Bird Droppings September 27, 2010
Is wisdom contagious?
I was reading in a friend’s blog about the Harry Potter series. She was addressing religious beliefs in her blog and how so many adhere verbatim to holy texts. As I read her blog which is rather good the ending was rather interesting.
“That doesn’t mean I’m waiting for my letter from Hogwarts to arrive by owl post any time soon… well, not really… looks out window for owl.” Blue Collar Momma, http://bluecollarmamma.wordpress.com
How we delineate which texts become holy is often a human contrivance. It might be that Harry Potter books in another thousand years will be considered gospel. I added a comment to her note on facebook yesterday something to the effect as I pulled out from my house yesterday morning a red tailed hawk was sitting on the power line beside me watching me leave. As I left it flew away. On my wall to my immediate left is a red tailed hawk feather that I found nearly ten years ago. I often wonder as to how we formulate and postulate our understandings of our surroundings. In Native American thought the great mystery often referred to as Wakan-Taka is that aspect we can not clearly define.
“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.” Pierre Abelard
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux
“He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.” Tryon Edwards
I think there is a bit of wisdom in all of us yet we often tend to put aside for ease of thinking. We follow others unquestioning and do as they do because it is so easy to not think. I watch the news of another mega church pastor who is being sued in civil court over some possible indiscretions. This is a man who lives in opulence all built on his twenty five thousand member church preaching the word. We fall in line sadly in a world behind politicians who speak the best or offer the biggest possibility of promises that of course will be never kept.
“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.” Dietrich Bonheoffer
I wonder if some of these wealthy pastors would continue their preaching in a manner consistent with Bonheoffer, one of the few Christians to die in Germany’s concentration camps. He died doing what he believed preaching against the Nazi regime and protecting Jews as the Nazi came looking for them. He is considered a great theologian and philosopher and he lived as he preached. As I read this passage how easy we get swept up in knowledge and perhaps lose the significance.
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” Plato
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz
“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles
Far too often we garble the message with too many words. Plato had it right there are many who talk simply to hear themselves talk. I often talk about how questions from four year olds are some of the best because they have not been subjected yet to others opinions and scrutiny. Children are silenced when we tell them they are wrong before they even ask the question. It does take failure to learn and to gain wisdom. Smiles points out what Edison would allude to in his quest for a light bulb in that he found ten thousands bulbs that did not work and one that did. I have not read as much of Gibran as I wish I had and am working on that.
“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran
“A prudent question is one half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon
“Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.” Buddha
There is clarity in youth that muddles as we grow older. I see little children as containing wisdom only to lose it through interaction in society and then to slowly regain as they grow older and go through the process of being human. Some may retain pieces of that wisdom and not take as long to return back too that childlikeness. It is a circle much like the circle of life.
“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy…but anywhere is the center of the world.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux
I have been reading and seeking to understand Black Elk for nearly forty years and each year I am able to know and understand more. Perhaps it is wisdom or errors along the way that led me back to the understanding of his words. Black Elk was a holy man who worked into his eighties in or around the reservation harvesting crops for farmers in the area. He was not gaudy or opulent in his life but humble with the power and understanding that he had. He was respected for his knowledge and wisdom and perhaps is a good point to stop today. I hope one day I will not have to end as I have for so long now. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.