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Joanna Macy:
World as Lover, World as Self
Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1991.
In essays from long experience as a Buddhist ecological activist, Macy presents Buddhist concepts in the most accessible form I've read anywhere. Her discussion of "dependent co-arising" describes how the Buddhist ethical system understands morality as an interdependent web, without a single authority to prescribe moral imperatives. And how our concept of "self" needs to be enlarged: the self is full of so much more than we think , drawing our boundaries at the skin. The self is full of all beings, the self is full of the world, the universe.
One review I read of this book made me laugh (albeit somewhat wryly): "My guess is that you need a healthy ego-construct before you take on the identity of 'world as self.'...I would not recommend this book to people with weak or damaged ego-formations," said Tyrone Cashman in Tricycle (Winter '91, p. 92).
I'm sure there's a grain of truth in his one-sided assessment. But for forty years I struggled to fix a "weak or damaged ego-formation," in a system that defined me as inadequate because I couldn't get behind its values. It has only been the satsang of women like Beck and Klein telling me to look at the whole paradox, Gross clueing me in to the differences between men's and women's ego-styles, and Macy telling me that my sense of connection is not crazy but essential... that has given me a self-acceptance and confidence I never could find when I was trying to "strengthen my ego."
I have quoted some passages in my essay on Joanna Macy on Depenent Co-Arising. In addition, major excerpts are included in this article from In Context.

last modified 12 June 2001