During an age of Information, accelerated technological advancements, and instant global/local communications, what does it mean to be wise? During such an era, how does a wise person think, how do they act? If they are truly wise, if they have what has come to be called Wisdom, then they have connected with their soul’s past, and the bulk of its memories. Wisdom, I believe, is unification of the soul and its history. It is not a variety of knowing, nor does it dwell in the realm of science. Between knowledge and wisdom, there is a fundamental difference.
While knowledge is an accumulation of facts, wisdom, on the other hand, is an accumulation of experience. And because of this discrepancy on which these virtues are established, it cannot be concluded that they are the same. Wisdom, then, is not knowledge or vice versa. It may, no doubt, lead to knowledge of some thing, just as knowledge of some thing, perchance, may lead to wisdom. More than anything else, to truly obtain a grip on the nature of wisdom, one must consult the eyes. It is perception, and how what is perceived is accepted, registered, and applied by the concious mind that creates wisdom.
The claim that wisdom is a unification of the soul and its past can be rephrased as: Wisdom is to see as one has “historically” seen. It is to see, and to respond (or not respond) as one’s prior selves. I use the term “selves” because there indeed is a multiple number of lives that one has experienced. It is no mistake, then, when someone encounters a genuinely wise person, they feel as if they have met someone who has existed before, prior to this life. The saying “You’ve been here before,” is applied to many a sage, who’ve shared their insights.
Now, unlike knowledge, the bulk of wisdom resides in intuition. This kind of enlightenment which, on many occasions, has resulted in a knowledge of some type comes from the world within. It is therefore rightfully called intuitive awareness. Intuitive awareness, simply, is the capacity to be aware of one’s inner self. From this ability, the opportunity for wisdom reveals itself; from this ability stems spiritual knowledge, and mankind’s understanding of the gods. Contrariwise, material awareness is knowledge sought from the world outside and, then, stored within.
Material awareness is the capacity to be aware of ones outter self. From this ability stems physical knowledge and mankind’s understanding of their environment. Ever since the dawn of the conscious mind, there have been three questions that wise men have troubled themselves about: What is life? Who am I? What am I to do? These questions have not changed, nor have they been resolved.
What is most perturbing, nonetheless, about these inquiries is that, although in the past humans sought answers to them, currently, in the present, in the midst of technological prowess, not only do humans neglect the pursuit for answers, but rather, they have altogether disregarded even asking the questions. Though if anybody approached the shores of an answer, it was our ancestors. For, back then, they had not so many distractions redirecting them from themselves. The mind and the earth, during that ancient era, was one. Yet still, today, there are no answers–not yet.
In this epoch, the nearest thing to an answer that exist are the questions themselves. For, the journey spent achieving an answer results in the flame of wisdom being, once again, refueled and ignited. If everything mankind now possesses, if all that provides life its subtle luxuries were stripped away from them, the only thing left for humans would be, in some form, those very questions: What is life? Who am I? What am I to do? Threefold, there they remain stubbornly staring mankind in the face, seeking their attention, waiting to be cracked.
Indeed, they are the golden key that unlocks the treasure box named “the human mind.” And so this brings me back to the original inquiry: during this era, how does a wise person think, how do they act? One thing that is known about the modern wise person for sure is that they will on a regular basis ask themselves the threefold question set. And they will, on a regular basis, seek out answers to them. It’s for this reason that wisdom connects the mind to its past. These inquiries are historical. And because of their historical nature, it moves the soul to a state of rememberance.
Some two thousand years ago, Plato, the Greek philosopher, thought that knowledge was recollection. According to him, already all knowledge is in us. In order to remember knowledge again, he argued, one must be interrogated using the right kind of questions. Even still, some five thousand years before Plato, the Ancient Egyptians believed that life was an illusion for which the soul experiences a finite amount of times in order to know its true self, which is God.
Here again a similar theme predating the Greeks that concerns recollection. Why did the ancients (who clearly are much wiser than their decendents) believe in reincarnation? The reasons, I’d argue, is because of their relationship with nature. They are overwhelmingly more simple than their decendents. Ancient man’s teacher is Nature. As life stared at them, they stared back. Nowadays, as life continues its glare, people look away.
And so our wiser predecessors knew the sun sets, then it rises again; in the winter, flowers die and in the spring, they are resurrected; fruits ripen then they rot, but through their seeds, they are born again. And so nature taught them that life and death is a cycle. In other words, we come, we go, we come again, and so on. Nature, currently, does not have man’s attention. Currently, what has obtained man’s undivided attention is money and technology, and the pleasures or fame or power it generates.
Since we have discussed that during this era a wise man’s thinking revolves around the threefold question set: “what is life? who am I? what am I to do?” let us discuss further what kind of actions modern wise people display. Because of Wisdom’s historical nature, in present day times, a wise person’s actions are simple. They have only one action that will sum up their wisdom, and it is this: READING! Next to thinking, Reading is one of the wisest things a human can do. In an age of information, reading is how a wise person should “act.”
Reading, I mean, only what will perpetuate one’s wisdom, and not what will destroy it. The word itself implies that to read is to do something that awakens the soul unto itself. If we look closely, we come to notice the word “Read” is actually a compound which includes a prefix and a suffix. The latter is the suffix “Ad” which means to connect. Usually this suffix is used as a prefix; and from it we create words like addition, adjacent, adhere, all of which mean, more or less, to connect.
The former is “Re” which means to do-over. From this prefix there are words like remember, recollect, or recognize, all of which mean to do some action over again. Thus the word read is more accurately pronounced Re-ad (Re-add.) To read, to re-ad, is to re-connect with ones soul. In order to remember one’s soul again, to become wise, it is vital that one re-ads knowledge to their mind so that the soul can reconnect with itself.
Once this is achieved, to the mind, the world reveals itself, and even, appears to it a bit familiar. This familiarity is a result of the soul’s unconscious connection to its history. In addition, that to act wisely nowadays means to read supports the notion that wisdom is concerned with perception. After all, reading, in some ways, uses the eyes to listen. Who knew that beyond seeing, the eyes can also hear? When a man is blind, among the other senses, he has to use his ears to see.
Who knew that beyond hearing, the ears can also see? When someone reads, they truly are “listening” to the language written on the pages. At any rate, wisdom comes in myriad shapes, sizes, and ages. It is because of reading that someone, at a young age, could achieve wisdom. For, the nature of Re-ading plunges us into a foreign experience. And the reader who has dived into this experience is destined, whether they know or not, to learn from it. Thus, the proverb that “wisdom comes with age,” through reading, can be proven wrong.
If someone can be ignorant when they are older, certainly someone can be wise when they are young. Yet still, they must live to prove their wisdom. For people who lived long lives did not live them being ignorant. And so it is clear, during this technical and informational paradise, in order to clutch Wisdom, one cannot avoid the questions: “what is life? Who am I? What am I to do?” but they must confront them with brazen courage. And further they MUST read, for this reconnects the soul to it’s past, opening up the opportunity for wisdom.