Pre-Conference Call

1) Our call today was an extremely moving event for all of us. We shared our experience of the anxieties of the past week, the community that has formed that helped us all get through it, and the unexpected blessing of having our collective wisdom tested as a prelude to this conference. Of the many indelible memories from this call, I think the strongest one will be Grace’s hearing the distress of the birds whose homes and young were being destroyed in the background of the YouTube fire broadcast–showing the increased capacity for empathy that our new technology can bring, if we bring our own full awareness to it.

2) My own brief summation of what think I have learned about wisdom from this series of calls: Wisdom is grounded in the vast creative capacities of our brains (Rico) and the cultural conditions of partnership that powerfully flourished for thousands of years in the Neolithic Period after the agricultural revolution (Eisler, Mackey, Krieglstein). But it perhaps does not take fully shape as wisdom until it finds itself forced to swim upstream against the dehumanizing influences of dominator culture (Karen Armstrong). “The wisdom tradition” can be described as the collection of counter-cultural educational efforts during and since the Axial Age (in the First Millennium B.C.E.) to stem the prevailing dominator tide by cultivating moral and spiritual bulwarks against it: working with creative diligence to foster a source of compassionate partnership with and personal presence to others and the world within each individual, within empires that cultivate isolation and hierarchies of fear. The lifetimes of many of us seem to encapsulate this partnership to domination to wisdom story: coming from the 60s-70s “Age of Aquarius” mentality that seemed a sudden regeneration of partnership culture, through the resurgence of empire since the 80s that has encroached into our educational institutions in unprecedented ways in the name of economic progress, to today, in which our nations and economies and education systems are so visibly out of control in their efforts at total control (Svi Shapiro) that we may just have a chance to reclaim them in the name of wisdom, if we are able to encourage enough others to take heart and hope in these times, instead of losing it by simply succumbing to the forces that seek to control and threaten to engulf us. The only power that can confront the magnitude of the issues of our time is our own magnanimity, the greatness of the wisdom that can be cultivated in each of our souls, and the collective power of our collective wisdom. To cultivate that magnanimity to its fullest capacity we need to draw on the fullness of the wisdom tradition from both the deep (Armstrong, Jaspers) and the recent (Merton, Steiner, Palmer, Gulen, et. al.) past, and from our own personal stories and insights, as we have so richly shared in our calls, and will no doubt share far more fully and embodiedly (to coin a word) when we at last meet this week. So, may our coming together soon be an omen, and perhaps a catalyst, for a larger coming together of the world. And may the devastation our meeting site has narrowly escaped today, thanks to the courageous work of the firefighters, be an omen and serve as a symbol of our helping the world escape much greater forms of devastation in the future, thanks to our own and others’ courageous work.

OK, the details:
1) Again, don’t forget checks (or cash), towels, colored pens, and musical instruments if you can bring them. An alarm clock will also come in handy. Bring some relatively warm clothing/jackets, as some sessions will be held outside.
2) I’ve attached the bios and presentation summaries we’ve managed to collect, and the final program. Send any additions or changes ASAP–I’ll post what I have to the web tomorrow morning and revise and resend once more tomorrow night. We did not abbreviate anyone’s bio, so to be fair, we will accommodate any longer bio you would like to submit at this time.

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