Friday, March 01, 2013

Notes from Wisdom Conference

Last weekend I was at the gathering of my tribe, also known as the Wisdom 2.0 Conference. It's not really a conference, as the host put it, but a gathering of friends, a meeting of kindred spirits. It is a very unique gathering where people immersed in technology come to explore what they can learn from the world of wisdom for fulfillment and purpose. When I heard about this event last year, it felt like the mirror image of the two parts of my life. 

After the four days of listening to the personal journeys of the likes of Arianna HuffingtonPadmasree WarriorJon Kabat-Zinn and Jeff Weiner, it's hard to tell if the greatest value was the wisdom imparted from the main stage or the intimate exchanges with people in the hallway. Peculiarly, most people I ran into were at a similar place in their life - have a lot going for them, but yearning for something beyond material pursuit. We joked that it was a congregation of people on sabattical. Some had a fair idea of how to follow this calling, but several were looking for guidance and it's entertaining how the Divine makes the connections happen.

Having been entrenched in tech and spirituality for 13 years myself, there were several powerful moments that served as reminders. Soren Gordhamer said "ask not what I want to do in this world, but what does the world want to bring in through me?" Taking that to the next level "our primary purpose is to be present (or soul conscious), and then see what the world wants to bring through me". Being someone who moves swiftly from one project to the next program round the year, I needed to hear "try not to make decisions, but recognize decision when they are made".

There was a good representation of scientists at the event. A particularly interesting study on Telomeres, the part of the DNA that protects us from disease and infection, looked at what causes the growth and loss of this protective substance in our body. Studies showed that stress and anxiety decays it more rapidly while happiness and relaxation causes the telomeres to grow back. Nothing exciting so far. A step further, research found that hedonic happiness, the type you experience when you buy yourself a new car, is less effective in growing the telomeres in comparison to eudaimonic happiness. I had never heard this word before, but it refers to the happiness one derives from doing an act of kindness to others. It made me chuckle to see that scientists now have data to support the selflessness our sages and saints have prescribed for thousand of years.

Then, there were displays of gadgets to measure many aspects of wellbeing which seemed a bit far fetched. But what was important was the undertone in most of the conference. There was a certain sincerity to look at 'what really matters at the end of life?' 

I walked away having validated my purpose and made some very good friends. Also, I'm not holding my breathe on scientists finding the evidence of God :)

Here are some particularly good conversations that I'd recommend watching - 


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