It’s no surprise that positive results and well-being are associated with those who are wise. Without wisdom we tend to make rash decisions and experience negative consequences. Regardless of what we “believe” it’s important to recognize the value of wisdom in our lives.
Wisdom is a valuable asset many strive to cultivate. This inner knowing is how we live in freedom and inner peace all the time. That’s why…if we want to be wise, we must realize that it begins with us knowing ourselves, loving ourselves, and mastering ourselves. Loa-tzu said “Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
So, let’s begin our investigation by defining wisdom. Wisdom is one of those qualities that’s very difficult to define. Although it’s difficult to get a consensus on what wisdom is, agreeing on what it isn’t is much easier. Research tells us that wisdom isn’t due to age or intelligence. So, what is its origin? We know wisdom is a virtue highly valued and sought after. We also know it’s a lifelong journey to develop, but do we know what it is or where it comes from? Let’s take a moment to consider a few definitions offered on the internet.
AI (artificial intelligence) suggests that wisdom is the ability to discern what is true, right, and lasting. It’s not just about accumulating knowledge or experience. It’s also about using our understanding to make wise choices and decisions. While many believe that wisdom comes from experience or knowledge gained through learning, there are others who believe it’s a gift from God.
So, let’s take a look at the definition of spiritual wisdom. Spiritual wisdom is often defined as the understanding and knowledge that comes from a deep connection to one’s inner self and the divine in us. It’s the ability to see beyond the material world and to understand the interconnectedness of all things.
Have you ever noticed that wisdom and knowledge are often used interchangeably? It’s true…they’re listed as synonyms; yet they’re not the same. Having knowledge or knowing facts is quite different from having the ability to use them in discernment and sound judgment of what is true or right. Also, notice that one can be knowledgeable and not wise, but one cannot be wise without being knowledgeable. Interesting, right?
While most agree that wisdom does involve the integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding along with the application or use of certain traits…rarely do we challenge ourselves to reach this higher state of being. Thus, it makes perfect sense that wisdom involves good sense and good judgment that is far above what’s considered average.
Understanding the source of wisdom is necessary if we want to go beyond the norm to experience greater personal and spiritual growth. As Aristotle said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Now let’s consider for a moment how the wise behave and think. Some of the traits associated with wisdom are the following: meditative, reflective, insightful, compassionate, selfless, quiet mind, understanding, humble, sound judgment, empathic, self-aware, balanced, optimistic, open-minded, calm, benevolent, peaceful, teachable, sees big picture, learns from mistakes, accepts the unacceptable, long-term perspective, tolerates uncertainty, seeks guidance, considers multiple perspectives, learns from successes and failures, discerns what’s false and knows what’s true, desires an understanding of reality, makes positive contributions to society.
So…is it possible to become wise if we practice wisdom traits? Research shows us that meditation and other mindfulness practices indicate increased wisdom and suggests it may lead to us becoming wise. During the past decade or so mindfulness practices have gained substantial scientific and real-world merit. This refers to the ability to quiet our mind enough to experience and know what’s true deep down inside. Therefore, we must be willing to move beyond the mind and connect to our inner self.
“It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty.” ~ Dalai Lama
Know this for sure, it’s our responsibility to first…test our knowledge in our own heart to know if it’s true before believing anything. Our inner work is an investment that does pay off. Once we’ve investigated, tested, and applied our knowledge, it can then become wisdom. Notice…wisdom is what knowledge becomes once we’ve experienced knowledge in this way, i.e., at the depth of our being.
Considering what we’ve learned so far, obviously we must “walk the talk” if we want to transform knowledge into wisdom. Otherwise, we will never have our own life or truth. We will always be the ego’s servant.
Let’s practice being wise. Take the time to apply what we’ve learned and practice wisdom by doing the inner work needed to quiet your mind. The following suggestions will help you get started.
- One of the key practices in mindfulness is to question all thoughts and beliefs to understand what’s true and what’s not. Start by writing your thoughts down so you’re aware of the noise going on in your mind. Being more aware is essential.
- Also consider reviewing the wisdom traits previously listed and choose one to practice. Write about it in a journal, read an article on the topic, or make the intention to act on it today by applying it when the opportunity presents itself. An example might be to offer greater compassion.
- Another key practice to apply is surrendering to resistance and releasing it. This means letting go of what you prefer, and accepting what is. Accepting reality even when it seems unacceptable is possible by knowing “this too shall pass”. Notice, we’re free even when we have an outer “no” to a particular life situation…because our “inner yes” will always end the resistance we feel inside. When we learn to dis-identify and detach from attachments to people, problems, things, beliefs, and thoughts by practicing releasing the negativity in life…we open our heart to live beyond our mind of thoughts, the voice in our head, and ego self. This is when the mind quiets and the suffering ends.
- For further insight, consider reading Chapter 12 “Applying Key Practices to Break Free” in my book to review more of the key practices: “Breaking Free from the Ego: A Course in Finding and Freeing Yourself”. https://amzn.to/3mC7vO9
Remember to give yourself grace as you grow and be proud of how far you’ve come. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Please share it with someone. It might be exactly what they need to hear today. Come back for next month’s blog and…
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About the Author – Trina Carroll-Houk is a spiritual teacher, counselor, and founder of Breaking Free Boundaries, LLC who specializes in self-awareness, mindfulness, and the spiritual dimension of being. Her goal is to help people improve their quality of life so they can experience inner peace, meaningful purpose, and greater fulfillment. Trina represents a movement focused on helping people release what limits them from living in a higher dimension of spiritual consciousness.
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