“In the wisdom of the past lies the hope of the future.” – Confucius
While acknowledging the benefits of modernization, the Centers for Traditional Wisdom initiative explores the possibilities of retrieving and retaining some of the ancient knowledge and tools that may help individuals and societies navigate the complexities and contradictions posed by the modern world.
The initiative neither over-romanticizes the traditional nor vilifies what is modern. Instead, to put it simply, while logic and rationality serve to fulfill one’s basic and practical material needs to survive as human beings, ancient wisdoms and mysticisms could take you beyond the limitations posed by logic - and guide you towards greater self-actualization.
Core Thematic Areas
Philosophy and Worldview
Under this theme, we look at how indigenous societies conceptualize the world around them, and how their approach to life and worldviews manifest in events, myths and legends, social relations, communication, and their take on nature and the environment around them. One example is the Gross National Happiness paradigm of Bhutan, which is a concept of living a contented life at an individual level that is extrapolated to that of a nation.
The Social and the Spiritual
Spiritual does not necessarily mean being religious. While religion is a set of organized beliefs and practices shared by a community or group, spirituality is more an individual journey to find a sense of peace and purpose, and search for a greater meaning of life and connections with others.
In wisdom centers globally, the aim is to help participants understand the larger role in life beyond pursuing one’s career or accumulation of wealth. And to relieve one from excessive attachments and dependence on material objects to better cope with change and uncertainties of life.
Nature, Environment and Space
For thousands of years indigenous cultures have coexisted in harmony with nature, rather than overexploiting their habitations through excessive mining and mindless deforestations. Fair use, of course, is accepted. If one needs to build a house, for which foundations have to be dug, or a large hydropower plant is needed, special ceremonies to seek permission from the earth are performed.
In New Zealand, the indigenous Maori teach us that we are not separate from nature. This is why the New Zealand government recently granted personhood to the Whanganui River, which means no government or organization "owns" the river.
Language, Art & Crafts
Many traditional societies express their lives in various ways such as poetry, songs, dances, art, and language. One powerful method is the use of language that is rich, strong and conveys deep philosophical thoughts and ways.
In Peru, for thousands of years Shamans have sung Icaros, the vibrations of which summon plant spirits and healing energies with words that tell of nature's ability to heal.