“Your true purpose is found at the intersection of your greatest aliveness and the world’s critical needs.” This statement was made by Frederick Buechner to define wisdom.
My Search for Wisdom
It was some years ago that I realised I had reached the stage of my life in which I was supposed to be wise. However, I did not feel wise, so decided to make it my business to find out what this state of being was all about, and how I could acquire it.
I have always believed that it is easier to approach such a deep question in the company of others who have a similar mind-set.
Engaging with a group about Conscious Ageing
I approached our local University of the Third Age to let them know I wished to recruit members to explore both Wisdom and Conscious Ageing. The group has been meeting now for the past decade, and has grown to incorporate new ideas as they become part of the present zeitgeist.
Wisely and Consciously Engaging with Today’s Existential Challenges
In the third decade of the 21st century, nothing is more important than coming to terms with the problems around climate change and carbon dioxide emissions. Inspired by the clarion calls of Greta Thurber, Extinction Rebellion and other similar movements I have been researching what the present day elders are doing about these environmental threats.
Forest Fires in South East Australia
At the time of writing, uncontrollable fires have been raging in South East Australia for the past six months. This spontaneous combustion has been caused by both prolonged drought and the raising of the temperatures. Millions of acres of forest have been destroyed, vast quantities of wild animals decimated, as well as the considerable loss of homes and lives reported. Despite international co-operation, there is little hope of being able to control this destruction until the rainy season. This is a wake-up call which must arouse the wider public’s awareness of the potential devastation instore for Mankind. There is no time to waste. We urgently need to change our destructive consumption of coal and gas.
The Role of the Unconscious in Understanding Climate Change Denialism
Jeffrey Kiehl worked for 30 years studying climate change. He noticed that when he gave public lectures, his audience would become very uncomfortable when he offered them factual information about the dangers of the changing climate. His well researched scientific evidence made his audience uncomfortable, so they tended to reject the quoted statistics and factual information. Kiehl decided this denialism must be related to unconscious feelings. He was so keen to understand this rejectionist attitude that he changed career to study Jung’s Theory of the Unconscious. Today he is a respected Jungian Analyst.
How does the unconscious operate?
Studying Kiehl’s ideas has offered me a new understanding of why it is so difficult for many people, business leaders and politicians particularly, to accept the scientific data. There is a human predisposition to reject information which makes us feel uncomfortable. No one wants to change their lifestyle. The public is frightened by the realisation they may have to consume less in the future in order to maintain a healthy environment.
Crises offer us an Opportunity for Change.
I am reminded of learning about Crises Intervention at the Child Guidance Clinic many years ago. A good time to create changes in the attitude of emotionally disturbed children is when they are going through a personal crisis. Maybe the crises created by the present dangers of flood, famine and fire will help us to understand we all depend on each other to maintain conditions for sustainable life on this planet. The Buddhists told us many years ago that all mankind was inter-related. Ubuntu in Africa is based on this mutual interdependency.
The Wise Elder needs to find avenues for co-operation with the younger members of the community to make progress in finding a way to work together to halt and reverse carbon dioxide