Religious Traditions Contribute Wisdom, but are dulled by the fanaticism they can produce
Listen to “At-one-ment” by Pheo Rose while you read
(You can find this music on the “Healing All Life” CD in the store)
Introduction to Wisdom
Wisdom is often most associated with elders, those with decades of experience, perhaps because holistic self-integration takes years. Wisdom is included in this “Land of Being” because truly this perspective emerges to those deeply integrated.
Wisdom is a deep knowledge within each person. Many of the eternal truths found in wisdom literature touch a place of recognition within us. Wisdom is most often very simply expressed which also helps to understand its meanings. Words of wisdom come from great depths, and speak to our great depths perhaps better than any other verbal expression. And, not surprisingly, words of wisdom in their profound simplicity are most often presented in poems, parables, and enjoyable tales.
Wisdom is now mostly handed down from generation to generation through writings. There was a time when the wise only handed down their wisdom through word of mouth. We have more access to the centuries of wisdom literature from all over the world than ever before. Reading such literature can stir within that inner knowledge, helping us tap into what is within.
Because wisdom is one of the innate knowledge’s within, the wisest and holiest of people speak of mostly the same topics and tenets. Wisdom literature is truly cross-cultural. Eastern (mostly Asian) wisdom and Western (mostly European) wisdom have much in common, though written centuries and thousands of miles apart.
Writings are still the best place for finding wisdom; there are very, very few wise people to actually go to. Some say that as industry and technology increase, wisdom and its proponents decrease. If you have one or more wise people in your life, you are truly fortunate. If they cannot point you to wisdom literature, you will find many references here.
Wisdom has been defined as: “when love and knowledge embrace.” Reflect on this. Another aspect to wisdom literature may be the profound simplicity and humility. Go to “Way of Words/Wisdom Literature” for recommendations. Meanwhile, a couple of my favorites:
If you are going to stand, then stand.
If you are going to sit, then sit.
Whatever you do, don’t wobble.
God requires a faithful fulfillment of the merest trifle
given us to do,
rather than the most ardent aspiration to things
to which we are not called.
St Francois de Sales
The Companionship of Wisdom Literature
Along the way to self integration, there are times when you may feel very alone. There is a feeling that you are isolated from everyone; even God. These times are called “desert times,” and, when especially deep, “dark night of the soul.” They are actually part of the journey. These are the times when deep integration is going on, way beyond the conscious level. To be patient and abiding during these times enhances what is going on in your greatest depths.
Besides patience and abiding, you may feel a deep void that nothing satisfies, except maybe creating. During this, even though being alone is not all that appealing; being with others is even less appealing. People of wisdom have endured and embraced these times, and are excellent companions during them. They encourage, inspire, and most importantly, embrace us during these times. Indeed, once you can recognize when you are in a desert, you will find embracing/enduring much easier. (We will go into more information about being “alone in the Alone” and “deserts” later).
Because wisdom is a shared knowledge, anytime you feel lost, alone, or are questioning your inner journey, reading wisdom/mysticism literature can be very, very, helpful; and can give you a sense of community. The words and thoughts often not only innately make sense, but they also help your consciousness merge into the depths. One does not have to scale a high peak to get to wisdom. Thanks to the internet and sites like this one, you can access wisdom to both keep you company and keep you going.
If you have never read much, beginning with books of wisdom parables and short quotations may work well for you. If you are a reader, having a wisdom literature at hand at all times allows for a quicker response to feeling out of sorts.
Cultures can have superficiality to them, as they focus on keeping people entertained and occupied. There is not much emphasis on wisdom and wisdom writings. Those disenchanted with their culture may find that what is missing is the deeply meaningful, very thoughtful, but common sense writings. Our greatest depths of being hungers for such substance, and the psyche usually looks in all the wrong places to fill that hunger. (Once, in my life I had nothing but a TV Guide to pick up. I looked at the cover shook my head in a wry dismay, and realized I needed ever so much more.)
So many times we have a more difficult time discerning, let alone reaching out to, what will really fill the void. Without knowledge of the deeply fulfilling wisdom literature we miss out on this wonderful companionship that is possible. For indeed, people who have come through to holistic self-integration can, at times, seem to speak just what we need to hear.
Misconception of wisdom literature may add to why people do not turn to it easily; especially when everything is dissatisfying. Sages and mystics are full of common sense, humor, humility, simplicity and beauty of thought. They are loving people who have taken the journey to holistic self integration, and speak compassionately to others. If something or someone is said to represent wisdom who does not have these qualities, do not waste your time; especially when there is such a wealth of their writings available.
Having their companionship during your journey is indispensable. There are going to be times that they alone can speak the words you most need to hear.
The Light and Shadow of Love and Passion
A rather imprecise but valuable metaphor is: “For every light there is a shadow; and for every shadow there is a light.” A shadow is just what it implies: something we take as the light but is only vaguely associated with it. The “shadow” of Love is attachment; and the shadow of Passion is infatuation/lust. Sorting these out and moving from the shadows of attachment and infatuation/lust into the Light of Love and Passion is difficult. Knowing that the shadows of attachment, infatuation/lust exist naturally with the light, and are to be compassionately moved away from, can greatly reduce the self-condemnation and anguish a person feels as they are discovered within. (With yourself a firm compassion reduces the self-condemnation, but with others such shadows indicate you need to distance yourself.)
People mis-take attachment, in its hold on the psyche, as Love. The psyche (that part of our mind that is focused on surviving/thriving in life) looks for deep emotional needs to be met and pushes to have someone fill this. Relationships are often created on the mutual basis on filling this need, and often include a high level of infatuation. When the need is being met, all is well within. The “I love you” said and expressed in many ways always is really saying, “Ahh, you meet my need. When one pulls away from the other person, which happens when whoever in the relationship recognizes there is no real substance other than a need filled, they are typically met with a terrible lashing out by the other person, and/or a clinging that can drag both down. Wisdom literature addresses this dynamic and encourages a person to go beyond such relationships based on attachment. “Infatuation” is like a bridge between attachment and lust. Attachment is an emotional need, lust is a physical need.
When infatuation/lust replace true passion (defined incorrectly 99.9 percent of the time), relationships tend not to fall apart but to “explode.” Need for another person now becomes a hunger and an incessant desire. If the other person does not respond there can be terrible fixation and anguish. If the person responds in kind, there can be immense intensity to the relationship that brings “great highs” in energy and feeling. Unfortunately there come the “great lows,” and enormous depression and suffering if the other is the first to pull away. Such relationships often have a pre-conscious watchfulness — each person wants to be the one to pull away first to avoid the avalanche of suffering. Some people “jump” into such relationships and “jump” out as quickly leaving the other person swirling in confusion and lost-ness.
How many love songs are there about “I long for you, but you don’t see me;” “Don’t you know I need your love;” “You are all I desire;” “You left me and my world now means nothing to me”? All songs like these point to the issue of the light and shadow of Love and Passion. They express very real human dilemmas. The only unfortunate part to songs and movies that express the shadows again, and again, and again, is that very rarely are there songs that express what the light of love and passion truly is, and encourage souls to this.
We all need interdependence (that place between total dependence and total independence), and that is not the issue here. Attachment is placing needs upon another that, truly, can only be met from within and in the source of all Love. Holistic self-integration helps each person mature taking within what must be held there, learn the red flags of attachment, infatuation, and lust, and move into one’s greatest depths where true love and passion ‘reside.
The following quotations are a “global” acknowledgment and call to travel past the shadows. These can be difficult to fully grasp in the first reading, but thoughtfulness will help as you read them several times:
This is the great trial or strife of human life,
whether a person live to the lusts of the beast,
the guile of the serpent, the pride and wrath of the fiery dragon,
or give themselves up to the meekness, the patience, the sweetness,
the simplicity, the humility, of the Lamb of God.
The craving for worldly desires, which is chronic in humanity,
is like the patient’s craving for water.
There is no end to this craving. The typhoid patient says
“I shall drink a whole pitcher of water”.
The situation is very difficult. There is so much confusion in the world.
Embellished for them is the evil of their deeds, when they pursue their lusts.
…. dangerous are the senses, they even carry away forcibly the mind
of a discriminative person who is striving for perfection.
An individual of steady wisdom, having subdued them all (the senses)
becomes fixed in me, the Supreme.
Their wisdom is well established, who senses are under control.
Thinking of sense objects, individuals become attached thereto.
From attachment arises longing; and from longing anger is born.
From anger arises delusion; from delusion, loss of memory is caused.
From loss of memory, the discriminative faculty is ruined
and from the ruin of discrimination, they perish.
Every person is tempted, when they are drawn away from their lust and enticed.
Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin;
and sin when it is finished, brings forth death.
James 1:14 and 15.
Every desire is insatiable, and therefore is always in want. Sextus.
We should mark and know the very truth: that all virtue and goodness,
and even that eternal good, which is God,
can never make any person for to us a good or happy, so long as it is outside the soul.
That is, so long as the person is holding converse with outward things
through the senses and reason,
and does not withdraw into themselves and learn to understand their own life,
who and what they are.
Whosoever will remember their lusts shall understand
that the end of such pleasure is sadness.
Of all the acts of devotion by which God’s favor is sought.
None has greater value than the resistance of passion,
because it is easier for a person to destroy a mountain with their nails
than to resist passion.
Under the sway of strong impulse, the person who is devoid of self-control
will fully commits deeds that they know to be fraught with future misery.
But those of discrimination, even though moved by desires,
t once become conscious of the evil that is in them,
and does not yield to their influence, but remains an attached.
Srimad Bahagatam XI. vii
To be overcome by pleasure is ignorance in the highest degree.
There is a difference between spiritual and corporal pleasures —
corporal ones you beget a desire before you have obtained them
and, after you have obtained them, a disgust.
But spiritual pleasures, on the contrary,
are not cared for when we have them not, but are desired when we have them.
St. Gregory the great
The more of your own self you throw,
the more into you, God will flow.
Be aware then of your self; self’s burden you will rue.
It will impair you more than a thousand devils do.
Of all the wonders of the world humanity is still the greatest,
for God or the devil, they may be, according to their will
The Supreme Self (Paramatman) and the incarnate self are one in essence,
and are both on the primal ray from the absolute (the tree of life).
The incarnate self evolving in the souls of humanity,
struggles up toward to enjoy the buddhic consciousness
the fruit of the experience and aspiration; while the Supreme Self is a witness and inactive.
The incarnate self is even worse in delusion and ignorance, suffering and sorrow,
but when having conquered the lower nature and risen above it;
then it perceives the Supreme Self;
then its sorrows ceases, ignorance and delusion are dispelled, and the truth is made manifest.
The pairs of opposites are discarded, and perfection having been attained, the two selves.
Become one Self, in complete identity.
G. A. Gaskell
Not by the slothful, nor the fool, nor the undiscerning, is Nirvana to be reached —
which is the untying of all knots.
This Self is not realizable by study, or even by intelligence and learning.
The Self reveals its essence, only to those who applies themselves to the Self.
Those who have not given up the ways of vice, who cannot control themselves,
who are not at peace within,
whose mind is distracted, can never realize the Self,
though full of all the learning in the world.