Wisdom 2.0 and the growth of mindfulness

What would Christianity be like today if someone had videoed the Sermon on the Mount and put it on YouTube? Would Jesus get more views than Justin Bieber? Unlikely. But I believe that if such a video appeared today, our understanding of Christianity would be profoundly transformed.

We don’t have the Sermon on the Mount. But there are sources of wisdom available today via the wonders of the interwebs that would have been unimaginable even a decade ago.

Wisdom is an underused word these days I think. We talk about intelligence and knowledge. But to quote from buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield from the video below – we are technological giants and ethical infants. If intelligence is the ability to build a nuclear bomb, wisdom is the ability not to use it.

Jack Kornfield and Jon Kabat-Zinn are two people that I would qualify as genuinely ‘wise’. Today I found a video of them speaking together at the Wisdom 2.0 conference just a few days ago. The video is over an hour long, so you might want to watch it when you have time to give it some attention.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/20411862]

The topic of their discussion is mindfulness. If any single idea is emerging from the viral spread of wisdom through the internet, it is mindfulness. It’s an idea that can be found in all the worlds spiritual traditions, but belongs to the dogma of none of them. It’s a simple idea. To be mindful is to be aware of the moment you are in, and through that awareness become able to make better, wiser decisions. And it is an idea that is quickly being adopted in medicine, psychology, education and politics.

I would argue that many of the problems we as a world face today – environmental destruction, economic collapse, the continued spread of warfare and violence – are not caused by a lack of intelligence, but a lack of wisdom. Maybe then the solutions are not to be found either in grand political ideologies, or in forceful revolution, but simply in every single one of us learning to be mindful of the moment we are in. The consequences of that might be truly revolutionary.

Here is Thich Nhat Hanh also talking on mindfulness.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/14176868]

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

4 thoughts on “Wisdom 2.0 and the growth of mindfulness

  1. I Really enjoyed reading this article, particularly about mindfulness and the wisdom of teachers such as Thich Nhat Hahn. i studied mindfulness, particularly ‘the miracle of mindfulness’ as part of my treatment for an illness, and found it incredibly powerful, and led to a growing appreciation for Buddhist wisdom,

    And an interest in religion and philosophy. I really liked the description of mindfulness as ‘the ability to make better wiser decisions’ and i also think its about slowing actions down, so that each one moment is fully experienced, and is therefore vibrantly alive, and i think thats a beautiful thing.


  2. What would Christianity be like today if someone had videoed the Sermon on the Mount and put it on YouTube?
    Here you go:


  3. Seneca hits some similar territory in one of his letters:

    “Just as the same chain fastens the prisoner and the soldier who guards him, so hope and fear, dissimilar as they are, keep step together; fear follows hope. I am not surprised that they proceed in this way; each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future. But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead.”



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