Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

"The first Degree of Folly, is to conceit one’s self wise;
the second to profess it;
the third to despise Counsel."

- Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanak)

Back in the day

The very thought of finding modern truth in ancient wisdom came alive in my mind after I read Jonathan Haidt's 'Happiness Hypothesis'.
In the book, Mr Haidt examines ten ancient ideas which have been tested and qualified by modern science. He then extracts lessons that still apply in our modern lives.

The author states that the overwhelming availability and abundance of wisdom undermines the quality of our engagement in life.
This book is worth reading, and has been highlighted in The Walkabout in a previous post. The introduction and several chapter summaries are available for free download.

One of my favorite bloggers at Diasporadical recently wrote that the reason we cannot understand tradition is that we invariably look at it through modern eyes.

Whenever I spend an hour or two with senior citizens in my neighborhood, I usually consider that time precious. Their take on life and its attendant issues may seem at first glance a bit out of fashion.
They however have had the advantage of time, having lived through it all and seen times change. They may not have adapted their thinking, but their opinion surely does count.

That said, we may want to look back at the truths that still hold true regardless of how much has changed. Having an attitude that acknowledges and accommodates the notion that change does not necessarily invalidate the past puts us in a position of advantage - living in modern times, with history according us valuable life lessons.

Traditional practices, ancient sayings... even old people may well be representative of a past we feel we no longer need. They however have a place in our lives , giving us insights we can reflect on and wisdom that still holds true.

These are the things that define our heritage, that help us cherish the days gone by,  ancient wisdom that we can invariably rely on in our daily lives.


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