The School of Wisdom is an idea, and a timeless tradition. It was first re-manifested in modern times in 1920 in Darmstadt, Germany by the efforts of Count Hermann Keyserling. The School has had many important students and teachers over the years, including psychologist, Carl Jung, translator of the I Ching and sinologist, Richard Wilhelm, German novelist and Noble prize winner, Hermann Hesse, Noble prize winning Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, and theologian, Paul Tillich. After the death of Count Keyserling in 1946, his son, Arnold Keyserling took over this idea/tradition. In the early 1990s Arnold for the first time allowed two of his American students, Ralph and Molly, to begin using the School of Wisdom name and carry on its tradition and ideas. Today most of the activities of the School of Wisdom are carried out in CyberSpace.
During its initial years between the two world wars under the guidance of Hermann Keyserling, the School of Wisdom served as a spiritual beacon of a newly emerging world consciousness. It was intended by Count Keyserling as a center of education for a future universal, trans-national humanity. The featured speaker at the school's opening in 1920 was the Nobel Prize winning author and educator, Rabindranath Tagore, whose own Santiniketan University in Bengal (also known as Visva Bharati) enshrined the same goal of the education of the universal human being. The opening program texts were called "Politics, Economics, Wisdom" and "Newly Emerging World" and were translated and published around the world.
In 1933 the School of Wisdom was outlawed by the National Socialist Regime, and in 1944 the buildings were destroyed in the War. After the war, the Austrian government invited Hermann Keyserling to reopen the school in Innsbruck and his son, Arnold Keyserling, ran the school after his death in 1946. At the time Arnold took over the School of Wisdom, he was commuting weekends from Vienna to Paris to study with his then primary teacher, George Gurdjieff. Here is a picture of Arnold Keyserling and his guitar taken in the late 1940's, when Arnold was in his early twenties and inherited this responsibility. Arnold Keyserling, and his wife Wilhelmine, were both students and friends of George Gurdjieff. The Keyserlings subsequently developed their own version of the Enneagram which Gurdjieff brought to the West. With the help of their American student, Ralph, the Keyserlings also continued Gurdjieff's work with esoteric Music which they call "Chakra Music" or PrimaSounds.
In the twenties and early thirties, before it was closed by the Nazis, the School of Wisdom met annually in Darmstadt, Germany. People from around the world would attend these meetings. Many more who could not attend read the transcripts of the speeches given there. They were published worldwide in numerous languages under the name Der Leuchter, meaning The Yearbook. The public sessions of these annual meetings consisted primarily of lectures by several speakers on a general theme, often with opposing points of view. This was all orchestrated by Count Keyserling who gave the opening and closing speeches. Hermann Keyserling referred to this as the "polyphonic style of thought." No one viewpoint or opinion was touted over others. The attendees and readers were encouraged to think for themselves, and not have a strong personality or "Guru" think for them. At the time this was quite a revolutionary view.
When Hermann Keyserling started the School of Wisdom he could easily have set himself up as another Guru, and propagated his own views. He was a famous philosopher whose books were known all over the world. His best selling two volume book, Travel Diary of a Philosopher, can be found in most public libraries. In another of his many books, The World In The Making, (1927) Keyserling speaks of the School of Wisdom in Darmstadt:
"Thus in him who comes to Darmstadt and listens in the right fashion, not in a reflective or critical mood, but adjusted so that the partial perceptions of the truth shall be able to coalesce within him into a higher unity - in him that coalescence will actually take place, even if the process is at first unconscious. Darmstadt does not, then, represent any new abstract theories, but is the concrete experience of a new, higher spiritual reality. It creates in this way that which is the premise for new abstractions. It brings about the transformation in a man whereby he can see the world in another way, with deeper and better insight."
"The School of Wisdom undertakes, by means of the proper psychological methods, to assimilate the impulse of life-renewal on the basis of spirit, into the broad body of historical reality."
"The School of Wisdom was not intended to be a fixed institution, but rather a personal, living instrument of transmission which serves the understanding, and which seeks to transform life on the basis of understanding. For understanding is always a strictly personal undertaking. It can be inducted from one person to another, from one spirit to another, only in a special situation which cannot be repeated, and only in a special manner." - Herman Keyserling
The School was striving to create an "ecumenic culture, a universal human culture" which included all of the seemingly divergent cultures and philosophies of the world, both East and West. The German Universities at the time asked Count Keyserling to make the School of Wisdom part of their tradition, but he refused. He felt that the creation of this new culture required a complete break with the academic educational traditions. Naturally the academics later opposed Count Keyserling and the School of Wisdom, as did many others because of the School's political stands for democracy and against nationalism in all forms. Count Keyserling was an outspoken critic of the governments of Europe at that time, particularly the German government. Ultimately, the forces opposing him, with the help of the Nazis, succeeded in temporarily closing the School.
Today the School of Wisdom seeks to be contrary to no established group, including academia. Still, it remains adamant in its opposition to nationalism, and ideologies in all forms. It is dedicated to the now critical task of preserving the environment and multi-cultural diversity. It's revolutionary vision of One World, based on unity with Nature and a common, multi-cultural spiritual understanding beyond dogma and nationalism, is now tolerated, if not supported, by many. The controversies initially surrounding the School of Wisdom have died with time. In fact, the Count's son, Arnold, served as a Professor in academia at the Academy of Art, in Vienna, Austria for over 30 years.
In 1962 Arnold Keyserling moved from India to Vienna, Austria, to work on building the Wheel - a thinking tool developed by Arnold and his wife Wilhelmine - and on bringing the culture and knowledge of the East, particularly that of India, to Western Europe. Arnold and his wife Wilhelmine were instrumental in starting the Yoga movement in Europe in the early sixties. Then in the seventies and eighties, the Keyserling's focus changed again as they became leaders of the Human Potential movement in Western and Central Europe. Arnold Keyserling was elected President of the European Humanistic Psychology Association. Arnold and Wilhelmine Keyserling also became one of the first groups to introduce Native American shamans and shamanism to Europe in the 1980's.
In April 1992, activities began again under the School of Wisdom name in America with Ralph and Molly.
In the United States in the Nineties the focus of the School of Wisdom changed somewhat, but the primary goals remained. However, now greater emphasis was placed on Music, Healing, New Science, Law, Technology and Cyberspace. The School of Wisdom is now primarily concerned with using the Internet to teach the laws, methods and tools by which each individual can heal themself, and can find and carry out their unique task or service for Humanity and the Earth. The SOW strives to apply the ancient wisdom from the surviving indigenous traditions of the world, especially the new found traditions and rituals of Africa, and the new insights and discoveries of science and psychology, to help everyone find and fulfill their dreams in meaningful work. This is a question not only of spiritual development, but of right livelihood, and finding healing fulfillment in meaningful work.
Today the School of Wisdom continues its past human potential theme of "think globally and act locally" with a global network of friends fulfilling their potential on all levels: physical, social and spiritual. But now the emphasis is changed. We strive to "Think Universal and Act Global." The "laws" taught are universal and generic to many world cultures and spiritual traditions. The local actions include the whole Earth, including all of nature. The Internet is one good example of this new global activity.
Psychology and the great spiritual traditions of the world are still an important part of the School of Wisdom, but the emphasis is on current, pragmatic methods and procedures by which each person can create their own answers to the great questions of life. This wisdom is based on nature and the body, on the development of Awareness by which our many states of consciousness (which Ralph calls the Subtle Sybil Effect) can be unified into a coherent whole. Wisdom is not based on different beliefs or ideologies, but on the common denominators of nature, the human body, language and geometry. This is knowledge of the natural Laws of Wisdom.
The goal of the SOW is integration of this knowledge into practical "know how," into Wisdom, to make sense of the world, and slowly heal ourselves and fulfill our potential. World mythologies, philosophy, science, mathematics, psychology and all of the world's great spiritual traditions are included in an eclectic study of objective systems of Human evolution. The basic handbooks or texts of the School of Wisdom are Chance and Choice: a compendium of ancient and modern wisdom revealing the meaning and significance of the myth of science and Laws of Wisdom: an introduction to the natural laws of human potential (now its own website at www.LawsofWisdom.com). These books represent an holistic synthesis including many of the world's traditions.
The School of Wisdom is adamantly nonideological. It stresses the importance of each individual finding their own meaning and ways to realization in life, and fulfillment in work. The Great Questions of life are raised and discussed, but we try not to give specific answers. That's for the students to do for themselves! Only the language, laws, tools and procedures are provided by which students can more easily find the answers.