As the imminent climate crisis tests us both personally and collectively, it’s easy to feel like any answers we are to find will be new ones. Yet wisdom traditions across cultures have been grappling for millennia with questions that are actually incredibly relevant, despite the apparent newness of our emergent crisis.
How do we cope with change? How do we separate what’s essential from what can be cast aside, and when even the essential bits are taken away, how do we find ourselves on the other side? What are we actually here to do? How do we situate ourselves within a broader and seemingly indifferent world?
These are all questions wise people have been asking for a very long time, and when we study their writings, we’re given access to the best parts of their best efforts—something that helps us respond to our current challenges in the clearest way possible.
There may be no mention of rain in Greenland or epic deforestation in any of the manuscripts preserved in the Asian Legacy Library. But we can lean on the wisdom within them so we’re equipped with not only what we’ve figured out in our own lifetime, but with the thoughtful discoveries of many who came before us.
Which, in a way, means that humans have been preparing to meet this challenge for a very long time.