the wisdom from within

wednesday sermon april 3 2013

                                  the wisdom from within

the human brain and by extension the body knows more than our conscious mind allows.  the survival instinct is strong. what is it that give one the strength to carry on through difficulties?  climbing is filled with amazing survival stories of perseverance in the face of almost certain death.  most notable of these Beck Weathers, left for dead during the 1997 Everest disaster, and Lincoln Hall who survived overnight.  the amazing survival of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates on siula grande.  people have survives for hundreds of days at sea, Poon Lim who survived 133 days alone on the ocean.  within us all is the spark, the desire to strive and be.

Ken Kamler, an extreme doctor, treating people in some of the most remote and dangerous places on earth believes that willpower is the most important aspect of human survival.  that through the power of will alone, Beck Weathers reversed the hypothermia that would surely have killed him.  do we all possess that will?  i suspect, yes, but that not everyone is accessing it.  how do we access and activate this most important feature of ourselves?

psychology today say: “to activate your willpower, you must be able to remind yourself why it’s important for you to do something.  meaningless tasks do not activate willpower.  when you have a purpose, you have the beginnings of willpower because you are committed to your goal.”  if you don’t feel a sense of purpose to your life then it would probably be hard to bring yourself back from the brink of death.  if there is an important reason for us to be here, it becomes easier to not to ‘go gentle into that good night, but to rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

if we are truly free then everyday we make choices.  there is nothing, truly, that we must do or suffer the consequences.  in a developed stable political system, consequences are all the results of our choosing, not forces beyond our control.  we choose to take a mortgage, choose to have kids, choose to have the employment to support these things.  these are all choices and they are not the only choices to be made.  perhaps if we felt better about the choices we made, really felt invested in them, then the sense of being on a track, stuck in a rut, would lift.  people feel a sense of malaise when they are ‘forced’ to do something, but nobody is forcing you to do anything, except yourself.

we are our own worst taskmasters.  no one has the ability to punish us worse than ourselves.  many of us were not given good coping mechanisms.  in politics, artistotle tells us practical wisdom arises from from moral will combined with moral skill, a wise person knows how to make responsible decisions.  by disconnecting ourselves from faith and spirituality, by separating ourselves from communities we have curtailed our ability to exercise these pathways.  the pathways that lead to common sense.

the more we spend time with people having differing opinions the more we are able to use those pathways evolved in our brains that think about others and their feelings.  the more we feel a part of community and supported by our peers the more we will strengthen our practical wisdom.  perhaps you have heard it muttered that common sense is not so common.  it is because we are so disconnected, we have fallen out of the practice of empathy.  will is strengthened by our connections to things outside ourselves, our passions and relationships.

to survive as a species we must rely on the experiences and revelations of the individual.  to survive as individuals we must involve ourselves in the world and to be engaged and captivated by it.  wonder and curiosity will be the catalysts to connections.  seek to answer the questions of your dreams.


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