Wisdom is knowingness. It is understanding. It is being able to not know and not have everything all figured out, and to not react. It is the ability to “just be.”
Wisdom bites its tongue. Wisdom quietly gleans. Wisdom is crazy with patience.
Wisdom knows that this life is just a minute in the story of our soul─ a precious minute, but still just a minute. Wisdom plays the long game.
Wisdoms observes, learns, discerns…
Wisdom is built upon a foundation of Equanimity. It doesn’t react to situations unless necessary. It is friendly with Reason, yet entwined with Intuition and Empathy. It knows a lot but keeps it to itself. Why make a fuss or call attention to oneself? Wisdom is humble.
Wisdom knows that shit happens─ and deals with it.
Wisdom does not complain about the weather. Wisdom is accepting.
Wisdom listens to the body.
Wisdom will not “split a baby” but may suggest doing so.
Wisdom forgives. It is never petty.
Wisdom loves a poem.
Wisdom can just look up at the stars but not need to count them. With Wisdom, the general wanderlust of the mind is tamed.
Wisdom is older than the hills but fresher than a child’s mind. It knows to go full circle. Wisdom still loves Wonder and awe as a bird never tires of flying. It loves joyful play and strawberries.
Those with Wisdom know they are Divinely loved and that they are never alone.
Wisdom is not about having to know everything and being able to explain everything. Wisdom is okay with not knowing and not having to know.
Wisdom allows for a certain acceptance of mystery to the degree that it accommodates and integrates our Reason, Equanimity and personal Divine experiences. Wisdom is the mystical knowledge or knowingness that springs from that eclectic combo.
The way I see it, Wisdom is the more earthly application of Divine Equanimity. It is capable of tapping into knowledge and Reason, amongst other elements, as a matter of manifesting Divine qualities and outcomes in this world. Facts can matter as part of a process of discernment. Yet Wisdom doesn’t solely rely upon the facts. It draws upon other spiritual elements, acting as a humble conductor.
“Wisdom is understanding how the minds works.” -Dalai Lama
Wisdom calls on the right players at the right time to discern appropriate action or non-action for a given situation. Sometimes situations that require Wisdom are perceived as a problem, sometimes as an opportunity. One of its foremost skills is to recognize whether, in fact, a reported crisis is indeed a crisis. It can say, “So what?” in many circumstances. It may also shine Light on a situation so as to “de-crisis-fy” it. No reaction may be necessary in some cases or a simple change in mindset may address the situation properly.
It chooses its battles; it knows when to speak up and when to be silent. It is generally non-reactive, except in a true crisis situation where it is the calm in the eye of the storm.
Wisdom promotes life-affirming responses.
Wisdom holds no shame.
Wisdom lets others lead. Wisdom defers to other spiritual elements as necessary.
Wisdom knows when to risk all and is accepting of loss if necessary. It trusts the Universe. Wisdom never disobeys its angels. It sees signs and sees what is not a sign. Wisdom loves to swim in mystery, finding its way.
Wisdom has nothing to do with age or education (while these factors can be helpful).
Earthly knowledge is not Wisdom. It is more aligned with Reason. It is about the facts. It is very common. Age and education may be more related to common earthly knowledge than to having true Wisdom. Earthly knowledge is attached to the notion of having to have everything “all figured out.” It is often based in artificially-created fields of knowledge. We might confuse people who have extensive earthly knowledge, and commensurate earthly success that sometimes comes with that, as having Wisdom. Such knowledge is, however, quite narrow in scope.
I was a city bureaucrat in California in the 1990s. I can tell you how, under Federal tax laws and California redevelopment law at that time, you could issue bonds on affordable housing tax increment set-aside money, but the proceeds from those bonds could only be granted and not loaned for affordable housing projects, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…
This was practical information that I needed to know about for that time and place and, of course, now those laws have been totally changed, so the information is pretty much useless.
Earthly knowledge has no soul in itself. It is left-brain stuff and is “Tree of Knowledge” smarts versus Tree of Life-based mystical Wisdom. People with earthly knowledge can make money and be successful in conventional ways, but they may not be using all the tools in the tool box. They more than likely are denying their own spiritual sustenance as well, at least in part.
Earthly knowledge tends to push towards conformity, the abiding of typical life tracks and achievements of conventional social milestones. This is what makes sense for many, since, conventionally speaking, there are a limited selection of templates for living and the practical paths make sense per early knowledge.
Mystical Wisdom can take or leave typical life paths. It applies a screening process to its expression that is not centered on conformity nor practicality. It will take the road less traveled. It will blaze a new trail.
We can switch back and forth between earthly and mystical Wisdom in our lives, but we want to be sure to primarily sustain ourselves off the Tree of Life, i.e. mystical Wisdom. Let facts and knowledge serve this deeper soulful Wisdom which is all about who we really are, which is our True nature.
Keep the magic. Keep the mystery.
I talked above about how for a time I knew very specific laws relating to financing affordable housing for low-income families. During that time, my colleagues and I were working on a project for farmworker families. The project was at a dead end, muddled down in complex finance regulations. Yet there was a team involved who were sincere in their desire to serve those in need. A one-of-a-kind solution manifested itself whereby the conventional rules were worked around to serve a greater good and a project was created. Farm worker families received new housing.
True Wisdom gets creative with the practical. It subtlety lets us know that while it may seem that we are at a dead end practically speaking, a work-around or creative solution is within our grasp. In this way, Wisdom helps us to Persevere and pushes us forward to Serve others. Spiritual Wisdom is very practical in its use of creativity.
Be wary, of applying earthly knowledge to that which is spiritual. The spiritual doesn’t always make sense. It isn’t practical, nor does it fit in a box.
Also be wary when seeking your own Truth, as many versed in the depths of practical knowledge will be forthcoming with advice. They may even give you a spreadsheet with everything in your life all figured out for you! At the same time, those wise in the ways of the Tree of Life will be more subtle, less intrusive. They may let you stew. They may let you stumble.
What Does it Look Like to be Wise?
I think wise people tend to lay low. They certainly don’t go around exalting themselves as wise, while others may see them that way. I once heard that shamans never call themselves shamans, but others do in honor of what they witness. There is a Humility that seems to come to one with Wisdom.
Those with Wisdom may have been wounded, and much of their Wisdom may have been seeded in their wounds. Through Self-Awareness and Healing processes, the pain, hurt and dysfunction of their wounds have transformed within them into Wisdom.
When we meet wise people, we certainly get a sense of what Wisdom is. We meet many more people who don’t seem so wise and get a sense of what that is as well. There are some basics of Wisdom that we all appreciate from witnessing the wise and not-so-wise. These factors include:
-Intelligence and reason
-Calmness, not prone to knee-jerk reactions
-Accepting each moment exactly as it is before moving towards needed change
-Empathy and validating others
-A love of learning, teaching and nurturing others
-A tendency towards Simplicity
-Not ruled by fear
-An ability to be alone and an appreciation of Solitude
– Love of creative expression
-Playful and humorous in a non-harmful way
We might ask ourselves if we have ever felt wise in our lives, if even only briefly, and examine what that might have felt like. I imagine that the answer for many might be calm and knowing. We may have felt connected to some greater power at those moments. We can extrapolate that if we can capture these feelings of Wisdom, we might be wiser, that we might cultivate the environment for Wisdom to bubble up. Still, Wisdom is not something we can “try” to be. It may be an ideal that may just happen if allowed to happen, if not stifled and yet not consciously strived for.
At a minimum, I look at wise people as having learned to maneuver through the ups and downs of regular day-to-day life with such basic skills as managing their emotions, being patient, listening well, dealing with change in a good way, having humor and being Non-judgmental. Maybe we can all just start with these basics.
While having “mastered” many of the basic practical skills of living, wise people continue to be humble; they still respect the mystery of life. They bathe in it. They value mystery over mastery.
Our Wisdom is commissioned by Divinity and we can tap into that source for knowledge that transcends facts and for knowledge relating to Universal Truths.
As emphasized, Wisdom needs Equanimity. That is, it functions best with this element for the reasons described. From a base of Equanimity, Wisdom can then serve as the master conductor of the universal symphony, drawing upon the talents of: Intuition, Reason, Creativity, Empathy, and Acceptance. It is further informed by: Justice, Non-judgment, Non-Attachment, Truth, Light, Love, Peace, Perseverance, Nurturance, Generosity, Wonder and Respect.
Wisdom is quite the alchemist, deftly drawing from the entirety of the Spiritual Table as appropriate.
Wisdom loves Simplicity, that which is not complicated and that which is understandable and accessible to many.
Wisdom’s required Equanimity is greatly served by Mindfulness.
Wisdom gains from time spent in Healing and practicing Self-Awareness.
Wisdom is served by Joy and Beauty. Wisdom loves the small treasures in life.
Wisdom knows Surrender as a great ally, trusting the Universe without a desire to control outcomes.
Wisdom serves in Gratitude and always in Humility, never thinking it is more important than any other. It allows for its success and its failures. It is humble and gracious towards the Divine, respecting any mystery not revealed.
“It is unwise to be sure of one’s wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” -Gandhi
Wisdom needs Freewill. Freewill can set Wisdom into action with appropriate intention and without expectation for outcome. On the other hand, it is a suspension of Freewill that often lets Wisdom arise. Freewill and Wisdom work together, making choices that serve a greater good for the longer game.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to a situation.” -Viktor Frankl
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were some handy-dandy exercises that helped everyone to achieve Wisdom? What a different world we would have. However, there is no one route to Wisdom. You can’t take a weekend seminar or take home Wisdom in an 8-pack CD set.
What we can do is try to remove the obstacles to Wisdom arising. Practices to manifest Wisdom are centered upon attainting a state of personal Equanimity.
This will entail engaging in any and all practices leading to Equanimity, including: Meditation, Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, Healing etc.
It is otherwise my belief that people interested in Wisdom should focus on the basics. I recommend starting with Patience and listening skills.
- Cultivate patience. Spend a day a week just noticing all feelings of impatience as they occur. For example, you may notice yourself thinking: “I am feeling impatient now as I am standing in the grocery checkout line as it seems to be moving slowly.” Discern possible responses to each situation, including allowing the feelings of impatience to dissipate. Simply wait in a content mode and see what transpires within.
- Develop your listening skills. Notice in any conversation if and when you find yourself focusing on your response to what a person is saying and/or waiting for the other person to stop talking so that you can deliver your response. When we do that, we are often not listening to what the other has to say. We are simply waiting to talk. Practice being in a pure listening mode.
- Answer the following questions for yourself: “If you ever felt wise in your life, what did this Wisdom feel like?” If you have not, then ask yourself: “What would you imagine Wisdom to feel like?” Whatever answers you come up with, work to support and enhance those feelings.
- Yoga. I mention yoga as a Wisdom practice because it tunes our bodies so that we can better listen to them in terms of the mind-Body connection. Making a wise decision is confirmed within our Bodies. Yoga also contributes positively to Meditation and Mindfulness, which both support Equanimity, among many other elements. Most specifically, with proper guidance, learn the posture called Child’s Pose, a grand elicitor of Wisdom.
- Reading. In general, anything and everything, but preferably that which stirs your soul and challenges you in some manner, even if simply exposing you to new perspectives. It doesn’t always have to be the news or some scholarly journal, although those are certainly valuable. Even taking the time to read fiction or poetry can help you gain perspective on certain situations, understand people better, learn about the world, and ultimately, grow wiser. Make time for reading every day, just as you make time for brushing your teeth or traveling to and from work. If you commute via a bus or a train, you could feed two birds with one scone by reading during your commute. When all else fails, set aside half an hour or so before bedtime for reading.
I allow my Wisdom to arise.
I am open to the guidance and healing powers of the Universe.
I surrender to what is occurring and seek guidance.
I am Wisdom. I feel Wisdom.
I am patience.