Tag Archives: wisdom

Wisdom Versus Knowledge

As humans have evolved over the years, there is no doubt we now understand a lot of things that we did not understand before. The advancement of our scientific knowledge of the universe is simply amazing. We can communicate around the globe at a click of the button. We can study the chemical composition of the stars. We can even analyse the smallest components of the atoms we’re made of. But what I want to talk about in this post is the distinction between wisdom and knowledge, and how they are different from each other.

If you look up the definition of both words on google, you will find no clear distinction between them. But there is a distinction. First let’s look at knowledge. What is it?

Well seeing as it originates in the mind, knowledge must consist of beliefs, because the mind operates solely via beliefs. Knowledge consists of those particular beliefs a person hold which correspond to reality. In other words, beliefs that are true. How do we know what is true? Well we can really only  rely on the reasonings (justifications) which our life experiences provide us with, which is why different people having had different experiences will believe different things are true. Even the results of scientific studies or mathematical equations are still examples of people coming to conclusions based on their life experiences. So the person with the largest and most connected network of logical reasonings on a given topic can be said to have the most knowledge on that topic.

But if you have a close look at those people in society which seem to have a vast amount of knowledge, you will sometimes find that they are very much lacking in wisdom. And some of the people who seem to be very wise may not have a large amount of scientific knowledge at their disposal. So what is the difference? What do I mean by this?

Wisdom is a certain type of knowledge, just as knowledge is a certain type of belief. It is knowledge of the true nature of reality, and our existence as humans. It is not do to with  having knowledge of the specifics of the universe’s small components and their behaviour, but rather having knowledge of what all those components are doing in the big picture. How do they all add up? What is truly taking place in life? What is the system of life all about? Wisdom is a developed awareness which allows a person to look beyond a superficial threat to recognise a more important beneficial factor or reason for things unfolding the way they do. Wisdom is the factor which neutralises fear and allows people to psychologically survive what they witness.

For example let’s say you have a very smart individual who specialises in theoretic physics and has won many awards and much recognition for his/her work. Now obviously this person would have a lot of knowledge about the the way the universe works (or at least you might assume that). But now let’s consider that during one of his lectures, he makes a huge mistake in calculations, and ends up making a fool of himself in front of his students and peers. Maybe afterwards one of his peers laughs and sneers at him. Well what would he do? That would depend on his level of wisdom. If he understood that there was obviously no shame in making the mistake since such an outcome was the inevitable product of the universe’s existence, he might help educate his peer to understand the same. He might even be thankful to be offered such a great opportunity to explain to his peers how to measure personal value, and that such value is never under threat due to the events taking place in life.  If he was seriously lacking in wisdom, he might view the situation as threat against his self esteem, and start think he must make sure such mistakes never happen again. He might be so anxious to prevent the mistake that he has an anxiety attack at his next lecture. He might make an even bigger fool of himself, and people might start to think “he’s lost it”. Maybe his career slows to a halt. What then? Well all those events would definitely be helping him to gain wisdom, because despite all his knowledge of physics,  he was still not aware of the most basic functional characterises of the activity in the universe. He was there thinking that the components of the universe are somehow in competition with each other, and that some components can be deemed worthless just because the they follow a trajectory which other components don’t like. He did not understand that all components of the universe are deemed valuable because of the automatic and unavoidable influence they have on the system.

 

For another example, let’s look at the human body –  a healthy one. Let’s look at an analogy. Try pretending for a minute that you are a cell within the human body, called Doug. Yes this might sound odd, but bear with me. If you are a cell within the body, and you’re going about your activities as a cell, you might start a conversation with another cell – we”ll call her Cecilia. Let’s say Cecilia is very interested in gaining knowledge about the activity going on all around her. So she starts asking questions and experimenting. She starts comparing all the cells around her and seeing how relate in size. She starts looking at their unique shapes. She observes how they interact with each other. She measures how long they take to move a given distance. She measures how much this speed changes. She tests what happens when she exerts a force on another cell. She even slices up a cell thousands and thousands of times to see what’s it is made up of. And so she ends up with a huge bank of information and facts about her surroundings. She finds she can use this information to make predictions, and invent technology to make her tasks as a cell easier.

And she says to you “Doug, I am very wise – look at all of this knowledge I have!”.

But then you turn to her and you reply “Well that’s very impressive Cecilia. But I have a question for you. What do you think we’re doing here?

Cecilia looks puzzled, but but she insists “well there isn’t really a purpose to our existance, all we can do is measure things and come up with numbers and statistics and use them to make our life better! Life is what you make it! We’re all unique and have to make up our own life purpose.”

You stare at her quite fondly and answer. “Oh really, that’s interesting. But what criteria are you using to judge whether your life is getting “better” or not?”

Cecillila thinks for a few minutes. “Well it’s getting better when it’s more like how we want it to be. Did you see that skin cell the other day? He dissapeared off the edge of the world. I don’t like that at all, he was my friend. Maybe we can make it so no more skin cells dissapear. That would be much better.”

You start smiling. “But what if the skin cells are just doing their job? What if they’re playing their role in the system?”

Cecillia has a look of distaste. “System? What system Doug? Are you saying there’s some kind of higher power? That’s a load of rubbish. I’ll believe it when I see it. Those poor skin cells deserve better!”

You sigh. Then start to reply. “Cecillia, you can see it. A system is a collection of parts. We are a collection of parts. We are working together, whether we like it or not, all influencing each other in order to bring about that which this system is producing. We are all valuable to the system, and receiving our needs from the system. Due to cause and effect we go about our activities for as long as we are meant to before the next generation of cells takes over, with our every action being controlled by our unique array of influences.  That is the understanding which is missing from your knowledge. That is what defines the reality of our lives as cells. To understand that is to have wisdom.”

 

The Wisdom Model for measuring personal development Pt. 2

The wisdom model measures development by the accuracy of our beliefs. It measures development by our level of wisdom. We grow from our life experiences by gaining wisdom. But how does this take place?

Firstly, what is a life experience? Some people might think life experiences are things like going to school, getting a job, getting married, having a baby etc. They might neglect to include things like hearing a car drive past, smelling the air, seeing a stranger walk past, feeling the coldness of an ice cube, feeling a headache or a sore throat, noticing someone smile. And yet these are all examples of life experiences from which growth can take place.

They say we grow from our life experiences. Let’s pick an example. Say, you are walking down the road, and you see a tree. This is the life experience. But how do you see the tree? Do your eyeballs go over and hit the tree? Of course not. You can see the tree because the light rays hit the tree, refract, and make their way to the retina in your eyes. From here, an electrical signal is fired along the optic nerve towards the visual cortex in the back of the brain. It is here the data is assessed as to what it represents, and because you have been taught that this information represents a tree, your mind holds the belief that “oh there’s a tree”. This explanation is important because it shows us that any life experience is really a process of receiving data from our environment. We get hit by light rays, sound waves, and pick up information from our senses on our skin. We receive a constant stream of data from our environment, and as this data is continuously assessed by our brain, we slowly grow in understanding life. We do not control our personal development – LIFE DEVELOPS US!

Many people are so wrapped up in believing they are the centre of the universe and must control everything about their life that they might easily neglect to acknowledge that the process of having life experiences is not a process of “I control” but is actually a process of data from our environment being forced upon us, whether we like it or not. Let’s go back to the example of seeing a tree. To say that you see the tree because your eyes pick up on the tree and your brain interprets this information might sound like a good explanation about the process. But actually that statement only includes half of the process by which you see the tree. The other half of the process is outside of your own existence. The process doesn’t start at your eyes, it starts at the light hitting the tree. The fact that the light refracts upon hitting the tree defines that outside your own existence, things exist – there is a reality. This understanding is important in order to move from “I am in control of life” to “I am being developed by life”. Is clapping your hands together an example of you being in control of life? Or an example of a progression of activity in the universe which was always going to take place due to everything which influenced you to make the decision to clap? Are you in control of the universe? Or are you a product of the universe? 

It is important to note that the philosophy “We grow from our life experiences by receiving data from our environment” is quite the opposite to the very common philosophy “you already have the answers within you – you must go within yourself and reconnect”. If you already know everything, what value could there possibly be in going through unwanted (or traumatic) life events? The only way to find value in such events is to understand they are teaching you lessons about life. But of course, there is much to learn from examining the activity going on within our own body and mind as well as our environment.

The Wisdom Model for Measuring Personal Development Pt 1.

There is a far more accurate way of measuring personal development than the achievement model. This method can be called the “wisdom model”.

In this model, it is explained what is really going on in life. Everyone is going about trying to do everything they possibly can to accomplish their goals and make life conform to their desires. With every action performed, people are putting effort into trying to control life, and this is absolutely necessary and wonderful.  But what is the purpose of such efforts? What is the purpose of goals? If you are trying to live by the achievement model, the purpose of goals will seen to be, of course, to achieve them (and hence prove your value). But the wisdom model provides the understanding that goals serve a completely different role. They serve the role of providing you with a journey of real life experiences. And, as the they say, we grow from our life experiences. From our life experiences we grow in wisdom, and this growth represents our true personal development. 

Summary of Relating to Life program. -6

Every person who is alive is out there having a real journey of life events, even those people trying to live by the achievement model.  And it is these events which are enabling our development to take place, regardless of the degree to which the events match our preferences and original intentions. But if development is measured by the gaining of wisdom, the question needs to be asked, what is wisdom?

Wisdom has nothing to do with knowing how to control life, knowing which events to pick or what course of action to take in life. Wisdom is actually a specific set of understandings which will neutralise psychological stress when life is not going the way you want. It is a small subset within the vast network of belief systems known as “knowledge”. This subset is concerned with trying to answer the question “what is taking place in life?”. Wisdom can be defined as an accurate account of reality. An accurate assessment of that which is taking place. And your growth in wisdom is your growth in understanding what is really going on in life, your growth in understanding reality. It is this growth in wisdom which is responsible for fixing people’s psychological stress, not any claim to have taken back control of life and mind.

When you look at life, when you see things happening and people going about their business, your mind is going to be forming opinions about what it all means. It is going to be forming opinions about the activity you see, and about what you think is really going on in the big picture. Everything you see is part of a system after all, and everyone is up to difference levels of understanding how that system works.

The reason so many people are stressed, anxious, depressed, suicidal, angry or hateful is that their level of wisdom is not high enough to allow them to understand what they see in reality. When they give their opinions as to what is going on, what they think is going on is not at all what is actually going on. For example people are out their believing that “I am not valuable”. Or that “I could have chosen to have acted different back then”. Or “That person is ruining the system”. Their account of reality is not correct.

Reality is simply a development process. A process of cause and effect. And there are lessons in wisdom which define this process. For something to be a lesson in wisdom, it must describe an aspect of the development process. One way of gaining more understanding of these lessons is through studying physiology.  You can compare healthy human physiology with diseased physiology. What is the difference?