Seven Pillars House of Wisdom, a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating living wisdom for our time, has published a groundbreaking multimedia electronic book, The Seven Pillars: Journey Toward Wisdom, for sale in the iTunes and Amazon bookstores beginning August 3, 2015.
Using Apple iBook technology, the iTunes e-book gives readers an integrated media experience that contains imagery, original musical compositions (released as a companion CD), narration, meditation, video and graphical animation, and many other multi-touch features. Kindle readers access the multi-media components of the book by linking to a web-based library. Readers will find engaging questions and exercises to reflect on and write about at end of each chapter. For book clubs and writing and inquiry groups, a free downloadable discussion guide contains further contemplations tailored for group engagement.
Journey Toward Wisdom is designed to help meet the urgent need for fresh vision at this time of dramatic change. The book composes an interactive template that helps illuminate the experiences of our life, deepen our insight, and inspire commitment to address the social and ecological challenges before us with integrity and beauty.
The e-book features paintings and illustrations by British artist Cecil Collins, and contributions from many distinguished artists, scholars, activists and visionaries, including Sousan Abadian, Christopher Bamford, Mary Catherine Bateson, Robin Becker, Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, Orland Bishop, Ruth Broyde-Sharone, Adam Bucko, Apela Colorado, Paul Devereux, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, Lee Irwin, Kane Mathis, Dena Merriam, Deepa Patel, Rabia Povich, Yuval Ron, David Spangler, Bisan Toron, Wendy Tremayne and many others.
Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from The Seven Pillars Journey Towards Wisdom:
“Our Sacred Heritage” implies that there is a shared experience of the sacred. If so, what is the nature of that shared experience?
Lee Irwin: I would need another hour [laughs]! In relation to the question, rather than talk about shared experience, I would like to talk about the moral groundedness and shared ethical concern that provide the foundation for mediating these experiences. I have become a strong advocate of moral-centered concern, in terms of fairness and balance and recognition of differences and retributive justice, and a really strong sense that it is not about the experience per se, but rather how the experience becomes embodied in a creative way of life. And that creative way of life is something we can all participate in.
So I think our many different experiences can nurture a conjunctive moral concern. Now that doesn’t mean all experiences would nurture it, some may challenge it, and that is part of the human situation. But then you think, what kind of grounded centeredness does it take to be able to mediate very challenging alternative visions of reality, which are for their participants very real and really embodied in their own way of life? For me, the most workable solution is to take the approach of my moral commitments to the wellbeing of others and to creating circumstances for non-violent communication, reciprocity, and understanding through dialogue. I think experiencing the sacred is not just going to come through revelatory experiences for a particular individual—that is a model of the past. I think the present and future is much more about spiritual dialogue and mediation across traditional perspectives in search of a more unitary, holistic way of life on a global scale.
That creates a different kind of responsibility not focused on cultivation of mystical experience per se, but on moral groundedness. The Great Mystery wants us to be in conversation and reconcile our differences, and that is in itself a huge spiritual task. We are called to it almost prophetically, to find a way to create avenues of understanding and redress and balance and harmony, so that we can start living in a truly peaceful world in which these different experiences will all be valuable resources for insight, growth and creative development. We can mediate peaceful co-existence with each other through honoring each other and through discarding all that will create conflict and violence.
Rabia Povich: I hear, and I agree, that the outcome, or the embodiment of the message of Our Sacred Heritage, is in our ethical behavior. But the term “our sacred heritage” implies another shared aspect for humanity. I would say that mysticism is at the heart of this sacred heritage, but the recognition that the entire collective heritage is now accessible is a step toward the future that speaks beyond my being able to claim one particular lineage and say that others, unless they follow my tradition, can’t have access. So there is a message to the religions and the traditions to open their doors without fear or threat of dilution. I am not looking for uniformity here, but I am upholding that there is a unity behind each of these messages. There is something about that term itself: “sacred” points us to the divine, “heritage” points us to the past, but “our” says this sacred heritage is universally accessible. We make our choices of which beings to open to—they make our choices as well, but that is a whole other conversation!
Adam Bucko: My thoughts are very simple, and in a way aligned with both Rabia and Lee. The way that I look at it, it is a new thing that all of a sudden we have access to multiple traditions, we have a chance to gather all of those voices together and have choice in terms of what kind of beings, as Rabia said, we want to contact. That is a new and revolutionary thing. In that sense, it is wonderful!
In terms of the “unity” component, sometimes I struggle with that language of “oneness” and “unity” because the way that I have experienced different traditions and even mentors from different traditions, it seems to me that each of the traditions in a way enables us to touch a different texture of God, a different texture of the divine. So in my experience, all of the traditions have unique gifts and somehow at this point, in terms of building our common heritage, it is about gathering those gifts together and seeing how they all could interact with each other and then seeing what would emerge out of that. I don’t think we know yet what is going to happen when the gifts of Buddhism for example, can truly enter a communion with the gifts of Christianity or the gifts of Sufism. I think that something new is emerging and in that sense, yes, it is our common heritage, but there is a certain newness there that we really need to pay attention to. And as Rabia said, we do need to encourage all of the religions to open “their doors without being afraid of whatever emerges out of that communion and sharing of gifts. That most likely will change them, but I think that is good. Finally, as we gather those gifts in our lives and our communities, this kind of new moral and ethical way of building a new world will manifest itself.
Excerpt From: Seven Pillars House of Wisdom. “The Seven Pillars.” Seven Pillars House of Wisdom, 2014. iBooks.