Hope is Rising

Wisdom teachers are putting the abuses of freedom in check.

The iris symbolizes hope, wisdom, faith, trust, and bravery.

The biosphere has hit a limit, delivering a constant stream of evidence in the form of more frequent and increasingly destructive fires, flooding, droughts, tornadoes and earthquakes. At the same time, and probably related at some level, the social sphere is tightening and convulsing due to war and the fear of it escalating, political polarization, self-centered and nearsighted nationalism, disregard for truth and ethics, gun violence and police abuse. 

This is nothing new. Human beings have always faced survival threats, environmental and social.  That homo sapiens diverged from Neanderthals and earlier hominids is an indication that our ancestors successfully adapted to the challenges of their situation—they developed social brains, an expansion in cognition that facilitated information-sharing where knowledge could be gained and passed on.  

Our situation is unique and momentous. Through our abuses of freedom, we created and are sustaining a mortal threat. Now, given the nature of our stresses—feedback from nature and storied on the nightly news—our challenge requires another brain adjustment. This time it’s a mental reset, a cognitive adaptation that prioritizes love, respect and concern for the whole as well as the individual.   

Motivated by the knowledge that the sixth extinction is underway and that we are driving it, the “adult” in us is waking up to this challenge, learning and leading the way to awaken more of us so we can respond appropriately and in time. Actually, we know what to do. And the first step—acknowledging that there is a problem—is well underway. We’ve learned the root causes of our metacrises, thinking that once held benefit and comfort for some—materialism, consumerism, unbridled individualism, short-term gratification, greed, disregard for the environment, nationalism—has turned out to be toxic to the whole. 

Now, the consciousness of empathy, soul-based decision making and taking responsibility for the whole of life—Earth and all living things—is lifting its head, getting ready to sprint toward critical mass. Social scientists characterize this period as a phase change, like when water boils to become steam. The required shift is—

  • from hate and apathy to love and engagement
  • from separation and fear to unity and love
  • from treating Gaia as a resource to treating her with respect as a living being
  • from endless consumption to ethical and creative contribution
  • from short-term thinking to long-term consideration
  • from “me” to “we”
  • from quantity to quality
  • from pleasure-seeking to meaning-making
  • from “winning” to “participating”
  • from “receiving” to “giving”
  • from feeding the wealthy few to creating the prosperous many

This is unprecedented, radically new. In large part, this generation and the next are here to bring about internal and external coherence—whole-centered thinking and acting. The former encourages a system’s inner viability and health,  the latter the adaptation of self to the world. For a living system to survive and flourish, both are necessary.

If a critical mass of concerned people would accept the challenge of purposive intervention in contemporary social evolution, the future of humanity could yet be assured… the evolution of our societies, and therewith the future of our species, is now in our hands.

                                                                  Ervin Laszlo, Concert pianist, systems scientist

                                                                  Author, Evolution: The Grand Synthesis

I said we know what to do. Typical of evolution, seeds of the new are planted in the old. On this turn of the spiral, hope is rising because the required shift in thinking has been taught and demonstrated for eons. It’s just that we’ve been distracted by the personal stories of wisdom teachers. Now, the stresses of this evolutionary moment are calling us to actually adopt and apply their teachings. It’s how we overcome the abuses of freedom resulting from toxic thinking. And it’s how we give birth to the flourishing of people and planet. As a reminder, here are the voices of a few wisdom teachers.

Jesus of Nazareth, Endowed with Christ consciousness

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”

Do unto others whatever you would have them to do unto you. 

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

Teach this simple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.

Consider before acting, whether an action is beneficial.

Speak that which is truthful and useful.

Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim

Conduct yourself in this world as if you are here to stay forever, and yet prepare for eternity as if you are to die tomorrow.

The greatest of wealth is the richness of the soul.

You will not enter paradise until you have faith. And you will not complete your faith until you love one another.

Strive always to excel in virtue and truth.

Moshe Rabbenu (Moses)

The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.

Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a {mere} shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. An ounce of patience is worth more than a ton of preaching. In a gentle way, you can shake the world.

Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits. And your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.

Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants. This alone promotes real happiness and contentment and increases the capacity for service.

Geswanouth Slahoot (Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it… Without love, our self-esteem weakens. Without it, our courage fails. Without love, we can no longer look out confidently at the world. We turn inward and begin to feed upon our personalities, and little by little we destroy ourselves. With it, we are creative… With it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.

Laozi (Lau tzu, Chinese philosopher, Founder of Taoism)

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, and compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.

The voices of wisdom have been seeding our modern consciousness with values and behaviors that can affect the shift from self to whole-centered concern. This kind of thinking is emerging around the world. To get it into the mindset of corporate executives, politicians and dictators where positive change can happen rapidly, we their customers and citizens have to demonstrate a shift in that direction. It’s up to us to motivate them. We do that by aligning our values with those of the wisdom teachers, and allocating our time, attention and resources more toward feeding the soul and prioritizing our needs over wants. 


For inspiration, my new blog—Love and Light Greetings—features wisdom teachers from diverse cultures and fields, past and present.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: