World shaping

Morning of February 11, 2019

Lots of great stuff last week in Maria Popova’s On Being interview but a particular section especially resonated with me.

I wonder a lot about the universal nature of wisdom. My current position is that not only is wisdom not universal but it’s actually specifically personal. Something can only be wise if it resonates with one’s self. It’s no use someone recounting some wise words they heard if those words don’t resonate with my experience. The degree to which they resonate with me determines the greatness of their wisdom.

Some things may always have the ring of wisdom about them. “Believe in yourself”, for example, is easily swallowed. But the specifics of what that statement can actually mean are deeply personal to every person.

Wisdom also resonates or doesn’t resonate depending on time. We are not always ready for wisdom and conversely some wisdom comes too late. Some wisdom we can use, other wisdom we can pin on our wall as a trophy to past experiential victories.

As I listened to Maria Popova, I thought more about wisdom and how present the ego is both in the generation and understanding of wisdom. There is some large degree of ego in making statements about anything. And wisdom requires an ego to resonate with in order to be felt as wisdom.

Even as a sage, wise mind may call for quiet, they do so with ego and add their voices to the raised din. Can one call for nothing and go about one’s life in the world without ego or need for wisdom?

Anyway, over to Maria Popova.

We never see the world exactly as it is because we are how the world is.

Maria Popova

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind”

William James, quoted by MP.

We shape our world – our inner world, our outer world – which is really the only one we’ll ever know and to me that’s the substance of the spiritual journey. And that’s not an exasperating idea but an infinitely emboldening one.

Maria Popova