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What is Wisdom?

by Peter Russell

Humanity is too clever to survive without wisdom. — E.F Schumacher

What is wisdom? We hear the word a lot these days – the need for wisdom, the wisdom traditions, wisdom schools. We each would like to have more wisdom…and for others to have it as well. Too much human hurt and suffering comes from lack of wisdom. There is something about wisdom that we all aspire to. But what is this quality we hold in such high regard?

Various people have pointed to the progression of data from information to knowledge. Variations in patterns of data give rise to information. Information from different situations is generalized into knowledge. Continuing the progression suggests that something derived from knowledge leads to the emergence of a new level, what we call wisdom. But what is it that knowledge gives us that takes us beyond itself?

Through knowledge we learn how to act in our own better interests. Will this decision lead to greater well-being, or greater suffering? What is the kindest way to respond in this situation? Is it coming from love, or insecurity?

Wisdom reflects the values and criteria that we apply to our knowledge. Its essence is discernment, discernment of right from wrong, helpful from harmful, truth from delusion.

The wise are able to discern their true interests from the interests of the ego mind. They are usually regarded as kind, content in themselves. They tend not to aspire to greater material wealth or fame. They have learned what is important.

At present, humanity has vast amounts of knowledge but still very little wisdom. Buckminster Fuller called this time our “final evolutionary exam.” Is our species fit to survive? Can we develop the wisdom that will allow us to use our prodigious powers for our own good and for the good of many generations to come?

The question then arises: What can we do to facilitate the development of wisdom? This is where the wisdom tradition – the spiritual traditions found throughout human culture – have their value. They are often seen as simply religions, but most of the great religions were seeded by wise people, people who had, in one way or another, awakened to the deeper truths of life and then sought to share their wisdom with others.

Today we need to re-discover for ourselves the wisdom that inspired so many of these traditions. And discover how to enliven that wisdom in ourselves.

Inner Wisdom, Worldview
  • Anonymous Icon

    sem100 Oct 06, 2010

    I intend to use the Wisdom to achieve peace and the look within when things are escalating. I am a problem solver.

  • Anonymous Icon

    LawrenceCarson Oct 07, 2010

    In my experience, the experiential classroom of Wisdom begins when one:
    1 - Learns that her/his beliefs and values are not who they are ... just as the Gardner knows that her/his garden is not who "they" are. However, their lens of wisdom shows them that the state of the garden ... definitely reflects where the Gardner is at ... in their current “evolutionary” state of passion, self-discipline and core competencies. Who we really are is more than any “normal conscious being” has the cognitive capacity to grasp … and once we get that … we will stop defending our myopically defined temporal identity shadows.

    2 - Learns to manage their beliefs instead of having their beliefs manage and "Control" their every thought ... emotion ... and behavioral response ... which impact the Meta Mind of the Cosmic Matrix. "Does the universe perceive?" was ION founder's Socratic hint regarding the "living sea of awareness" that we are all part-and-parcel there-in … and we still don’t get it … because we still have no clue about the power of belief systems over mankind.

    3 – Beliefs are like little children … they do not need to be ignored by meditating in some zombie state of being “in the moment of now” where neither the past nor present can impact, train and coach one’s emotional state of reference. No, not at all. Beliefs are just like all little children … they need potty training, they are real, they are living, they permeate throughout the entire universe and we cannot think or reason (con-sciere) without them. Plato, Jung, Poli, Da Vinci and many, many others have made reference to this as well as recent professors of physics including Texas A&M, University of Arizona, etc. Each word we use to think with … is in reality a symbolic “thought vessel “carrying and transporting “Context-Content … Cause-Effect Meanings” with it.
    4 – If we don’t learn to manage them … they will continue to control us. Our evolution depends upon it.

    Feel free to email me or call if you wish to discuss these and other Meta concepts to assist us all to get on top of the hierarchy of who we are … and to explore well beyond the illusionary mirrors of our beliefs. LJohnCarson at (Boise, Idaho)

    PS - For thoise that may recall ... I used to live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with the Havasupai Tribe.

  • Anonymous Icon

    schulte42 Oct 31, 2010

    Well Hello Mr Russell

    I do agree "Wisdom reflects the values and criteria that we apply to our knowledge." and will include that, as far as I experience it, wisdom is, a priori. It is within the nature and structure of consciousness itself. It is thee as a "self-serviving" quality so again "reflecting" but better still enhancing all knowledge.

    So what can we do "to facilitate the development of wisdom?"

    Develop the Understanding of the Nature and Structure of Consciousness Itself.

    Modern science ( well since 1972 anyway) defines HUmans as "Homo sapien - sapiens ( not "Homo sapiens") iow "knowers of knowing," "consciousness of consciousness." Time is NOW ( in the NOW) to start appreciating it.

    "I asked for riches that I might be happy;
    I was given poverty that I might be wise.

    I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
    I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

    I was given nothing that I asked for;
    But everything that I had hoped for.

    author unknown

  • Anonymous Icon

    LawrenceCarson Dec 05, 2010

    Perhaps wisdom is vry unlike knowledge. Knowledge is perhaps what one has ... and can loose over time ... whereas wisdom is what one becomes ... and treasures forever. Perhaps.

  • Anonymous Icon

    curiousman Aug 09, 2012

    i believe that wisdom is a "godlike" quality that humans have. Its an ability to use the full power and potential of the human brain. Its a quality that drops from a tree and is picked up by someone else. This fruit is used to find inner knowledge that leads to something special.

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