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Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi

A Reappraisal

Edited By Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese

This book is a reconsideration of spirituality as a lived experience in the lives of the contributors. The authors speak both as well-informed scholars and as individuals who experienced the lived spirituality they give voice to. The authors do not place themselves above and outside of what they are writing about but within that world. They speak of living psychospiritual traditions of healing both the self and the world; of traditions that have not disembedded the self from the wider world. Those traditions are from indigenous North and South America (5 essays), a Buddhist/Shakta from Bengal, an Indo-Persian Islamic psychoanalyst, and a mystical Jewish feminist rabbi. The book also includes a historical essay about the extermination of the Renaissance worldview of Anima Mundi.

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Introduction (Frédérique Apffel-Marglin/Stefano Varese)

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Introduction

Cosmic Dialogues

frédérique apffel-marglin and stefano varese

For the Anishnaabe people of northeastern United States and Canada, as for many other Indigenous peoples of the Americas, silence and alertness are the necessary conditions that allow the receptive quietness into which the world spirit can be heard. This state of quietness of the individual mind is consciousness, the rejoining of the personal mind with the cosmic mind. The Amazonian shaman of the Asháninka people—the shiripiari—can listen to the stories that plants, trees and animals can tell him and learn how to treat people with them. When European anthropologist Jeremy Narby asked shiripiari Don Carlos how he learned the properties of the different plants of the Amazon rainforest, the answer was as simple as enigmatic: “The plants talk to me” (Narby 1998, 38). Similar humble and still indecipherable answers given by Indigenous intellectuals and spiritual elders to Euro-American researchers reveal the fundamental separation of the modern materialist reductionist theory of knowledge and the Indigenous concept and practice of knowledge, that is, the “coming-to-knowing” as a constant process of the individual coming “into relationship with the energy and animating spirit of the universe” (Peat 1994, 55). Along thousands of miles of Andean and Amazonian mountains, the Yatiris and Yachak of each community are charged with maintaining the cosmic dialogue and keeping the Apus and Wak’as alive and satisfied of being a part of the larger sacred kinship. No human would be...

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