Exploring the confluence of ancient Chinese spirituality and modern Western environmental thought, Wild Mind, Wild Earth reveals the unrecognized kinship of mind and nature that must be reanimated if we are to end our destruction of the planet.
Earth is embroiled in its sixth major extinction event — this time caused not by asteroids or volcanos, but by us. At bottom, preventing this sixth extinction is a spiritual/philosophical problem, for it is the assumptions defining us and our relation to earth that are driving the devastation. Those assumptions insist on a fundamental separation of human and earth that devalues earth and enables our exploitative relation to it.
In Wild Mind, Wild Earth, David Hinton explores modes of seeing and being that could save the planet by reestablishing a deep kinship between human and earth: the insights of primal cultures and the Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism of ancient China. He also shows how these insights have become well-established in the West over the last two hundred years, through the work of poets and philosophers and scientists. This offers marvelous hope and beauty — but like so many of us, Hinton recognizes the sixth extinction is now an inexorable and perhaps unstoppable tragedy. And he reveals how those primal/Zen insights enable us to inhabit even the unfurling catastrophe as a profound kind of liberation. Wild Mind, Wild Earth is a remarkable and revitalizing journey.
David Hinton has published numerous books of poetry and essays, and many translations of ancient Chinese poetry and philosophy — all informed by an abiding interest in deep ecological thinking. This widely-acclaimed work has earned Hinton a Guggenheim Fellowship, numerous fellowships from NEA and NEH, and both of the major awards given for poetry translation in the United States: the Landon Translation Award (Academy of American Poets) and the PEN American Translation Award. Most recently, Hinton received a lifetime achievement award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Matt Zepelin is an acquiring editor at Shambhala Publications and has edited David Hinton's last three books with Shambhala: Wild Mind, Wild Earth; China Root; and Awakened Cosmos. A long time Zen practitioner with interests in traditional Chinese culture and the intersection of contemporary Buddhism and ecology, he lives with his wife and baby daughter in Durango, Colorado.
David Hinton photo courtesy of the author