Report from Wisdom 2.0: Living with Awareness, Wisdom, and Compassion

Ted and I had the opportunity last week to attend the Wisdom 2.0: Living with Awareness, Wisdom, and Compassion conference in Redwood City, California. We listened to speakers who are well known in the Buddhist and Yoga communities, as well as some who are prominent in the technology industry. It was fascinating to hear how mindfulness, compassion, awareness, and empathy are being brought into the workplace through classes, yoga sessions, talks, etc, as well as how digital media are bringing people throughout the globe together to share and discuss these topics.

Many of us who practice secular Buddhism have been in dialogue for sometime about the need for stripping mindfulness, awareness, compassion, and ethics out of traditions and handing them over to everyone in a secular manner. I had written on this topic in The Importance of Compassion without Buddhism, and then while searching for an image to go with the blog discovered the Dalai Lama had just published a book called Beyond Religion with the same theme.

Compassion, ethics, awareness, wisdom, and mindfulness certainly are not owned by any religion. These are qualities that we all can develop, human attributes we must embrace, including bringing them into our work and careers. Wisdom 2.0 is a great effort in getting this message across, and they are off to a nice start. It did my heart good to see representatives of companies like Google, Facebook, and Cisco there to talk about how they are encouraging these qualities in the workforce, how many of them have a mediation practice, and how often they used the word empathy.

In my opinion the words Yoga, Buddhism, and God came up too frequently from the speakers. I’d like to see these talks delivered in a completely secular manner, mentioning religions only in reference to the backgrounds of the speakers. Even Eckhart Tolle who is supposedly coming from a secular viewpoint of mindfulness and the now, got into speculation of us all being one and plants having a consciousness (cringe). I suppose some of those beliefs are bound to pop up in conferences like this, but I feel if we are to encourage the world to be more mindful, especially in business circles we have to be careful of the language we use, and speculation therein. Jack Kornfield’s talk was very good, entertaining, and touching, but when he said, “we don’t know how we got into these bodies,” I found it a bit jarring. Stick to mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom please.

My favorite talk was from someone many of you are familiar with from the podcasts and his books, Daniel Siegel. I’ve included his talk for you below. Give it a bit of time to load fully. It’s worth listening too. Daniel has a new book out now called Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind. I was glad to see early copies were out, so I picked one up.

Watch live streaming video from wisdom2conf at

This was the third annual Wisdom 2.0 conference. While there are areas they can improve, I think Wisdom 2.0 is a wonderful concept that I hope catches on. This is not to say that I feel we need to kill Buddhism. We know that in addition to developing the wonderful traits of mindfulness, compassion, wisdom, and awareness Buddhism also offers a path, direction and practice, that allows a systematic approach which covers even more ground than becoming better people. Compassion, wisdom, and awareness are needed in the corporate world, and I’m thrilled to be a part of helping that message spread out.