Minding the Earth, Mending the World
Susan Murphy believes, unlike earliercivilisations that used ancient stories to underpin a sense of what was real, the industrialising world has no bedrock, only a rapacious need for growth and to bend the earth to its needs and ambitions. Her solution for tackling the environmental crisis we have created is to turn to the Zen tradition of the koan, a ‘public case’ that seeks to break the frame of ordinary thought and trigger a healing of our minds. Only then, Murphy says, can we respond to and break free from the paralysis that binds us to the thinking that created the problem in the first place. With no experience of Zen teachings or The Universe Story of ecotheologian Thomas Berry, I found this book frustrating at first. There are no scientific facts or figures, no berating of politicians or big business, yet Murphy calmly and beautifully builds the case for all of us to “look deep inside our own humanity and our natures to rediscover the medicine to heal our collective madness”. Far from feeling despair, Murphy believes we are on an adventure and that having an “awake” mind will set us on the path of seeing beyond winning and defeat; to having the imagination and courage to change the story. As she says, “it comes back to each of us” and you can’t argue with that.
Marea Martlew, Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney
Susan Murphy is a writer, radio producer, film director and Zen teacher. For nearly two decades, she also taught screen studies, cultural studies and screen writing at UTS.
This review was first published by UTS: Newsroom.