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Nautilus Gold Medal Winner

The Tao of Liberation has received the 2010 Nautilus Gold Medal for Cosmology and New Science. Find out more...

Editorial Reviews

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The Earth Charter Initiative

Original Review: Outstanding new book

Earth Charter International gladly presents a new book launched in November 2009 from two outstanding authors, a prominent liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, and Mark Hathaway – The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation. The book has a Foreword by Fritjof Capra and is published by Orbis Books.

The Tao of Liberation skillfully combines social, political, economic, ecological, emotional, and spiritual approaches of the current crises rooted in unsustainability of global capitalism, which has resulted in rising social inequality, exclusion, a collapse of democracy, deterioration of the environment, and growing poverty. Moreover, authors go further and claim that all current hazards are symptoms of a more profound cultural and spiritual sickness, and the great challenge for the twenty-first century will be to make a fundamental shift in our attitude to nature, and within our value system.

This book takes a different approach to sustainability, traditionally seen in terms of limits and restrictions, and rather offers a new conception of sustainability as liberation both in the personal sense of spiritual realization, and in the collective sense of people seeking their freedom from oppression. Such an approach is conceptualized in the ancient Chinese word Tao referring to both an individual spiritual path and the way the universe works. Hence, spiritual realization is achieved when we act in harmony with nature.

The book has a section on the Earth Charter and its role (See: Part 2, Chapter 10 The Earth Charter as a Common Framework, p. 298-306). As “a truly liberating dream for humanity,” the Earth Charter presents a key resource in the process of profound transformations, and a new way of conceiving ethics, being the result of the broadest consultations with the civil society ever.


By Ed O'Sullivan, Issue 262, September-October 2010

This is a work of the combined efforts of the celebrated Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff and the Canadian adult educator and social activist Mark  Hathaway. This book comes with a detailed   foreword by the prominent ecological thinker and social activist Fritjof Capra who gives this work a glowing endorsement. . Combined with this foreword   are the enthusiastic testimonies of major ecological thinkers the likes of Brian Swimme, Matthew Fox, Mary Evelyn Tucker to name a few. After reading this work I can add my strong endorsement of this very powerful work.  In the depth and range of the topics that it explores, it shows a virtuosity and deftness in what I would call integral transformative learning....

...Each chapter starts with an evocative quote from the Tao to set the ambience for each chapter that follows.  The work creatively holds many diverse areas in an integral manner covering, with a commanding scholarship in such fields as economics, psychology, cosmology, ecology and spirituality.  The work displays a strenuous commitment to issues of social justice in our global world combined with a path breaking deep order reflection on sustainability in a larger evolutionary context. This evolutionary context further develops the path breaking work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme in the larger universe context.  This complex weave opens up a view of evolutionary transformation that brings to the fore the intense importance of spirituality as the creative dynamism for social and planetary change....

Theological Studies

By Jame Schaefer, September 2010

Link to article

This joint project is inspired by the ancient Chinese text Tao Te Ching, informed by current cosmology and ecology, and deeply concerned about the adverse effects of global capitalism on people and Earth. Hathaway, an eco-justice educator-activist, and Boff, a liberation theologian, search for the wisdom needed to liberate us from "perceptions, ideas, habits, and systems that perpetuate injustice and destroy our planet's capacity to sustain life" and to guide our transforming toward "new ways of living that will allow the needs of all people to be equitably met in harmony with the needs and well-being of the greater Earth community" (xxv). This process of transformation is "the Tao of liberation." It requires delving deeply into our various religious spiritualities for insights that will stimulate a "cosmovision," a worldview that recognizes our interconnection with all entities and our role as "active participants in the subtle mystery of the unfolding cosmic purpose" (10).....

...Throughout, the authors rely on a plethora of credible scientific, sociological, psychological religious, philosophical, and economic sources as they move the reader from today's reality of destruction and inequity to a spiritual awakening that will propel the development of an equitable, constructive, and shared way of functioning as a life-sustaining community. The integration of disciplinary contributions to this project is exemplary...

...[The authors]  find hope in the emergence of a new cosmology that explores the interconnections of all entities in "a dynamic dance of energy and relationality," and that is imbued with "a deep and abiding sense of purpose" (167). The remaining chapters of this part thoughtfully explore, through the lens of this new cosmology, the radical relationality of all natural entities, the emergence of creativity and intelligence, and the "wisdom" emanating from the cosmos that can lead to "harmony, peace, and right relationship" (278). The authors conclude this part with a well-argued promotion of the Earth Charter as a framework for an "ethics of respect and care" that will bring "peace on Earth and with Earth" (306)...

...A masterful work and rightful recipient of the Nautilus Gold Medal for Cosmology and New Science, The Tao of Liberation is especially well suited for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in courses that concentrate on environmental theology and ethics, sustainability, the relationship between religion and the natural and social sciences, and peace and justice....

Toronto Journal of Theology

By Simon Appolloni • Volume 26, Number 2 / 2010, pp. 249-50

There is something both alluring and ground-breaking about this book, qualities that, I think, derive from its underlying equation: a crisis marked by accelerating ecological destruction and deepening poverty plus a confluence of traditionally considered divergent thoughts minus any notion of ‘‘power over’’ equals life-enhancing transformation.

In some ways, within this formula, its authors are not divulging anything we have not already heard. Sages, mystics, and the metaphysically inclined of many religions have been saying for centuries, even millennia, that the universe is a vast sea of creative energy, a dynamic evolution in which a competition-only perspective is adjoined with one that has a sense of co-evolution; hence, we are not alone, we live in a world that can best be described as an intertwined web of subtle relationships, and change becomes a real possibility.

What is new in The Tao of Liberation, which is part of the Orbis Ecology and Justice Series, is the considerable value placed on the most powerful means of knowing our world today: science. As physicist Frtijof Capra confirms in the book’s foreword, ‘‘The authors . . . argue, correctly in my opinion, that the emerging scientific cosmology is fully compatible with the spiritual dimension of liberation’’ (xviii). Though the wisdoms drawn upon in this book are diverse—Taoist, Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic spiritual traditions, eco-psychology, eco-feminism, and deep ecology—modern science receives prominent standing.

Perhaps such a confluence of thoughts and epistemologies is to be expected when you cross the talents of Mark Hathaway, an eco-justice activist who has studied math, physics, spirituality, and transformative education, with Leonardo Boff, Brazil’s bestknown theologian, author of more than sixty books on liberation theology, ecology, and spirituality, including his seminal work, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor. What is remarkable about this convergence, though, is that the equation seems to work: in contrast to the prevailing pathological cosmology of destruction that reigns so powerfully over our collective psyche, the reader is left with a new cosmological vision that is decidedly hopeful and liberating....

...Tthis book is not merely a ‘‘how-to’’ book on ecological-spiritual transformation or a ‘‘‘walking wisdom’ inherent in the very fabric of the cosmos’’ (xxiv), as the authors purport; The Tao of Liberation reads more like a manifesto of hope, a motivational ‘‘yes-we-can’’ primer for those feeling frustrated by the seemingly overwhelming challenges we face as a human species. And this is why I say the equation, mentioned earlier, works: the reader is left with a profound sense of hope and empowerment. Liberation becomes not just a repairing of the damage we have inflicted upon other humans and the non-human world, it lies as well in ‘‘realizing the potential of human beings as creative, life-enhancing participants within the unfolding evolution of Gaia’’ (xxv)...

Midwest Book Review

The world has been harmed too long by humanity's take-take-take attitude. "The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation" uses take offs from Taoist philosophy in order to creating a harmony of man and nature. A unique book that blends spirituality, environmentalism, and other elements, Mark Hathaway and Leonardo Boff do well in providing much in the way of their philosophy and ideas for a better Earth tomorrow. "The Tao of Liberation" is well worth the read for spiritual environmentalists who want to get things done.

Library Journal

Hathaway and prolific author and theologian Boff (Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor) offer an exhaustive study of the world's current economic and ecological sicknesses and present possible ways forward. Inspired by, but by no means limited to, the ancient Tao Te Ching's vision of cosmic balance, the authors urge us to attempt to overcome the idea of domination, and even the limitations of material thinking, to be able to understand the world itself as a form of revelation.... Verdict An intense and intensely idealistic blueprint for transformation of the world's economy and soul. Recommended for a general readership.

Sierra Club - The Green Life

Inspired by the Tao Te Ching, the authors use ancient Chinese wisdom to help the reader escape an unsustainable lifestyle defined by global capitalism and reconnect with an "ecological self." This serious, well-researched tome should appeal to advanced seekers.

Readers' Reviews

A Great Resource for Teaching

By Sam Mickey, Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco and at Pacifica Graduate Institute

I read The Tao of Liberation as soon as it came out, and I knew immediately that it would work perfectly for my Environmental Ethics course.  The semester just finished, and overall, I received very good feedback from the students regarding the book. 
Not only is the book deeply informative, it is also had a powerful impact on the students' emotional and moral sentiments.  They felt the terrifying urgency of our ecological and social crises (with many students becoming interested in Joanna Macy's despair work), and they also felt inspired and hopeful that there are many possibilities for facilitating the emergence of a vibrant, sustainable, and just Earth community.  Perhaps most importantly, the book helped the students question their worldviews and wonder about their place in the universe.

An Elegant Condensation of Synthesized Scientific Knowledge

By David A. Martin (Pueblo, CO USA)

This book is amazing. It is an elegant condensation of synthesized scientific knowledge with applied spiritual wisdom for the modern world. I dip into a lot of books, and this one strikes me as an important "keeper" for our times...

This book addresses the transformations which need to be made and the obstacles which prevent people from moving forward in those directions. It tackles all aspects of these issues through experts in varying fields and disciplines; economics, psychology, cosmology, and spirituality in search for the wisdom needed to "move away from our current destructive path and instead toward authentic liberation: A way leading to ever-greater communion, diversity, and creativity."

I checked this out from my library but had to keep turning it back in because I'm too busy to absorb it in the two weeks they give me for check out time. It is on my to buy list for sure. This is a book for anyone interested in what is needed for us to integrate and heal and progress.

A Labour of Hope

By Maureen Sonntag (SK, Canada)

In a recent discussion I had with several friends, I heard myself express little hope for continued life on our planet as it is today. I felt that there should be more signs of people making a real commitment to change, were life to continue. However that was before reading The Tao of Liberation. Now I not only am more hopeful, but in fact, am living in anticipation. "The Earth, and the entire cosmos, begins to resemble a living organism, one marked by surprising bursts of creativity and emergence, one imbued once again with a deep and abiding sense of purpose...that manifests the underlying wisdom of the Tao." p. 169. It seems there are greater things at work than meets our present knowledge.

Mark Hathaway then gives many examples of the interconnectedness of all within the cosmos. We are of the stars and the stars are of us. All are deeply interrelated and, at some unknown level, help the other to exist. "We live in a cosmos whose foundations are built on deep rooted - or radical - relationality. On some subtle level, everything influences everything else." p. 180. It seems that all exists for, and because of, community and relationship. The cosmos shows us in surprising ways, that this existence is not easily annihilated.

I feel compelled to read, and to reread this book. Tao can be understood to mean "a way or path leading to harmony, peace and right relationship." p. xxiii. This book, I believe, can help get us to that place. Let's go.

Who would of thought transformation could be so liberating?

By Simon Appolloni (Brampton, Canada)

The Tao of Liberation works on the premise that our world functions pathologically with an ideology of domination and exploitation where Earth's riches are depleted and its people exploited and yet we consider this as 'growth'. What's more, this same ideology which impoverishes the great majority of humanity - evidenced by the abysmal gap between the rich and poor - also impoverishes the Earth.

To counter this rather dire circumstance, the authors borrow upon a rather diverse set of wisdoms: Taoist, Christian, Buddhist and Islamic spiritual traditions, ecopsychology, ecofeminism, and deep ecology and modern science, the latter which receives prominent standing. The book presents a 'yes-we-can' attitude that we can actually change the course of destruction we are on.

Though some conclusions, especially those regarding the quantum physics and morphic resonances, lie outside the scientific mainstream, what they suggest is fascinating and the end result is remarkable: in contrast to the prevailing pathological cosmology of destruction that reigns so powerfully over our collective psyche, the reader is left with a new cosmological vision that is decidedly hopeful and liberating.

The book is not meant as an academic treatise, nor as a theological tract. Though heavy reading at times, the book's information - even with its many scientific explanations - is presented in a way that is accessible to the average reader. I recommend this book to anyone feeling frustrated by the seemingly overwhelming challenges we face as a human species and is looking for a viable path to transformation and liberation.



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