On Acquiring Wisdom
Q: How do we achieve wisdom?
One acquires wisdom over the course of time through an accumulation of many life experiences, which are constantly being processed through an open heart, and an open questioning mind. One grows in wisdom by understanding and expressing one’s own emotions. It helps to be curious as a way of being rather than as an occasional trait. Being interested in other people and wanting to know what makes them do what they do, choose what they choose, and grow or not grow brings understanding of human nature. It requires the patience of the curious observer who wants to know and understand more. Developing intuition and common sense is important. Becoming clear thinking, clear speaking, clear feeling also helps one acquire wisdom.
There’s a misperception that once one acquires wisdom one is always wise. The truly wise person knows that no matter how wise, one is always capable of having a stupid moment, a lapse in good judgment, a misinterpretation or misunderstanding, because the wise person knows that one always continues to grow. And the nature of growth is the essence of trial and adjustment. So while you may be wise in a particular area at a particular time, to acquire great wisdom requires a great length of time and a great deal of various experiences. When one has accurate and clear perception, one visits wisdom on a much more regular basis. It also helps to learn how to throw out everything you think you know on a daily basis.
Q: If you throw out what you think you know on a daily basis, what does that mean?
It means you’re starting each day without assumptions. This prevents us from building reality upon memories of what used to be true, but may not be true now. It allows us to stay in a state of wonderment.
There’s a saying that children start out as question marks and, by the time they finish school, they end up as periods. The task of the wise person is to always remain the question mark. We must retain the wonderment, the willingness to look yet again with new eyes at something we’ve seen a hundred thousand times before.
Q: This would also make us more creative.
There is a connection between creativity and wisdom. You can’t really have one without the other. Creativity allows the spirit to stay connected to the greater consciousness, to see the larger picture. What seems to be apparent leaps or unusual associations to a noncreative person are really not leaps or odd connections at all to a creative person. To the creative mind, they are very logical, obvious steps taken in a very ordered manner. This is because the creative mind can see the whole picture and how the pieces fit together, and is not stuck on a particular way of doing or seeing. The precursor to wisdom is to have experience in enough of a variety of ways of seeing, doing, and being to have a solid grasp of the full picture.
Wisdom can often appear to be mysterious, or beyond reach, or an occasional occurrence, but once you begin exercising creativity it becomes a normal way of experiencing reality. The step that wisdom takes beyond creativity is to remove judgment. Creativity removes preconceived ideas. But wisdom removes the personal attachment from “I like, I don’t like.” Wisdom is spiritual creativity that allows us to see the larger picture connected to God consciousness.
We can acquire wisdom through practicing creativity and meditation every day, and by reading or speaking with other wise people. By experiencing someone who sees and speaks without judgment, we can learn to catch ourselves in the act of seeing and speaking with judgment. Then we can consciously begin moving away from that until we fully learn how to see and speak without judgment.
There is a misperception that if one rids oneself of judgment, one also rids oneself of passion of purpose, or caring, or what is perceived as right and wrong. On the surface, that may appear to be true, but it’s quite erroneous. We cannot truly feel passionate until we are fully alive. Humans equate passion with tempestuous strong feelings, typically feelings that run out of control and are easily pushed into anger, hatred and other negative emotions. Passion, on a spiritual plane, is the sheer joy and exhilaration of existence. It’s not that you don’t care, it’s that you realize it doesn’t matter. It is at this point that wisdom can begin to take hold and grow.