviews contemplador del blanco (1999) by Tomás Sánchez, acrylic on canvas SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2014 71