Saturday, May 1, 2010

Notes from Wisdom 2.0 Conference - Part 2

Day 2 of Wisdom 2.0 Conference. I very much enjoyed Meng Tan's infectious happiness. A refreshing presence in the midst of otherwise mostly serious and left brain crowd. @chademeng is Head of Personal Growth at Google, and goes by the title of Jolly Good Fellow. 

Worth pondering were the following three questions, that Meng shared with us: 

What is your life story?
What do you want to do when you grow up?
How do you want to save the world? and how can I help you save the world?

Used by Meng as a screening device for potential Google hires, these questions can also lead towards a process of self-inquiry, resulting in more questions, rather than straight answers.

Still fresh from  Philippe Goldin's expose yesterday on narrative/conceptual view of self, versus  experiential, embodied self perspective, I found myself resisting the first question. Being present to the now has become a lot more relevant than revisiting the past. Sure there are patterns to be seen, lessons to be drawn, but they all belong to a fixed sense of self, that no longer fits the way I experience the world.

Similarly, Meng's second question implies a narrative framework. It also suggests not knowing yet what one wants. In my case, operating from a place of mindfulness and self-compassion, has made it very clear that I am to use all of myself, body, mind, and heart, to serve. I only need to be present to the thoughts and emotions that come up in various situations to know. Last weekend, during Zen Hospice volunteer training, love flowed through my whole being. Today, during the conference, I felt my heart tighten instead, as the temptation to join the ego-driven world of startups raised its ugly head again.

Regarding the third question, I do not see how one can save the world. More befitting, would be how do I want to serve? I know the path ahead will have threads of mindfulness, and service, and intelligence of heart and mind, throughout. Right now, it includes working as a hospice volunteer, and having committed mindfulness practice. With a few sprinkles of blogging, and tweeting, and ninging. Still needing to be worked out, is the shape of my professional life. There are many possible manifestations, and I am giving myself the space for skillful discernment. 

This is when I need to stop, and leave train of thoughts, and just be with breath.  :)


  1. Sounds like you're learning a lot from the conference.
    I'll create a joke along those tired
    "Buddhist Joke" lines...
    A Choice is being Offered. Somewhere.
    "So, what do you want for the next life?"
    "Make me one with everything, but very light on the concepts."

  2. Actually, saying that I learned a lot from that conference is pushing it . . . a lot. :)

    I came out with an even greater appreciation for the depth of the Dharma teachings. More mainstream learning venues are rehashing, at best. This conference was no exception. It would have benefited from greater presence of Dharma teachers. Joan Halifax did her best to hold the space . . .

  3. For me the conference was a beginning point that spoke to the importance to live a balanced life that connects mind, body, spirit, social and environmental domains. It seemed that the conference was mirroring an emerging cultural story that is emerging from globalization. The story is a new iteration of an old story about our deep connectedness to all life. And in our global reality we are now challenged to bring this awareness of connection, compassion and service to bear on the reformation the self, family, organizations, institutions and environment. Therefore, I hope dozens of conferences similar to wisdom 2.0 emerge to continue our collective exploration to foster a more compassionate, loving and peaceful world.

  4. Thank you. Yes, Soren (the organizer of Wisdom 2.0 Conference) needs to be commended for his effort. I appreciate your thought on viewing this conference as a first step, not an end in itself.