In October 1517, a document penned by Martin Luther challenged the supreme temporal and spiritual authority of his time by criticizing the mercenary priorities of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. His widely-disseminated Ninety-five Theses became pivotal in starting the Protestant Reformation. Powerful divisive echoes and after-shocks of that rift permeate world culture today. Now, almost exactly 500 years later, comes into your hands an equally powerful document with the potential to counter prevailing imbalances, but this time the force behind it is healing, not divisive. Seeking Wisdom is an essentially unifying text with, at its core, the hope-filled message that, ‘We are all already one’.
A lifetime writing about prime ministers and others who have reached the top of the tree in politics, business and other fields has led me to one very clear conclusion: neither age, power, charisma, nor money necessarily lead either to wisdom or happiness.
Since the office was created in 1721, Britain has seen 54 prime ministers. Despite having achieved the pinnacle of politics, surprisingly few were happy, nor did they develop happiness after leaving Downing Street. An even smaller number developed any measure of wisdom, perhaps five of the fifty four, including, in the last one hundred years, and then only at the end of their careers, Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan.
It is a consoling thought that power and money often lead away from rather than towards wisdom and happiness. It is consoling, too, to understand that we can all learn to be wise regardless of our standing in life. Humility is a necessary ingredient of wisdom, so it can indeed be easier for those who have least (in worldly terms anyway) to become wise and rich in spirit. The passage from The Bible known as ‘The Beatitudes’ is just one religious text among many which make this abundantly clear.
In this manifesto, the very experienced writer, psychiatrist and psychologist, Larry Culliford, offers a succinct yet profound road map for how anyone can learn to become a wiser, more mature human being. The approach applies equally to those of any religious faith and none, as long as the seeker is prepared to be open-minded about spiritual progress.
The firmest believers in all religions are seldom, of course, open minded. It would be wonderful if the leaders of all nations on earth, and in all walks of life, were to read this manifesto. We cannot assume that they will. But equally we cannot discount that they might. Whether they do or not is beyond our power. What is within our power is to read and engage fully with this book ourselves, and to have our lives changed significantly for the better by doing so. Our lives will be changed but, more importantly still, so will the lives and opportunities of all those with whom we have dealings and come to influence, in this generation and in generations to come.
Martin Luther pushed the pendulum hard, spreading opinion in various discordant directions. With your help, and with the aid of this Spiritual Manifesto, the reverse, healing and homecoming process can be initiated. In this way, little by little, the restoration of harmony – at home, in communities, and between people hitherto in conflict wherever they are – can begin.
Sir Anthony Seldon
University of Buckingham