August 20, 2015

Wisdom – (wikipedia)

Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. Wisdom has been regarded as one of the four “cardinal virtues”, it is habit or disposition to perform the action with the highest degree of adequacy under any given circumstance. This implies a possession of knowledge or the seeking thereof to apply it to the given circumstance. This involves an understanding of people, objects, events, situations, and the willingness as well as the ability to apply perception, judgment, and action in keeping with the understanding of what is the optimal course of action. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions”) so that the universal principle of reason prevails to determine one’s action. In short, wisdom is a disposition to find the truth coupled with an optimum judgment as to what actions should be taken.

Wisdom -(Oxford English Dictionary)

Capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgment in the choice of means and ends; sometimes, less strictly, sound sense, especially in practical affairs.

Related: “knowledge” – enlightenment, learning, erudication.

Robert Sutton and Andrew Hargadon define wisdom as the “attitude of wisdom as “acting with knowledge while doubting what one knows.”

I have been meditating on how wisdom appears in my life. As a former counselor, and one in a group of friends who people come to for my “sage advice” I assume I must possess a certain amount of wisdom, but where does it come from? It’s easy to say that much of it would come from life experience. I have rubbed elbows with the very rich, slept in the dirt on numerous Indian Reservations, acted as a role model for the young men in an auto body training program, been the only white person in a room, and been hailed as the “go to” person to train law enforcement and judicial authorities on domestic violence. I imagine that could be considered a pretty good foundation to build wisdom upon. I have seen and done too much to stand in judgment of another. As I was writing out the definitions of wisdom above however, it occurred to me how many times the word “judgment” appeared. As I often feel it is my ability NOT to judge that influences my counseling of others.

Last night as I thought upon what wisdom looks like, I again thought of my children, who so often display profound wisdom in the face of a total LACK of life experience. It seems that they are born with a unwavering sense of “fairness.” They demonstrate wisdom “beyond their years” with an honest and true understanding of the magical wonders of the world and the uniqueness of each individual in it. I look to my children OFTEN for lessons on wisdom. Although they are NOT good teachers when it comes to making wise choices in the face of possible consequences!

I have found wisdom to be nearly impossible to define for myself. The parts of the definitions above that stood out for me was that it “requires control of one’s emotional reactions (passion)” and the definition from Robert Sutton and Andrew Hargadon “doubting what one knows.” It seems that when I am experiencing a moment of dispensing wisdom, I am not only calling upon all that life experience, I am also doubting everything it is that my life experience has taught me. Wisdom comes from a quiet place in my heart, not the chaos in my mind. Wisdom is “non-thinking” but “all-feeling” yet entirely passionless. Wisdom is a slow moving river through my veins. True wisdom is the ultimate dichotomy of all knowing and know nothing, driven by passion and yet passionless.


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