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Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness in a Fragmented World Paperback – 21 Mar 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness in a Fragmented World
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  • Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche
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  • Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche
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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library (21 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577315510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577315513
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Addressing the pervasive longing for meaning and fulfillment in this time of world crisis, "Nature and the Human Soul" introduces an innovative developmental psychology that shows how fully and creatively we can mature when we allow soul and nature to guide us. Bill Plotkin presents a model for a human lifespan rooted in the patterns and rhythms of nature, a template for individual development that ultimately yields a strategy for cultural transformation. It describes how to raise children who are in love with life and learning, how to help teenagers develop personalities that are both authentic and socially engaging, how to grow into a fulfilled, soulful adult contributing unique gifts to the greater world, and how to mature into a genuine elderhood of wisdom and cultural leadership.Psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin guides every reader, stage-by-stage, on the journey toward wholeness and active, contributing engagement with the world.

He goes on to describe the archetypes and the 8 corresponding stages, which are: Innocent (infancy, early childhood), Explorer (middle and late childhood), Societal Entrepreneur & Wanderer (early adolescence, late adolescence), Soul Apprentice and Artisan (early and late adulthood), and Master and Sage (early and late elderhood). Based on the 15 per cent of Western people who exhibit exemplary development, these descriptions offer insight into discovering your potential. They help explain conflict and confusion in our society and point the way to assisting children and adults move through the phases for better lives and a better world.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a Magnum Opus but I just couldn't put it down. It encompasses the cycle of human life from cradle to grave, placing it within the wider world which is something often overlook. There is much wisdom within these pages, many things that resonated with me. I wish it had been around forty years ago when I was just setting off on my journey ... but it's never too late to incorporate the ideas Bill Plotkin outlines here. Reading this has been an enriching experience.
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Format: Paperback
`Nature and the Human Soul' captures the progressive succession of human life in an easy and understanding way. Plotkin has the unique ability to reach the most brilliant scholar and the slowest child in the same sentence and be understood by both. So many of these books target the snobbish intellectual who boasts a list of academic acclaim.

What I am saying here is don't pass this book up because you think you will need a dictionary alongside it to understand what it has to say.

Yet, in one respect I came away perplexed. In this work there seems to be a confusion of the word `soul' with the word `spirit' as if they are one and the same thing. Nothing could be further than the truth.

I found another 'easy read' The Reincarnation of Albino Luciani: In Search of the Human Soul which does define the four dimensions of a human being: body - mind - spirit - soul as the four distinctly different things they are.

Albino Luciani was Pope John Paul I who was murdered in the Vatican in 1978 after only 33 days on the job because of his liberal left wing idealsThe Vatican Murders: The Life and Death of John Paul I. As a young seminarian he would often ask his teachers: "What is the human soul?" He always got the same answer: "It is just something we don't understand."

As a result he dedicated his doctoral thesis `The Origin of the Human Soul' to defining specifically what one is speaking of when one utters the phrase "the human soul." Like most people at one time I confused the 'spirit' and 'soul' as being synonymous.
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This one of the best maps around for Soul Work. Deeply inspiring and profound. Would highly recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x94dadeb4) out of 5 stars 58 reviews
70 of 78 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b158d0) out of 5 stars Eco-centric Individuation 28 Feb. 2008
By Randy Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
To individuate is a subversive act. It requires a person to move against their habitual ego notions about how things are and to reject many of the accepted norms of their culture. Individuation is made more difficult in a time of what Jung called 'kairos', a time of the "changing of the gods", a time when the worldview of a culture is itself undergoing a rite of passage. In such times, when the myths of our culture are not adequate to lead us into a new way of being, and new myths are not yet here, we have to return to what Thomas Berry called `genetic guidance', the spontaneously creative and mysterious impulses of the world unconscious that originate in the same instincts through which the earth came into being. In short, we have to return to nature. But where can we find guidance that is not itself coming out of the old Cartesian, nature-phobic fantasy that is the problem? To read a text on individuation that is not grounded in such assumptions requires that the author be `cured' of the disease of Cartesianism and have enough of the Bodhisattva in them to want to share their insights in a labor of love, a book. I am pleased to report that Bill Plotkin's second book, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, fits this bill.

Nature and the Human Soul begins with the idea that humanity is engaged in the process of the Great Turning, the move from an ego-centric industrial growth model of civilization to an eco-centric earth community model that is sustainable into the future. The question is then asked, "What does it mean to become fully human in an eco-centric world?" At a time when most therapeutic models are about coping with the dire consequences of our current circumstances, this is an especially generative question, one that is filled with hope for the future. To answer this question fully, Bill Plotkin dives deeply into the structure of the medicine wheel, the wheel of life, to create one of the most innovative and healing imaginations of the process of individuation that I have ever read. What brings this model to life is Plotkin's 25 years of experience as a depth psychologist, wilderness guide and eco-therapist, leading individuals into the wild to seek their destiny. The abstractions of life-span stage theory are given pulse and beauty through the soul-stirring stories of the individuals whose experiences illuminate the phases of the wheel of life. More than just another developmental theory, Nature and the Human Soul has the potential to be a foundation stone in the New Myth that we so desperately seek.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b15924) out of 5 stars Holden Caulfield Has Been Heard 14 April 2008
By The Rev. Bradford D. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ever wonder, as I have, why Holden Caulfield is still passing judgment on adult behavior, pointing out, more than fifty years since J. D. Salinger wrote "The Catcher in the Rye," that your average adult is only pretending to be an adult and therefore cannot be relied upon as a guide to lead someone like Holden into a deeper understanding of life?
Holden, for all his outward cynicism and irreverence, is hurting inside and deserves a mature response. Bill Plotkin, in his new book "Nature and the Human Soul," offers, in quite an unprecedented way, a competent and compassionate response to the Holden Caulfields of the world.
Holden is everyone of us who has ever gone looking for guidance from a mature adult, someone with the capacity to lead another into a deeply rooted sense of purpose and belonging, a need we hunger for so deeply that it leaves us feeling orphaned in the only world we have come to know, a world too small, too trivial, and too everyday even to acknowledge this longing, let alone respond to it with competency and compassion.
"Nature and the Human Soul" speaks plainly and directly to what ails us as human beings in our process of maturing and evolving, and to what ails this fragile earth, our island home. Bill Plotkin recognizes so clearly that the will required to alter our destructive treatment of the natural world will only come, if at all, by seeing the natural world as priceless in its own right surely, but also as that which alone can speak to our persistent longing to inhabit a place and a purpose uniquely ours in this universe, part of an infinitely complex, interrelated web of relationships and conversations.
"Nature and the Human Soul" is a beautiful thing to behold for its symmetry, honesty, poetry, scholarship, and humility--a practical resource and basis for hope given to us as the fruit of a life lived very deeply and very boldly. The book makes you feel heard and confident that there is indeed a way forward that is authentic and noble and comes as a kindly blessing to the natural world.
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b15d5c) out of 5 stars A Deep and Sustaining Book for the 21st Century 25 Jan. 2008
By Matthew Cochran - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As with Plotkins first book (Soulcraft), I found Nature and the Human Soul to be an incredible map but better than that, more like a constellation of stars that allowed me to see/feel/experience a forgotten story that is our own. It is a glimpse of a great and wild ecological pattern. In fact, I can say that he has succeeded yet again in creating a cocoon on a collective level, one that serves humanity in its full maturation. I think it is a book that will have profound impact and is critical to the 21st Century and all its dangers...I've certainly been sending it to all my friends.

As important as it is to both Depth Psychologies and Eco-Psychologies, this book is also fresh and readable, poetic in its imaging and easily accessible to everyone. The weaving of interviews into the text with elders Joanna Macey and Thomas Berry are startling and poignant as we get to experience their far reaching wisdom. As well, Plotkins own storytelling masterfully draws one into the natural world showing us how nature can teach us and mirror our own humanity. He brings the soul's logic into view. The confluence of this organic developmental model of being fully human (the soul-centric developmental wheel) with ones own personal world is not constraining but rather frees us into our full imagination, expression and potential. It is a message that is highly original, vastly unique, and mysteriously familiar in its deep truth.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x943b1144) out of 5 stars a reasonable model for survival 1 Mar. 2008
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Dr. Plotkin has written a book which could be a model for the survival of the human race. It weds a psychological- developmental model for individual growth to the ancient medicine wheel which depicts the cycles of growth known to indigenous peoples around the world. In doing this, it provides a model for ecocentric rather than egocentric development. The end product of egocentric development is an arrested adolescence where self-centerdness, competition, security, and domination are the prevalent features. By implication, Dr. Plotkin says that our whole corporate economy instills this stage by brainwashing us with the idea that happiness depends on more money, more things, and more power over others. In contrast, his idea of a just society, one that honors and reveres nature is called the ecocentric society. In order for an individual to reach the adult stage of development, a more ecocentric stage ,he or she must find a place in the natural world which speaks to a deeper part of himself, the soul. In connecting with this place of soul, the individual finds guidance in developing modes of behavior which encourage compassion, cooperation, love, and humility in his or her dealings with all his relations, including the creatures of nature. If enough individuals reach this stage then society could become truly ecocentric, but it won't be easy. The coporate economy is firmly entrenched in our culture and has been exported to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, this is an important book, one that could change the future of a society stuck in an adolescent stage of disastrous consequence.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x943b1228) out of 5 stars Bridging nature and culture 19 Jan. 2008
By Gary Diggins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a must read for anyone wanting to foster a personal and cultural shift from egocentric behavior to what Bill Plotkin outlines as an 'ecocentric' and 'soulcentric' way of being. Plotkin's followup to his Soulcraft publication invites the reader into an elaborate understanding of the human maturation process and the critical need for contemporary individuals to move beyond a stalled preoccupation with adolescent energy. The author's primary tool for outlining the way to Eldership, is the archetypal Medicine Wheel. Plotkin, with great detail, articulates stages and tasks in the Wheel of Life and guides the reader through territory he clearly understands. This is a book not only for those in the psychotherapeutic community but for anyone desirous of wanting to bridge the gap between culture and nature, self and service.

Gary Diggins (Toronto)
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