“A human being is part of the whole called by us ‘universe,’ a part limited in time and space. She experiences herself, her thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of her consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

—Albert Einstein

“It has often been said that our environmental crisis is a crisis of perception. We do not readily see the patterns that would reveal our dependence on the natural world, nor are we commonly aware of the systems within which we are deeply embedded. Our attention, entrained on objects and focused on flat screens, is far removed from the dynamic and animated nonhuman world. We are as good as blind to the wonder at our feet or the daily spectacle of an ever-changing sky.”

—Laura Sewall, The Skill of Ecological Perception

“To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions as they are—painful, impermanent, open, imperfect—and then be grateful for impermanence and the freedom it grants us. For in a fixed universe there would be no freedom. The world is nature, and in the long run inevitably wild, because the wild, as the process and essence of nature, is also an ordering of impermanence.”

—Gary Snyder,
Call of the Wild

“Civilizations east and west have long been on a collision course with wild nature, and now the developed nations in particular have the witless power to destroy not only individual creatures but whole species, whole processes, of the earth. We need a civilization that can live fully and creatively together with wildness.”

—Gary Snyder,
The Etiquette of Freedom

“Sensation and perception do not exactly come from outside (the self), and the unremitting thought and image-flow are not exactly inside. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us.”

—Gary Snyder,
The Practice of the Wild

“Set aside the learned ways of perceiving the world as dead matter for your use and see if you can recover again your actual perception of the world as a community of beings to whom you are meaningfully related.”

—Erazim Kohak

“Contemporary science has shifted their perspective. They began to look at wholes instead of parts, at process (interaction) instead of substances (individuals). What they discovered was that these wholes—be they cells, bodies, ecosystems, or the planet itself—are not just a heap of disjunct parts, but dynamic, intricately organized and balanced systems, interrelated and interdependent in every movement, function, and exchange of energy. They saw that each element is a part of a vaster pattern, a pattern that connects and evolves.”

—Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown,
Coming Back to Life

“Life systems evolve flexibility and intelligence, not by closing off from the environment and erecting walls of defense, but by opening ever wider to the currents of matter-energy and information. It is in this interaction that life systems grow, integrating and differentiating. Here power, far from being identified with invulnerability, requires just the opposite—openness, vulnerability, and readiness to change. This indeed is the direction of evolution.”

—Joanna Macy,
Working Through Environmental Despair

“There are many models of sustainable indigenous societies. There are no models of sustainable industrial societies.”

—Leslie Gray,
Shamanic Counselling and Ecopsychology