Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The Evolution of Wisdom
The essence of our own Presence is love. Words are truly inadequate to speak of love, for it is all-feeling and no-mind. Even so, we can use words in ways that will allow us to experience, to ever-increasing degrees, the Truth of our own Self. We can utilize words to allude to the Self, and in doing so we experience the Self more and more.
Because words can only point the way to the experience, consistent repetition is necessary. In reading various ways of directing the attention to the same Truth, the mind might sometimes protest, I’m reading the same ideas over and over—as though it might be better if we went on to something different or more “advanced.” It is the ego thinking it “already knows” something, and that it has a better idea of what to do next.
The evolution of wisdom is not a matter of educating the mind. The mind has already been educated far too well. Many things we think we know actually prevent us from seeing and experiencing the Truth as it is. There is this term from Kashmir Shaivism: limited knowledge. We have “knowledge” that limits our potential to see and experience what is actually real, right now. For example, if we know that our back will hurt if we lift something, then chances are we will be unable to lift anything without pain. If we know with all certainty that all will be well, then the chances are better than ever that it will be.
Certain words and phrases resonate with the heart and awaken dormant wisdom. Inner growth is not nearly as much an intellectual process as many of us make it out to be. Wisdom arises from within, in the form of intuitive insights and promptings at the exact time they are needed.
With ordinary knowledge we can go around “knowing” things, and can impressively present facts to others, but wisdom isn’t like that. It arises at the most unexpected times, as a silent prompting from within (more a feeling than words) to pursue a certain course of action, or as an insight or realization. Or perhaps a certain light is cast on some personal situation or relationship, and we suddenly understand what’s going on from a more expanded perspective.
The evolution of wisdom, in part, is a deeper and clearer understanding of what we already know. Yet it is also the process of opening up to new ways of seeing and understanding the world, life, ourselves, and others—ways that we have been previously oblivious to.
Wisdom includes the capacity for the truth about anything to arise at the very moment we need to be aware of it. A wise person doesn’t go around filled with facts and knowledge of details; it’s not that if we walk up to him, he will know what’s in our pockets or our purse. Our fascination with details often gets in the way of true understanding. We have no idea how often we get lost in extraneous details and, in doing so, lose the true essence of the moment. Sometimes hard and cold facts can cause us to lose touch with the preciousness of something dear to us. Most of us experience this to some degree, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
Wisdom is being open to what is new right now, as well as being flexible in how we see things. Ordinary knowledge is of the past; it is old. True wisdom is an awareness of the Truth of the present moment, which is always new. A true state of inquiry—what now…and what now—accelerates growth on the spiritual path. The Truth is ever new, and the most genuine experience of life is the open exploration into each new now.
Another significant aspect of wisdom is a compassionate attitude toward life and all beings. Compassion includes an awareness of the poignancy of life’s situations. When we know people very well—relatives, friends, parents, children—it’s very easy to see the poignancy of their lives. When we relate to others with an awareness of their pains, fears, and needs, and stop obsessing on our own, we relate to them with compassion.
Compassion is an essential aspect of wisdom. Without genuine compassion, wisdom does not exist.
If our partner or good friend says or does something we don’t like, or that we have a tendency to react to, we can remember to immediately be aware of the poignancy of his or her life. Isn’t there something in her life, something that has nothing to do with us, that led up to her saying or doing that? There is no reason to have a negative reaction, to disapprove, to be disappointed, or to make wrong.
If we relate compassionately to those we love, we will enjoy richly rewarding relationships. If we relate defensively, or competitively, or from I’ll show her who’s right, we will poison the relationship. In relationships, first comes compassion and respect. Without compassion and a genuine mutual respect, the relationship will manifest as one conflict after another.
I invite you to accept no dogma, to believe nothing simply because you read it here, and to accept nothing on blind faith. In the Truth of the present moment, there can be no dogma or beliefs. In this realm of pure vision, mere opinion is folly. Most of our opinions are but the conditioning of the mind. The day might come when we find it peculiar that people actually believe in opinions—their own or others’—confusing their opinions with knowledge.
I knew someone who was infatuated with his own opinions, and when in public he would tend to speak to whoever he was with more loudly than necessary, so that the people around him would be impressed with his cleverness. In truth, he mostly embarrassed the one he was with and impressed no one. This is a good example of thinking one thing is happening while the truth is quite another matter.
Opinions are among our chief obstacles in the evolution of wisdom. Wisdom has nothing to do with having opinions about something, or thinking anything about anything. Wisdom is an awareness of what is. The ego and mind can describe what is, and however it is described is what will appear as real to the individual.
To perceive and experience the Truth of what exists right now, we need to see things as they are, and not as we think things are or as they appear to be—both of which result from how the world has been described to us all our lives. Our own thoughts, as well as appearances, can be deceiving.
Right now is the only Truth there is. If our most basic understanding is of the reality of the existing moment—and we are not merely following the incessant activity of the mind—then we have a foundation of Truth that will underlie all other understanding. The awareness of the present moment is the basis as well as the pinnacle of wisdom.
The Truth is the most obvious thing there is—it is right in front of us everywhere we go. It also exists within us all the time. When the mind is clear, the Truth is intuitively obvious—we don’t even need to think about it. The Truth cannot be captured in thoughts or words. On the contrary, unnecessary thinking colors our vision. Our own thoughts and beliefs superimpose themselves upon our perception and experience, and the Truth of the existing moment is obscured.
The Truth does not exist in the past or the future. The Truth does not exist in other people, although we can see the “windows of the soul” in their eyes. The Truth does not exist in words or in our descriptions of present or past situations, or in the ways we hold others accountable for our own feelings. The Truth does not exist in the objective world or in objective humanity. The Truth is not outside our own Awareness.
The Truth does not exist in memories, or in blame, or in self-righteousness, or in describing others or the world around us negatively, or in any particular feeling or thought. The Truth does not exist in all the things we think happened badly in the past—after all, if we could tell God what He (She, It) should have done instead, His (Her, Its) whole Creation would have certainly been better off than the way it actually happened—and the Truth certainly does not exist in our worries and concerns of the future. Neither does it exist in our constant oneupmanship, or in all our making wrong and being right, or in all our grievances that we blame outside ourself.
The Truth exists in the heart right now, in that state of unconditional love and compassion for others as well as for ourselves.
Can we truly forgive? The answer to this lies deep in the soul. Can we forgive all others for their trespasses, can we forgive everything that’s ever happened? Can we forgive ourselves? We have been perfectly imperfect for years, we have made mistakes, we feel remorse for our previous stupidity and lack of sensitivity, yet can we forgive ourselves and know that we are yet whole and pure as we are right now? Full forgiveness for everyone and everything must exist before we enjoy the sweetness of the experience of universal Being.
As long as something remains unforgiven, then it lies out there, something separate and “other than” the harmonious whole of the cosmos. By allowing anything to remain unforgiven, and therefore separate from ourselves and our own inner harmony, we perpetuate our own duality and delusion. Only then is the true experience of Oneness possible. Practice forgiveness and heal yourself.
Gaze deeply within yourself and experience your own Truth. It is the Truth of Being. The Truth is unconditional love and compassion, and it is the play of the divine lightheartedness. Be cheerful and see in everything and everyone that eternal essence of Being that permeates the cosmos.
As we evolve in wisdom, we live more and more in our own eternal and indivisible Truth. It is our own inner Self, our own Awareness of Being. Be still and know your own inner Truth. Be established here, and live now in the awareness of the Truth.
For information about D. R. Butler’s new Course of Training write: firstname.lastname@example.org