Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Wisdom

-in my meditation garden-

There is an ancient tradition in the Christian church to spend these last days before Christmas praying for the gift of "Wisdom."  

O Wisdom
reaching from one end to the other
Come and teach us the way.

I've been reflecting on "wisdom" today, what wisdom is and how to achieve it. For one thing, it's almost impossible to define what wisdom actually is, but I do know what wisdom is "not." Wisdom is very different from knowledge. 

Psychologists pretty much agree that wisdom is a "hard to pin down" deep understanding about what is really real - an awareness of deeper truth. 

A wise person knows that he or she can never figure it all out, that life is a mystery, and so a wise person is comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. A wise person also knows that even though life  is a mystery, life is more than random chaos - we all belong to one another and love prevails even in the worst of times. And so the wise person is able to courageously embrace life as it happens without resisting the moment, and enjoy life as it is. 

Socrates once said:

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing

Interestingly enough there is no way you can achieve wisdom. You can't read books or take courses or get a Ph.D. in order to be certified as being "wise." And in some ways the more you try to achieve  wisdom, the father away you will be from it.  

Personally, I have found the Buddhist insight into the way of wisdom to be particularly helpful - the  only way to wisdom is to "do-nothing." With an open heart and an uncluttered mind be awake in the moment, mindful in the present and wisdom will come to you.

In this sense, "Wisdom" is indeed a gift.

I recently came across something the Dalai Lama once said that was very illuminating for me about the way of wisdom. 

The thing that surprises me most about humanity is 'man'
because he sacrifices his health in order to make money, 
then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die,
and then dies having never really lived.

I find so much "wisdom" in this teaching of a very wise man. Only the fool regrets the past and plots and plans in order to control the future. Only the fool thinks he or she is smart enough to be able to solve the unsolvable mystery of living. The wise person just watches and waits, living life as it "is." not as you want or expect it to be. The wise person really lives before he dies. 

In these days before Christmas, I sit and I watch and I wait:

O Wisdom
reaching from one end to the other
Come and teach us the way.