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Knowing Others Might Make You Smart but Knowing Yourself Brings You True Wisdom

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Wisdom is not measured by how much you know. It isn’t achieved by reading more and more books. True wisdom only comes when your soul is receptive. In fact, there comes a point beyond which knowledge and logic do not add to a man’s substance. Take note of the word substance.  A man’s substance has both form and depth and to quote St. Paul: “Knowledge puffs up”. True wisdom like the food you eat helps you grow.

Wisdom is air

You can inhale it. It has a sweet aroma. The air is so clean and sweetly peaceful around the auras of the truly wise. When you encounter a wise person, you can feel their presence bodily. When they smile at you, there is a shift in your own soul, provided you are receptive. Woe unto you if you lack a receptive heart, for you will interact with the wise and be none the wiser.

Wisdom has a physical form

Like water, you can drink it to quench your thirst. Wisdom is a spirit that fills the hearts of the receptive. Happy are you if your soul is ready the day you encounter wisdom along the highways of life. Happy are you if you are like the Samaritan woman at the well who was given the water of life to drink.

Wisdom has a physical form, like food. Therefore the author of the epistle to the Hebrews informs them that they are now mature and are ready for hard foods not the weaning foods of infants. I say to you, wisdom is like ugali, you will eat of it and it will build your spiritual body. Yes, the soul has a body.

Wisdom is not taught, it is transmitted

If you sit with a wise man, you will not understand him unless your soul is receptive. Therefore, the great masters of old used thousands of techniques to crush through the hard shell of obliviousness and communicate the deep truth of existence to their followers. It was discovered that the more knowledgeable a student, the less receptive was his soul to the supreme wisdom. Because it is impossible to pour into a cup that is already overflowing.

Wisdom is unlearning

According to the wise Lao Tzu, to get to the precipice of supreme wisdom, you need to first forget what you know. Like him, masters of old cautioned their followers against clinging to anything; be it love or knowledge or anything at all. The man or woman on the path of understanding has only one task: to become receptive. That and the universe will do the rest.

Wisdom is transcendent

I have been reading about the great Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. As Musashi advances in the path of swordsmanship, he discovers that it is not enough to be ferocious or skilled. He discovers that there are swordsmen who have transcended technique and become living Gods. Men with swords in their hands are like the wind. In fact, with these Gods, swords are no longer necessary, they are one with nature and are in such harmony of spirit that they see everything, missing nothing.

One such man, a monk known as Takuan, tells Miyamoto that he should be careful not to focus so much on the tree and miss the forest. These men have such receptive souls that they are able to see everything and miss nothing. They see the entire forest. Their souls are as wide as the horizon and as deep as the ocean. They are free as birds. Their presence is heavy with something lovely and also oh-so-terrible. They are a force of nature. These are the masters not just of swordsmanship but of themselves. Mastery, Miyamoto learns, is not in what you know or do, but also in what you are. Your essence. Your “isness”. Your being.

Wisdom is the willingness to learn

A receptive soul will learn from a master through just a word, smile, look, or simply his master’s presence. There is a way people who have wise souls move. There is a way they talk. They are subtle and deep; be as light and free as children at play. They do not spout what they know. While those who are on the path of seeking understanding have minds full of knowledge, the truly wise seem mindless and even silly because they have no need to show off their understanding.

We write article after article because we are so full of the knowledge we have accumulated, and we need outlets. We want to spout theories and logic and thoughts. Our egos demand worship and admiration. We want prizes for our brilliance, songs, and articles written about us, placards, and shiny cars. Feeling incomplete without the world’s approval.

Wisdom is being at ease with self

But the truly great, are above such puny desires. They are at ease with themselves. Their hearts exist in a condition of rest. They do not try to prove anything. Doing things to do them and not to prove. They are no longer chasing the wind. They exist with no psychological phantom desires and anxieties that trouble them. They focus on the right priorities, so they do not waste energy in this life. They don’t waste time or resources for the same reason.

Finally, there are levels to understanding. And while we may not get to the innermost layers of truth, we can all deepen our connection with the source. It is within ourselves. Doing so by becoming more self-aware–more awake in our lives.
If you remember nothing at all, remember these words by Tao Te Ching:
The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.

Also Read: Why Are We So Afraid to Be Alone?


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