WISDOM OF SOPHIA
“I think I’ll go and meet her,” said Alice…
“You can’t possibly do that,” said the Rose, “I should advise you to walk the other way.”
This sounded nonsense to Alice, so she said nothing, but set off at once towards the Red Queen. To her surprise, she lost sight of her in a moment.
Lewis Carrol Through the Looking Glass
A significant thread within ancient Wisdom claims that we are not simply human. Outwardly we are human, but inwardly we are divine. According to this wisdom, the purpose of life is to awaken our divine inner self. If we awaken to who we really are, our lives will be blessed. This wisdom is sometimes known as the Sophia perennis, the eternal wisdom, and the cultural history of Sophia – whether as Goddess or Mother of Angels – is interwoven with it.
This wisdom is not confined to the Western Way or to a theistic use of language. Prajnaparamita (= Great Wisdom) is the Mother of Buddhas in Mahayana Buddhism, and the influential Lankavatara Sutra says: “Pure in its own nature and free from the category of finite and infinite, Universal Mind is the undefiled Buddha womb, which is wrongly apprehended by sentient beings”. Similar ideas, expressed a little differently, are to be found in Taoism.
Perennialism came to wide public notice when Aldous Huxley published The Perennial Philosophy in 1945, and has had a significant influence ever since. At the present time, terms like ‘nondual’ – as at www.scienceandnonduality.com – and ‘integral’ – https://www.integrallife.com – are used for the current versions. In these, we find a partial shift from finding a common thread in ancient traditions to developing new ones, in some cases backed up by an ‘evolutionary’ narrative. My own active interest has been piqued by the Headless Way developed by Douglas Harding – www.headless.org – and I will be attending their residential workshop in Salisbury (Wiltshire, England) in July.
Colin Oliver is a poet of the Headless Way, and his poem Sea Shell appears on their website.
What secret lies
in the heart of a sea shell
you cannot tell.
But if one day
a shell on a rock should crack
and break its back
your gaze may fall
to find in its secret heart
nothing at all.
Then turning round
to the sea you may wonder
that the waves’ sound
can come from an empty heart.