Monday, December 28, 2009

Knowing yourself - making sense from your experience

"I remember that several years ago in Vermont, while conducting a workshop, a frail-looking man from New York approached me and with tears in his eyes confided in me that had it not been for AIDS, he would have gone his entire life without the slightest interest in things that truly matter. By viewing the terminal disease as a gift from Heaven, he had found peace of mind."

Kyriacos Markides, The Mountain Of Silence, p. 69

I read in a book a few months ago about the idea of wisdom. The author, whom I don't remember, said that knowledge and wisdom are two different things. Knowledge is information and more information doesn't alone make a person wiser. In fact more information can have the opposite effect and make people dumber. They become "educated idiots". Wisdom, this author sais, is "knowing what matters."

I was astounded and delighted by this definition.

Indeed, wisdom is cutting throught the Bull Shit and setting priorities. Wisdom is knowing that some things are more important than others.

Nothing sharpens the mind like impending death, coming into awareness of your limited mortality.

Of course it doesn't take impending death to make one wise and impending death does not necessarily alone make one wise.

As the bumper sticker says, "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

Wisdom comes from reflecting on one's lived experience or as Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living."

Wisdom I think comes from reflection and meditation. How well do you know yourself really? What kind of sense do you make from your experience?

Discussing your experience with a wise, interested, objective spiritual director can be invaluable.

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