Wisdom Living

Overview of Wisdom Society

Introduction

That topic was already presented on Vision page while the more detailed description in several video-talks in the category Structure and economy. However, I decided to return to it for two reasons. First concerns the form. After learning more about what attracts visitors to this site, I realized that the textual form combined with short video-talk introduction seems to be preferable.  Since I began to use it, the number of visits to the site has grown steadily.

The second reason is more profound: the video-talks were presented less than a year ago, during the pre-COVID-19 era. At that time, the ideas of the nucleus and the rest of the structure of Wisdom Society, in short WS, appeared to be far fetched and have not expected that they may be useful now. Instead, I envisioned it as something which may attract people later when the world situation will deteriorate to the extent that the necessity of a radical system change would become apparent. But things changed faster than it looked at the pre-COVID-19 time. The COVID-19 pandemics exposed the fragility, weakness and chaotic character of the existing socio-economic system. In the majority of countries, the whole segments of the economy fell apart: bars, restaurants, air travel, sport,  real estate, tourism, etc. collapsed or in the process of collapsing. But it is just a beginning: many economists predict a deep depression, the dramatic increase of the world debt and irreparable damages to the whole capitalistic system.

In essence, it should not be a great surprise, the system is already a long time overdue. However, the speed of its collapse may have profoundly dangerous side-effects causing the destruction of our civilization. This becomes slowly but steadily more and more evident to the growing number of people. So, perhaps the necessity of creating some form of society based on the principle of human wisdom now is not as far fetched as I thought.

This inspired me to present the ideas of the WS  again in a more systematic written form beginning with its fundamental overview.

Philosophy of the Wisdom Society and similar alternative social form

A few years ago, several alternative social forms arose. They function within the modern capitalistic democracies, which allow them to exist, since they do not interfere with the main tenants of the established status quo.

The two most successful ones are Ecovillages and  Intentional Communities. The ecovillages emerged in the nineties and formed an international network. Their philosophy can be summarised as:  “to support and encourage the evolution of sustainable settlements across the world.” It is based on the Gaia hypothesis created by a British scientist James Lovelock. The decision making, the critical factor in the functioning and even existence of an ecovillage, is reached by a kind of consensus, but often encounters difficulties. As far as their size is concerned, there is no clear indication of what it should be.

Another form of an alternative society is present in Intentional Communities, which does not have such cohesive philosophy as Ecovillages Gaia hypothesis. However, according to Wikipedia, an Intentional Community is: “a planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork.”  They are often formed around some spiritual or political principles. The decision-making process in Intentional Communities varies from consensus to some form of the authoritarian approach.

This short description does not pretend to give full credit to those efforts, which are sometimes very successful.  However, their presence indicates that there is a growing segment of the human population who looks for alternatives to modern, democratic or autocratic capitalism.

Wisdom Society is visioned as a society build around one key principle, which is the recovery of our innate wisdom and using it in our everyday life.  

This wisdom, as I already said a few times, in spite of being our innate quality, does not fully manifest because it is severely impeded by the network of interrelated views, which emerged during the 10,000 years long period of stratification. 

There exist several spiritual and psychological methods to eliminate these obstacles. Still, as a rule, they are complicated, require concentrated effort and take a long time to work. Also, their effectiveness in everyday life is often limited.

Consequently, I proposed an alternative technique called Wisdom Practice (earlier called it Wisdom Training)  based on methods taught by the Tibetan 14 century sage Longchem Rabjam adapted to our modern reality. This practice has two inseparable forms: basic practice and practice in everyday life.

The wisdom practice gradually eliminates the attachment to our individualistic views, believes and concepts. It permits seeing our inseparability with other human beings and the world at large. As a result, our innate wisdom may shine again.

Among several qualities of human wisdom, the most important ones are: the ability for abstract thinking and forming appropriate concepts that permit relating of cause and effect, cooperation based on altruism, ability to generalize and discern, creativity, desire to learn and humour.

One way to return to our primordial wisdom is the basic Wisdom Practice, which is simple, direct and free from any form of religious or ideological assumptions. That makes it suitable for members of WS. Eventually, it becomes fused with all the experiences and activities of the everyday life of WS.

This wisdom practice gradually eliminates the fundamental concept of social stratification, stating that the fact of some people having a higher social and economic position than others is natural and unavoidable. Consequently, the WS uses the idea of egalitarianism for all its structures. From that follows that decisions made by a WS group or representatives of a few of such groups are made unanimously. It eliminates the Achilles heel of Athenian democracy, where the majority have the ruling position, which leads to frequent conflicts and makes cooperation difficult or even impossible.  It should be emphasized that equalitarianism, cooperation based on altruism and unanimity in decision making are possible only when people are liberated from the indoctrination imposed during millennia of stratification.  And for that reason, some form of practice leading to returning to the state of wisdom is indispensable.

Another critically important principle of WS is that it aspires to re-establish a total harmony between humans and their environment. Clearly, it cannot be done immediately because of the damages inflicted by the last stage of stratification: industrial capitalism are very deep, and some of them even irreversible. Nevertheless, from its inception, each unites of WS will do what is possible in given circumstances to move towards the ultimate goal.

The other aspect of WS is the maximal independence from the external socio-economic system in which it is situated. It applies primarily to the production of food and energy. It is not because WS attempts to be isolated from surrounding society; to the contrary, friendly and close relations with the surrounding neighbourhoods are of critical importance. The WS should be viewed by them not as some sort of oddity but as an asset, helping hand and example.

The independence mentioned above is important because, in the case when the existing system will undergo severe disturbances or even collapse, WS must be prepared to function without it.

In WS, special attention is paid to raising and educating children and care for the elderly and disabled. Every member of society is responsible for the wellbeing of others, but children play a unique role. Raising them is not relegated only to the parents and close family but to every member of the community.  

Overview of the structure of Wisdom Society

The WS is a hierarchical network of its smallest units called the Wisdom nucleus. In a nucleus, all decisions concerning its members as a group, and occasionally individually (for example, if the mental capacity of a member is impaired) are made by unanimous consent. It is possible because the personal views of the members of the nucleus are flexible and can be easily adjusted if needed. It is because they are involved in the basic Wisdom practice and are aware that their views are fluid rather than solid and hard. Also, the relatively small number of members of a nucleus makes it easier to synchronize their views and arrive at a consensus. If we take as a model the size of tribes of the Paleolithic hunters/gatherers or some, still surviving, aboriginal societies like Hadza in the sub-Saharan region, the size of a nucleus should be around 20 to 30 people, including children.

Each nucleus selects from among its members a person who, for a limited time,  plays the role of coordinator as well as representative of the nucleus. The selection process, like any decision, is done unanimously. As an alternative, each member of the nucleus for a fixed time plays the role of coordinator. This way, every member learns the necessary management skills, which may be important in case of an emergency. At this point, it should be emphasized that none of the members, including the coordinator, have no economic or social privileges. Otherwise, the principle of egalitarianism would be violated. It does not imply a lack of specialization: each member performs a function for which he or she has necessary talents and enjoys it, and which is useful for the whole nucleus community.

The second level of the WS hierarchy consists of Wisdom villages. Each of them forms a cluster of about 20 nuclei, if possible, located in close proximity and ideally adjacent to each other. Coordinators of each of the nuclei of a village form the village council. It makes all decisions concerning the village via unanimous consent. Among other functions, it selects from themselves the coordinator in the manner strictly analogous as it is done in a nucleus. The small size, around 20 persons, of the village council makes the unanimity relatively easy.

The larger size of Wisdom village, around 400 to 600 members, permits more independence from the external system. It may have the facilities supplying the required energy and water. It has its own, relatively complete essential medical and educational services. Since already each nucleus produces its nutritional supply, this capacity applies to the Wisdom village as a whole.  

Such an approach may be continued further to create the next layer of WS hierarchy. Around 20 Wisdom villages can be grouped in a Wisdom town. To avoid repetitiveness,  we can only briefly state that each Wisdom town has its own town council consisting of coordinators of all its Wisdom villages, the decisions are made by unanimous consent, and this council selects its coordinator.

The difference is again in the increased independence of the external system in comparison to Wisdom village. Since the Wisdom town may have around 8,000 to 12,000 inhabitants, it may have its own hospital and proper educational system on the level of high school. Also, its energy production abilities may be technologically more ambitious. It also may establish fair size research and industrial facilities.

As you can easily note, this approach can be continued by increasing the level of the hierarchy in the strictly analogous manner as it is done for Wisdom village and town. Consequently, the size of WS is limited only by the number of people who wish to join it.

Closing remarks

It should be emphasized that the existence of the hierarchy of levels of WS does not contradict its egalitarian character because the decisions on each level are reached by consensus, and no member enjoys the elevated economic or social position. Furthermore, the status of coordinator who leads any of the WS units can be revoked by the group who selected them. The revocation decision, like all others, has to be reached by unanimous consent.

In the following chapters, the structure of each unit of WS, and their relationship will be described in a more detailed manner – this chapter is only an overview.  

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