Journey to Wisdom

 Wisdom is a state of consciousness.  We cultivate wisdom when we study and internalize the teachings of the great sages of the past and apply them to the challenges of today.  We also deepen our spiritual understanding by learning the lessons that have come to us in our lives.  To be wise is not just to be smart.
It is to understand the inner nature of things, to look beyond appearances, to expose falsehood and discern truth, to discriminate between illusion and reality.

Opposite States of Consciousness:  Naivety, Gullibility, Foolishness, Superficiality, Lack of discernment, Being swayed by appearances or popular beliefs and not looking at the underlying truth, Holding narrow opinions, Prejudice, Mindlessness, Stupidity, Irrationality, Having delusions or hallucinations, Inability to distinguish truth from falsehood. 

The Teaching

Wisdom is not something that automatically comes with intelligence or a high IQ.  You can be smart and not wise.  In fact smart people who lack wisdom create a lot of problems for themselves and others.
     Wisdom involves an ability to see into the inner nature of things, to look beyond appearances, beyond popular belief or opinion.   A person cannot become wise until he has overcome his prejudice, bias and narrow beliefs.  He must put his own opinions aside and inquire objectively into the nature of things.  He must keep an open mind and be willing to learn something new.  He must be willing to be surprised, baffled and challenged as he travels the path to truth, for there are many twists and turns on the journey. 
     Like a good baseball player, a wise person does not just hit a fastball.  He learns to hit a curve ball, a slider and whatever else is thrown his way.  He must be flexible and stay alert.   Any fixed ideas that he has about himself, other people or the universe will be his Achilles’ heel. 
    A wise person is not in a hurry to pin things down.  S/he allows things to unfold.  S/he knows that truth does not always reveal itself right away.  You have to be patient and study things.  You have to be vigilant and learn to see the patterns
that reveal themselves. Only then do you begin to see what is really going on.
    A wise person seeks the truth.  S/he is not attached to any idea or hypothesis.
S/he knows that attachment to certain ways of thinking and perceiving only narrow her vision and prevent her from seeing the truth.  That means s/he must constantly let go of bias and preconceptions.  S/he must refrain from making up her mind.  S/he must remain open.
     If s/he is invested in any particular result, s/he will be operating with blinders on.   So s/he practices non-attachment, or mindfulness.  S/he seeks to be the observer or the witness.  She refuses to identify with or reject what she sees, but rather strives to remain neutral.   Of course, this is a very difficult thing to do and s/he is not always successful.
       As Einstein pointed out, the observer invariably influences what is observed.   Subjectivity is inevitable, but practicing non-identification helps a wise person  keep her own prejudice or preferences to a minimum.
     While it is impossible to be totally objective, objectivity is the ideal that we must strive for in the quest for truth.   Extremely subjectivity is likely to lead to delusions, hallucinations, and other forms of insanity.   When we believe that everything that we think, feel or see is the only truth, we are unable to see the forest for the trees. We become lost in our own private world and disconnected from reality. 
     A wise person knows that we must overcome the filters within our own consciousness to see things clearly.   That requires a daily spiritual practice in which we become aware of our constant ego-expectations, judgments and false beliefs. We need to become conscious of the dark glasses we are wearing and learn to take them off.  As the good Book says, “First we see through a glass darkly, and then face to face.”
    If you are in a hurry to find the truth, you will just spin around in your own limited orbit.  Wisdom requires patience.  We must pierce through the pasteboard mask, we must remove falsehood one idea and bias at a time.  To get to the truth, we have to uncover and expose illusions.   Inner biases must go.  And so must outer identifications.  Until we stop marching to the drumbeat of popular bias and belief, there will be many demons holding onto our apron-strings.        
     Being a wise person means casting off inner and outer demons.  Any person or idea we have identified with out of fear must be unmasked and repudiated.  
     Let us remember that the biggest blocks to wisdom are our own narrow ideas, prejudices and limited beliefs.  If we are willing to become aware of them and question then, we will begin the process of unpeeling the onion skins of illusion that shroud the truth.
     A wise person does his inner work.  He works diligently to remove his filters. He allso studies the powerful words of the wise teachers in the great traditions.  The words of Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna, Moses, Rumi and many others help him to understand universal spiritual principles that can guide his life.  The teachings of these sages are as important today as they ever were.  Indeed, they may be more important today, as we increasingly become disconnected from the wisdom of the past.

The Practice

Today, practice having an open mind and an open heart.  Notice anything that comes up that narrows your mind or disturbs your heart.  Everyone has a preconception or a bias.  Everyone gets scared.   What are your filters and inner blocks to the truth?
     None of us like to admit that we have prejudices, fixed ideas, or blind beliefs, but we all do.  If we cannot see these filters in our consciousness, then we are not able to perceive reality clearly.   We see what we want to see.  We see what is consistent with what we believe.   And this is rarely the truth.   At best it is one aspect of the truth.  It is the tail of the elephant or the trunk, but not both.
     Wisdom comes as you see and remove your own filters.   It requires a committed spiritual practice of looking at your thoughts and feelings, understanding when you are triggered and fear or shame distort your perception.  That is your spiritual work for today.
      Today, do not pretend to know the truth.  You may have an opinion but understand that is just an opinion among other opinions.  Your opinions and perceptions are not the truth.  The are the veil that separates you from the truth.  
     Today, practice discernment.  Separate the wheat from the chaff.  See your opinions, perceptions, expectations, biases, etc. for what they are.  Set them aside.  Remove the veil and see what lies behind it.   Then we you will get closer to the truth.  Then you will clear out some of the clutter in your mind so that you can see more accurately.
     An authentic spiritual practice is not so much about finding truth somewhere  out there in the world.  It is about removing the blocks to truth within your own consciousness.   When the obstacles are removed, when the veil is lifted, when your mind is clear and your heart is open, truth is right there.  It abides in you and with you.
     Today, peel back the skin of the onion, remove what separates you from the clear and calm center within.  Today, clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts.  Sink into a deeper and more profound level of consciousness.  There you know what is true, even if you cannot put it into words.  
     That is okay.  Sometimes words are not necessary and It is enough just to know the truth without speaking or acting on it.  The time for words and actions will come when you are ready.   Today, rest in the truth.  There is nothing else that you need to do.
     Today, be respectful of the ideas and opinions of others, even if they are different from your own.   Invite them into discussion and dialog.  Truth is inclusive, never exclusive.    
      A wise person understands that Truth is never given only to one person or to a chosen few.  It is given to all of us.  We just need to open our hearts and minds.  That is the doorway.  It takes a great modesty and humility on our part to cross the threshold.
     Today, don’t pretend to know when you don’t.  Don’t seek to parade your wisdom seeking praise and approval from others.  Be humble and restrained. Be vigilant for the blocks to truth in your own consciousness and seize every opportunity to surrender your opinions, prejudices and biases so that you can  find wisdom in your heart of hearts.  Even though it does not feed your ego or improve your status in the world, abide with the truth and let it become your guide and your compass.
     Today, let this be your practice.  It is through devotion to practice that humble men and women of the past became great spiritual teachers.  Today, in their names, and in the name of the most High, may you find and abide with the wisdom in your heart.

Journaling Question

What biases, prejudices, preconceived notions or fixed ideas prevent you from seeing things as they are and accessing your inner wisdom?

Audio Recording: click on the link to download the audio only file: | download audio |