Portrait of Mark A.Schroll Ph.D.Editorial Introduction:
Sacred Sites, Consciousness, and the Eco-Crisis
Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D.

In this issues' lead article “The Greening of Cosmos and Consciousness,” Edgar D. Mitchell tells us that what we need to solve the eco-crisis “is a transformation of consciousness.” In other words we need a positive vision of the future and ourselves as inhabitants of this future based on a cultural (anthropological) and personal (existential) understanding of what it means to be human. Only the most skeptical continue to deny that we are now in the midst of the eco-crisis that Rachel Carson predicted 49 years ago (Carson, 1962). Skeptics and believers arguing for and against the reality of the eco-crisis have nevertheless missed a more essential point. Carson warned we should not rely on a “technological fix” as a solution to the eco-crisis, yet this does not mean that technological innovation is not important, because it is. What Carson meant was that by itself new technologies will not be enough to solve the eco-crisis (Drengson, 1995).

This is why the environmental movement has failed in its attempts to find a solution, because its predominant focus has been on healing the symptoms of the eco-crisis (i.e., climate change, species extinction, ending our energy dependence on fossil fuels, etc.). Of course I believe all of these are important concerns; nevertheless this approach will not offer us a complete solution to the eco-crisis. To assist us in assessing this thesis, we can best understand this problem using the following analogy. Let's compare this symptom-oriented approach to healing our planet to a field surgeon trying to mend all of the wounded in an ongoing war without end. Thankfully we are able to save some of the wounded, but many others die. With each new day greeting us there is the need to care for more wounded which eventually results in burnout. Similarly, as surgeons trying to heal all of the wounded of the nonhuman world (which includes the subsequent negative impact on culture) we will never see an end to our labors merely by trying to heal all of its symptoms of decay. Instead, the only way to truly heal the wounds of our culture will be to stop all of the fighting and end our war with nature (Schroll, 2007). I am therefore in complete agreement with Mitchell that what is needed to solve the eco-crisis is a transformation of consciousness.

This begs the question as to how we will be able to motivate ourselves to initiate this transformation of consciousness. Indeed the criticism many have had regarding the hypothesis that “we need a transformation of consciousness" is we lack a specific operational definition of what this actually means. Here too is where the importance of humanistic and transpersonal psychology come into play in this conversation, because it is these schools of psychology that have focused on motivational techniques and methods to change consciousness more than others. In his film MindWalk (Capra, 1991), Fritjof Capra echoed this concern, suggesting that we are suffering from a “crisis of perception.” MindWalk is Capra's vision of an alternative paradigm; moreover the film itself is a demonstration of how the motivation to initiate a transformation of consciousness is possible through dialogue. I examine both of these perspectives in my review of Capra's film. Capra's vision in MindWalk represents a precursor to what many are now referring to as ecopsychology (Roszak, 1992; Schroll, 2008/2009), that I have suggested can be more accurately called transpersonal ecosophy (Schroll, 2009a, 2009/2010, 2011).
Still, in conversations I have had with ecopsychologists who support the hypothesis that a transformation of consciousness is needed, many have asked if it will take some serious apocalyptic environmental catastrophe to motivate most of us? Ram Dass raised this same concern in his interview  with John Seed, “To Wake Up One Day Different: John Seed Talks with Ram Dass” (Ram Dass and Seed, 1991). Ram Dass asked: "Will it take incredible trauma to trigger this transformation of consciousness?" continues on page 2

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Volume 3, Issue 1, 2011