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Wisdom: Choosing to Thrive over Survive

By: Rich Pfeiffer

For most people wisdom is an aspirational concept rather than a daily practice. This is partly because wisdom is not well understood and it is certainly not common in the modern information age and knowledge economy. The idea of wisdom is often imbued with religious overtones. People talk about the ‘wisdom traditions’ that come from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, the Vedanta, Daoism, Sufism and many other religious disciplines. But there is also a wisdom tradition in philosophy and rationalism dating back to the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Clearly wisdom does not require a denominational adherence or commitment so any specific doctrine or institutionalized religion.
 
The cultivation of wisdom in this sense refers to a means of personal transformation, an expansion of our individual and collective consciousness, more constructive and positive relationships, and a more complete understanding of the way we relate to our world. In essence there are three dimensions to wisdom; subjective (“I”), interpersonal (“WE”), and objective (“IT”).
 
The wisdom traditions have most to say about subjective personal transformation (Survive or Thrive). Through wisdom practices or techniques that have been honed over centuries, we can rediscover universal truths about our own identity, our potential for goodness, the nature of genuine happiness, and the causal nature of our own consciousness. These evolving truths about who we are have been, at least partially, revealed throughout history by the great wisdom traditions of human civilization, including religion, philosophy, and more recently science. These traditions have to a lesser extent illuminated the secrets of relationship; our relationship to ourselves (the “I”), to each other (the “WE”) and to all things including the objective world (the “IT”).
 
And do we ever need some wisdom in the world right now. Why? Because we stand at the greatest inflection point in human history, where very likely the decisions we make in the next 30-35 years will determine the future of humankind for the next 500 years. If we are wise, we might very well have the opportunity to experience the greatest renaissance the world has ever seen. We can, for the first time ever, integrate the ancient insights and modern knowledge of the East and West, North and South and launch ourselves into a much brighter tomorrow.
 
The time is ripe for humanity to take the next step in our evolution. Such a developmental leap forward is required if we are to have any hope of resolving the really big problems in the world today. This developmental leap of choosing to Thrive over Survive is absolutely critical if we are to successfully rise to the challenges we all face and to flourish well into the future.


Rich Pfeiffer has long been interested in the development of the human race over its entire history with emphasis upon where we are headed as a species. Here he urges us to move toward thriving as individuals, groups, and in our collective awareness. (Ronald Potter-Efron)

Please send your comments on this article to Ron at www.potter-efron.net