Ancient Roots of Future Wisdom
“Tao Te Ching” – “A wise man has no extensive knowledge; He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man.”
What is wisdom? What is the kind of wisdom we need in the current context?
More than ever, there is a need for discerning what true wisdom really is and having the intuition to trust it. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially in a world that has been hypnotized by the trappings of modernity. A system where homogenization of cultures is not only tolerated but also celebrated and communities that resist this mono-cropped, maniacal, modern life have their ways of lives systematically destroyed! A world where there is terabytes of virtual space for storing vast oceans of information but not nearly enough real spaces where one can engage and convert this mass of information into wisdom for living. A world where our minds have been colonized and we don’t even know.
Is the way out, the way in? For centuries now, the wise have frequently turned to our roots, cultural and ecological, and tuning in to them to show us the right path. In this month’s articles, we explore what it is to let go of our rose tinted glass of modernity; what it feels to have a real sense of belonging and be rooted to a ‘place’. To value ways of being that is tethered culturally and temporally to a place, shaped over centuries of observation, experience and shared wisdom. Arati Kumar Rao in her lyrical essay, Miracle Of Sky River writes about farmers practicing ancient mantras to reap lush fields of gold sans irrigation in one of India’s driest regions.
We also bring to you Pablo Solón’s essay on the philosophy of Vivir Bien which reflects an indigenous cosmovision where the emphasis is to live in harmony with nature and one another. This Solón describes as a “powerful yet contested framework for re-conceptualizing the good society.”
There is also the companion piece to Solón’s essay, Helena Norberg Hodge’s perspective on Vivir Bienas an alternative to the ‘catastrophic juggernaut of industrial modernity.’ According to Helena, Vivir Bienis universally applicable but contests that the transition to an ecological age would however require the decolonization of both minds and souls. Helena also draws parallels from India with her experience of working for the past three decades with land-based communities in Ladakh.
We hope these articles provide food for thought and triggers for reflection. Alternatives for saner living abound; around us and within us. The challenge is to acknowledge, realize and wholeheartedly accept the wisdom of the past to lead us into a better future.