Scientists and spiritual leaders agree that the question of what it means to be human, and I suspect amphibian, is now inextricable from the question of who we are to each other. Science and spirituality are working together to give us the necessary tools to answer this age-old question.
It is clear that there are some things that science can only begin to touch on, but science is making progress in their understanding of wisdom. It's hard for me to think that science can take a concept, like wisdom, and bring it into the laboratory. But that is exactly what they're doing. What they are learning is that there are specific qualities that make up the "ecosystem" of wisdom: empathy, mindful attention, implicit bias, generosity, gratitude and forgiveness." Scientists admit that this is a new frontier. They are still learning new things about the brain and the body, things they had no clue about, even just a few years ago. Research shows that there is a strong relationship between physicality, emotions, and what humans call spirit and consciousness. The one thing that scientists and spiritual leads can agree on is that compassion, in this day of a truly globalized world, is 'an urgent practical matter." I know I couldn't agree more! Wisdom is a mix of intelligence and mindfulness. And many experts now believe that wisdom is measured and experienced in terms of the effect a life has on the world. Wisdom, then, is more than just being intelligent. It's about being able to discern what is good for us (us meaning the planet and everything on it). David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist, believes that wisdom advances evolution, but that we have to make it true; that it doesn't just happen on its own.
Some cultures are hard-wired to believe that life shouldn't be difficult, while others know that difficulty and suffering are part of life. It's accepted, embraced even. Wisdom emerges through living the experiences, both good and bad, of daily life. And we always learn more from our struggles than from our easily-gained successes. Suffering is all around us. All we need to do is open our eyes. People, an frogs too, who become wise are shaped by how they walk through their own suffering. Wisdom, then, comes from growth; what we learn from our experiences. That growth (wisdom) becomes part of our wholeness when we reach the other side of our suffering. And through our own suffering, we can be more present to the suffering of others. It will be part of our gift to the world.
Science has a long way to go when it comes to understanding wisdom; what it is and how it works. But it's exciting to see that research is these areas previously not thought of as "science" is helping to make the field of science more human and less clinical. Science is slowing becoming accepted as a human discipline, to be celebrated and enjoyed along with music and literature. And big HOORAY for that!
Want to know more? Check out the book, "Becoming Wise, an inquiry into the mystery and art of living" by Krista Tippett.