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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2014
The subject matter of such a book is difficult for any author to put into words since it deals with deeply qualitative, rather than quantifiable issues. Eisenstein seems to have the quite remarkable gift of being able to tackle this effectively and even succinctly for the most part. The chapters by single subject (e.g. Pain, Pleasure, Judgement, etc.) being short, make the reading far less tedious than it might otherwise have been, and his choice of anecdotes and real life stories can be deeply resonant. Reading it alone, and now currently with my husband are quite different experiences, the latter being the more rewarding, giving credence to the theme of the book - our interconnectedness, even beyond our immediate relationships to all living things in and on and above the earth, and our deep need to awaken to this. That includes the waters and the rocks too! Next time you stub your toe on stone, it too may not like it either... I kid you not! The message here of course is that it really does matter how we treat ourselves, others and all other things on this planet we call home. If you can't accept that even rocks may have life, then I guarantee you are still in for a good read...and just maybe it could change your life, or at least lighten some of your negative feelings about the world today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2014
I'm not sure whether this book will be for everyone. I am not sure how I would have received it, had I not already had some exposure to the ideas within it. But, for me in was an important read, pulling together a lot of threads of my experience and thing to weave a positive and hopeful story for the world without ignoring the significant challenged faced by humanity.

Charles is a fantastic story teller. He also has a healthy inner cynic, which means while he is telling a story of connection, reunion and interbeing, he caters to the inner voice we have which tells us all the reasons a more beautiful world is not possible.

If you are at all interested in how we can overcome the seemly insurmountable social and ecological challenges we face. If you've ever felt hope and then despair at the thought of solving these problems, then this book is worth a read. In line with Charles' philosophy it is offered as a gift on his website as well as to purchase here.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2014
Here's a review of Charles Eisenstein's new book which I wrote for Permaculture Magazine:

Charles Eisenstein has come far since he was forced to self-publish his transformative breakthrough tome, The Ascent of Humanity, with The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible seeing him return with a beautifully-nuanced, accessible, and thoughtful exploration of a new narrative of interbeing and interconnection, to transcend our Cartesian, dualistic, technological and control-based culture.

While Eisenstein’s last book, Sacred Economics, focused his thinking around separation onto the sphere of economics and the spirit of the gift, here we return to the awe-inspiring and all-encompassing scope found in The Ascent of Humanity, which drew on a bewildering array of fields such as ecology, anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology and quantum physics to explore a paradigm shift to a new holistic world view.

Much of the text found in the new publication consists of an easy-going and thoughtful dialogue with critics – both external critics who, for example, have questioned his air-based travel choices, and his internal voices of separation and cynicism, which constantly query whether he is simply falling victim to, in his ironically-chosen words, 'New Age puffery' in naively asserting the possibility of a new ontological paradigm, a new story of the self and of the people.

Eisenstein spent much of his twenties working in Taiwan as a translator and, while there, immersed himself in eastern spiritual thought, particularly daoism, a fact which comes across strongly as the philosophical foundation for the book. His work dovetails neatly with permaculture, not least with the influence of daoism also strongly evident in 'father of permaculture' Bill Mollison’s early thought and daoist principles such as wu-wei (non-action), being core to another permaculture classic, Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution. Eisenstein, echoing Fukuoka, informs us that “There is a time to act, and a time to wait, to listen, to observe. Then understanding and clarity can grow. From understanding, action arises that is purposeful, firm, and powerful.”

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible turns conventional thinking on reality and social change upside-down, an approach which for many leads to burnout and sees change as coming from the old story of planning, force and overtly-political movements. Charles does not assert that there is never a time for struggle and violence. Simply, “All things have their place in this world: the buck struggles against the wolf, and sometimes he gets away. It is just that, because of our ideology, we apply the mentality of fighting, struggling, and warfare far beyond its proper domain.” Instead, we get a visionary insight into an infinitely complex and interconnected world where, while these things may have their place, even the smallest actions, such as care for a loved one, can ripple chaotically and help a more beautiful world of abundance to come to fruition.

Often, to paraphrase David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, we can feel powerless to enact effective positive social and environmental change in any way, feeling like a mere drop in a limitless ocean of global woes. Thankfully, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible reminds us, as Mitchell did, that while this may be an existential truth, equally the story can be turned on its head, with the ocean consisting of a multitude of small drops, each connected to the next in myriad ways. “Enlightenment,” Eisenstein assures us in this important book, “is a group activity.”
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2014
This book is well worth reading, but ultimately somewhat anti-climatic. The first chapter contains a searing indictment of the contemporary world, its materialistic philosophy and cavalier disregard for the global environment. Much of what the author has to say in the opening chapters about mankind's post-enlightenment conceit - the blithe assumption that progress through ever-increasing mastery of technology is guaranteed - is absolutely spot on, and resonates strongly in a culture dominated by smartphones and busy lifestyles. Many readers who feel trapped by a routine of long working hours and increasingly insecure employment will relate strongly to the tone of disenchantment that pervades the narrative. Eisenstein shows how this 'old story' of human progress has come to dominate policy making in most western societies, to an extent that its key dogmas go largely unquestioned, except by radical fringe groups.

However, it is at this stage of the analysis that the book starts to hit a problem - a big problem. Eisenstein's political manifesto is based on the insight that concepts of separation and individualism have traditionally dominated western thought patterns, and that to overcome this, and put humanity on a more constructive path, we need to develop a more unitary doctrine of 'inter-being' which sees us as an integral part of nature, with each part affecting the whole. As a rejection of extreme individualism, this seems altogether sound. Unfortunately though it means that the arguments developed in the later chapters of the book don't take sufficient account of the enduring reality of human conflict, specifically conflict between competing value systems. For example, at one point the author asks (rather naively) why the complete disbandment of the US 'military machine' is not on the political agenda of any US political party. The answer, surely, is obvious. The US has real enemies, such as al-Qaeda, who are hell bent on destroying the freedoms we enjoy in the West, including those enjoyed by proponents of 'alternative' culture. Surrendering one's military capability unilaterally in the face of people like that is no answer. So it is not enough to preach a doctrine of univeral love and harmony. Real politics involves the hard slog of dealing with real, unavoidable value conflicts and trying to overcome these by compromise, negotiation and a clear sense of what is non-negotiable and what (sometimes) has to be fought for. High level concepts of 'inter-being' don't get you very far when you're dealing with people like Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, who are implacably hostile to everything you stand for. So ultimately this book is a bit like Marx and Engel's 'Communist Manifesto'. It is an incisive critique of the existing system, but offers only a sketchy picture of possible alternatives - a fatal flaw.

I suspect that one of the underlying problems with books of this kind is that US political culture has never found a place for socialist ideas. As a result, alternative political movements that try to critique corporate America and replace it with something better have no solid ideological anchor for their beliefs. In the real world, hard choices have to be made. If one rejects a society based on unfettered free market forces and aggressive individualism, the alternative has to be one built on principles of human co-operation, and one way or another this is inevitably going to imply a greater emphasis on collective provision, which is something alien to US political culture. Much of what has gone wrong in the past 25 years, since the Berlin Wall came down, represents the slow unravelling of a peculiarly extreme version of globalised capitalism which was doomed to failure because it systematically over-estimated the capacity of unregulated free markets to correct themselves. Replacing this failed system with a reformed capitalism that places more emphasis on co-operative enterprise is the key priority for radical politics, and it cannot be achieved unless the objective is explicitly framed in these terms (ie. as a response to the failure of a specific model, not the whole post-enlightenment human enterprise). Also, for all its faults, the existing US socio-economic system does retain certain strengths, for example the capacity to generate the wealth needed to finance research into curing cancer. Would Charles Eisenstein be prepared to give this up? In his enthusiasm for Native American culture, would he be willing to accept the higher mortality rates that reversion to a less technologically advanced way of life would entail? The book is evasive on key questions such as these. In the end, therefore, it proves anti-climatic and slightly disappointing. It diagnoses the ailment, but is less successful in suggesting a cure. This is a shame, as the world would be a better place if advocates of alternative lifestyles could move out of the world of seminars and workshops they have created for themselves and start engaging seriously with mainstream politics, with all that this entails in terms of a focus on practicalities and setting achievable goals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2014
I really swallowed this book. It has helped me to be more self-secure and steady in actions and mind.
This book or any other book endorsing Charles Eisensteins pleasant and inspiring world-view (including "Sacred Economics" and "The Ascent of Humanity") are critical to read to gain peace of mind and be happier.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2014
Fantastic! This book is illuminated with wisdom, a depth of compassion and a sharp clarity of perception which makes it a world-changer. A must read for any who wish to be more aware of the processes affecting us and for those who wish to address the issues we are facing globally on a personal and actively engaged level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2014
Full of insights into the failings of modern society and importantly how to avoid the trappings.
Everyone should read this book

My only slight negative point would be that the writing is sometimes overly 'wordy' imo, but this probably just reflects my own limited vocabulary!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2014
This writer is the real deal and the way the world is going we need a lot of 'em!
I came across the brilliant Sacred Economics and this book is a further clarification of our attitudes to ourselves and the works around us. Wonderfully written and thought provoking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2014
Should be required reading for the human species.

Of course living the new story is a whole other kettle of fish...but having books like this to reaffirm the path is essential
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2014
One of the most beautiful and important books I have ever read. I thought for a while about how to write a review for this book but there aren't really words to describe it. Just read it. And tell everyone you know about it.
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