Every group of people meeting with the intention of being together in deep inquiry & listening in service of the well-being of its members, humanity or planet earth is potentially a circle of wisdom and healing.
Wisdom is needed! It is the mission of the Center for Practical Wisdom to deepen the scientific understanding of wisdom and its role in the decisions and choices that affect everyday life. They connect scientists, scholars, educators, and students to initiate wisdom research & disseminate findings to the public.
“Wisdom was once regarded as a subject worthy of rigorous scholarly inquiry in order to understand its nature and benefits. It is difficult to imagine a subject more central to the highest aspirations of being human. The study of wisdom holds great promise for shedding light on and opening up new insights for human flourishing.
As part of the Center for Practical Wisdom, the website features the latest news and publications on wisdom science, and encourages interdisciplinary discussions about how wisdom can play a role in the professions and in public life.”
Tom Atlee in an article that was written a while ago: “I am coming to suspect that it is the fringes that make the difference between collective intelligence and collective wisdom.
Collective intelligence solves problems or resolves conflicts of, by and for a group, an organization, a community or a whole society. It solves those problems and conflicts for the here and now, for people who are interested, aware, and involved.
Collective wisdom, on the other hand, has a bigger challenge. It needs to expand out from the particular problem or conflict, from the here and now, from those interested, aware and involved. It needs to embrace larger contexts, interests, drivers and possibilities. It has to consider the deep needs of people long gone and yet unborn, and to delve into deeper levels of understanding and caring. It ventures into unseen dimensions of life – into background trends, hidden corruptions and connections, psychospiritual influences, scientific microcosms and macrocosms – to realize unexpected consequences, novel resources, and extraordinarily potent answers. Being the Big Picture form of intelligence, wisdom is born out of our capacity to stretch creatively into the unknown and the unacknowledged, into the new angle, the deeper parts of ourselves, the fringe insights and possibilities.”
Nearly a year ago, on March 22nd, 2016 Kristin Verellen lost her partner Johan Van Steen when a bomb exploded in the Maelbeek Station in Brussels. In the first nights after the attack she met with friends to hold vigils for him. They sat in circle, holding space and listening to one another. Gradually more and more people joined. They kept meeting, including others that had in some ways been hurt or touched by what had happened. Kristin and a circle team that emerged out of these experiences goes on organizing circles in different places across the country. A first international online circle in English took place 2 days ago.
“Telling and listening to each others stories is very important to regain our strength. It helps to deal with our emotions and to face life with a new awareness and renewed energy.
By organising these Circles we want to give the opportunity to everybody who was involved or feels impacted in some way by the terrorist attacks and other forms of blind violence in Belgium and elsewhere in the world to take a moment to reflect. What impact do these acts of blind violence have on us, on our choices, on our society? And what do we do with our precious life and the time we have left?”
“Circle in the Square” is the inspiring story of restorative approaches as implemented throughout Minnesota schools and communities, as told by one of the country’s foremost practitioners, Nancy Riestenberg.
“Restorative approaches help to shift the dominant social norms from ‘power over’ to ‘power with,’ talking ‘with’ instead of talking ‘at,’ and ‘we centered’ instead of ‘I centered'” (Riestenberg, 2012, p. xiii).
Over the span of her 25 year career with the Minnesota Department of Education, where she is now Violence Prevention Specialist, Riestenberg documented the successes that teachers, counselors, community-based practitioners and administrators have had repairing harm, restoring relationships, teaching lessons, and changing lives.
A team of seasoned facilitators from the US and Europe will host a new type of gathering exploring how to create spaces that enable collective healing. A first gathering in Florida in August will prototype a process that builds the capacity to work with historic traumas. Emergent in nature, it will weave together various organizational and creative processes that enable groups and communities to access healing shifts, allowing life and love to be restored.
This is a collective inquiry, sensing and exploring the emerging edges of what it means to create collective healing. Insights and learning will be harvested and shared to ripple. And the aspiration is that experiences and connections among participants will spawn a community of practice and new collaborations.
In an article for Huffington Post Otto Scharmer shares valuable experiences and insights that are relevant to any circle of wisdom: “You need to take entrenched stakeholders on a journey where they experience a situation without their usual armor of habitual judgments. You go on this journey in order to practice deep listening to each other, to the whole, and to what is emerging from oneself. It’s these practices of deep listening and stillness that often have the biggest transformative impact. (…) In every process of transformation that I have had the privilege to witness over the past few years, this has always been one of the single most important turning points: activating the intelligence of the heart, not only in the individual, but also in the collective.”
Phill Cass on the importance of the one who hears a call, and calls together a circle or any other initiative:
“I think that the original caller, the one who first articulated the longing, plays a critical role in the actualization of the possibility. They are the original fire starter and need to tend that flame while at the same time letting go into the collective so that the flame has a chance to ignite into something far larger. If they hold it too tight they can squash the flame and any possibility of it becoming something and if they let go to soon the flame may extinguish because it wasn’t tended long enough.”
Just 2 minutes, but enough to offer you a vision of what a circle of wisdom could be: ” …to love each other, to be generous in a way that we have never been, going beyond what we already know, way beyond what we already know. Something is possible…” (Terry Patten)
In this blog entry Tom Atlee aks the question whether it is presumptuous and misleading when he calls his vision of democracy “wise”. His vision is one of political and governance systems accessing the wisdom, power, and participation of the whole community and the whole of life in service of the whole community and the whole of life. He describes the characteristics of a wise person and looks at what those qualities mean in the context of a community or society.
While there is no easy or simple way to develop wisdom, there are clearly definable pathways for cultivating and strengthening it. The Wisdom Page provides a wealth of advice and guided practices for the nurturance and growth of wisdom.
Since 1995 The Wisdom Page has been connecting those interested in wisdom with a wide range of wisdom-related resources. Over the years the website has expanded in content and grown in popularity.
Amidst ongoing concerns over numerous perceived problems and challenges in the world today—environmental, economic, social, ethical, and technological— it is more important than ever to emphasize the critical relevance of wisdom in constructively facing these challenges. Wisdom is not just about “wise sayings” and philosophical insights of the past; wisdom is “vitally important” for our individual and collective future. Wisdom faces forward. Though numerous technological and economic solutions are offered to address the problems of today, the pursuit and development of wisdom is key to a positive future for humanity.