Wondering About Wisdom
When I first started wondering about wisdom decades ago I pictured a very old man with long white hair and a beard sitting in a rocking chair on a porch or behind a desk in a study filled with papers and books. At that period of my life, wisdom was reserved for old men who would write their pithy words for a few and speak them to even fewer.
Over the years I’ve come to know and experience wisdom in many different ways. Various wisdom traditions say wisdom is to know you don’t know so you can know. Socrates said the beginning of wisdom is wonder, recognizing that to wonder is to question. Questioning is fed by curiosity which always moves beyond what we think we know. It invariably leads us into greater openness, investigation and discovery.
The tradition of sophia perennis, (perennial wisdom) pictures wisdom as part of the divine feminine, a vastness in a ‘great chain of being‘ or ‘ray of creation‘ which begins in a pure, invisible, infinite, silent void and ends in finite solid matter. Modern science understands matter as condensed invisible energy while the mystics experience energy as a psychic force which they claim is the condensation of infinite consciousness.
Wisdom, when looked at through the lens of the five thousand year old oral and written traditions is about the transformation of human consciousness. It’s aim is a transmission of knowing through awe and wonder which leads to a deeper more expansive experiential and intuitive knowing. The mark of the wisdom teacher is the use of koans, parables, metaphors, puzzling sayings, questions, and the language of story.
You must die to live. – Who are you? – Where were you before your mother was born? -What has four legs, then two legs and finally three legs? – If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you; if you don’t, what you have will kill you. – You come into being as you pass away. – Your angst is your liberation. – What is the sound of one hand clapping? – Your presence is your product. – Remain within while going out. – When two become three they become one – The least shall become the greatest. –
Wisdom is about moving beyond the surface of life into a deeper place where we see into the heart of matter with new eyes. It’s the discovery that there’s more to life than what we can experience with our five senses. It’s a multi-sensory awareness of the invisible within the visible, the unknown beyond the known, the seen within the unseen, the possible beyond the impossible and the present unified holographic field of Life we call God in persons, places, situations and things. It’s the infinite field beyond duality.
When my daughter was eight years old we had a small ranch where we kept our horses. We’d drive the nine miles in the evening to check on them, exercise, curry and feed them. Sometimes we’d finish after dark then climb on the hood of our pickup truck, lean back against the windshield and stare at the stars. Together we’d experience a silent communion with the unknown and wonder. . . . Wisdom was always present. . .
Today I wonder how many of us are slowing down enough to experience the wisdom that’s inviting us into a higher, deeper and broader awareness; into a vast spaciousness that lives in us and the whole of creation. I wonder how long it will take us to reclaim the wisdom awareness that lives in every flower, tree, bird, drop of water, moment and star in the sky? I wonder why we don’t embrace the perennial wisdom that’s always here and what would happen if we did? I wonder about most everything. . .
A final wonderment for now is how wisdom, like wonder could be a verb as well as a noun. Could our wondering also be wisdom-ing, awakening us to a new depth of meaning in every thought, word and action? Doesn’t wisdom-ing uncover a greater understanding and reason for well-being and inspiration? Isn’t the abstraction of wisdom-ing also a concrete intention and willingness to evolve into a higher and deeper awareness? If ‘simple things are the most extraordinary things’ then wonderment and wisdom-ing are necessary practices for creativity, loving and prosperity. Hmmm. . .
- Open yourself to the possibilities of wisdom-ing wherever you are. Be curious, wonder and ask yourself and others questions that don’t have simply answers. Put what you wonder about on your shelf for further enlightenment and revisit them often. Notice how the wonderments lead to greater wisdom-ing and a new sense of inner peace.
- Give some emphasis to Meister Eckart’s great koan of remaining within while going out. From time to time remain within your inner sanctuary; stilling, quieting, silencing while out in the world and observe the chatter that’s all around, in, and flowing through you. Hold your tongue and ponder the experience of presencing without words.
- In your daily practice, focus on the simple things and notice their extraordinary nature. Look and listen with new eyes and ears. See and hear beyond your regular habits and patterns. Be curious; calm, center, cultivate wonderment and co-create wisdom-ing. . .