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Discover Living Wisdom…Inquire Within

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne

"The Seven Pillars: Journey Toward Wisdom" e-book is Now Available on iTunes, Kindle and More

When the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom team asked me to help promote a contemplative toolkit for the social and ecological needs of our time, I realized that nothing matters more than people having a way to consider the world. Throughout the ages, the wise have left clues about wisdom, telling us that if properly considered, contemplative questions could produce realizations that transform the world. Our current culture does not emphasize teaching how to consider such questions. We find ourselves marooned and unable to access the secrets that are our birthright, hidden within. The template that the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom team created provides the tools needed to deeply consider the world, a process that contains the potential to reveal our collective and individual roles in shaping the future.

I asked the team, “How did this unusual toolkit come to be?” It began as the imagining of the organization’s founder Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, a Sufi. “No surprise,” I thought, knowing that Sufis play a unique part in the gathering of wisdom. They recognize and make way for it no matter the source. One story tells of a woman who rejected using a pair of scissors because she favored tools that unify. She preferred a needle and thread. Sufis are known to bring together whatever claims separation. With this foundation, a house of wisdom was built in the tradition of great wisdom houses from history, such as the Library of Alexandria, the House of Wisdom of Baghdad, the interfaith House of Worship at Fatehpur Sikri and the Platonic Academy of Florence. This “house without walls” is constructed of the wisdom of the world’s religions, philosophies and imaginings. The bones of the house make a template called The Seven Pillars. When explored, the Pillars may illuminate the experiences of our life, deepen our insight and inspire commitment to address the social and ecological challenges before us with integrity and beauty.

Today, the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom website journal shares the writings of those who have gathered in this modern house: scholars, artists, musicians, scientists, mystics and many others. The Seven Pillars: Journey Toward Wisdom e-book was created as a guide to share their discoveries. Wisdom is no ordinary thing, thus, the form of this work had to be dynamic. Journey Toward Wisdom contains text, video, imagery, an original musical score and the art of surrealist painter Cecil Collins. The team wished to share the process of deep engagement in inquiry it had experienced in creating the e-book. Chapters contain questions and exercises to reflect on. Just as the process taught in Julia Cameron’s popular book, The Artist’s Way, guided us to living an artist’s life, Journey Toward Wisdom guides the discovery of how we may be purposeful and active in the world today. For new wisdom groups that form (such as book clubs, families, friends, and all variety of contemplative congregations), a free downloadable discussion guide was made with further contemplations.

One might ask, “How does one measure the success of such a work?” Each finds something different in Journey Toward Wisdom. What is gained from using the toolkit is not contained inside the book’s pages. The words, images and sounds in the e-book point to discoveries that are uniquely our own, they come to life within each of us. It is for this reason that Journey Toward Wisdom is exciting, timely and vital. When wisdom is individually mined, solutions to the most difficult problems come into view and become attainable. When individual visions are collectivized, the world of matter shifts toward its natural state: harmony.

Apple offers the best technology available for a multi-media toolkit and so the project had its start as an iTunes e-book, or iBook. Wanting to fulfill the group’s original wish to share what had been gathered far and wide, a special Seven Pillars team spent the summer making the work available on Amazon’s Kindle. Today is the Kindle version’s first day in the world! Kindle readers may access the audio and video components of the book through links to an online media library. Plus, Apple just released an update which allows iBooks to be viewed on the iPhone. This means that iPad, iPhone, Mac and Kindle users all have access to Journey Toward Wisdom! And for those unable to access Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s Kindle formats, the project’s audio and video are offered freely on the web.


T H E   E - B O O K   E X P E R I E N C E

Take a glimpse at the experience that you will have with this unique e-book. Start your journey now.

Step One: Listen to the Evocation below, and then read on…

The Journey of Life Pillar invites us to broaden our perception and engage in a contemplative overview of our lives. The term journey implies movement, and in fact all life is moving. We know that the universe is expanding, just as we are unfolding and growing as we gain in experience. However, there is an essential aspect of our identity that seems unchanging and unique, an ageless sense of ourselves that seems to remain consistent throughout the events of our lives. It is this part of ourselves, which we recognize as “I,” that is capable of reflecting on an overview of our lives.

Birth and death are the two portals that frame our lives, and we all have a limited arc of time in which to be on this journey. From the moment of our birth to the moment of our death, we are in relationship with others and with all of life. As infants, we all needed caretakers and nurturing in order to survive, grow and develop; and the need to belong continues to shape and guide our life’s journey. When we reflect on our lives, we often think about the people we’ve loved, the things we’ve become attached to, what we have been called to study, the teachers who have deeply touched us, and what we have accomplished. We also reflect on the challenges we’ve had, the suffering and the losses we have experienced, as well as the wisdom we have gained from living through them.

One of the gifts of being human is that we all have the capacity to learn. It is a beautiful expression of our need to develop that we seek to make meaning of our lives and to discover a sense of purpose. Each one of us seems to be endowed to grow, to suffer, to learn, to find fulfillment and seek happiness. As we meet each unfolding experience of life, we learn our way through it. The conundrum for us is that in the midst of great personal suffering, a compression occurs that impedes our sense of connection to the larger world. As we hear the stories of others and sense the realms of resonance we share, we are given the opportunity to recognize ourselves in each other, and to see others within ourselves.

When we see the commonality of joys and struggles in all our stories, and look at life from that perspective, perhaps more compassion will be born both for ourselves and others. Hopefully, we will then be better able to affirm the rightness of the strategies we have used and the choices we have made to move through life, as well as the insight we have gained from our struggles. Our understanding of how every single person is on a journey, with many of the same joys and challenges as our own, brings forth a natural sense of forgiveness, and allows us to better appreciate each of us as a contribution to the world, and to each other.

Step Two: While considering the excerpt you just read, listen to the Musical Interpretation below, and then read the contemplative questions that follow.

  • What are the key notes or themes of your life?
  • Where are you on your journey?
  • Where do you want to be?

Wisdom is wasted if not shared. We have done everything that we know how to do, to share this project with you. Countless volunteers spent hours making the work available. Will you help us share it further still? Tell your friends and loved ones that a way to contemplate the world has been created and it is available to them. Encourage those who are able to purchase the Apple or Kindle versions to do so, as the project’s financial success determines the future of the organization and this new house of wisdom.

Ways to Share

Use this link to send us a request for a bunch of free color postcards (increments of 10, 25, 50). You can mail them to your friends and family members who may enjoy the contemplative questions on back, hand them out or tack them onto community boards in your neighborhood.

Wise folks have said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so please share images of the project’s contributors overlaid with their quotes from the e-book. You can find them here, and they are particularly  great for sharing via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

All of our sharing resources are online and free for you to share. Take a peek.

With Love,
Wendy Jehanara Tremayne

Image Credit: The Sleeping Fool, Cecil Collins (1908–1989), ©Tate, London 2014

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne was a creative director in a marketing firm in New York City before moving to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where she built an off-the-grid oasis in a barren RV park with her partner, Mikey Sklar. She is the founder of the textile repurposing event Swap-O-Rama-Rama, which is celebrated in over 100 cities around the world, and has repurposed hundreds of thousands of pounds of textile waste and transformed thousands of consumers into creators; a conceptual artist; a yogi; a Sufi mystic; a gardener; and a writer. She has written for Craft’s webzine and Make magazine and, with Mikey Sklar, keeps the blog Holy Scrap. Wendy Jahanara is graduate of Suluk Academy, a SOI trained retreat guide and founder of a SOI center in Truth or Consequences, where she hosts other teachers and guides retreats. In June 2013 she released her first book, The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living (Storey Publishing, 2013).

Read more about Wendy Jehanara Tremayne

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29 July 2015

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