Wisdom from a Rainforest:
The Spiritual Journey of an Anthropologist
by Stuart A. Schlegel
University of Georgia Press
Hardback 1999, Paperback 2003
"A profoundly moving personal story, chronicling a remarkable man's
intellectual, emotional, and spiritual journey."
--Riane Eisler, Author of The Chalice and the Blade
In the 1960s, Stu Schlegel went into a remote rainforest on the Philippine island of Mindanao as an anthropologist in search of material. What he found was a group of people whose tolerant, gentle way of life would transform his own values and beliefs profoundly. Wisdom from a Rainforest is Schlegel's testament to his experience and to the Teduray people of Figel, from whom he learned such vital, lasting lessons.
Schlegel's lively account of Teduray society depicts a peaceful, noncompetitive society whose ideals contrast strikingly with Western values. The Teduray lived as hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers, careful inhabitants of the forest and mindful cultivators of their fields. The author portrays their deep respect for nature and for each other, and recounts with great vividness how their behavior and traditions revolved around kindness and compassion for each other and the spirits sharing their worlds. Schlegel describes the Teduray's remarkable legal system and their strong story-telling tradition, their elaborate cosmology and their ritual celebrations.
Alongside his marvelous ethnography, Schlegel recounts his own personal transformation--how his own world view as a member of an advanced, civilized society was shaken to the core by a so-called primitive people. In short order he begins to realize how culturally determined his own values are, and sees with great clarity how much the Teduray can teach him about gender equality, tolerance for difference, including homosexuality, and generosity and cooperation.By turns funny, tender, and gripping, Wisdom from a Rainforest honors the Teduray's legacy and helps us see how much we can learn from a way of life so different from our own.
Wisdom from a Rainforest was a Finalist for the 2001 Philippine National Book Award. It was the basis for Kegedawan, a play by Denise Montgomery; for a video on the life ways of the Teduray; and for a children's book on these people.
Wisdom from a Rainforest will be available in paperback in the Fall of 2003.
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