Wisdom of Life

R. Buckminster Fuller: On the Wisdom and the Purpose of Life

“The minute you choose to do what you really want to do,
it’s a different kind of life.”

“Dare to be naive
Dare to think
Dare to go with the truth
And dare to really love completely.”


“The purpose of our lives is to add value to the people of this generation and those that follow. Nature is a totally efficient, self-regenerating system. If we discover the laws that govern this system and live synergistically within them, sustainability will follow and humankind will be a success. Wealth is a measure of a person’s ability to survive so many days forward. Wealth is the product of energy times intelligence: energy turned into artifacts that advantage human life.

Search others for their virtue, and yourself for your vices. Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived. These are the synergetic rules that evolution is employing and trying to make clear to us. They are not man-made laws. They are the infinitely accommodative laws of the intellectual integrity governing the universe.

If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking. Everything you’ve learned in school as “obvious” becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There’s not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines. If I ran a school, I’d give the average grade to the ones who gave me all the right answers, for being good parrots. I’d give the top grades to those who made a lot of mistakes and told me about them, and then told me what they learned from them.

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. We are powerfully imprisoned by the terms in which we have been conducted to think. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality.

Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them. Geniuses are just people who had good mothers. I’m not a genius. I’m just a tremendous bundle of experience. We were deliberately designed to learn only by trial and error. We’re brought up, unfortunately, to think that nobody should make mistakes. Most children get de-geniused by the love and fear of their parents – that they might make a mistake. But all my advances were made by mistakes. You uncover what is when you get rid of what isn’t. You can never learn less; you can only learn more. The reason I know so much is because I have made so many mistakes. When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. 

Human beings are the only creatures on the planet that tell time and think they have to earn a living.

We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

Only the free-wheeling artist-explorer, non-academic, scientist-philosopher, mechanic, economist-poet who has never waited for patron-starting and accrediting of his co-ordinate capabilities holds the prime initiative today. Specialization is in fact only a fancy form of slavery wherein the ‘expert’ is fooled into accepting a slavery by making him feel that he in turn is a socially and culturally preferred—ergo, highly secure—lifelong position. Specialization has bred feelings of isolation, futility, and confusion in individuals. It has also resulted in the individual’s leaving responsibility for thinking and social action to others. Specialization breeds biases that ultimately aggregate as international and ideological discord, which in turn leads to war.

The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done – that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.

It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a ‘higher standard of living than any have ever known.’ It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival. Most importantly we have learned that from here on it is success for all or none, for it is experimentally proven by physics that “unity is plural and at minimum two” – the complementary but not mirror-imaged proton and neutron. You and I are inherently different and complimentary. Together we average as zero – that is, as eternity.

Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”

Excerpts from:

  • R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path
  • R. Buckminster Fuller, Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure


~Richard Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularizing terms such as “Spaceship Earth”, “Dymaxion” house/car, ephemeralization, synergetic, and “tensegrity”.

Excellence Reporter 2020

Categories: Wisdom of Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s