Bits of wisdom from some of the things I have been reading and listening to…

Altruism and more transparency

Short extracts from Μatthieu Ricard and Tami Simon’s a talk about altruism and compassionate economic action in a world deeply fissured by inequality. As both a Buddhist monk and a scientist, Ricard Matthieu comments on practicing compassion during difficult times (Sounds True).

‘TS: Matthieu. There’s a chapter of In Search of Wisdom called “Consistency: A Question of Fidelity.” How would you define or describe a high-fidelity person?

MR: Where something that is the same inside and outside, more transparence, like the Dalai Lama’s tale of that we should be completely the same inside and outside. And he is the living example of that. He’s exactly the same with the lady who is cleaning the floor or the hotel he stayed, and with the heads of state. No difference. If he’s a human being, he looks at that person with the same presence and kindness, and is not a show for people who might look at him and say, “Oh, he’s so good with humble people as well as with the heads of state.” He sees a human being, he’s the same inside and outside…………..

I’d much rather feel that I did nothing wrong and be accused of all kinds of terrible things, knowing that I have not done it because I’m at peace in myself, than be praised for my virtue and do terrible things when nobody sees. So, I think that this consistency and coherence is to be free from moral hypocrisy and all kinds of hypocrisy. And then you feel at peace because you are joyful, because there’s no sort of hidden dark spot. Doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, but at least you don’t pretend. And then you act according to those inner deep feelings, not just showing off……

But I would say that if you genuinely identify within yourself the potential we have for goodness, and we do have it, and to bring it at the surface, to actualize it, to make it become fully bloomed, that’s the very best thing you can do for others and for yourself. So, it’s the two-fold accomplishment of others and your own good, a win-win situation, go for it, dare to be altruistic. That’s the best thing we can do in life, both for others and for oneself. So, that’s my heart advice’.

And… a more holistic model of development and growth

‘There are three reasons that enhanced human maturation is essential to the Great Turning. First, we live in a largely adolescent world. And it is, in great measure, a pathological adolescence. There is absolutely nothing wrong with (healthy) adolescence, but our cultural resources have been so degraded over the centuries that the majority of humans in “developed” societies now never reach true adulthood. An adolescent world, being unnatural and unbalanced, inevitably spawns a variety of cultural pathologies, resulting in contemporary societies that are materialistic, greed-based, hostilely competitive, violent, racist, sexist, ageist, and ultimately self-destructive. These societal symptoms of patho-adolescence, which we see everywhere in the industrialized world today, are not at the root of our human nature, but rather are an effect of egocentrism on our humanity’ by Bill Plotkin at:

‘As soon as enough people in contemporary societies progress beyond adolescence, the entire consumer-driven economy and egocentric lifestyle will implode. The adolescent society is actually quite unstable due to its incongruence with the primary patterns of living systems. The industrial growth society is simply incompatible with collective human maturity. No true adult wants to be a consumer, worker bee, or tycoon, or a soldier in an imperial war, and none would go through these motions if there were other options at hand. The enlivened soul and wild nature are deadly to industrial growth economies – and vice versa’ (Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World by Bill Plotkin)

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