Perennial Wisdom as Medicine for the Global Community

Photo by Matthias Zomer

The United States of America as we currently know them represent the first time that human beings have ever tried to live together in a mass, multi-cultural, democratic republic. Other modern nations or historical empires have attempted to be one, two, or three of these, but never all four at once, technically speaking. For that reason, I’ve always felt that this country has an important role to play in making peace and in demonstrating peace between and among differing groups of people living together, however great the remaining distance we have yet to cross before fully realizing that.

The reason I begin this tract of writing with this statement is that, with the advent of the worldwide web, we are now more “connected” than we have ever been with our fellows on the other side of the planet. And with shared existential threats (probably the most important being the ecological crisis, as well as the possibility of nuclear disaster), we really should be connecting and coming together like never before, I would hope.

I am not declaring that the entire planet is now or should be a “mass, multi-cultural, democratic republic”. But it has become, or is becoming a mass, multi-cultural community– a global community.

As the global community becomes more real, people from all walks of life and all cultures can interact freely on the internet. People with different political and religious beliefs. People from different cultural backgrounds. At times, the global community seems like a forum for feuding and chaos, rampant misunderstanding, or lack of trying to understand.

I’ve always been interested in the common threads that I could find through different philosophies, different religions and different wisdom traditions. It’s very simple, really. I’m sure you already know what they are.

I am no expert, but in my studies and in the traditions I have been exposed to so far, it seems the perennial tenets of all the world’s great traditions are:

Love. Compassion. Service. Understanding. Tolerance. Self-Examination. Contemplation. Humility. Oneness. Kindness. Non-resistance. Building a beautiful inner citadel in order to be less and less bothered by the “wins” and “losses” of the external world. Building it through connection to what might be called the heart, and its perennial radiance and warmth. Many of the traditions have some tenet which is akin to what we would call “the golden rule”: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Some go as far as to say that the entire history of the cosmos is pretending to be the person in front of you, the cat in front of you, the leaf in front of you. I suppose I would greet and treat the entire history of the cosmos with joy, awe and reverence. Similarly, Mother Theresa would say that each person she served was Christ, was the divine light. In that way, her devotion and service to others was always devotion and service to the divine. And Russel Brand, in an interview, mentioned the Christian mystical idea that when another person is treating you badly, the Christ within them is crying out to you to be loved and saved. I do not identify as Christian. I identify as a peculiar agnostic who chooses to have faith in the divinity in all beings, somehow, as long as I possibly can.

My hope is that we as a species, at this critical turning point, will be able to hold onto our perennial wisdom, which is one of the things that makes us great.

I can imagine readers thinking, also, of all the things that do not seem to make us so great. The tack I take with that, on a global and historical level, on a public interaction level, on an intimate interpersonal level, and even at the level of my relationship to myself is this: Perhaps the divine human task is to love through all of that. To love through the shit, if you will. Often it is done with great sorrow, and great care. In this way, we are fully human and fully divine, both, at the same time, perfectly. It makes me think of my favorite line from A Course in Miracles:

“the holiest place on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.”

Have a beautiful week 🙂

Contact me if you want to talk about this stuff. I’m a therapist, but I also like just talking to people just because sometimes, and I certainly like fueling these important conversations.

Published by annaliseoatman

I am a heart-centered, trauma-focused, licensed therapist with five years of experience working with traumatized, system-involved children and youth, adults moving through addiction and recovery, and older adults in skilled nursing facilities with HIV/AIDS-related health struggles. I earned an Oxbridge Masters in Philosophy (Mental and Moral Sciences) at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and a Masters in Social Work, with a concentration on mental health and direct clinical practice, at the University of Southern California. I love empowering, and healing trauma, and doing soul work with passionate, free-thinking, creative women, or anyone who has ever identified as having the female experience. My approach is warm, empathic and grounded, and I integrate an attachment perspective with a somatic and depth approach to healing trauma.

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