Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Essence of Wisdom

Wisdom is not to be obtained from
textbooks, but must be coined out of
human experience in the flame of life.

--Morris Raphael Cohen--

Wisdom is usually associated with the harvest time of our lives, and with that wisdom comes a greater acceptance of the self.   While it is true that aging does bring about maturity and experience in many avenues, does it bring wisdom?  I think not. I don't think that just because we grow old, we are wise.  I think wisdom is something that must be earned.  I am growing old now, but am I wise?  Or, is it just that I have experienced a lot of different aspects of life?  Well, all that experience was  meaningless until I finally learned from them. In my mind, wisdom comes only when we apply the lessons of life as we learn them.  It is not always easy to do that. Sometimes we have to experience the same things over and over in our lives until we finally get the  point.   But, gosh darn it, did it really have to take so long? (sigh)...

...And sadly, there are some who never seem to get it.  Take, for example, one of the clients I have been working with...or better said, trying to work with.  He is 67 years old and has spent his entire adult life in and out of rehabs due to his chronic alcohol use.  His liver is shot and his mind not far behind it, yet he continues to drink.  He has informed me that working with him will be a waste of my time, for he will continue to drink until it kills him.  This man should have gained wisdom by this point of his life, but, alas, he has obviously learned nothing from his life experiences.  

Wisdom is not a mystical force or something that suddenly appears. Wisdom belongs to knowledge, to experience, and to understanding.  It is a fullness of self, and a freedom from energy-wasting endeavors.
  Yes, wisdom is indeed a gift, but it is given to those that are willing to learn from their life experiences. 

There is a old Sufi story in which the people of a village ask a wise woman for help. She asks them, 'Do you know the solution?'  When the villages say no, she replies, 'Then you're not ready to hear it.'  Months passed and they were still in trouble, so they call her back.  This time, when she asks, 'Do you know the solution?', they answer 'yes''Well, then you don't need me to tell you!'  The wise woman leaves again. When the desperate villagers call her back once again, half answer 'yes' and half say 'no'. 'Good,' she replies, 'the half that knows can tell the half that doesn't'.  She rose and never returned again. 

That night, an elderly village woman had a dream, and when she gathered the people around she said,  'Last night, a voice told me the meaning of the message from the wise women. She wanted us to know that really important knowledge can be derived from our own community and our traditions, not from outside experts. We already have the knowledge. We already know that the wisdom of locals will always exceed the knowledge of the experts. We just don’t have the confidence to believe in ourselves.'

The wise woman has shown them their answers lie within.


  1. This post gave me shivers for two reasons. The first is I pulled the Shaman - Ancient Wisdom card this morning. The second is I too am struggling with someone special in my life who fails to embrace her experiences and own the Wisdom that is already inside of her.

    Thank you so much for this Mary.

  2. VERY interesting story...

    Yes I agree, we need to work-a-bit, to find Wisdom.

    How you work with those self-sabotaging clients, I don't know. You must have patience, beyond human patience. -sigh-

    Hugs and ♥'s...
    'Cause Valentine Day is coming!

  3. Some just can't be honest with themselves and for others it is a form of suicide. There, but for the grace of a higher power go I. X.

  4. oh Mary - fantastic post! I think some have a journey of never learning.. for whatever reason.
    I am struggling right now with something in my life.. and will have to go within.. but sometimes, it is good to put it out there in a post and hear others advice.. then I always seem to come to that wise place of my own.. know what i mean?

  5. Beautiful...and so very true. May we all gain wisdom through experience and never give up hope that those we have in our lives will someday see it the same as we. Now I'm going to read it again...Thank you Mary and Blessed Be