Since this website is founded on and dedicated to wisdom, I periodically like to revisit what wisdom is and how important it is in our lives.
My guru says, “Human knowledge, no matter how proliferative, will always be limited without wisdom (intuitive perception) of the soul, the singular revealer of the Creator.”
Wisdom, intuition, and the soul are all deeply connected. Intuition is the voice of the soul that reveals wisdom.
Intuition, latent in most of us, is an ability we all have. It is “developed” primarily through the practice of meditation. It is through meditation we move from a focus on our external world to our internal one. It is true that can’t, quiet inner focus that the soul’s voice, intuition, can be “heard.”
God has created this reality. Only He can bestow our wakening. God created the potential for good and evil in our reality.
We manifest good and evil based on our karmic patterns and the choices we make now. In exercising our choices, we need to ask the right questions and follow the right actions. Our choices determine the good and bad that occur in our life.
If there is one powerful shift you can make in your life it is taking 100% responsibility for the reality you experience…..do not blame others and certainly do not blame God. In EVERY life situation you have a range of choices…..choose wisely.
I owe this wisdom to the guidance of my guru for life, Paramahansa Yogananda.
First the bad news. As a country we are not very happy and the overall level of happiness in the United States has declined over the last few decades. Using a common happiness measure, many countries are much happier than we are. Probably of greatest concern is that the level of depression is at epidemic levels. It is at levels that are two – three times higher than the not too distant past. Add to this the ever increasing and tragically high levels of suicide among the people who are defending and have defended our country and you have an urgent and tragic situation.
I wrote Ultimate Happiness, Best Proven Western and Eastern Insights About How to Be Happier Today at a point in my life when I wanted to know how to be happier. What I discovered as I began my learning was that there was some emerging insights from Western science and very deep, centuries old insights from the Eastern wisdom traditions. I also learned that there was no single source for the best Western and Eastern insights. I decided to write Ultimate Happiness to be the first comprehensive book combining the best insights from both sources.
Important point: happiness is an inner experience. Trying to seek greater happiness through the external world and things like material possessions and changing others is doomed to failure. I realize what I’ve just said is at odds with what the vast majority of people think. They think if I could only have a better car, better job, more money, and change the irksome behavior of others, then I would be happier. This is why so many people are frustrated. At some point they start to realize that greater happiness does not happen when we go down this path.
The inner work required to be happier is multidimensional and extensive. I am not going to try in the short space of this blog to even attempt a succinct overview. But please recognize that the internal work requires significant change in personal expectations, beliefs, and behaviors. Please understand that we are not “hard wired” and that because of brain plasticity we are capable of bringing about major changes in our life. To be clear, this change does not happen overnight and without consistent, persistent, purposeful effort.
What if I am not the doer, but God is the doer?
First, my ego rebels. “What do you mean that I am not in charge?!” My ego reminds me that it is the producer, director, and star of my life. It makes all the decisions. Even when others appear to make decisions for me, it is my decision, the all-powerful ego, that decides if it will accept the decisions of others.
But what if……….
Does that mean that my fate is predetermined and I am just along for the ride in this life? Am I just a puppet on the stage of life?
Yes, the wisdom traditions are unanimous in their message that this reality is really an illusion and much more like a movie. Even every quantum physicist I have ever read concludes that there is no solid matter in our world. Everything we see is vibrating electromagnetic energy apparently “frozen” into forms. People like Ken Wilber report that from the perspective of super consciousness that they see this waking consciousness we call reality as being like a dream or a movie.
While my ego strongly protests, I cannot ignore the weight of all this wise evidence.
So if God is the Producer and Director of this movie I currently call reality, what is my role?
Obviously I am an actor in this movie. Since I want to play my role as an actor well, I would be best served if I acted in accordance with the wisdom of the Producer and Director. Thus, as this movie unfolds I should say and do things in accordance with God’s wisdom script. Since it is just a movie, I can let go of the deep emotional attachments that my ego loves so much. Instead I can shift my focus to the well-being of the rest of the cast in this movie.
This sounds like this could be a lot of fun! That is, fun in the sense of living a wisdom inspired life instead of an ego directed life. Fun in the sense that living life with love and compassion is so deeply, deeply rewarding. Fun in the sense that my soul blossoms as the darkness of ego vanishes and is replaced by pure light.
In several places in the blogs on this website I mention the “wisdom traditions.” I thought it might be helpful if I defined what I mean by that term.
As background, over the decades that I have studied several great teachers and I came to realize that their core messages were the same. The terminology could be different, the stories supporting it could be different, and the context could be different. I connected more with some teachers than others, but the overriding conclusion for me was that great God realized teachers are sharing the same core messages, which is not surprising since they are a channel for God.
The major traditions that I have studied and influenced my wisdom inspired life are listed below.
- Paramahansa Yogananda and it is very extensive teachings publish through the Self-Realization Fellowship.
- Bhagavad Gita: especially Yogananda’s commentary in the two-volume set God Talks With Arjuna.
- Christian Bible.
- Buddhist written and oral teachings: primarily Soygal Rinpoche, Za Rinpoche, and the Dalai Lama.
- Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
- The Ageless Wisdom.
Yogananda says it so much better than I ever could in this following quote.
“When guided by error, human will misleads us; but when guided by wisdom, human will is attuned to the Divine Will. God’s plan for us often becomes obscured by the conflicts of human life and so we lose the inner guidance that would save us from chasms of misery.”
The lower mind, which is the mind of information, logic, and emotions, is almost exclusively focused on the ego or “I/Me.” The higher mind, which is the mind of intuition and wisdom, not only connects with the Truth to guide a decision, but it is a decision that goes beyond self to provide for the well-being of others.
In this sense, and in many others, living a wisdom inspired life avoids the “chasms of misery.”
I really love reading the insights of other people living a wisdom inspired life.
There is great value in the blog that you can read at: http://spiritualnetworks.com/blog/97635/opening-to-our-inner-wisdom/
Time magazine recognized Albert Einstein as their “Man of the Century” in 2000. The article focused almost exclusively on his contributions to science, especially quantum physics. As you can discover in the topic forum on this website focused on quantum physics, Albert Einstein was also one of our great mystics. It is because of these two seemingly incompatible capabilities (quantum physicist and mystic), that quantum physics became the point at which science and spirituality connected. To be clear, it is a connection, not a merger.
There are many Albert Einstein quotes that I love, but this is one of my favorites: “That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
Another is, “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.”
Einstein’s associate, David Bohm, who Einstein believed had the clearest understanding of quantum theory stated that out of all of their understandings from quantum physics that it became clear that there was a “guiding hand” in the universe. From the wisdom traditions and our own inner knowing, we know Who that is.
In my most recent book, My Wisdom Inspired Life, a Provocative True Story, I dedicate an entire chapter to the role that science, especially quantum physics, played in my wisdom inspired life.
Among the many founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin is broadly recognized as one of the wisest.
In only six words he said so much: “God helps those who help themselves.”
We know from the wisdom traditions that self realization or enlightenment requires lots of purposeful work. It’s only when we acquire the commitment and purpose and harness it to action that we begin to make progress.
Some read the wisdom texts as saying there should be no attachment which can be accomplished by doing absolutely nothing. That will get you absolutely nowhere.
The wisdom traditions often referred to a difference between intelligence and wisdom. They will refer to intelligence as the lower mind and wisdom the higher mind.
Yogananda comments nicely on the relationship between intelligence and wisdom in the following quote.
“Wisdom never lies.”* Soul wisdom is revealed to man through the agency of intuition, direct perception of truth, not by amassing knowledge through the intellect. The seeker after wisdom should understand the difference between intuition and man’s limited faculty of intelligence.
Human beings have perception and intelligence to understand the world of objects; the soul is endowed with the power of intuition to understand not only the world of objects, but also all inner psychical phenomena and their intrinsic spiritual nature. Intelligence interprets phenomena, the outward appearance of things; intuition reveals the underlying noumena (object or event known without the use of the senses).
* Homer, Odyssey, III
Western science has done considerable research on intelligence and virtually none on intuition. Intuition exists in all of us although it is latent in most of us. Intuition can be developed and meditation is the best way of doing so. Meditation creates inner calmness which is an important and helpful prerequisite to connecting with and developing our intuition.
These thoughts are inspired by the writings of Leo Buscaglia in Personhood.
The wisdom traditions strongly agree with the following statement: “Egotism is seen as being at the root of all disharmony and thus the main causal factor of human suffering. For this reason, the person must strive to become egoless. With the loss of ego desires, one is also released from inner conflicts.”
Egotism is about I/my. It’s about personal interest taking precedence over the interests of other people, humanity, and our planet. This perspective is a perfect recipe for disharmony, conflict, and misery. One person’s personal interest is another persons disinterest. Egotism is about getting my way. I am seldom willing to compromise my personal interests to help you achieve your personal interests. In an ego controlled life, there needs to be something in it for me.
In my wisdom inspired life journey for the last year or so, I have been in an almost constant battle with my “misery producing ego.” The first step in my awareness was recognizing that the root cause of misery and disharmony was my ego. This contrasted sharply with living life through expanded consciousness and intuition, which is universally peaceful and joyful. A small second step forward was being able to see my ego in action from the perspective of being an observer. I would frequently say to myself, “There you go again.” The benefit of this observation is to intervene more quickly to stop the shenanigans that my ego perpetrates on my life.
I am resolute in slaying my ego’s control of my conscious life. The goal is to subjugate my ego to the guidance and control of my soul.
For the last couple of years, I have become acutely aware of my misery producing ego. When I really pay attention, I observe the negative and not so feeling good energy in my body when the ego has center stage. Strangely enough, even thoughts and feelings the ego considers good tend to create their own kind of misery.
Yogananda, my guru, writes about the need to stop living life from the perspective of the ego and start living life from the perspective of the soul.
- “The actions of selfish men spring from desires born of ego hopes. The divine man works neither at the dictates of egotism nor at those of selfish desires; he is devoid of I-ness, the idea of ‘ I am the doer.'”
- “The Gita stresses the renouncement, repeated so often! of ego consciousness, material hopes, and desires, because these renew the roots of cancerous longings that devour the soul’s peace. The roots of unfulfilled desires and frustrated expectations sprout into worries and misery making reincarnations.”
Shifting from an ego controlled life to a soul controlled life, while excruciatingly difficult, delivers levels of happiness and joy unimaginable by the ego. For me, it is worth the battle.
For the longest time, including innumerable incarnations, we live life largely satisfying the material needs of the ego. So much of this kind of life is spent working to pay for the material stuff in life. Life is typically filled with stress about how to get more material stuff and to take care of and keep the stuff we already have.
There comes a time when there is a break in this long, long pattern. Yogananda said the following:
“The materialist, after carrying the load of material duties – without the compensation of true happiness – begins of his own accord to think of cultivating divine qualities such as equanimity and calmness, and thereby starts a spontaneous introspection. It is at this juncture that wise men should strive to lift him to the higher strata of good attributes – discernment, meditation, and performance of actions without attachment.”
When we start to wake up there are several paths we can follow. Confucius said, “By three roads we can reach wisdom: the road of experience, and this is the most difficult; the road of action, and this is the easiest; the road of reflection, and this is the noblest.”
Breaking the pattern needs to come from inside. While there can be some external stimulation and input, this stimulation input has probably been around available to help us in our lifetimes. It’s only when we are ready inside that the shift can begin.
In my life it began with making the statement, “There must be a better way!” I did not know if there was a better way but I was fed up with the life I had been living. I had done everything to optimize it and that was not close to good enough. By asking that question, I began to wake up. I’m still waking up.
Dreams are tenacious because they can seem very, very real. During sleep subconscious dreaming can take on an exacting and convincing reality. Even when we move from the subconscious to waking consciousness, the subconscious dream we are leaving can still seem very real.
Waking up from this conscious dream we live in, is neither fast nor easy. The wisdom traditions are clear that the path of meditation is the fastest way to expanding our consciousness first two super consciousness, then took Christ consciousness, and then to cosmic consciousness.
People like Ken Wilber who have been able to live in super consciousness provide a rather interesting perspective on our everyday waking consciousness. Ken describes that from super consciousness he observe the waking consciousness and subconscious states simultaneously. One of the aspects of super consciousness is to view our current reality from the perspective of an observer.
Each expansion of consciousness significantly expands our access to wisdom through our intuition.
I recently read a very encouraging statement by Yogananda:
“Man has the potential to direct himself always through inner guidance, in every phase of his material, mental, and spiritual life.”
Inner Guidance: our intuitive inner knowing or wisdom mind
Always: very encouraging
We gradually develop this capability through spiritual practice, especially meditation.
January 28, 2013 in Arizona
When I think about the level of wisdom manifesting in our culture today, it is difficult to see much wisdom. The truth is that broadly and deeply today both our national and global cultures are primarily knowledge and ego-based. This does not leave much room for wisdom.
The good news is that we are in the process of seeing a rapid growth of wisdom in our culture and can expect significant and even dramatic increases over the next decade or two.
Part of the basis for this optimism is work pioneered by Dr. Clare Graves and carried on by Drs. Beck and Cowan in a system called Spiral Dynamics. This will be the subject of several blogs in the near future and there will be at least one video presentation supported with old-fashioned PowerPoint slides.
Spiral Dynamics is variously referred to as “big picture psychology” and “cultural developmental map.” It outlines the change in core values and beliefs from the beginning of recorded time to well into the future.
If you would like to learn more immediately about this topic there are two books that I recommend.
First, there is the foundation book by Drs. Beck and Cowan titled Spiral Dynamics.
Second, there is a wonderful book by Ken Wilber titled The Integral Vision…… future blogs will expand on this great thinker’s contributions.
See my VIDEO overview of Spiral Dynamics by Clicking Here.
Wisdom, which is intuitive inner knowing, is sometimes difficult to describe, especially when we are most familiar with knowledge. When we acquire new knowledge, our experience is usually “I didn’t know that.” Since we acquire knowledge through our five senses, when we are acquiring knowledge, we know are aware of the experience. For example, through the sense of seeing, we experience new knowledge from a book and from our sense of hearing we experience new knowledge from a speaker, like a teacher or professor.
When we acquire new wisdom, the experience is very different. Unlike the sense of discovery that is associated with acquiring additional knowledge, the acquisition of additional wisdom prompts the reaction of “Now I remember. I already know that.” Even though the new wisdom insights are provocative and profound, there is a deep sense of rediscovering something we already know.
Acquiring new wisdom can come through the experience of the five senses, like reading a book. My first experiences were when reading a wisdom insight. I experienced a deep and profound inner knowing that what I just read was true and something I was remembering. It needed no supporting logic or details. I just knew at my deepest levels that it was true. It was true beyond my knowledge that 1 + 1 = 2.
For me, the experience of deep inner knowing is a subtle but clear energy shift in my body. It’s a positive, almost joyous, and I want to smile.
January 9, 2013
For most of us, our relationship with wisdom goes through a sequential process.
In the “What’s Wisdom?” section of the website, I point out two very different meanings of wisdom. The first is a definition of wisdom that is actually knowledge. Knowledge comes through our five senses that includes, for example, reading. So our first experience with wisdom is often a definition that includes things like well-educated, quality life experiences, and discriminating judgment. With this definition we might look at a person and describe them as “wise” because they meet all or most of the definition standards. In most cases our relationship with wisdom does not go much further than this when wisdom exists as knowledge.
The meaning of wisdom changes when we experience intuitive inner knowing. Wisdom as knowledge is external to us and wisdom as intuitive inner knowing is an inner experience. When you have the opportunity to experience even a glimpse of intuitive inner knowing, you understand the sharp differences between these two meanings.
Most of us start out in life understanding wisdom is knowledge. As we engage in increasingly wisdom inspired life, the meaning of wisdom fundamentally changes. The changes are profound and powerful. Wisdom as intuitive inner knowing is exceptionally practical, educational, and inspiring.
In part two I take intuitive inner knowing to a deeper level of understanding.
Richard Haasnoot in Arizona
January 8, 2013