Environmental Ethics

Volume 13, Issue 2, Summer 1991

Kelly Bulkley
Pages 151-163

The Quest for Transformational Experience

Michael E. Zimmennan claims that the fundamental source of our society’s destructive environmental practices is our “dualistic consciousness,” our tendency to see ourselves as essentially separate from the rest of the world; he argues that only by means of the transfonnational experience of nondualistic consciousness can we develop a more life-enhancing environmental ethic. I suggest that dreams and dream interpretation may provide exactly this sort of experience. Dreams present us with powerful challenges to the ordinary categories and structures of our daily lives, and they reveal in numinous, transformational images how we are ultimately members of a web of being that includes alllife. I offer Victor Tumer’s concept of communitas as a means of clarifying and unifying the issues Zimmennan and I are discussing. In conclusion I sketch out some of the practical applications of these ideas to the task of improving our society’s treatment of the environment.