The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Language: English

Pages: 276

ISBN: 1459664825

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Every culture is a unique answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? In The Wayfinders, renowned anthropologist, winner of the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, and National Geographic Explorer - in - Residence Wade Davis leads us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the world's indigenous cultures. In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants of a true lost civilization, the Peoples of the Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the earth really is alive, while in Australia we experience Dreamtime, the all - embracing philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa. We then travel to Nepal, where we encounter a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, who emerges from forty - five years of Buddhist retreat and solitude. And finally we settle in Borneo, where the last rainforest nomads struggle to survive. Understanding the lessons of this journey will be our mission for the next century. For at risk is the human legacy - a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit, as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our time.

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of the Americas had anything of interest to offer the world at the time of first European encounter. “Never in history,” the authors write, “has the cultural gap between two peoples coming into contact with each other been wider. It doesn’t mean,” they add helpfully, referring in a phrase to tens of millions of people speaking perhaps as many as three thousand languages, “that [indigenous people] are stupid or inferior. We all passed through the stage of

If our ship expected to pass back this way, they had asked one of our crew, perhaps we might give them a ride. They were going east as we went west. Our ship, in fact, did expect to return, but not for a long while. Six months would be fine, had been their response. Though I do not think that this is precisely what Thor Heyerdahl had in mind, it may explain something of the courage and patience that allowed human beings to settle that impossibly vast ocean.

empire with the task of understanding strange tribal peoples and cultures that they might properly be administered and controlled. Evolutionary theory, distilled from the study of bird beaks, beetles, and barnacles, slipped into social theory in a manner that proved useful to the age. It was anthropologist Herbert Spencer who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.” At a time when the United States was being built by the labour of African

rubber terror, he described the forest as “innately malevolent, a horrible, most evil-disposed enemy. The air is heavy with the fumes of fallen vegetation slowly steaming to decay. The gentle Indian, peaceful and loving, is a fiction of perfervid imaginations only. The Indians are innately cruel.” Living for a year among them, Whiffen noted, was to become “nauseated by their bestiality.” At a time when literally thousands of Bora and Huitoto Indians were being

themselves the Elder Brothers and consider their mountains to be the “heart of the world.” We outsiders who threaten the earth through our ignorance of the sacred law are dismissed as the Younger Brothers. In many ways the homeland of the Kogi, Arhuacos, and Wiwa is indeed a microcosm of the world and thus metaphorically its symbolic heart. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain formation on earth. Geologically unconnected

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