by Zhiwa Woodbury at Work That Reconnects
“Truly the blessed gods have proclaimed a most beautiful secret: death comes not as a curse but as a blessing to men.” (Ancient Greek Epitaph from Eleusis)
The pace of climate change continues to accelerate, and it now appears inevitable that the Great Anthropocentric Extinction currently unfolding will include the end of life as we know it. Characterizing this ‘Great Dying’ as equivalent to a terminal diagnosis for the human race, and assuming an ecopsychological perspective that sees a close relationship between planetary health and mental health, the author applies the stages of grief to this Great Dying, exploring connections retroactively and prospectively between societal mental health trends in the U.S., our awareness of the severity of the threat we pose to the planet, and the stages of grieving the loss of life, and questions the role mental health professionals should play in this context. Looking ahead from this same perspective, the author asks if it is possible to alleviate the pain and suffering that will be associated with the widespread extinctions, mass mortality, and forced migrations that are anticipated by scientific experts as a result of climate disruptions, beginning with the idea of what a “good death” would look like in relation to the end of life as we know it, applying principles from hospice and palliative care. Finally, he offers a hopeful vision that, with an expanding planetary hospice movement and appropriate containing myths, it might be possible to re-cast this Great Dying as a difficult, but spiritually progressive, death/rebirth experience for homo sapiens.
Zhiwa Woodbury is a long time dharma practitioner, hospice provider, and environmental attorney. He presently serves residents at Zen Hospice Project and is teaching Buddhist Theories of Self, Mind & Nature while completing an M.A. in East/West Psychology at California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. He can be reached via email at email@example.com
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Tuesday, 1 April 2014, 7:00 p.m., Paul Henry’s Art Gallery, 416 Sibley Street, Hammond, Indiana, “Climate Chaos” (follow on Facebook here)
East-coast tour (detailed information to come, including exact locations and times; follow on Facebook here):
5 April 2014, Ithaca, New York
6 April 2014, Niagara Falls, New York
Tuesday, 8 April 2014, 7:00 p.m. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Conversation With Paul Beckwith (to be live-streamed)
Wednesday, 9 April 2014, 6:00 p.m., Steelworker’s Hall, 66 Brady Street, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, “Climate Chaos” (Facebook announcement and invitation)
Thursday, 10 April 2014, 12:00 noon, Meeting Room 1, Greater Sudbury Public Library, 74 Mackenzie Street, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, “Responding to Climate Chaos” (Facebook announcement and invitation)
Saturday, 12 April 2014 6:30 p.m., East Hall, 2 Lippitt Road, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, “Climate Chaos”
14 April 2014, Westchester County, New York
20 April 2014, Potluck dinner with attendees of last May’s presentation at the Mt. Kisco Library
The Next Step: Living Courageously in a World of Transition, a 14-day seminar, 12-25 June 2014, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America. I will be included with an otherwise-excellent group of facilitators for this remarkable two-week experience.
Late October through early November 2014, European tour. Details forthcoming. Follow on Facebook here.
Going Dark is available from the publisher here, from Amazon here, from Amazon on Kindle here, from Barnes & Noble on Nook here, and as a Google e-book here. Going Dark was reviewed by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power and by more than two dozen readers at Amazon.