The Book of the Living I

Earthseed is a real religion inspired by the science fiction of Octavia Butler, specifically her books, Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998). Octavia Butler (1947-2006) was one of the first African-American science fiction writers, and one of the first women to break the science fiction gender barrier. In her Parable series, Butler includes many verses from a fictional book of scripture called “The Books of the Living”. These verses have been collected here and describe the basic theology, ethics, and vision of Earthseed. This collection is called Book of the Living I, to denote it being only first collection of verses. Butler wrote other verses in preparation of her unfinished Parable of the Trickster and we anticipate that other Shapers of Earthseed with contribute more verses in the future.

  God is Change  | Prodigy  |  A Gift of God  |  We Shape God  |  God exists to be shaped  |  Intelligence is adaptability  |  A victim of God  |  Belief  |  Drowning People  |  We are Earthseed  |  The Paradox  |  A Tree  |  The Destiny of Earthseed  |  Consequences  |  Power Struggles  |  Civilization is to intelligence  |  When stability disintegrates  |  Any change  |  All successful life  |  Life that perceives itself changing  |  What a living world will demand  |  Earthlife  |  A Phoenix  |  Kindness  |  Cast on new ground  |  Embrace diversity  |  A Gathering of Earthseed  |  The Galaxies  |  The rest of what we need  |  Shape Self  |  Sculptor and Clay  |  Your teachers  |  Pray working  |  Images of God  |  We are born  |  We give our dead  |  Darkness gives shape  |  Chaos  |  Positive Obsession |  God is Trickster  |  Death  |  We have lived before  |  To benefit your world  |  The words of welcoming  |  Civilization  |  Do not worship God  |  Unenlightened Self-Interest  | Hidden within Change  |  Paradise  |  Partnership  |  Purpose unifies us  |  Make peace  |  Do the impossible  |  Choose your leaders  |  Ignorance  |  When vision fails  |  Self is  |  Immortal Life  |   To explore the vastness  |  All prayers  |  What others say  |  Rewards  |  Only actions  |  The Past  |  Nature  |  Adulthood

1. God is Change

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

Is Change.

∞ = Δ

2. Prodigy

Prodigy is, at its essence,
adaptability and persistent,
positive obsession. Without
persistence, what remains is an
enthusiasm of the moment. Without
adaptability, what remains may
be channeled into destructive
fanaticism. Without positive
obsession, there is nothing at all.

∞ = Δ

3. A gift of God

A gift of God
May sear unready fingers

∞ = Δ

4. We shape God

We do not worship God.
We perceive and attend God.
We learn from God.
With forethought and work,
We shape God.
In the end, we yield to God.
We adapt and endure,
For we are Earthseed
And God is Change.

∞ = Δ

5. God exists to be shaped

God is Power—
And yet, God is Pliable—
God exists to be shaped.
God is Change.

∞ = Δ

6. Intelligence is adaptability

Intelligence is ongoing, individual
adaptability. Adaptations that an intelligent
species may make
in a single generation, other species
make over
many generations of selective
breeding and
selective dying. Yet intelligence is
If it is misdirected by accident or by
intent, it can
foster its own orgies of breeding and

∞ = Δ

7. A victim of God

A victim of God may,
Through learning and adaption,
Become a partner of God,
A victim of God may,
Through forethought and planning,
Become a shaper of God.
Or a victim of God may,
Through shortsightedness and fear,
Remain Godʼs victim,
Godʼs plaything,
Godʼs prey.

∞ = Δ

8. Belief

Initiates and guides action—
Or it does nothing.

∞ = Δ

9. Drowning People

Drowning people
Sometimes die
Fighting their rescuers

∞ = Δ

10. We are Earthseed

We are all Godseed, but no more or less
so than any other aspect of the universe.
Godseed is all there is—all that
Changes. Earthseed is all that spreads
Earthlife to new earths. The universe is
Godseed. Only we are Earthseed. And the
Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among
the stars.

∞ = Δ

11. The Paradox

Why is the universe?
To shape God.

Why is God?
To shape the universe.

∞ = Δ

12. A Tree

A tree
Cannot grow
In its parentsʼ shadows.

∞ = Δ

13. The Destiny of Earthseed

Destiny of Earthseed
Is to take root among the stars.

∞ = Δ

14. Consequences

To get along with God,
Consider the consequences of your behavior.

∞ = Δ

15. Power Struggles

All struggles
Are essentially
power struggles.
Who will rule,
Who will lead,
Who will define,
Who will dominate.
All struggles
Are essentially power struggles,
And most are no more intellectual
than two rams
knocking their heads together.

∞ = Δ

16. Civilization is to intelligence

Civilization is to groups what
intelligence is
to individuals. It is a means of
combining the
intelligence of many to achieve
group adaptation.

Civilization, like intelligence, may
serve well,
serve adequately, or fail to serve its
function. When civilization fails to
serve, it must
disintegrate unless it is acted upon
by unifying internal or external forces.

∞ = Δ

17. When stability disintegrates

When apparent stability disintegrates,
As it must—
God is Change—
People tend to give in
To fear and depression,
To need and greed.
When no influence is strong enough
To unify people
They divide.
They struggle,
One against one,
Group against group,
For survival, position, power.
They remember old hates and generate new ones,
They create chaos and nurture it.
They kill and kill and kill,
Until they are exhausted and destroyed,
Until they are conquered by outside forces,
Or until one of them becomes
A leader
Most will follow,
Or a tyrant
Most fear.

∞ = Δ

18. Any change

Any Change may bear seeds of benefit.
Seek them out.
Any Change may bear seeds of harm.
God is infinitely malleable.
God is Change.

∞ = Δ

19. All successful life

All successful life is
Interconnected, and
Understand this.
Use it.
Shape God.

∞ = Δ

20. Life that perceives itself changing

We are Earthseed
The life that perceives itself

∞ = Δ

21. What a living world will demand

There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.

∞ = Δ

22. Earthlife

We are Earthseed. We are flesh—self aware,
questing, problem-solving flesh. We are that
aspect of Earthlife best able to shape God
knowingly. We are Earthlife maturing, Earthlife
preparing to fall away from the parent world.
We are Earthlife preparing to take root in
new ground, Earthlife fulfilling its purpose,
its promise, its Destiny.

∞ = Δ

23. A Phoenix

In order to rise
From its own ashes
A phoenix

∞ = Δ

24. Kindness

Kindness eases Change.

∞ = Δ

25. Cast on new ground

Cast on new ground
Must first perceive
That it knows nothing.

∞ = Δ

26. Embrace diversity

Embrace diversity.
Or be divided,
By those who see you as prey.
Embrace diversity
Or be destroyed.

∞ = Δ

27. A Gathering of Earthseed

Once or twice
each week
A Gathering of Earthseed
is a good and necessary thing.
It vents emotion, then
quiets the mind.
It focuses attention,
strengthens purpose, and
unifies people.

∞ = Δ

28. The Galaxies

The galaxies move through space.
The stars ignite,
God is Change.
God prevails.

∞ = Δ

29. The rest of what we need

God is neither good nor evil,
neither loving
nor hating.
God is Power.
God is Change.
We must find the rest of what we need
within ourselves,
in one another,
in our Destiny.

∞ = Δ

30. Shape Self

The Self must create
Its own reasons for being.
To shape God,
Shape Self.

∞ = Δ

31. Sculptor and Clay

As wind,
As water,
As fire,
As life,
Is both creative and destructive,
Demanding and yielding,
Sculptor and clay.
God is Infinite Potential:
God is Change.

∞ = Δ

32. Your teachers

Your teachers
Are all around you.
All that you perceive,
All that you experience,
All that is given to you
or taken from you,
All that you love or hate,
need or fear
Will teach you—
If you will learn.
God is your first
and your last teacher.
God is your harshest teacher:
Learn or die.

∞ = Δ

33. Pray working

Respect God:
Pray working.
Pray learning,
Pray creating,
Pray working.
Pray to focus your thoughts,
still your fears,
strengthen your purpose.
Respect God.
Shape God.
Pray working.

∞ = Δ

34. Images of God

Create no images of God.
Accept the images
that God has provided.
They are everywhere,
in everything.
God is Change—
Seed to tree,
tree to forest;
Rain to river,
river to sea;
Grubs to bees,
bees to swarm.
From one, many;
from many, one;
Forever uniting, growing, dissolving—
forever Changing.
The universe
is Godʼs self-portrait.

∞ = Δ

35. We are born

Here we are—
Shaping Life,
Shaping Mind,
Shaping God.
We are born
Not with purpose,
But with potential.

∞ = Δ

36. We give our dead

We give our dead
To the orchards
And the groves.
We give our dead
To life.

∞ = Δ

37. Darkness gives shape

Gives shape to the light
As light
Shapes the darkness.
Gives shape to life
As life
Shapes death.
The universe
And God
Share this wholeness,
Defining the other.
Gives shape to the universe
As the universe
Shapes God.

∞ = Δ

38. Chaos

Is God’s most dangerous face—
Amorphous, roiling, hungry.
Shape Chaos—
Shape God.

Alter the speed
Or the direction of Change.
Vary the scope of Change.
Recombine the seeds of Change.
Transmute the impact of Change.
Seize Change.
Use it.
Adapt and grow.

∞ = Δ

39. Positive Obsession

God is Change,
And in the end,
God prevails.
But meanwhile…
Kindness eases Change.
Love quiets fear.
And a sweet and powerful
Positive obsession
Blunts pain,
Diverts rage,
And engages each of us
In the greatest,
The most intense
Of our chosen struggles.

∞ = Δ

40. God is Trickster

God is Change.
God is Infinite,
God is Trickster,
God is Change.
God exists to shape
And to be shaped.

∞ = Δ

41. Death

Is a great Change—
Is life’s greatest Change.
We honor our beloved dead.
As we mix their essence with the earth,
We remember them,
And within us,
They live.

∞ = Δ

42. We have lived before

We have lived before.
We will live again.
We will be silk,
We will be scattered,
We will live
And we will serve life.
We will shape God
And God will shape us
Always again,

∞ = Δ

43. To benefit your world

To shape God
With wisdom and forethought,
To benefit your world,
Your people,
Your life,
Consider consequences,
Minimize harm
Ask questions,
Seek answers,

∞ = Δ

44. The words of welcoming

These are the words of welcoming: …
We, your people
Welcome you.

We are Earthseed.

You are Earthseed—
One of many
One unique,
One small seed,
One great promise.
Tenacious of life,
Shaper of God,
You are Earthseed!
And your Destiny,
The Destiny of Earthseed,
Is to take root
Among the stars.

∞ = Δ

45. Civilization

Civilization is to groups what intelligence
is to individuals. Civilization provides ways
of combining the information, experience,
and creativity of the many to achieve
ongoing group adaptability.

∞ = Δ

46. Do not worship God

Do not worship God

Inexorable God
Neither needs nor wants
Your worship.
Acknowledge and attend God,
Learn from God,
With forethought and intelligence,
Imagination and industry,
Shape God.
When you must,
Yield to God.
Adapt and endure.
For you are Earthseed,
And God is Change.

∞ = Δ

47. Unenlightened Self-Interest

At war
Or at peace,
More people die
Of unenlightened self-interest
Than of any other disease.

∞ = Δ

48. Hidden within Change

God is Change
And hidden within Change
Is surprise, delight,
Confusion, pain,
Discovery, loss,
Opportunity, and growth.
As always,
God exists
To shape
And to be shaped.

∞ = Δ

49. Paradise

The child in each of us
Knows paradise.
Paradise is home.
Home as it was
Or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one’s own place,
One’s own people,
One’s own world,
Knowing and known,
Perhaps even
Loving and loved.

Yet every child
Is cast from paradise—
Into growth and destruction,
Into solitude and new community,
Into vast, ongoing

∞ = Δ

50. Partnership

Partnership is giving, taking,
learning, teaching, offering the
greatest possible benefit while doing
the least possible harm. Partnership
is mutualistic symbiosis. Partnership
is life.
Any entity, any process that
cannot or should not be resisted or
avoided must somehow be
partnered. Partner one another.
Partner diverse communities. Partner
life. Partner any world that is your
home. Partner God. Only in
partnership can we thrive, grow,
Change. Only in partnership can we

∞ = Δ

51. Purpose unifies us

Unifies us:
It focuses our dreams,
Guides our plans,
Strengthens our efforts.
Defines us,
Shapes us,
And offers us

∞ = Δ

52. Make Peace

To make peace with others,
Make peace with yourself:
Shape God
With generosity
And compassion.
Minimize harm.
Shield the weak.
Treasure the innocent.
Be true to the Destiny.
Forgive your enemies.
Forgive yourself.

∞ = Δ

53. Do the impossible

We can,
Each of us,
Do the impossible
As long as we can convince ourselves
That it has been done before.

∞ = Δ

54. Choose your leaders

Choose your leaders
with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward
is to be controlled
by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool
is to be led
by the opportunists
who control the fool.
To be led by a thief
is to offer up
your most precious treasures
to be stolen.
To be led by a liar
is to ask
to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant
is to sell yourself
and those you love
into slavery.

∞ = Δ

55. Ignorance

Protects itself.
Promotes suspicion.
Engenders fear.
Fear quails,
Irrational and blind,
Or fear looms,
Defiant and closed.
Blind, closed,
Suspicious, afraid,
Protects itself,
And protected,
Ignorance grows.

∞ = Δ

56. When vision fails

When vision fails
Direction is lost.

When direction is lost
Purpose may be forgotten.

When purpose is forgotten
Emotion rules alone.

When emotion rules alone,

∞ = Δ

57. Self is

Self is.
Self is body and bodily
perception. Self is thought, memory,
belief. Self creates. Self destroys. Self
learns, discovers, becomes. Self
shapes. Self adapts. Self invents its
own reasons for being. To shape
God, shape Self.

∞ = Δ

58. Immortal Life

Take comfort.
Each move toward the Destiny,
Each achievement of the Destiny,
Must mean new beginnings,
New worlds,
A rebirth of Earthseed.
Each of us is mortal.
Yet through Earthseed,
Through the Destiny,
We join.
We are purposeful

∞ = Δ

59. To explore the vastness

The Destiny of Earthseed
Is to take root among the stars.

It is to live and to thrive
On new earths.

It is to become new beings
And to consider new questions.

It is to leap into the heavens
Again and again.

It is to explore the vastness
Of heaven.

It is to explore the vastness
Of ourselves.

∞ = Δ

60. All prayers

All prayers are to Self
And, in one way or another,
All prayers are answered.
But beware.
Your desires,
Whether or not you achieve them
Will determine who you become.

∞ = Δ

61. What others say

All too often,
We say
What we hear others say.
We think
What we’re told that we think.
We see
What we’re permitted to see.
We see what we’re told that we see.
Repetition and pride are the keys to this.
To hear and to see
Even an obvious lie
And again and again
May be to say it,
Almost by reflex
Then to defend it
Because we’ve said it
And at last to embrace it
Because we’ve defended it
And because we cannot admit
That we’ve embraced and defended
An obvious lie. …
Thus, without thought,
Without intent,
We make
Mere echoes
Of ourselves—
And we say
What we hear others say.

∞ = Δ

62. Rewards

All religions are ultimately cargo cults.
Adherents perform required rituals, follow
specific rules, and expect to be supernaturally
gifted with desired rewards—long life,
honor, wisdom, children, good health, wealth,
victory over opponents, immortality after
death, any desired rewards.
Earthseed offers its own rewards—room
for small groups of people to begin new lives
and new ways of life with new opportunities, new
wealth, new concepts of wealth, new challenges to
grow and to learn and to decide what to become.
Earthseed is the dawning adulthood
of the human species. It offers the only
true immortality. It enables the seeds of the
Earth to become the seeds of new life, new
communities on new earths. The Destiny of
Earthseed is to take root among the stars, and
there, again, to grow, to learn, and to fly.

∞ = Δ

63. Only actions

Are you Earthseed?
Do you believe?
Belief will not save you.
Only actions
Guided and shaped
By belief and knowledge
Will save you.
Initiates and guides action—
Or it does nothing.

∞ = Δ

64. The Past

To survive,
Let the past
Teach you—
Past customs,
Leaders and thinkers.
Help you.
Let them inspire you,
Warn you,
Give you strength.
But beware:
God is Change.
Past is past.
What was
Come again.

To survive,
Know the past.
Let it touch you.
Then let
The past

∞ = Δ

65. Nature

There is nothing alien
About nature.
Is all that exists.
It’s the earth
And all that’s on it.
It’s the universe
And all that’s in it.
It’s God,
Never at rest.
It’s you,
Struggling upstream
Or drifting down.

∞ = Δ

66. Adulthood

Earthseed is adulthood.
It’s trying our wings,
Leaving our mother,
Becoming men and women.

We’ve been children,
Fighting for the full breasts,
The protective embrace,
The soft lap.
Children do this.
But Earthseed is adulthood.

Adulthood is both sweet and sad.
It terrifies.
It empowers.
We are men and women now.
We are Earthseed.
And the Destiny of Earthseed
Is to take root among the stars.

∞ = Δ

The Parable of the Sower, Copyright © 1993 by Octavia E. Butler
The Parable of the Talents, Copyright © 1998 by Octavia E. Butler