Gathering Pearls of Wisdom

June 16, 2014

Over the years, I lived on Salt Spring Island, The Gulf Islands Driftwood produced a number of different supplements. Some were to showcase things of interest to the community but not considered to be mainstream as far as news coverage goes. The supplements’ content was often more progressive or left-leaning in its nature; or covered something that was considered to be more alternative. 

Here is an example of this kind of article:

Spotlight: a weekly supplement to the gulf islands driftwood

May 31, 2000

Gathering Pearls of Wisdom

by Tanya Lester 

Wisdom is a difficult thing to write about and so is the Community Wisdom Gathering held last weekend.

At its best, wisdom metaphorically ricochets around the room like Reynold Feldman’s words did when he spoke about how he began his World Wisdom Project.

At its most humorous, it personifies itself in people like Shilo Zylbergold who masqueraded as the Mayor of Salt Spring during the gathering’s opening on Friday at the Harbour House Hotel.

Wisdom fascinates as did Salamah Pope’s talk on cosmology. It spirals in everything we do and witness others doing.

Here is an example of how it works: Someone sits down to make a puzzle. The pieces are scattered willy-nilly.

The person begins sorting through the pieces, spacing them out to get an overview of what is there.

The puzzle is pieced together.

When the puzzle is finished, the person stands back and sees what has been accomplished. There is a feeling of satisfaction and even joy.

Next day, the same person goes out to buy another puzzle to start the process all over again.

The next puzzle is a bit more complicated.

Pope described this pattern as being chaos, followed by separation, then unity and finally transcendence.

Her belief is that everything progresses through this pattern over and over again. As humans, we progress from the chaotic infant to the adolescent, who separates into an individual, to the adult who unifies these two sides and on to the elder who transcends to a more spiritual place. The transcendence is followed by beginning the next spiral. Perhaps the elder who seems childlike in some ways.

Another example Pope used was earth, water, air (as blanketing the earth and water) and fire. Minerals, plants, animals and humans is another pattern.

“Multinational corporations, with the help of modern technology, are raping and destroying our world purely for the benefit of their shareholders,” Pope wrote in her lecture notes. “Economic rationalism is based exclusively on a very narrow materialism. And all this is because there is no commonly accepted cosmology to show us the Earth as a whole, to show us what humankind is and what we should be doing for the planet; and to show us that spirituality is as necessary to us (and perhaps even to the planet) as materiality.”

Prior to Pope’s talk, I was able to take in Feldman’s presentation on “Why is the World a World Wisdom Project?” This part of Friday morning proved that wisdom does have a sense of humour. 

It was kicked off with another presentation by a buffoon aka Zylbergold who gave Feldman the gold gumboot to the island. He declared, “Let the brains begin” after deconstructing the word wisdom.

Dom (dumb) is the second syllable and wis (wizz) is the first, Zylbergold explained with a deadpan expression on his face.

Feldman kept things witty while rambling from one gem of insight to another. At times he took on the persona of a stand-up comic while he tried on several accents beginning with a French accent (in reference to our bilingual country) to explain his arrival on a float plane. “We land, its goes splash, splash,” he said.

Feldman eventually meandered into relating serious stories. One of these being how he was fired as a university vice-president because he refused to fire others at the insitution in Hawaii, where he still lives.

He described himself as being terrified considering he had two children to support through university and a vice-president style house on which to make payments.

The spiritual message he received at the time helped change his attitude from cursing the university president. “You should thant that man as an angel from God,” came a voice when he was meditating one day. “Your work is not there anymore.”

Feldman went on to become a consultant and designed a course called the Literature of Wisdom.

From out of this was spawned Feldman’s book on proverbs, A World Treasury of Wisdom, which was published in the nick of time just before his one-year severance pay ran out.

Eventually he wrote to friends about his idea to begin the World Wisdom Project. He envisioned it as a way to get the “head honcho” wise people together. A friend wrote back, “Great idea. Forget the honchos.”

“One of the great wisdoms of my life has been: let go and let God,” said Feldman who was born Jewish, became a Christian and practises Subud meditation.

What does this all mean?

Does it mean that ultimately wisdom transcends into spirituality?

Does it take humour on the journey with it?

Wise people often say there are no answers, only more questions….


To read earlier posts in this blog, go to

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased directly from the author or go to the title and author name at to read the first few pages and to buy it.



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