A Buddhist philosopher of ecology, Joanna Macy says we are at a pivotal moment in history with the possibility to unravel or create a life-sustaining human society. Now entering her 90s, Macy has lived adventurously by any definition. She worked with the CIA in Cold War Europe and the Peace Corps in post-colonial India and was an early environmental activist. She brings a poetic and spiritual sensibility to her work that’s reflected in her translations of the early-20th-century poet Rainer Maria Rilke. We take that poetry as a lens on her wisdom on the great dramas of our time: ecological, political, personal.
Joanna Macy is an activist, author, and a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology. Her 13 books include translations of Rilke’s “Book of Hours: Love Poems to God,” “A Year with Rilke,” and “In Praise of Mortality.” She is the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, a framework and workshop for personal and social change. Her new translation of Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet,” together with Anita Barrows, is upcoming in 2020.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Joanna Macy — A Wild Love for the World.” Find more at onbeing.org.
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