Updated 1 May 2006
The basic constituent of wisdom is awe. Or as Matthew Fox phrased it, "Awe is the beginning of wisdom." Possibly the best source of such awe struck wisdom is an unobstructed view of a clear, dark night sky without the trace of light or other pollution. Meanwhile, the emotion of awe – and its resulting wisdom – is the sudden realization of truth. It is accompanied in most cases with the sense of having “seen the face of God.” It is the sense of O 2 B N Awe!
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One might even philosophize that wisdom is the stunned realization of what God and Nature have wrought, and the sense to know that it's enough just to enjoy it.
(8/13/2010) Wisdom is also seeking the truth and recognizing its fleeting quality. It's the bit about "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set ye free... but when you first realize the truth -- as opposed to the various non-truths floating about -- you're likely to be rather upset. The key is to laugh about it. And then continue to seek the truth. An intriguing site in that regard is Truth Contest.
Wisdom does not, however, necessarily involve philosophy, religion, faith, or understanding the Wonders of Math. Wisdom is not being able to explain things, as much as a knowing. It's also the ability to laugh in virtually every situation.
Meanwhile, smaller chunks of wisdom are included in pithy sayings. If they include characteristics of humor, then so much the wiser.
"The more prohibitions there are, the poorer the people will be."
Another view is "The way we get God's attention is to have something sitting in front of our head for a long enough period of time that if we agonize over it, fret over it, construct it, draw it, burn it down, redo it to where nothing appeases us, it doesn't feel right, as it were -- if we finally go to bed and say, 'I give it to you completely,' sometime in the night that benevolent consciousness makes it fit and works it into your life. If that is how it works, what this said to the adepts long ago was, 'If we are going to interact with the divine, we must reach for a thought that is so lofty, a mathematical problem that is so confusing, that if we hold it there for a long enough period; if we keep contemplating it; if we keep focusing on it; if we keep thinking about it; like some lover, it has possessed our very essence; if we allow it to possess us and hold our consciousness -- then if we pause and move away from it, theoretically there is a supernatural part of ourselves we call God that will come and give us the answer to the riddle." -- Ramtha [J Z Knight, 1994]
That's sounds like a lot of trouble. Perhaps it is wiser to have fun in the process -- and forget totally the agonizing!
Consider instead the advice:
If at first you don't succeed, sky diving is not for you.
If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well enough to get paid for it.
I always finish what I start. It's just that my "finish" might not be your finish.
When the question is clear [see above], the answer comes.
Money isn't everything, but it's often ranked right up there with Oxygen.
Buddha has no coattails. (I.e. you can't reach enlightenment by copying.)
Time is a padded cell -- so that you don't hurt yourself. (Think about it.)
Loose lips enlarge hips.
In an infinite cosmos, all dreams come true. [See The Fifth Element.]
On the Eighth Day, God got bored and created growth and evolution.
One's first act of free will is to believe in free will.
Uniqueness implies value.
I can't have my freedom if I restrict yours. The very act of restricting anyone else's freedom requires a restriction of the restrictor's freedom in order to enforce the restriction. Strictly speaking, of course.
My inner child is an honor student at Life Academy.
Words of wisdom have been around for a long time. There is, for example, Sumerian wisdom, circa 4000-2000 B.C.E.:
In a city that has no watch dogs, the fox is the overseer.
Flatter a young man, he'll give you anything. Throw a scrap to a dog, he'll wag his tail.
A sweet word is everybody's friend.
If you take the field of an enemy, the enemy will come and take your field.
Conceiving is nice; pregnancy is irksome.
For a man's pleasure, there is marriage. On thinking it over, there is divorce.
In more modern times,
We are chinks in the lantern through which the One Great Light shines. -- Sufi saying.
Those who tell the truth should have one foot in the stirrup. -- Turkish proverb
Curiosity is a free-wheeling intelligence. It endows the people who have it with a generosity in argument and a serenity in their own mode of life which springs from the cheerful willingness to let life take the forms it will. -- Alistair Cooke
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matter compared to what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. -- Henry David Thoreau
The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of the meaning. Once you've got the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten the words so I can have a word with him? -- Chuang Tsu.
New paradigms emerge because they make sense of apparently conflicting observations. -- Peter Russell
The human mind is incapable of producing 100 percent error. Nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time. -- Ken Wilber
Intention non-randomizes random number generation. -- Robert John
Attention non-randomizes random number generation. -- Dean Radin
Consciousness is a process. DNA is learning, nature learning to adapt. Nature keeps all of our life experiences. -- Edgar Mitchell
Stand still. The forest knows where you are.
The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. -- Joe Firmage
Wisdom is frequently born in the darkness. -- Oriah Mountain Dreamer
But for some of the truly amazing -- aka, profound -- thoughts, we must inevitably turn to Swami Beyondananda's "Guidelines for Enlightenment" [e-mail, 13 August 1997]:
1. Be a Fundamentalist -- make sure the Fun always comes before the Mental. Realize that life is a situation comedy that will never be cancelled. A laugh track has been provided, and the reason why we are put in the material world is to get more material. Have a good laughsitive twice a day, and that will ensure regularhilarity.
2. Remember that each of us has been given a special gift -- just for entering. So you are already a winner!
3. The most powerful tool on the planet today is Tell-A-Vision. That is where I tell a vision to you, and you tell a vision to me. That way, if we don't like the programming we're getting, we can change the channel.
4. Life is like photography. You use the negative to develop. And no matter what adversity you face, be reassured: of course God loves you -- He's just not ready to make a commitment.
5. It is true. As we go through life thinking heavy thoughts, thought particles tend to get caught between the ears, causing a condition called truth decay. So be sure to use mental floss twice a day. And when you're tempted to practice tantrum yoga, remember what we teach in Swami's Absurdiveness Training class: "Don't get even, get odd."
6. If we want world peace, we must let go of our attachments and truly live like nomads. That's where I no mad at you, you no mad at me. That way, there'll surely be nomadness on the planet. And peace begins with each of us. A little peace here, a little peace there, pretty soon all the peaces will fit together to make one big peace everywhere.
7. I know great earth changes have been predicted for the future, so if you're looking to avoid earthquakes, my advice is simple: When you find a fault, don't dwell on it.
8. There's no need to change the world. All we have to do is toilet-train the world and we'll never have to change it again.
9. If you're looking to find the key to the Universe, I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is -- there is no key to the Universe. The good news is -- it has been left unlocked.
10. Finally, everything I have told you is channeled. That way, if you don't like it, it's not my fault. And remember, enlightenment is not a bureaucracy. So you don't have to go through channels.
Actually, there is no finally. This webpage is perpetually:
Sorry about that.
On the other hand, feel free to contribute your own words of wisdom -- add your own political planks, hammer your own points, dig your own holes -- by contacting the head wise guy: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include sources.
Your input will be treated in the manner it was intended. Maybe.
But seriously, here are some worthy contributions:
 Evan Hodkins has noted that xenophobia -- fear of strangers -- is contrary to philosophy, in part because wisdom requires a xenocuriosity. When strangers come into our midst, we ought to practice philoxenia -- the Greek word for hospitality -- whose literal meaning is 'love of strangers'. We can then enlarge this concept of a stranger to include any strange or foreign event. As Evan has phrased it, "A stranger is different from both enemy and friend. The stranger is an emissary from the unknown, the placeholder of surprise, the instrument of Divine interruption, the speaker of stunning revelations. Foreigners come to us from beyond the borders and boundaries of our insularity and deliver new perspectives."
"When relationships of destiny insinuate themselves, we call it b'shert in Hebrew, kismet in Arabic. It's the orchestration of apparent chance encounters where we suddenly find in an event or another person the delights of an 'ancient belonging.' True philosophy can be viewed as the strange, the unknown, the foreign, all being things to be welcomed. Even adversities. For they bring their own form of gifts, and with an increasing wisdom, an ever expanding love of wisdom. Our philosophy will always find an honored place in our home for all such emissaries from beyond." [Evan Hodkins, "Strangers in Our Midst", The Alchemist, Vol 2, No. 1, Spring 2002.]
 The great poet, Rumi, concurs. "This being human is a guest-house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
"Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they're a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." [Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)]
Rumi also wrote: "The body is a device to calculate the astronomy of the spirit."
 Just in case you were thinking this is really deep stuff... remember that: "Life is too important to be taken seriously." [G. K. Chesterson]
 Sorry about the above. However... "To an ordinary being, others often require tolerance. To the highly evolved being, there is no such thing as tolerance, because there is no such thing as other." [Lao Tzu]
 "Fear not, friend: There is something to be gained from every illusion." "Know death for what it is: The in-breath of God." [Haven Trevino]
 "What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah! What then?" [Samuel Taylor Coleridge]
 Speaking of which, "sleep is the greatest adventure." "Say your prayers and go to sleep. The morning is wiser than the evening." "Our fidelity to dreaming is our desire to keep the wild card in the deck -- a willingness to be surprised by God." [Evan Hodkins] Okay, sleep on it.
 A son and his father were walking in the mountains. Suddenly the son falls, hurts himself, and screams "Aaahhhhhh!" To his surprise he hears the voice repeating some where in the mountains, "Aaahhhhhh!" Curious, the boy yells, "Who are you?" The answer is, "Who are you?" Angered at the response, the boy screams, "Coward!" The answer is, "Coward!" The boy turns to his father and asks, "What's going on?"
The father smiles and says, "Pay attention." He then yells, "I admire you!" The voice answers, "I admire you!" Again the father yells, "You are a champion!" The answers is, "You are a champion!" The boy is surprised, but does not understand. His father explains, "People call this an echo, but really it is life. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If you want more competence in your team, improve your competence. This applies to everything in all aspects of life. Life will give you back everything you have given it. Your life is not a coincidence, it's a refection of you."
 Finally, a few years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants -- all physically or mentally disabled -- assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out -- not exactly in a dish, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win. All that is except for one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry, slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back... every one of them. One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed the boy and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Apparently wisdom needs a dose of compassion.
An alternative version is simply "seeing the light". A good source of such "Lights On" occasions are included in a delightful book, entitled (appropriately enough) "Voices of Light" [Nancy Lee, Chrysalis Books, West Chester, PA, 2003 -- <http://www.nancylee.net/index.html>].
(New -- 2/15/2005) Then there is a marvelous site called Words of Tomorrow -- or perhaps more accurately words which will help you to get to tomorrow!
STOP THE PRESSES!! This just in!
1. If you're too open-minded, your brains will fall out. (This assumes brains to begin with.)
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! (Actually, we lied inasmuch as this is NOT Ponty Python, and for that matter is really recalling many other and varied bits of wisdom. For example:
What else can I say? (I mean, now?)
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