Monday, August 22, 2011


In the third chapter of the Epistle of James we are told a number of important things about the nature of 'wisdom' (calligraphed left).

First, we are told that wisdom and meekness are very much associated. Yes, meekness. The word meekness refers, not to timidity, mildness or blandness, but to being in a right relation to God – or, if you wish, Life itself – and one’s fellow human beings, and to being disciplined as regards one’s intellect, emotions and will.

Secondly, we are told that wisdom and such discordant and unholy things as envy and strife, which only serve to divide – as opposed to unite – people, are antipathetic (that is, incapable of living in harmony with each other).

Thirdly, we are told that wisdom comes ‘from above’ – meaning, of course, not literally from ‘above’ or ‘out there’, but from the ‘source’ of all life, power and goodness (if you like, ‘God’).

Fourthly, we are told that wisdom manifests itself as purity, peacefulness, gentleness, easygoingness, mercy, impartiality and lack of hypocrisy – the 'fruit' (to use a Biblical metaphor) of our mindfulness practice.

Now, we are told in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke that Jesus ‘grew … filled with wisdom’ and that he ‘increased in wisdom and statue and in favour with God and man’. Note that important connection between wisdom and our relationships with God (as we understand God) and other fellow humans. The truly wise person is a grounded and harmonious person, someone who is disciplined, someone who is non-resistant, that is, does not have a hostile or resistant spirit – yes, what the Bible refers to as a ‘meek’ person.

We all know of people who are knowledgeable in this or that but are far from being wise. The world is full of educated idiots, and I fear that for much of my life I have been one of them ... with lots of degrees, diplomas and certificates on the wall to make it ‘official’!

Yes, we all know that 'knowledge', in the sense of intellectual or book knowledge, is not the same thing as 'wisdom'. Wisdom is knowledge of, and not just about, life which is acquired from the experience of life itself – the ‘wisdom of the years’, so to speak. Wisdom is not so much knowledge as the understanding of knowledge. However, there is another 'kind' of wisdom, which is real wisdom. True ‘spiritual’ wisdom is rooted in, and otherwise derived from, a relationship with the 'Ground of Being' – the one Power and Presence active in the universe and in our lives – the very Livingness of Life itself!

Historian and philosopher Will Durant once wrote, ‘Ideally, wisdom is total perspective - seeing an object, event, or idea in all its pertinent relationships.’ Krishnamurti said as much, when he said, 'In the acknowledgement of what is, there is the cessation of all conflict.' Krishnamurti would always speak of the importance of seeing things as they really are - life as it really is - without judgment, without condemnation, without any interpretation, explanation or mediation of any kind - choiceless awareness, he called it. That is mindfulness ... and wisdom.

I mentioned the word 'discipline' above. Krishnmaurti often spoke of the importance of discipline, linking it with the notions of 'freedom' and 'intelligence' (cf wisdom). Here is a short YouTube video in which Krishnamurti refers to discipline as 'the act of learning all the time':

The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things’ (Phil 4:8).

Now, that, also, is wisdom.

Acknowledgment is made, and gratitude is expressed,
to the Krishnamurti Foundation of America, Ojai, California, USA.

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