Wisdom — How to Get Your Life Together 1

  1. Wisdom — How to Get Your Life Together 1
  2. Flexibility — How to Get Your Life Together — 2
  3. Accepting Yourself — How to Get Your Life Together — 4
  4. Infinite Choice — How to Get Your Life Together — 6
  5. How to Get Your Life Together — 7 — Choosing a Path
  6. Changes of Behaviour — How to Get Your Life Together — 8

Wisdom — How to get your life together, part 1 — The value of wisdom — wisdom is different from intelligence. It’s deeper and more profound. Here’s where to look

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get your life together

Number 1 The Value of Wisdom

There’s nothing more important for each of us than to cultivate wisdom. The odd piece is that wisdom is often confused with intelligence.

I’ve been a fan of Ram Dass for ever. He has the ability to cut to the heart of the matter — and wisdom is often a topic he writes about. I remember him discussing his stroke, and the after effects. He got home from the hospital, paralyzed on one side, slow of speech, and he got angry at “god,” at his guru, and with life.

His intelligence — his mind — was listing off all the things he could no longer do: drive, drive stick shift, play the cello… and on and on. After his rant, and after destroying a few things, he found his wisdom. He realized that he was about 10 years older than most of his audience, and that he’d been guiding them for decades.

And now, he could guide them, and himself, into illness and the infirmity of old age. The list of “how awful” was intelligence (he was right about all of it!) — the returning sense of mission and centered-ness was wisdom.

Here’s a quote from Ram Dass Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying, pg. 17)

In a non-traditional culture such as ours, dominated by technology, we value information far more than we do wisdom. But there is a difference between the two. Information involves the acquisition, organization, and dissemination of facts; a storing-up of physical data. But wisdom involves another equally crucial function: the emptying and quieting of the mind, the application of the heart, and the alchemy of reason and feeling. In the wisdom mode, we are not processing information, analytically or sequentially. We’re standing back and viewing the whole, weighing the depth and meaning of things. The quality of wisdom is rare in our culture. More often, we have knowledgeable people who pretend to be wise, but who, unfortunately, have not cultivated the quality of mind from which wisdom truly originates.”

Information, by its very nature, is a surface thing.

Information gathering is like leaf gathering — there’s always another leaf. Many people get caught in the, “Just as soon as I have enough information, I’ll act” sort of place. Which is of course a cop-out and an impossibility. Left to our own devices, there is never enough information to do much of anything.

Here’s a way to tell the difference between information and wisdom: information counts, wisdom simply is.

People living mostly on the information side of the equation will have lists: how much money, how many cars, houses, toys they have. Lists of sexual conquests or activities engaged in. Lists of books read and theories discussed. Lists of techniques, lists of definitions. The information side is quantitative — the more one has, the more one theoretically is.

Information often gets in the way of action

Clients want guarantees before acting: that a relationship will work out in advance of working on it. That they will pass a test before they will let themselves take it. That they know everything. Others want to know what will happen if they do Bodywork, practice Qi Gong, or try something new.

Or, they go to the other extreme, and “just let it all hang out.”

They’re so intent on being a free spirit, that they make information into the bogeyman, and resist it at all costs.

One friend approaches dating this way. She swears that she knows what she wants, and yet goes out with every guy who asks her. Doesn’t matter how different the person is — education, career, goals, aspirations. The criteria is, “He asked me out!!!” When it doesn’t work out, she asks, “Where are all the good men?”

And then, there are those that cultivate wisdom, not to the exclusion of intelligence or information, but as the anchor for it.

This is what Ram Dass calls: “…the emptying and quieting of the mind, the application of the heart, and the alchemy of reason and feeling.” Notice especially that last clause — reason and feeling.

I just wrote about the prisons of mind, body and spirit, and this is the opposite. Setting ourselves free requires accepting input from all of ourselves — not just living in our heads, playing with our data, declaring ourselves wise.

Wisdom is the linking up of, and the use of, both our minds and our bodies.

Reason is not about the stacking up of theories, providing endless explanations or excuses, or the collection of bits and pieces of information. Reason is being able to see through the details — the facts — to the meaning of a situation. Reason is a knowing — it is sensing how the present moment impacts on one’s vocation — one’s purpose.

Reason is the willingness to live with the depth of life’s questions, as opposed to being quick off the mark with answers, explanations or “ways out.”

Another guide — if you tell people you are wise, you aren’t. Or, to quote the Tao Te Ching:

He who knows the Tao does not speak; he who is ever ready to speak about it does not know.”

The body reveals

We’re getting clues to the wisest move all the time — from our bodies

get your life together
I could act on what I know at the body level!

Occasionally, Bodywork clients will get quite specific about what they want. It’s funny, because I think most people know. I can feel a subtle shifting of the body, a pushing against, a sense of urgency. For most, conditioned to think that the body is best ignored, the movement stops.

Others ask, they try, they experiment. They attune their inner ear to hear the guidance of their bodies. It’s not about acting unthinkingly – it’s about acting with focus and attention. In other words, they act in keeping with their desire to know more of themselves, without acting out of haste.

Wisdom is an intuitive, felt sense of knowing — of knowledge. It is all about sitting with situations, and in the stillness — evaluating them on the basis of the question: will this bring me more depth of being? Thus, the work of reason, of wisdom, is a path of subtlety, patience and gentleness.

Because a little intelligence is a dangerous thing

Many who consult with me sigh when I question what they are doing (usually repeatedly.) They’ll tell me how they’ve thought it through, and they are sure, this time, that “whatever” will work. I suggest alternatives, and they let me known that I just don’t get it.

And then things go wrong again, and they blame others or the situation.

Instead, they might consider seeking what is missing — looking for the secret. Almost always, the secret that allows for a life of maximum pleasure and minimum harm is just hidden from view. It’s subtle.

Wisdom is learning to see the path, seeking lessons in walking the path, and then walking on your own. Body, mind, and spirit in harmony.

Time. Patience. Silence. Inward vision. In this, and this alone, is wisdom.

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So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “Wisdom — How to Get Your Life Together 1”

  1. Wayne:
    I love that last line–Time. Patience. Silence. Inward Vision. What a beautiful way of summing up a wonderful article. The only asset we need is Time to BE with what we are seeing. And that asset is so illusive for most of us (despite that it is free for the taking)–we want it now and we don’t have any patience to sit in silence.
    Great work.

    • Thanks for that. The willingness to sit with what’s happening, and not get caught in panic mode is an art we all need to master.
      Warmly, Wayne


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