Wisdom can go extinct

Dharma is a lived dharma. It dies if beings stop becoming enlightened. It’s the purpose of lineages in Buddhism. It’s not about aristocratic bloodlines. It’s about maintaining an integrity and thoroughness of practice. A teacher-student relationship that is deep enough to transmit the living wisdom of the teacher to the student.

It’s never guaranteed that such transmission will be successful. When one person makes a discovery, it’s not automatically a discovery for everyone. That person has the task of communicating it. Communication fails if people don’t get it.

In the 1950s laser technology was developed. The inventor published how-to manuals to the scientific community so they could replicate it. But no one could do it.¹ This was a failure of communication. It wasn’t until he led in-person workshops that people started to get it.

Our current schooling system is a massive failure of communication. Wisdom is kept from generation to generation. The elders of a society gain wisdom and they pass that wisdom on to the youth. This is what education is. This is how culture develops and improves over centuries. Instead we have an Academic Industrial Complex which leads to complete fabrications written in school textbooks (e.g. in economic textbooks the explanation for how money is created is an outright lie).²

Lineages are dying out. Not just religious ones. But lineages of things like critical thinking or free speech. Lineages for values like the family or of integrity, of self-responsibility, of kindness, of virtue. Lineages for the wisdom of perfect health.

I feel a growing sense of responsibility to learn and to share. I used to think if someone somewhere has published an idea, there’s zero point in writing something similar. But we forget. Information gets buried in libraries or on the 55th page of a search engine. History is lost. And then repeated. Mistakes learned by one generation is not guaranteed to be adopted by the next generation. Wisdom can go extinct.

¹ I first heard this from Alan Wallace in this lecture. I can’t remember the timestamp unfortunately.

² See here and here.

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