Life Itself
Institute

We are a contemplation-tank dedicated to rigorously inquiring into how humanity can act more wisely.

Our Purpose

Critical challenges, from mental health to climate change, now echo longstanding warnings that humanity’s growing material power threatens to become a curse, if we don’t find the wisdom to wield it. The history of Western culture, however, has left traditions seeking truth “beyond thought” marginalised in mainstream discourse, while rationality remains a dirty word in many countercultures. We bridge these gaps by conducting rigorous intellectual research, drawing on insights from contemplative wisdom traditions, while giving a humble place to the intellect itself.

Publications

This paper clarifies the concept of Collective Intelligence ─ the ability that allows a group to learn to take useful actions over time ─  and argues for the pre-eminence of emotional factors in group intelligence.  It outlines principles of collective intelligence and nominates the most important collective intelligence issues that must be addressed for the sake of human welfare.

It is odd that organising society around wellbeing implies a revolution, given that wellbeing is humanity’s most self-evident goal. Drawing on ancient wisdom, current science, and history we explain why this “personal”, subjective experience is denied its proper place in public conversations and suggest remedies to this skewed prioritisation.

Forthcoming

Collective Wisdom in the West: Shadows of the Enlightenment

Initiatives

Contemplative Activism 

Contemplative Activism comes from the sense that much of our society’s pain and confusion stems from taboos around contemplation. Contemplative activism means doing the activism that we already do, such as climate activism, with a contemplative or reflective approach. It also involves asking ourselves how to be activist on behalf of the contemplative mindset — to give it a central place in our lives, organisations, and in society.

Contemplative Citizen Science 

If we are to develop the wisdom humanity so sorely needs, we will have to look beyond the intellectual approaches we have relied on in the past. Rather than  attempting to research the insights of wisdom traditions from the outside, our work on contemplative citizen science seeks to enable these very traditions to directly guide research towards the questions that really matter.

Maps and Rafts

This initiative aims at synthesis and sharing of the best methods, across embodied traditions, of advocating for the world beyond language. While communities of embodied practice often say that “maps are not the territory”, or merely “rafts to cross to another shore” they are part of our journey. The maps showing overlap between embodiment traditions must be accurate, and those expressions that serve as rafts to wisdom’s shores deserve to be shared. 

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