Why is Selflessness a way to Wisdom?
This book is a real story, but more than that it is also a book for academic life education purpose.
It first contains real stories from eleven suicide prevention telephone hotline volunteers of the Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong (SBHK) who had been serving for more than 25 years. They came from all walks of life such as engineer, businessman, teacher, nurses and housewife. There were episodes of unforgettable conversation between volunteers and clients, stories of how volunteer managed the situation when a suicide attempt was ongoing at the other end of the phone.
Based on these stories, the author, who are also a long-serving volunteers of SBHK himself, combined with several academic references to explore relationships between empathy, selflessness, virtues, transcendence, wisdom and Eudaimonia (ultimate happiness) which human being should be aware of and to try to understand.
This book consists of two parts. The first part is a series of stories from eleven suicide prevention telephone hotline volunteers of the Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong (SBHK) who had been serving for more than 25 years. They came from all walks of life such as engineer, businessman, teacher, nurses and housewife.
There were episodes of unforgettable conversation between volunteers and clients, stories of how volunteer managed the situation when a suicide attempt was ongoing at the other end of the phone. Volunteers talk about their engagement with different type of clients: depressive, suicidal, manipulative, shameful or even thankful clients. They also talked about themselves, including their childhood, some very important personal experiences and their expectations for the future. All these stories are, in fact, data for triangulation among each other to support the research on the attributes of these long-serving volunteers.
The second part is an elaboration of the reason for the longevity of service provided by the volunteers. This is a wisdom related reason which is unknown to most people. While volunteers selflessly devote their precious time to serve their clients and regularly exercise empathy, they are unconsciously practicing undeliberate and additional ‘selflessness’. This book provides a lot of literatures (with academic references) advocating the importance of selflessness for human development. There are relationships between empathy, selflessness, virtues, transcendence, wisdom and Eudaimonia (ultimate happiness) which human being should be aware of and to try to understand. This book allows interested people to trace along the literature references provided and ultimately pursue happiness. The author believes that people understand all these insights would know how to carry on their lives in a fruitful and developmental manor, regardless of their age.
Dr. Pak-Kei Kan (Vincent)
Vincent has been serving as a hotline volunteer in the Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong (SBHK) since 1983. With a career in the civil aviation industry, Vincent began as a layman 35 years ago to serve suicidal clients through answering the telephone hotline calls.
Later, Vincent decided to learn more counselling skills and obtained his Master’s Degree on the subject in 2009. With a strong academic orientation, he decided to embark on a doctoral research on the Attributes of the Long Serving Samaritan Befrienders Volunteers in Hong Kong in 2010. The research was aimed to understand how long-serving volunteers could be bred to aid SBHK in formulating its strategy for developing their volunteers.
In late 2013, he encountered a bottleneck during his research as he could not find any insights after long, hard and tedious works. He experienced a major emotional turmoil which resulted an in-depth self-reflection. During this darkest period, Vincent recalled what he had learned from positive psychology course ‘logo-therapy’ (meaning of life) and the story of Viktor Frankl in the concentration camp during The World War II. With his constant self-questioning on the meaning of life issues, he overcame the darkest period with his enlightenment on what and how important selflessness was.
With his self-resurrection experience and appreciation of the importance of selflessness in life, Vincent changed his approach and found a number of literatures supporting the connection between psychotherapy and wisdom. He concluded that the insight on the relationship between empathy, selflessness and wisdom provide more global benefit to individuals than to simply develop long-serving volunteer for organizations similar to SBHK.
‘The book gives examples and advocates “selflessness” as a key component for human beings to achieve certain wisdom of life. Through his personal life experience and related literatures, Vincent provides references on academic literatures and significant people to support his theories. He intends to stimulate our thoughts in an area that we normally may not spend too much time on.’
- List of Tables
- List of Figures
- Who is Vincent Kan? (by the author)
- Part One – The Experiences of Eleven Volunteers
- Chapter 1 – Jason Lee, the enduring volunteer
- Chapter 2 – Han, the lifetime teacher
- Chapter 3 – Tooyoung, the commitment seeker
- Chapter 4 – Polly Wong, a life dedicated to the dyslexic
- Chapter 5 – Joyce Chow, the nature follower
- Chapter 6 – Bonnie Wong, the generous helper
- Chapter 7 – Mr. Lau, the great communicator
- Chapter 8 – Robert Wong, the entrepreneur
- Chapter 9 – Ms Cheung, mother of the group
- Chapter 10 – Stephen, a reflective person
- Chapter 11 – Vincent, the challenge seeker
- Chapter 12 – The gift to us from those struggling to live
- Part Two – Wisdom of life
- Chapter 13 – Knowledge and reflection (Wisdom-fostering knowledge)
- Chapter 14 – Reflective Understanding, Affection and Compassion
- Appendix 1 – Twenty Principles of the Samaritan Befrienders
- Appendix 2 – Character Strengths and Virtues Survey