Wayne C. Allen's "Works in Progress"
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The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Pillar 1- The Wise Person Prizes Self Knowledge


The Phoenix Perspective:
Life can best be understood by reflecting on it in the company of significant others.

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One of the prerequisites for learning about yourself is to establish intimate relationships, as well as mentoring relationships. Intimate relationships are formed, first of all, with one primary partner, then may expand outward to a circle of close friends. And everyone needs a mentor, with whom you have a one way relationship - this person helps you to see yourself clearly.

The wise person is never out of contact with their mentor. This is where much of the real work is done. Many of those contacts are for an hour a month or less. Some are once a year, like taking time out for a training course. (Of course, with your primary partner, the contact is ongoing.)

This work is a paradox. Like birth and death, it must be done alone. Yet, like life, it is also lived out with others - preferably with people you trust - explored, examined, grasped closely.

Your task, at this juncture, is to focus your attention on two relationships; within those relationships, you’ll focus on self knowledge. One relationship is with your primary partner (I certainly hope this can be your present primarily partner!!!) and is a two-way relationship of sharing and learning. The other relationship is with a mentor. This person could be a business acquaintance, a psychotherapist or a Spiritual Director.

  • With your primary partner - you agree to spend at least 15 minutes per day in discussion about how your life is going and what you understand about yourself, and 15 minutes per day listening to them.
  • With your mentor - you seek a guide for this phase of your walk, (and on into the future if you and they so contract.)

Your mentor will not provide answers. They will ask questions and share how they see things. You will find that sometimes what they say makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t - they will always cause you to think.

In each case, the purpose of deepening these relationships is to allow you to speak to another truthfully about whom you are today. The other is a witness to the unfolding of your knowledge about yourself. You provide the same for your primary partner. Your mentor, on the other hand, provides guidance along the way - but not a reciprocal relationship.

Where will you find a mentor? Open your eyes. They are always near, and the timing is always right for starting this walk. They will likely offer their services, but it will always be your choice as to whether to accept.

Your job, from now until forever, is to go inside and know yourself. One thing you will look at is the ways you keep yourself from being whole. You will explore why you hold yourself back. Why you enter into destructive or boring relationships. Why you stifle your Self. Why you try to gain acceptance, but lose yourself in the process.

This is the walk of wisdom. Out of these insights comes the clarity to pay attention and make better choices. You will choose how to live your life, and will be accountable to no one, nor to any rules. Save one. You will always act out of love, not out of fear or manipulation.

Your eighth exercise: Who have been your mentors in the past? What did you learn? What are your current tasks? Whom might you approach for guidance and mentoring?


ninth lesson




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