After long consideration and advice from my friends, I decided to introduce the idea of beginning the Wisdom Society in an urban setting. That by no means implies that I abandon the original idea of Wisdom Society as a self-sufficient egalitarian social structure, which has to have a sufficient amount of land to be able to produce the food and energy to satisfy its needs. However, expecting that such a revolutionary change of one’s living situation may appeal only to very few, who decide that intellectual reasoning is sufficient to risk it, may appeal to very few. Consequently, I attempt to modify this approach and to adapt it to make it more attractive for a more significant segment of the urban population.
It also would make such a structure more flexible and adaptable, so its members may find the best wat gradually leading towards strengthening the social relationships within the urban Nucleus, particularly altruistic cooperation and consensual decision making.
In the following, I will present and few potential structures of the urban Nucleus.
What is different in the Urban Nucleus
The urban nucleus shares all the fundamental characteristics of the rural nucleus, described in detail in earlier video talks and texts, with a few exceptions. They are introduced to make it easier to implement. However, all the fundamental qualities of the Wisdom Society are preserved.
The main difference between these two formats is the absence of the necessity of possessing a substantial amount of agricultural land, which makes rural nucleus self-sufficient as far as food is concerned, communal housing, partial independence in the production of necessary energy and support for preserving the natural environment. Also, creating a rural nucleus would require from members of many changes in their present lifestyle like abandoning existing kinds of work, the attachment to the nuclear family relations, buying useless but seductive items and changing many other deeply ingrained beliefs and habits. However, all the rest of the qualities of the Wisdom society would be present in the urban nucleus in a properly adapted form. In case someone is not familiar with them (or forgot), they are presented below in a very condensed form.
Social and economic egalitarianism in the strict sense. The only exception may be severely mentally impaired persons who are not able to make rational actions and require help
All significant decisions are made by consensus, including the selection of the group coordinator
All members of the urban nucleus are aware of the results of millennia of indoctrination, leading to the attachment to numerous harmful beliefs. Consequently, they realize that without active intellectual and experiential effort to liberate oneself from its impact, the idea of egalitarianism is impossible. Methods leading to that may be different, while here is suggested the described earlier Wisdom practice. However, members of a nucleus may decide to choose an alternative, as long as it results in freeing the practitioner from ignorance and desire to possess.
The members are also aware of damages which stratified societies inflicted on the natural environment and, as much as possible, would effectively work on preserving whatever is left and “repairing” the damages.
The urban nucleus may be viewed as a transitional form leading to establishing it is the rural setting. When the members of the urban nucleus become sufficiently “seasoned” in wisdom practice and confident that they are able to live together in close proximity and cooperation, then they may feel ready to make such a “revolutionary” move.
Virtual urban nucleus
The virtual nucleus is the “loosest” and least demanding form of the urban nucleus. It is particularly useful if members live in distant locations. They communicate via Internet applications, which become more and more adapted groups such as Skype, FB Messenger and particularly ZOOM. They permit to form closed groups preventing frivolous intrusions. Their form combining video and sound makes it possible to provide the necessary for Wisdom practice instruction and transmissions. It also enables the group practice, which gradually increases the cohesion of the nucleus.
Further on, this format provides opportunities for the group discussion of the individual issues as well as more general social ones. Such discussions more and more may lead to arising of the group wisdom used for problem-solving and decision making. Among such issues, the members may discuss their views on possibilities of advancing towards a more close form of the nucleus. However, If they want to arrive at some genuinely vital decision concerning the nucleus, the best way would be to physically get together and discuss the issue following the methodology described in the next section.
The term “neighbourhood” here has rather lose meaning, which implies that the members of the neighbourhood nucleus live withing distance permitting meetings personally on a somewhat regular basis, for example, each week. Of course, the internet meetings do not have to be abandoned, they can be used as an occasional substitute or in some situations in which commuting is difficult.
Such a format makes it is closer to the ultimate goal – the rural nucleus. It permits a variety of opportunities to learn and utilize some aspects of Wisdom living, which cannot be done in virtual form.
One of them is the group practice in the same physical space. The suggested format of such practice is forming a circle where each person sits close to its neighbours from left and right. Such form is used by some native communities when they are discussing an important issue and try to reach a decision. Also, various psychological experiments suggest that the personal proximity in this arrangement enables the arising of energies of communication, which, to a certain extent, are lost during long-distance electronic transmission. So following such physical arrangement seems to make sense.
For those reasons, a similar format is suggested for discussion leading to a group decision. It may be interspersed by periods of group practice, during which the resting the mind helps in ”softening” attachment to individual concepts, what helps to in arriving at the consensus.
The neighbourhood nucleus makes possible further collective activities, which shows that the idea of the closer communal living is less farfetched than it appears. One of them is reducing spending time and energy on individual shopping. The group may easily arrange a system where members send via one internet request itemizing what they would like to buy. After collecting these requests, one of the members does the shopping and distributes merchandise to the rest. Once such a system “matures” and works smoothly, they can collectively decide how to optimize this arrangement and, for example, buy from some produces on lower prices. They can also expand the scope of their joint projects and, for example, venture to do some gardening for their use. Another way, which brings the idea of collective living closer to reality, could be joint picnics or even vacations. Those examples do not pretend to cover the range of potential similar activities. The overall purpose of such projects is to provide experiential verification that the collective way of life has advantages impossible to realize individually. It also becomes the best form of encouragement for making the next step: forming the cohousing nucleus.
Creating a cohousing nucleus brings the group much closer towards the ultimate goal, that is, forming a largely self-sufficient agricultural nucleus in the rural setting. The living in one building brings members together, what enables incorporating important qualities of Wisdom society in their lives. The daily personal contacts become a rule rather than an exception. It makes it easy, natural, and even joyful to help each other in many ways. That makes the fundamental principle of Wisdom society, the altruistic cooperation to evolve naturally, rather than be imposed as some dogma. Gradually the members of cohousing nucleus would form a structure more and more resembling an extended family rather than a collection of conventional nuclear families. This process may proceed slowly and may encounter setbacks. It should not be surprising because the tradition of nuclear families has developed throughout several thousands of years, and now it firmly established and beyond any questions.
Since the “luxury” of acquiring or renting accommodation explicitly designed for the Wisdom style of cohousing may be rare, the members have to use their creativity to adapt whatever they have to this purpose. The most important seems to be to enable collective meals and their preparation. It means having space sufficiently large that all members can dine together and also the appropriate kitchen. This dining space can also be used for group practice, discussion and decision making.
The closeness of cohousing living permits children to spend time together alone or under the supervision of one or more members. It may eliminate many existing problems encountered in nuclear families, particularly those having only a single child. It also may create the possibility of providing children with alternative forms of education compensating for the antiquated education provided by the official, compulsory schooling system. They may learn new exciting ideas and practical skills instead of being forced to compete and memorize information readily available via Google.
Also, children would interact daily not only with parents but with many other adult members of the nucleus. Being recipients of diversified views, ideas, and talents may contribute to their broader view of the world, increase their natural curiosity, and empower them to become full-fledged members of the community.
The collective style of life has to balanced by creating possibilities for privacy. Otherwise, the cohousing nucleus may drift to some Orwellian or Soviet nightmare. For that reason, the ideal situation would be if each member, including children, has its own room. Only then, the natural human tendency towards socialization would not become an imposed rule but be an expression of mutual interest and joy.
Cohousing offers an opportunity for older people to return to their original role, which mostly disappeared during the period of stratification and survives only in some larger families living together and a few native societies. As the most life-experienced, they may have the moderating influence onto too extreme new ideas. Also, older members may often better deal with children than their parents since they are usually milder, less irritable and demanding. It is important to realize that independently of age or even physical state, every member of the Wisdom society can play its proper role.
Before ending, it necessary to suggest that both the cohabitation nuclei may venture to arrange various kinds of agriculture. Its scale and form depend on where such a nucleus is situated, the amount of resources and work which members decide to engage. However, independently of these factors, such a venture may bring such obvious benefits like learning new skills and producing fresh, organic vegetables and fruits for the community. On a more profound level, it may prove that cooperative agriculture is not an impossible fantasy but can be enjoyable and relatively easily accomplished even by city dwellers.
The primary purpose of this article is to show that the structure of Wisdom society is not based on some fixed, carved in stone dogma. Instead, it advocates a flexible approach to the format of the nucleus, the most crucial element of Wisdom society. The presented here three versions can be viewed as a framework for members of the urban nuclei to come up with their ideas beyond those presented here, which are more suitable for their particular situation. Flexibility and adaptability are the important qualities of wisdom, so applying them to the real situation makes the idea of collective wisdom within the egalitarian framework far more convincing than even the best reasoning.