WISDOM FOR ALL TIMES, WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES
This is a bimonthly newsletter promoting wisdom within our culture.
This newsletter is presented by Geoff Woods, Certified Life Coach and Founder of
The Institute of Wisdom and Courage.
Welcome once again to WISDOM FOR ALL TIMES, WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES. As the founder of the Institute of Wisdom and Courage and a Certified Life Coach, I hope you enjoy reading and interacting with the ideas expressed in this my fourth bi-monthly newsletter.
In my past two newsletters, we discussed the following eight characteristics of wisdom, specifically intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, and unpolluted. The discussion involved briefly defining these characteristics to offer us an opportunity to consider a fuller understanding of them. This discussion has been valuable because it has attempted to give a foundation for identifying what wisdom is and what wisdom is not.
IÕd like to begin this latest newsletter with a discussion on a new idea. In my last newsletter, I mentioned wisdom principles, and this is the idea IÕd like to discuss with you now. IÕm going to describe in more detail the definition and concept of a wisdom principle. I will also give an example of a wisdom principle that embodies some of the aforementioned characteristics. As we move forward in our discussion on wisdom, it will be important for us to begin to differentiate between principles that are wise and those that are not wise.
WebsterÕs New World Dictionarydefines a principle as a fundamental truth from which others are derived, and itÕs a truth that may be used in guiding oneÕs conduct or choices. In linking the idea of wisdom to the above definition of a principle, IÕve arrived at what I call a wisdom principle. A wisdom principle is a fundamental truth about human nature and behavior that challenges a personÕs belief system and when applied can change a personÕs conduct for the better. There can be a number of wisdom principles to consider, and yet IÕve identified one principle from which many other principles can be derived. This is what I define as a foundational wisdom principle.
From reading ideas in Leon KassÕs book The Beginning of Wisdom, I have created an example of a foundational wisdom principle which is:
Humans have a difficult time differentiating between good and evil, where evil may be seen as that which is bad or destructive. And that humans have difficulty making these kinds of important distinctions is a great source of unhappiness for humans.
At this point, I want to connect our previous discussions on characteristics of wisdom to wisdom principles. Consider this question: of the characteristics we have discussed so far, those being intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, and unpolluted, which of these does this foundational wisdom principle possess? Does it possess all of them or just some of them?
Might it contain intelligence and subtlety? Remember, intelligence is the ability to make sound judgments and to see and make fine distinctions, and subtlety deals with the process of discernment. As I contemplate this principle, I see it asks those who believe in it to make distinctions between what is good and what is bad. It calls for a discerning process where the outcome is to make sound, wise judgments based upon that which is good.
May the same foundational wisdom principal also contain the qualities of mobility, holiness, being unpolluted, and clarity? Mobility is movement towards something. For those who choose to live by this principle, it will lead them towards what is good and/or holy. It will guide them toward a clear mind that can distinguish between what is good and bad, and, therefore, toward a life that is filled with unpolluted behavior.
What I am striving to do is to explain that a foundational wisdom principle embodies or possesses those same qualities that we have found in wisdom itself. However the foundational wisdom principle becomes more than just a nice thought about wisdom. The principle actually provides us with a foundation or a base from which we can launch other wisdom principles, and by which we can soundly judge our actions in life. I realize that this can be challenging, yet at this point, what are your thoughts?
Take a moment and write down one or perhaps two of your own foundational wisdom principle(s), and include with it, the wisdom characteristics it possesses. If you choose, please share it with me by e-mail. I am very interested in your own ideas, and I look forward to reading them. In my next newsletter, I will return to discussing the following characteristics of wisdom: loving the good, invulnerable, distinct, and keen.
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Founder of The Institute of Wisdom and Courage and Certified Life Coach