Today we continue our adventure into the 10 Paramitas with Wisdom. What is the difference between Wisdom and knowledge? The dictionary defines knowledge as understanding gained through experience or study. Wisdom is defined as understanding of what is true, right, or lasting. Sylvia Boorstein, in her book Pay Attention for Goodness Sake, writes, “To develop Wisdom, it doesn’t matter what mind state is present. It only matters that you know what is present (page 108).”
In ancient times Wisdom was an attribute of the feminine and was represented by Sophia. “Sophia, the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Hochmah” is the feminine personification of Wisdom in the Pentateuch. She is neither a goddess nor a new age creation of feminist theologians. She was a real biblical person with more material on her in the OT (with Apocrypha) than anyone in the scriptures, except God, Job, Moses and David.”1 The great and powerful Solomon when he prayed for Wisdom knew that it came from Sophia.
Each of us has the Wisdom of Sophia right within us at every moment throughout eternity. That is why when the dictionary defines Wisdom it does not indicate where you acquired the understanding of what is true, right, or lasting. Wisdom is there for each of us if we just open our minds to that Divine Idea. When my students would be studying for a big test I would always tell them that if all else failed the pencil had the answer. They would laugh and some of them would think I had lost my mind. And they may have been right: Lost it in the mind of Sophia.
“She is the ‘woman clothed with the sun,’ who brings the blazing light of knowledge. Sophia is the embodiment of all wisdom, and it is she who urges us to know, to understand. She leads the willing soul out of ignorance and blesses those who study and endeavor to know her. In the words of Solomon: ‘I prayed and understanding was given me: I called upon God and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I loved Her above health and beauty, and chose to have Her instead of light, for the light that cometh from Her never goeth out.’ Sophia is the deepest part of ourselves–that part can grasp in an instant the mysteries of the ages.”2
There is truth in that statement about the pencil. For Sophia lives in each of us regardless of whether we have the body of a male or a female. “Behold that I have not laboured for myself only, but for all them that seek Wisdom.” She holds all people sacred and will give her Wisdom to anyone who calls upon her. The Buddha lived this life that Sophia talked about each and every day. He may not have called upon Sophia when he was sitting under the Bodhi tree seeking and finding Wisdom of the universe right within him and within everything: the stars, the sun, the moon, the universe all that is, but he found her nonetheless.
Wisdom is greater than knowledge or intellect because Wisdom comes from something well beyond knowledge or humanity, you can name it something or nothing. Giving it a name does not lesson the power of Wisdom in the universe or in us. But we so often overlook it. Throughout time philosophers have tried to understand the nature of Wisdom and how to achieve it. They saw Wisdom in the people around them even before books, Bibles, the Sutras, the internet, and talk radio! How could that be? Because the Wisdom is not in the pencil, the ink, or the person, Wisdom moves through us as it does through all living things. Look for Wisdom in nature, be observant, and be conscious when you walk, drive, eat, work, dance and sing. It is everywhere! We can tap into it at any time. We have been told, seek and you shall find. The Buddha did and so can you!
If you take the time today to stop and ask for Wisdom in each and every situation that you are dealing with, then sit in the silence for as long as you can and simply listen–your answers will appear. It is said that Thomas Edison would take a coin and place it in his hand, he would then lay down on a bench in his laboratory and think about the problem or the question. He would take a nap, and when the coin fell to the ground it would wake him up. Then he would reach for his pencil and write down whatever thoughts were there. It was invariably the answer to his problem. If Thomas Edison could us this technique so can you.
Meditate on Wisdom today and every day this week. Take the time to be like Thomas Edison when you have a problem at work or at home. Listen for the still small voice within you and then write its message down, then follow through with the ideas that have been given to you. Let me know what Wisdom you discovered!