~ The Wisdom of the Ages ~ ID 3006 June 01, 2008 ~ Chapter 11 ~ Oh 1 Digital Press
Wikipedia, our online encyclopedia states that wisdom is having gained knowledge, understanding, experience, discretion, and intuition, along with a capacity to apply these qualities well. It is the judicious application of knowledge. To some extent the terms wisdom and intelligence have similar and overlapping meanings. The status of wisdom or prudence as a virtue is recognized in cultural, philosophical and religious sources. There is a picture of the personification of wisdom in the Greek statue of Sophia in Turkey. It’s funny that a world society that is so insecure about it’s deities being male such as male God-figures should leave this most important virtue to a female, and especially funny when you just automatically think of some old guy as being wise. Women are no doubt the wisest among us, in that they are not the ones who begin all the strife and violence, rather they are the nurturers and the healers. "The nurturing hand holds not the sword." NS
Funny too, now that I think of it, that my own father was not the one that I received my real training from. In school at an early age if I wished to know how a word was pronounced or how it was used I would just listen to my Mothers’ voice in my head and problem solved. She taught me things like aeronautics at an early age by providing an opportunity for myself and my brother to build kits of balsa flying models from her hobby store in Westfort, Thunder Bay. By the age of nine I was teaching small classes in the store of one or two students the use of the tools and construction procedures associated with this hobby. We attended the local fairgrounds on an annual basis and demonstrated hobbies and crafts and I eventually learned the art of ceramics and mold making which I practice today. Having left home at the age of 23 until I was about 40, I returned for the last ten years of my Mother’s life and we continued our practice of crafts and art. She was an oil painter and fascinated with natural beauty and floral’s and had begun the local art club here primarily dedicated to oil, acrylic and pastel artists but included sculptors such as myself. Our discussions throughout my life with her were about political and social events and predominantly moral issues so the statue of Sophia to me could well be Ruby E Owen and I have no doubt why Wisdom is represented as female. In later years just as I was approaching the age of 65 and long after my Mother had passed on, my Daughters were the only ones to give my the practical assistance that I truly needed to keep my household together. My Sons helped out in their own way but it was the Girls that really did what had to be done by making sure that the old boy had food and the taxes and hydro were paid. Wisdom can be such a basic thing.
Coincidentally Wikipedia goes on to mention Erik Erikson who states "from approximately 65 years to death, individuals must resolve a psychological conflict between integrity and despair and attaining wisdom is a favorable resolution and product of this conflict." That however is not what drives this discovery for me.
Understanding is primarily what I set out to obtain, not wisdom and I began this quest about the age of 20 after finding out on my own that religion was not the answer and began to pull away from the church. The religious institution that I was connected with intended to teach me the meaning of life but on the obvious issues of sex and alcohol could only offer abstinence and in the early 60’s this was certainly not the answer to the social pressures that I was feeling. I wanted to experience life not abstain from it so I got up on top of the garage roof late one night and spoke to God. I said if he exists then he should show himself and I symbolically spread my arms and raised my head to the heavens. I said "Otherwise I will continue my life as I chose and look where I may for the meaning of life so strike me dead now or forever free me from this unfounded belief." and He immediately struck me dead.
The whole affair wasn’t that dramatic but it meant a lot to me. Obviously there was no response, no sign, no nothing but there was a small feeling that I could go about my business without this fear of God. At that time I had just recently graduated from High school and decided that the so called learning institutions held no answers for me either so I wasn’t about to waste my time getting a degree in anything and felt that the world and all it’s secrets could be discovered by simply living and self study. By 23 or 24 I had discovered that the only thing that really mattered in the world was money and that you had to play the game and cheat if you wanted to prosper. Looking at my history some would say that shortly after I had gotten married and moved to Manitoba I became addicted to drugs but that is just not true. I had become distrustful of the information I was getting from mainstream society and there was little magic in my life. My two girls Misty and Tara were the real source of all my happiness and being saddled with the altruistic habit of honesty from my Father I always struggled to make a living since I was without the capacity to lie for the sake of profit. One day my life changed in a most fantastic way.
I lived in the suburbs, had a small business making planters and two employees Dorion Osakowski (nose) and his girlfriend and was completely straight, up until the days that followed. On my way to work I noticed there was a great number of plastic bags stuck in the holes of the wire fencing around the public school just a block from my house. I got to work and asked my hippy employees, Nose (because of his prodigious honker) and his leotard clad girlfriend (whom I do not recall her name) what these bags were doing there since they obviously seemed to be tucked in the holes of the wire purposely and not just a product of wind. I was informed that the kids used them for huffing glue and solvents and as a parent I was outraged and had to get to the bottom of this problem for the sake of my own children that were one and three years and would soon be attending this very school. The library had little information on drug addiction and relied heavily on scare tactics and outrageous claims of instant insanity and immanent death should one become addicted to the evils of weed. Nose and girlfriend used the stuff regularly and I was fully aware of this and the only real effect that it seemed to have on them was to make them acutely aware of the real traits of humanity and nature and give them a loving edge not found in straight citizens. Days later I asked them to bring some hashish to work and begin my initiation into this world of theirs. I wanted to know how I was going to protect my children from the evils of drugs and was determined to find out first hand to avoid misinformation.
Needless to say my life changed from that point forward. There was now magic in everything and it could easily be felt. The silly money game we play each day and every day now seemed to be what it really was, some kind of manufactured dilemma that had no real connection to what life was about. Drugs could be considered bad if you let them take over your life but the establishments’ idea of keeping away from them so you could keep a clear head and make certain people rich was painfully obvious. I became a hippy. I moved the family to British Columbia and continued with the fiberglass trade but my real quest and passion was understanding the universe and all that made it real and BC was the perfect place to do this.
Wisdom throughout the ages has been the product of religious leaders and also philosophers but the prominence of religion has colored almost all thought even to the point that it was heresy until just recently to even think. Many major philosophers were forced to include a common view of God within their pronouncements and that simple bit of dogmatism has prevented many from discovering any real truths. Today you would think that a common University would invite the simple unfettered truth to be studied but that just isn’t the case because it’s illegal to study freely anywhere in the world. LSD (lysergic acid dithalidomide) is probably the best example of something that would be highly involved in the study of wisdom or at least intelligence. Mushrooms (magic mushrooms like cylisybin), Marijuana (cannabis sativa) and Peyote (mescaline) are good examples that relate to heightened consciousness and obviously should be added to any curriculum. So the simple study of things that lead to wisdom has never been allowed in the mainstream either because you could be beheaded or burned at the stake for writing things against the status quo or in modern times jailed because you had a banned substance.
Mythologically wisdom was always hard to come by. In Norse mythology the god Odin is especially known for his wisdom, often acquired through various hardships and ordeals involving pain and self-sacrifice. In one instance he plucked out an eye and offered it to Mímir, guardian of the well of knowledge and wisdom, in return for a drink from the well. In another famous account, Odin hanged himself for nine nights from Yggdrasil, the World Tree that unites all the realms of existence, suffering from hunger and thirst and finally wounding himself with a spear until he gained the knowledge of runes for use in casting powerful magic. He was also able to acquire the mead of poetry from the giants, a drink of which could grant the power of a scholar or poet, for the benefit of gods and mortals alike.
Western religion generally equates the fear of God to wisdom and says so a number of times in Scripture but this is patently fearmongering to gain adherents and really is a misuse of the word wisdom. Eastern religions, on the other hand are more on the mark. Confucius stated that wisdom can be learned by three methods: Reflection (the noblest), imitation (the easiest) and experience (the bitterest). According to `Doctrine of the Mean,’ Confucius also said, "Love of learning is akin to wisdom. To practice with vigor is akin to humanity. To know to be shameful is akin to courage (zhi,ren,yi.. three of Mengzi’s sprouts of virtue)." Compare this with the beginning of the Confucian classic `Great Learning’ which begins with "The Way of learning to be great consists in manifesting the clear character, loving the people, and abiding in the highest good" one can clearly see the correlation with the Roman virtue `prudence,’ especially if one transliterates clear character as clear conscience. (Quotes from Chan’s Sources of Chinese Philosophy) But again this is more toward the area of high moral wisdom than real wisdom.
Real wisdom would be more like being able to answer a child’s question "Daddy where did we come from?" meaning what caused us and not physically `where’ did we come from. The first part of this wisdom is actually understanding what the real question is. In real terms we did not come from anywhere because we are unable to move but that really isn’t what the child is asking and true wisdom involves this simple step. Secondly wisdom would require one to be able to actually give the child the feeling that the question had been answered once and for all and that she could understand it (I say she because I had daughters first). "Well Sweetheart we don’t really know where we came from." would be a good way to begin the answer because the basic tenet of true wisdom is "I don’t know" and for myself this is my mantra said twice or thrice. Beyond that we should give the child some kind of answer rather than responding with just another question. "We think, Sweetheart, that we have always been here and really aren’t made of anything just dreams and thoughts." Now that would probably be the very last answer that most parents would give their children but a tree hugging hippy.. well..
Socrates (470bc to 399 bc) was a classical Greek philosopher considered one of the founders of Western philosophy. He strongly influenced Plato who was his student and Aristotle whom Plato taught. (common quote from the web) If you study Socrates you will find it quite difficult to see why he is considered an influence at all because he never committed anything to text. There are no writings by Socrates and many of the philosophers that wrote about his so called teachings refer to Plato and the things he taught. Together with Aristotle, Plato wrote what we, today, would call `fiction’ and Socrates may well have only been one of his fictional characters but this is unknown. Also unknown is Socrates stand on `Idealism’ which is what I wanted to know but only managed to find out that he was reputed to believe that "We can actually know nothing and should not pretend to be wise."
Trying to chase down the origins of `Idealism’ is very difficult considering that you are mostly faced with translations by other philosophers into another language and they have added their two cents or slant on things and this is an example of what you get: "The German Neo-Kantian scholar, Paul Natorp, argued in his Plato’s Theory of Ideas. An Introduction to Idealism (first published in 1903) that Plato was a non-subjective, `transcendental’ idealist, somewhat like Kant, and Natorp’s thesis has received support from some recent scholars." Well that’s a mouthful and then you would have to go an find out what the heck `transcendental’ meant in those days. Plus you would have to know that Neo-Kantian meant the `new’ take on Immanuel Kant’s work written in German and not actually anything written by Kant but opinions of others that followed. So this tells me that Plato’s `Idealism’ was not true idealism but some qualified version that would not make any sense to anyone if you actually tried to study it because in the first place it’s non-subjective which idealism cannot be. These are the problems with trying to go back and study the great books of so-called wisdom or learning because they contain theories that are not complete, misinterpreted, influenced by status quo, limited by dogma and just plain wishful thinking. A theory of life and reality would not be that difficult to understand if it made any sense at all and if it were complete and answered all the questions it would not even be a theory. It would be the truth.
George Berkeley (1685 to 1753) an Irish philosopher also known as Bishop Berkeley most famous for `Immaterialism’ later referred to as `Subjective Idealism’ or `Phenomenalism’ by others is right on the mark of all the known writers and although there have been many others that have spoken about it and touched upon it, he is a prime example of accurate thinking in this area. He did, however, suffer from one slight malady in his work since he was a Bishop and believer in God, he related the thought that we have of existence to a thought that was in the mind of God and didn’t realize that we were that very God. As mentioned there were others such as Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) a philosopher that was quite influential in the 60’s and at one point realized and espoused pure `Idealism’ calling it `metaphysical realism’ but eventually abandoned the idea and proposed others much unlike this. The study of these philosophers is also made difficult by the mere fact that most (almost all) philosophers and writers espoused the simple qualities of theoretical materialism and would poo poo anything else even though they were supposed to be writing an accurate critique or translation. Many of those that wrote of true `Idealism’ were lost because of this chicanery and misrepresented or had their works deliberately confused. I see this all the time in the writing of so-called `Realists’ that they make excuses for the error of those they criticize as if their propositions were proved, somewhat similar to what I’m doing right now.
We have come to the `End of all knowledge’ when we realize that there is no process other than thought and even memory is an illusion. I call it Figmentalism because the term Idealism is overused, has been subverted, has two meanings and is generally passé. Advaita Vedanta; if it can be called a religion is most accurate in this but I am still unable to verify the view of God within this belief. Solipsism is the most accurate of all and cannot be questioned but limits all of reality to my thoughts alone.. or yours (that’s a joke if you can get it). Figmentalism is much more inclusive than either Idealism or Solipsism in that we all share in our own creation, together with the living mass of nature. That view is benevolent, caring and not as sceptical as Solipsism but also represents the only theoretical weakness within Figmentalism. These are the truths of what we know now and may be debated ad infinitum but never overturned. I kid you not.
Chapter Twelve Chapter Twelve Plain
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