Earth Books, 2012, 109 pp
Reviewed by Laurence Shelley
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?