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The value of wisdom in the modern world?

personperson Don't believe everything you think'Merica! Veteran

Following up on a small note in a talk I listened to recently the speaker (can't remember who) commented on the fact that wisdom isn't really a valued quality or even recognized at all. We have prizes and social prestige for smart people, powerful people, charisma, beauty, strength, kindness, charity, bravery... I could probably keep going, but wisdom really isn't in there.

So I googled around for some writing around the idea and really couldn't find much compared to all the stuff about those other qualities but I did come across Ursula M. Staudinger, someone who is doing research into wisdom.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/14/study-of-wisdom-ursula-staudinger_n_5249681.html

http://wisdomresearch.org/forums/t/1613.aspx#

My hope would be that the success of research into meditation might lead to the further benefit of wisdom. There is already research branching off of meditation into compassion.

IMO the lack of wisdom in coming to and making decisions is at the heart of what is going wrong with the world today, people rely more and more on purely ideological ways of deciding the best course of action rather than " achiev(ing) a balance between the general, the greater good, and the individual good"

Does anyone have any examples of wisdom being celebrated or recognized in their world?

lobsterSnakeskinShoshin

Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    In the most general sense, wisdom is a blend of life experience, learnedness, personality even, etc. What I think of when I think of wisdom is how the oriental cultures have the reputation of revering their elders. And of course, in modern times, things are changing in that regard, I believe.

    One of the worst assaults on wisdom seems to be the replacement of wisdom and powers of discernment among mature people with a rigidness in rules - there are no guidelines - just rules - and punishment and scandal.

    lobsterpersonSnakeskin
  • jwredeljwredel Albuquerque Veteran

    By wisdom, are we talking Buddhist wisdom? As for us, there should only be the notion of Prajnaparamita - the perfection of transcendental wisdom. And that perfection is the realization of emptiness. It is hard for me to imagine how the realization of emptiness could ever be "celebrated or recognized" to any degree. And it seems most prudent to simply reconcile oneself to this path and to live accordingly. For to hope or wish or to seek assurance from the behaviors of others would be to "cherish the idea of an ego entity, a being, a personality or a separated individuality". (The Diamond Sutra).

    silverlobsterSnakeskinShoshin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    No, I think @person makes a good point. We have sports events, fashion events, political events, scholarly events... but not places where wisdom is celebrated. Instead people’s strength, beauty, intelligence and so on is placed in the service of “faster, more sales, better methods”, which ultimately goes to serve the materialist world.

    People are trapped in their little bubble of earning ever more, while they lose sight of the cessation of suffering and their fellow human being. In a way I respect the homeless more than the rich, because they have more potential to be free.

    personsilverSnakeskin
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @jwredel said:
    By wisdom, are we talking Buddhist wisdom? As for us, there should only be the notion of Prajnaparamita - the perfection of transcendental wisdom. And that perfection is the realization of emptiness. It is hard for me to imagine how the realization of emptiness could ever be "celebrated or recognized" to any degree. And it seems most prudent to simply reconcile oneself to this path and to live accordingly. For to hope or wish or to seek assurance from the behaviors of others would be to "cherish the idea of an ego entity, a being, a personality or a separated individuality". (The Diamond Sutra).

    I'm just talking about wisdom in general rather than a specific spiritual attainment. What spurred the post was a philosophical/political discussion about collectivism vs individualism. A kind of chicken or egg question was raised, does society create individuals or do individuals create society? A whole lot of the left/right divide going on is baked into that question. Bringing it back to wisdom though, I was like why does have to be one or the other? I'd say that they both give rise to and support each other. So in a sense that relates to Buddhist wisdom in a sort of dependently originated way.

    SnakeskinKerome
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    No, I think @person makes a good point. We have sports events, fashion events, political events, scholarly events... but not places where wisdom is celebrated. Instead people’s strength, beauty, intelligence and so on is placed in the service of “faster, more sales, better methods”, which ultimately goes to serve the materialist world.

    People are trapped in their little bubble of earning ever more, while they lose sight of the cessation of suffering and their fellow human being. In a way I respect the homeless more than the rich, because they have more potential to be free.

    Yes, all of us on a path of wisdom can see how both ourselves and others fall victim to the shallowness of the world.

    I think what is bothering me particularly is how wisdom in our leaders isn't valued. In small tribes and communities people would look to their elders for wisdom and guidance. It seems to me that we don't look for wise leaders, we look for ideologically pure leaders. There's little sense of trying to find a sensible middle way approach that appreciates both individual and collective values.

    It's all so oppositional, I feel like if wisdom was a quality western society valued we might be able to find a way out of this polarization.

    Kerome
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    @person said:
    Does anyone have any examples of wisdom being celebrated or recognized in their world?

    You're right, I don't hear it explicitly mentioned. But it seems implied when someone says "Idiot!" (I hear that a lot these days.) Those might be apropos times for a gentle quote about wisdom ... "Yup, they say" ... I'll have to gather some up, then figure out how to drop them in without being too preachy.

    person
  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran
    edited December 2017

    @person said:
    Following up on a small note in a talk I listened to recently the speaker (can't remember who) commented on the fact that wisdom isn't really a valued quality or even recognized at all. We have prizes and social prestige for smart people, powerful people, charisma, beauty, strength, kindness, charity, bravery... I could probably keep going, but wisdom really isn't in there.

    So I googled around for some writing around the idea and really couldn't find much compared to all the stuff about those other qualities but I did come across Ursula M. Staudinger, someone who is doing research into wisdom.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/14/study-of-wisdom-ursula-staudinger_n_5249681.html

    http://wisdomresearch.org/forums/t/1613.aspx#

    My hope would be that the success of research into meditation might lead to the further benefit of wisdom. There is already research branching off of meditation into compassion.

    IMO the lack of wisdom in coming to and making decisions is at the heart of what is going wrong with the world today, people rely more and more on purely ideological ways of deciding the best course of action rather than " achiev(ing) a balance between the general, the greater good, and the individual good"

    Does anyone have any examples of wisdom being celebrated or recognized in their world?

    I noticed wisdom is individual but once one comes in a group pure preasure happens. For example, when I was at The Church I had a good and nonbias idea what christianity actually taught apart from what people tell me. It made me see life differently but then when youre in a group of people walking off a cliff and you address one person who doesnt want to investigate where they are being led, the preasure is strong to where wisdom is squashed between social worship. Like zombies really.

    When Im on the bus ans talking with people in general, there is wisdom from experiences but a lot of individual people in the US city areas find it hard to say anything because of politics, confidentiality due to their jobs, their families, their health, and their age. So, that wisdom they have is defined by someone else. A delusion of wisdom which may only be just knowledge and preconditioning.

    I noticed those with wisdom, or at least what I read from the suttas and find the light or spark of the path in monks and nuns I speak with, is literally right next to people. Its like the wisdom is so bright that to reach for it their religion (mostly christians here) says they are supposed to see whats bad the dark to find the light.

    Its not that we dont have wisdom. We all have a Buddha Nature. Its being distracted from the wisdom within. Attachments are distractions as so as preasure to conform to society, family, and rules created by being in our comfort zones. Its not a society level. Its individual. Not something you can see on t.v. because these things dont capture the individual persons experience and why they do what people blame them for. Media is the last place Id look to judge the level of wisdom of society.

    Id probably dumb it down to fear and not leaving their comfort zone for fear theyd loose their jobs even though monks survive without jobs. Fear of loosing their chilsren even though ideally they will if they die before their child grows older. Fear of loosing shelter. Fear of having no money. Fear of loosing pride. Fear of asking for help.

    Maybe wisdom is overcoming that fear. It doesnt come with age. We can stay in the same inner mental state even at 90 unless we train our minds to nonattachment to this body holds wisdom rather than our mind which doesnt age but changes (impermence) hence why you have ol' souls.

    Anyway, I like this quote I think by Plato, "when two philosophers come together, they argue. When two of spiritual mind come together, they smile."

    Snakeskinlobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2017

    "Well you know what they say: 'The harder you fall, the higher you bounce.' "

    "Ok, well, The next time you think you’re perfect, try walking on water." ;)

    And other 'friendly' retorts, here.... :)

    Snakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Kind of goes along with the idea of celebrating and sharing wisdom is the lack of community the society (in the US in particular since I live here) versus how strongly we value individuality. In my experience, truly being able to impart or share wisdom tends to require a bond of sort for that level of understanding to take place. And with how little we have a community even without our own families, that makes it hard. We share a lot of knowledge. But little wisdom. It's a pretty challenging thing to communicate with a lack of investment in each other's lives. It's also a challenge because most of us tend to only listen so that we can respond rather than to truly absorb what we are told. We want to compete for who is the smartest and then lose the wisdom because of it. I think we also have a tendency to believe we have all the answers or at least can find them and we think anyone's attempt to share wisdom is an attack on our own knowledge, and a lot of people fight back because they don't want to be "schooled" on anything. But that sense of attacking that comes in feeling like someone is schooling you comes from that same lack of community and connectedness to each other.

    Snakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @jwredel said:
    It is hard for me to imagine how the realization of emptiness could ever be "celebrated or recognized" to any degree.

    It's hard for me to imagine not celebrating emptiness.

    What good is wisdom if we're not living happily?

    @person said:
    What spurred the post was a philosophical/political discussion about collectivism vs individualism. A kind of chicken or egg question was raised, does society create individuals or do individuals create society? A whole lot of the left/right divide going on is baked into that question. Bringing it back to wisdom though, I was like why does have to be one or the other? I'd say that they both give rise to and support each other. So in a sense that relates to Buddhist wisdom in a sort of dependently originated way.

    My fiance has been on a serial killer kick lately and we got into this exact discussion the other day pertaining to how it's possible to foster compassion towards them and whether or not there is a "killer gene.

    I'd say you are right and that it pretty much has to work that way. It's all trial and error and society is made up of people by the people for the people.

    I think our problems are just so much growing pains and I do think we will be alright.

    For example there has recently been a rising up of women all over the world and although there are examples of hate and prejudice all over, the reaction to said hate has been mostly positive. Take Malala Yousafzai and her words of hope which. Were something to the effect of not wanting revenge on the Taliban but instead wants their sons and daughters to be educated.

    Very powerful stuff.

    SnakeskinsilverJeffrey
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited December 2017

    Does anyone have any examples of wisdom being celebrated or recognized in their world?

    The type of wisdom @silver mentions can be found in The Art of Worldly Wisdom
    by Balthasar Gracian
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/aww/

    However in a sense real wisdom is very often hidden for the very simple reason that people are attracted to stupidity and are not really interested in becoming wise ...
    So perhaps we might ask what wisdom is? Personally I feel it is that which seeks its unfolding in others ... much like metta ...

    Bring on the crones ...
    http://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/health/physical-health/menopause/entering-the-crone-age.aspx

    federicaSocair
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I have a wonderful book called "Elderwoman" which touches on the very same subject matter. In fact, grazing Amazon for such books, there is a plethora available....

    karasti
  • From @person original links:

    It may sound absurd at first to give advice that will immediately create a negative effect, but then this negative effect will turn around in the mid- and long-term.

    This is why the wise are not concerned with reputation but effect. The ideal, which is difficult to achieve is to have a positive outcome in the short, mid and long term. Great wisdom skilfulness ...

    I would suggest and it is the potential of Buddhism, we need all the wisdom we can generate ... ignorance, thank you very much, we have enough of ...

    @Carlita said:
    Anyway, I like this quote I think by Plato, "when two philosophers come together, they argue. When two of spiritual mind come together, they smile."

    We haz plan!
    =)

    Socairkarasti
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said:
    I'm just talking about wisdom in general rather than a specific spiritual attainment. What spurred the post was a philosophical/political discussion about collectivism vs individualism. A kind of chicken or egg question was raised, does society create individuals or do individuals create society? A whole lot of the left/right divide going on is baked into that question.

    It seems to be both... there is a cyclical mechanism where society through education and standards of child care and ‘entertainment’ and ambient citizens creates individuals, who then go on to create policy and become the next generation of ambient citizens.

    For me this discussion hinges on happiness. People are happiest in a society of equals, so I think society should go out of its way to make that happen. That means ensuring equal chances to do well and a willingness to share. I’m largely against trust-fund dynasties, I feel wealth should be redistributed at a person’s death.

    Bringing it back to wisdom though, I was like why does have to be one or the other? I'd say that they both give rise to and support each other. So in a sense that relates to Buddhist wisdom in a sort of dependently originated way.

    Agreed. Wisdom includes a reasoned understanding of death, and so the incentive to work on one’s spiritual well-being, and the cessation of suffering in this lifetime.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Its certainly so that the current individualistic society seems to create an unwillingness to acknowledge another persons wisdom. People try to display how smart or how qualified they are, not how wise.

    silverkarasti
  • Tee Hee.

    Strangely enough the Wisely Awake are an informal anarchic grouping all smiling, scowling, dancing and flowing in the same direction. Where else are they gonna go?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited December 2017

    I think maybe there are different directions of wisdom. Like some wisdom is a brief instances to non-grasping and so forth that are important albeit brief. And some wisdom is just insights into ego business like wisdom on being more efficient with your household or other problems. But both/many levels of wisdom can be happening at once and it's ok to have many levels.

    silver
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I think people who are on the verge of moving towards more wisdom are those who seem to hear wisdom and take it in. It's if and when people are able to receive it and almost immediately assimilate it into their psyches.

    Your post, @Refugee, reminds me of the Oracle in The Matrix. And every wise person has a different style, but some how manage to teach those in need of advice and guidance.

  • Very well expressed @Refugee

    That is exactly my understanding. Wisdom comes not as status but is unfolded to those prepared to serve its responsibilities.
    Who is gonna save the world?

    Come on you Boddhisatvas. Buddha! Buddha! Buddha! Goal!
    http://www.buddhistdoor.com/OldWeb/bdoor/0304/sources/respon.htm

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