TED Talk of the Day #017: The worldwide web of belief and ritual

Event: TED2008
Speaker: Wade Davis
Bio: Anthropologist, ethnobotanist. A National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.

For the last couple of 100 years or so, we have been an intensely industrial society.

This implies, fundamentally, our most common relationship is based on a commercial transaction or a potential of such a transaction. The said or unsaid question is EITHER “What may I sell to you?” OR “What may I buy from you?” The speaker reminds us:

“Our industrial society is scarcely 300 years old. That shallow history shouldn’t suggest to anyone that we have all of the answers for all of the questions that will confront us in the ensuing millennia.”

What is the alternative you might ask. The speaker says:

What is science but the empirical pursuit of the truth? What is Buddhism but 2,500 years of empirical observation as to the nature of mind? I traveled for a month in Nepal with our good friend, Matthieu Ricard, and you’ll remember Matthieu famously said to all of us here once at TED, “Western science is a major response to minor needs.” *We spend all of our lifetime trying to live to be 100 without losing our teeth. The Buddhist spends all their lifetime trying to understand the nature of existence.”

And, it is not futile contemplation. The speaker quotes a monk:

“You may not believe that we achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, but we do.”

Whoa! Spiritual Enlightenment in one lifetime? A tall order? This might be farthest from your mind, especially if you are engulfed in a crisis or trapped yourself willingly in the endless quest for maximizing comfort. The speaker summarizes the 4 Noble Truths for us:

All life is suffering. That doesn’t mean all life is negative. It means things happen. The cause of suffering is ignorance. By that, the Buddha did not mean stupidity; he meant clinging to the illusion that life is static and predictable. The third noble truth said that ignorance can be overcome. And the fourth and most important, of course, was the delineation of a contemplative practice that not only had the possibility of a transformation of the human heart, but had 2,500 years of empirical evidence that such a transformation was a certainty.

Speaker’s challenge to us:

“..if human beings are the agents of cultural destruction, we can also be, and must be, the facilitators of cultural survival.”


List of previous videos at https://sharebooks.org/category/videos/


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