“Where do you go for wisdom?”– John Vervaeke
When you were a child, what did you want to grow up as? I remember that my big dream was to be so rich as to have a safe full of gold coins and swim in it everyday just as Uncle Scrooge would do. I was attracted to money, having lots of it, and the main aspiration behind that was to be free from worry and being content. As I finished my bachelor’s degree in business administration, studying finance, economics and management, I got disillusioned with the prospect of making money as an end in itself. I remember clearly one moment in a Human Resource Management class where I taught as a teaching assistant where treating humans merely as resources for an organizational goal felt so diminishing, putting aside essential life experiences like emotions and relational qualities. This contributed to my first depressive episode which later led me to go and ordain as a monk in Thailand to meditate and grow wisdom. That’s when things started to shift for me in a significant way to live more meaningfully.
What is wisdom?
I propose a broad definition of wisdom with Greek and Buddhist philosophical traditions in mind: wisdom is the embodied capacity to live a meaningful and joyful life. In Buddhism, there are 3 ways to develop wisdom:
- Information processing (suttamayapānna): information we can get from anywhere
- Reflection & deliberation (cintāmayapānna): forming one’s own perspectives by thinking about things and discussing them with others
- Intuition (bhāvanāmayapāñña): experiential understanding which involves a direct knowing
We can understand these three forms of wisdom as being more general and wide-ranging (information), to more specific and personal within ourselves and the people around us (Reflection and deliberation), to even more focused in terms of the immediate contact with experience and the present moment (intuition). Wisdom therefore involves all three of these perspective-seeking skills, and meditation focuses specifically on the 3rd form: intuition development. Experiencing within one’s own mind and body a certain quality
At NeuroSystemics, we encourage all 3 forms of wisdom: broadly we could say our trainings (such as the 3-year CARE Trainings) offer information/education with embodied experience, our Resiliency Circles (group process sessions) offer spaces for deep discussions and our Dharma activities offer opportunities to practice directly with our moment-to-moment experience in meditations and retreats.
Where do you go for wisdom?
We can meet friends at work, parties and activities; we can receive education at school and university; we can earn money by working hard and being committed to our goal; but where do we go to develop wisdom? In our western societies, it is not easy to identify popular wise people. A look at magazines, newspapers and social media will mostly point to stars linked with the entertainment industry or politics. But are they wise people?
Here are a few spaces for wisdom:
- A community of practice where you can feel safe enough to be yourself freely
- Your heart, which means taking times to gently connect inside and feel what is alive and feels meaningful
- Nature and the environment which holds tremendous evolutionary wisdom
- Animals, who’s nervous systems are often quite regulated since they have maintained their mechanisms for trauma release (often unlike humans)
- Where else will you go for wisdom?