In Your Element: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

Ancient Wisdom—Modern Knowledge
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A common sense explanation of wholistic medical philosophy is given in this preview, which is not in the main book. Another extra is exactly how and where natural therapies work with emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. Although this may sound like a radical concept, there is a long and strong history of this in many different medical systems throughout history. Both authors are gifted lecturers and recognised experts in their respective fields of personality typing and natural health.

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Not Enabled. No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Unlimited One-Day Delivery and more. There's a problem loading this menu at the moment. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Back to top. Modern societies are profoundly optimistic in temper. They imply that our manner should be upbeat, our spirits high and our greetings enthusiastic. Expecting things to go well is presented as the best way to ensure that they will in fact do so. And presenting a cheerful front to others is assumed to be a reliable method for getting them to like us and to build up sincere bonds with strangers.

But our optimism has been a curse. When sunny expectations meet with an obstacle, they are readier to flip to its opposite, anger. Betrayed hope places us at greater risk of nit-picking, sulking, irritation and rage. What these behaviours have in common is insulted optimism: they are the legacy of a feeling that things were meant to be so much better than they have turned out.

We are shocked and offended by the stupidity of others, the failings of institutions, the greed and selfishness that circulate and the prevalence of what feel like unwarranted errors.

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We are outraged by the immemorial condition of the world, our lives consumed by a disappointment fermented by what began as the sweetest of outlooks. These dangers aside, we are pushed to imagine that being optimistic will make us more attractive to others; but oddly a determinedly jolly and upbeat outlook can in fact cut us off from communion with those around us, for our most profound reality is that we all have deep zones of worry, regret, inadequacy and shame that we long to see reflected in others and cannot when the mood must be sunny.

It is the confession of darkness that allows us to get genuinely close to another person — just as it is insistent optimism that will, unexpectedly, reinforce us in our loneliness. But in the second half of the 18th century, a new ideology began that set its face against all accidents of birth and beckoned us to fashion ourselves in our own style across our lives, a hopeful, dynamic philosophy known today as individualism. When we meet a stranger, we do not, as in the past, ask them about their ancestors, their religion, or the place they grew up in. However, the connection between work and selfhood has ushered in distinctive new problems, for a work-based identity is by its nature extremely unstable: we are a sacking, a profit downgrade or a retirement away from losing an established sense of self.

Modern Folly, Ancient Wisdom

Equally, we may be transformed by a promotion, a newspaper profile or a flotation. Our identities are caught in a turbulent oscillation between hope and fear. Our job-oriented identity is further buffeted by the constant presence of competition in a market economy: our status depends on victories over others. We can become impressive only if others fail. And if they succeed, our own attainments lose their lustre.

We end up wanting others to sink because, every time they do so, our own prestige will be enhanced. Without any intentional malice, we have constructed a world of continuous psychological as well as economic rivalry. An individualistic philosophy centred on careers means that what we do outside of paid work comes to seem negligible or irrelevant. There is a harsh irony: individualism was supposed to highlight our unique, intimate character, but it has in practice sharply reduced our sense of who we might be. It is not surprising that the first great sociologist to investigate suicide — Emile Durkheim — discovered that the more individualistic a society becomes, the more the rate of suicide rises.

It is not poverty or illness as such that drive us to the ultimate act of despair. It is the sense that who we are has no meaning outside of visible success in the realm of work.

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Modern societies continually stress that it is within our powers to achieve a mighty destiny. Whatever the initial hurdles, we can, so the suggestion goes, overcome them all through hard work and the exercise of the will — and thereby forge an exemplary and extraordinary path. We may reach other planets, amass fortunes, run the country, make stunning discoveries in science or produce an outstanding film or novel. We do not have to adhere, forever, to that most dispiriting of epithets: ordinary.

We can, through our effort and brilliance, escape the herd. This emphasis on heroism is meant to be encouraging. We are asked to feel that we too could — whatever obstacles we face — astound the world. This belief in the potential of all has a deeply generous origin, but its effect is profoundly punitive, because we are inevitably destined to be very ordinary in most aspects of our lives.

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By necessity almost all of us will aggregate around the average, an unheroic truth emphasised by a central image of statistical analysis, the bell-curve. Most of us will have close to average incomes, close to average relationships, more or less average looks and deeply average talents. In any aspect of life, in any quality or endeavor, only a fraction of the population can ever stand out. But even though we are destined to be ordinary, we live in a culture that ardently neglects or disparages this basic truth. Our sights are set on deeply improbable objectives.

It feels cruel to rule them out, but it may in reality be even crueler to incite them. As a result of a generously intended idea, we end up despising the actual conditions of our lives, hate ourselves for not having done more, bitterly envy those who have triumphed and neglect to appreciate the qualities of what and who is actually to hand. Our societies firmly believe in the concept of meritocracy, that is, the faith that we should be free to make a success of our lives if we have sufficient talent and energy and that there should be no obstacles to our efforts based on class, gender or race.

All voices on the political spectrum are committed to an ideology which states that the highest form of political justice is a nation where the talented can rise whatever their backgrounds. A good society has become synonymous with a meritocratic one. However, this very well-meaning idea carries with it some rather less appealing implications, for if we are to believe that those at the top truly deserve their success, then those at the bottom must surely truly deserve their failure.

Under the aegis of a meritocratic worldview, an element of justice enters into the distribution of penalties as well as rewards.

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A society that thinks of itself as meritocratic converts poverty from a condition of honourable, if painful, bad-luck into evidence of personal incompetence. The burden of failure rises exponentially. The modern age is inherently anthropocentric in outlook from anthropos , Greek for human , that is, it places human beings and their experience and concerns at the centre of the hierarchy, above the claims of nature, animals, gods or the universe more broadly.

We are now, in every way, in our own eyes, at the centre of the show. It was not always thus. Religions traditionally declined to give human beings a pivotal or anointed place in the cosmos. The ancient Greeks pictured their Gods living on the summit of Mount Olympus and looking down upon humans with a mixture of amusement and pity.

Zen Buddhism interpreted nature in general, with all its diverse flora and fauna, as far more important than any single creature, even one that mastered fire and language. Our attention would, in the historic past, constantly have been drawn back to theocentric or biocentric perspectives.

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In Your Element: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times [Michael White, Linn Wiggins ] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Unravel the secrets of. In Your Element book. Read 2 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Unravel the secrets of who you are and discover the secrets to bette.

In ancient times, in the Parthenon, on the Acropolis above Athens, there stood a ten-metre tall statue of Athena made of gold and ivory. No merchant, statesman or general, however accomplished in human terms, could look upon it and think of themselves as anything other than insignificant. The Cathedral radiated across the city the fundamental idea that life on earth would be fleeting, our concerns slight and our personal triumphs petty in comparison to the glory of an omnipotent, omniscient and eternal God. With the decline of religion we have come to embrace a philosophy of what we can term anthropocentrism: we have identified ourselves, as humans, as the most important things that exist.

The stories on which God-focused societies were founded have been displaced by tales of human heroism in business, science or the arts, but this liberation has brought an unexpected kind of suffering in its wake: a vicious sense of our own lack of importance as compared with that of certain esteemed others.

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It has unleashed a torrent of envy and inadequacy. Theocentric or biocentric societies cast all our eyes upwards or sideways and attenuated destructive internecine feelings by reminding us that we were, everyone of us, in the wider scheme, ultimately, puny and forgettable propositions. But, in our times, there is now no established point of reference beyond us that can matter. What happens to us here and now is framed as overwhelmingly important; it is all there is. And so everything that goes wrong, everything that frustrates or disappoints us fills the horizon. The idea of something bigger, older, mightier, wiser and nobler than us to which we owe love and obedience has been stripped of its power to console us.

Religion, for its part, located the important events at distant points in time: in the age of myths and heroes or in the year 33 AD when Jesus was crucified. The events of our own days would be seen as mere ripples and minor accidents in the immense fabric of theological time. There was nothing very special about now.

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Statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The Air Person is: Fast: They like to get things done quickly. About this product. Copies of the Greek text still exist, some of which can be found in the Vatican Library and the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Mathematicians and philosophers, such as Thomas Hobbes , Baruch Spinoza , Alfred North Whitehead , and Bertrand Russell , have attempted to create their own foundational "Elements" for their respective disciplines, by adopting the axiomatized deductive structures that Euclid's work introduced. Absolutely, in fact the Martial Arts are actually a secondary aspect. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Our natural instincts to panic and despair were reduced by being set within the grandest of perspectives. The theocentric view of religion made it impressively clear that the so-called great figures in society were not really so great.