|To find wisdom: Be still, observe, experience!|
Knowledge grows from shared and augmented perceptions, a.k.a. “facts,” while wisdom grows from quiet and profound observations, a.k.a. “epiphanies.”
In today’s world, people store the perceptions known as “facts” as an end in itself: the acquisition of intelligence. In a social setting, if we haven’t read or heard the latest news to garner a hashtag, we might be viewed as unintelligent, dismissed for offering no insights on what “everyone knows.” In previous centuries, however, before people collected “facts” via modern media, people aspired to be wise, not just smart. And the seekers among those ancient people sought guidance from proverbial “wise men,” revered because their wisdom profoundly impacted seekers’ lives. Wisdom had nothing to do with facts.
In olden times, the wise were those who observed their surroundings and their feelings with full attention, and then faithfully applied their intuition to their observations to reach profound levels of understanding. Sages and prophets of old didn’t publish research papers or conduct scientific studies, didn’t hold academic degrees to justify their credibility, and didn’t spout facts or statistics they’d read in various media to support their heartfelt assertions; they studied life itself, by being present, being observers of beauty in unexpected places, being moved by interactions, and being aware of all connections and coincidences. This way of being resulted in the epiphanies that have, throughout human history, altered social thought, heightened collective consciousness, and started new religions and ways of living. Wisdom had nothing to do with academia.
Ironically, epiphanies today must pass the credibility test determined by fact-checking intellectuals and the inspired person’s credentials. To espouse a view or proclaim a truth, one needs proof, not just gut instincts. If some barefooted, uncredentialed preacher, like Moses or Jesus or Buddha, posted philosophical speeches on YouTube today, they would need introductions by academic types to have any chance of “going viral,” let alone gaining a respectable number of views. Absurd, isn’t it, to think that what legions of modern people faithfully accept as Truth came to us via wise people without formal education? Wisdom had nothing to do with education.
These words and thoughts about the differences between knowledge and wisdom arose, I now see, to wrestle the guilty feelings in my head evoked by my ignorance of some historical event that came up in a conversation with friends who obviously considered that event to be “common knowledge.” I could have dismissed my feelings of inadequacy with a quip: “I’m no commoner, obviously,” or “I only store uncommon knowledge.” But I chose to seek answers to my discomfort via intuition and meditative thought instead. So that means this blog post is either an epiphany or a rationalization. Hmm…