Timeless wisdom and civilizational renewal

Timeless Enquiry

How a renewed appreciation, a reinterpretation of timeless wisdom might serve us in this moment.

At a Charles Eisenstein evening talk at De Duif in Amsterdam last year, a friend expressed his inspiration concerning Charles’ emphasis on the importance of ancient Wisdom Traditions, with reference to our current ecological crisis. My friend expressed his appreciation of the inspiration he experienced, when pondering the need to stay connected and informed by this ancient wisdom. This sentiment seems to me encapsulate a contemporary yearning, to be informed by deep truths about the nature of life and living. To which our modern techno focused age is largely indifferent. I suggest that whenever we respond to this type of yearning or resonance, it is an intuitive re-remembrance of an energetic cornerstone or archetype of our common humanity. At that moment I suggested to my friend that he had experienced , a renewed appreciation of these elemental truths.

I am about to suggest to the reader and to my friend, that humanity has a collective need for a renewed appreciation of these planetary critical timeless wisdom or truths. I myself experience a similar resonance with ancient realizations such as Plato’s goodness, truth and beauty or with Socrates exemplification of humble enquiry, or the indigenous wisdoms that worship and revere, the interconnection of humans with all living beings and whose customs value every plant, mineral and animal in existence.

At other times, I feel a resonance with the core awakenings of the luminaries who catalysed the Axial Age. Those which gave rise to the birth of religious movements such as, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity or Islam which started to civilise the planet, largely through the golden rule. This have also been termed as the perennial philosophies, as explained by Aldous Huxley. This almost ageless inflection in human history, seems to transmit ripples or waves or currents of truth, that have compelled the evolution of humanity, towards less violence and warfare or at least, towards greater complexity of thought and culture. The resonance mentioned by my friend, is because these energies, nearly eternal archetypes, are still alive as they continue to permeate and chime our experience right now!

Why the recollection or yearning for an engagement with these source impulses? Why is there now a wish to be connected to, timeless truth or even the eternal? Why yearn to be guided by these golden perennial truths that have so robustly endured through time?

This is where the idea of renewed appreciation comes in, as we currently navigate a Covid19 catalyzed civilizational moment of disruption. When most of the ways of functioning ushered in, since the Renaissance and the European Age of Enlightenment and the resultant modernity, are proving to have outlived their usefulness. Linear thinking in a quantum universe is no longer sufficient. If we only take into account the hyper logical over rational ways and methods of the recent past, I fear we humans may be doomed. The enlightenment, and it’s ensuing scientific worldview, dispelled much of the primal fear and superstition that was exploited by worldly religious empires. It proved through empiricism, that reality was much different than represented by the old orders of monarchy and church. Nevertheless the resulting technocratic worldview threw out, in the rush, towards the industrial revolution, nature based wisdom, as well as the Gnosticism and deep spiritual practices of our own and other indigenous heritages.

Furthermore, established western religions and churches also tended to compete with the emerging paradigm, rejecting and neglecting the contemplative heritage , which had fostered whole diverse lineages of doing, being and knowing in the world. Consequently indigenous civilizations were massacred becoming victims of physical and cultural genocide, while the west became economically richer and more stable, the spirit of its citizens became deeply impoverished in the process.

The practices, explorations and musings of those Axial Age luminaries such as Plato, Socrates, the Stoics, Aristotle, Confucius, Lao Tse, Mahavir, Parmenides and Plotinus still seem relevant and true today. Yet twenty first century life conditions, could hardly be more radically different, yet the apparent undimmed insight of these sages must reveal something true, if not more true, about the nature and characteristics of life itself in its deepest essence, otherwise why the perennial endurance? That these luminaries embodied an impulse to explore life and ask deep questions speaks to something intrinsic to human evolution.

One obvious example, given the multiple crises occurring in the Earth’s living systems and the relative luxury of the educated, Stoicism has become a trend and a lifestyle that people are adopting to navigate the disruptions and complexities of this exact moment in time. All of these enduring strands of human exploration carry codes, patterns, truths and resonances that can be trusted, excavated and explored in our current reality. They can be relied upon as they have stood the test of time, as their application has been proven through their renewed appreciation in multiple circumstances over history.

Spring Mang Taohua Island by Yuan Xing Liang

So the role of renewed appreciation, means suspending our habitual thought patterns and opening our mind and heart, while inviting these archetypal energies to be absorbed into our consciousnesses’. This creates space in our own heads to contemplate them and cultivate the conditions whereby these truths, can percolate and reveal themselves anew, as we endeavour to reinterpret them according to our own best efforts.

This act nurtures those eternal and profound truths and invites them to reawaken, to energise us and be re-realized or re-appreciated according to all life’s current circumstances. The practice of engaging in the paradox of appreciating and reinterpreting the timeless, while exploring its relevance and application in time, is to me, a big step towards encompassing the complexities of our age, not merely cognitively but more at a more humane, and profound level.

Our sense of physical, economic, emotional and mental security often depends upon external crutches. The Covid19 pandemic has swept many of these dependencies away, often revealing the moral, intellectual and spiritual vacuum or emptiness sitting at the heart of our culture. There has never been a more urgent need, to renew ourselves, reactivating our deeply human ontological and epistemological roots. It is time to stand upon the structures of our forebears, inherit their spirit, their enquiry, their genius, to peer beyond the constructs of our current materialist, scientific, rational cognitive worldview and reinvent our civilization. Our destiny is to inherit the mantle of our forefathers and express, generate and recreate the possibility of the more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible!

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About the author Dave Pendle; I am synthesising almost 30 years experience in non profit enterprises with over 40 years of deep personal development experience. Passionate about enabling others’ sense of fulfillment, impact and trust, to engage wholeheartedly with inspiration and commitment to 21st century work and life. Longing to hear the authentic voice of the emerging future paradigm.

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