Tag Archives: Jack Kornfield

The wisdom of technology

Wisdom 2.0 has grown very fast in only four years. From its first panel discussion in May 2010, between Google VP Bradley Horowitz and zen teacher Joan Halifax, the conference has stayed focused on its signature blend of technology and spirituality. In February 2013 Wisdom 2.0 filled the Concourse Exhibition Centre in San Francisco with some 1500 attendees, attracted by speakers including Ford CEO Bill Ford, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and members of US congressTulsi Gabbard and Tim Ryan. A remarkable cross section of technology, business and politics for a conference that whose main focus is on the work of spiritual teachers like Jack Kornfield and Eckhart Tolle.

For many people the question, “what can technology learn from spirituality?” will meet with the flat out answer, “nothing”. Our secular society has learned to question spiritual teaching with the same skepticism we might bring to discussions of the supernatural and mysticism. But the success of Wisdom 2.0 suggests that its mission — to explore how we live with greater presence, meaning, and mindfulness in the technology age — is relevant to a growing audience. Technology confronts all of us with many challenges to our well being, from dealing with the “always on” work patterns facilitated by mobile technology, to managing the fragmented global communities of social media. As Wisdom 2.0 conference organiser Soren Gordhammer wrote in his 2009 book of the same title; technology is not the answer, but neither is it the problem. What matters instead is awareness, engagement and wisdom.

Read more on Wired UK


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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]