Resurrecting Talk of Wisdom

By Paul Dunion | July 26, 2021


Like a broken-down vehicle sequestered to a junkyard neither destined for repair nor recycling, conversations about wisdom appear to be consigned to oblivion. What happened to one of the most esteemed aspects of the human condition? Did we decide that it’s just too much to aspire to? Did we decide that knowledge is enough? We don’t appear to have given up on other tough topics like love and freedom. Is there something essentially frightening about wisdom?

If there is something unnerving about talk of wisdom, then it might be that it requires the courage and the honesty to be clear about the nature of life. It appears that wisdom can be seen as a deepened understanding of how to live and who it is that is doing the living. I find it curious that so much of our education would likely not address those two focuses, and yet, this is the material worth revisiting for a lifetime.

As it is participating in any game, if you want to play, then you need to understand the rules and adhere by them. So, it is with life. If you don’t know the rules of life, then it becomes difficult to play. Even if you do know the rules, you also need to be willing to learn how to comply with them, since they tend to be somewhat more complicated than a game of Checkers. When we don’t follow the rules, we run the risk of acting out in ways that are self-sabotaging. It becomes easy to wonder why our best efforts are not yielding desired results. Life can become excessively laborious when we are confused about what is in our control and what isn’t. Let’s look at what some of the life-rules look like.

Rule # 1 – Come to acknowledge that life is essentially mysterious, insecure, and unpredictable. This can be challenging when our institutions indoctrinate us to believe that life will be comprehendible, secure, and predictable if we have the right education, the right job, live in the right neighborhood with the right spouse, have the right financial investments and practice the right religion. This packaging of life is an illusion. It can only possibly make the journey somewhat more comfortable but not less mysterious or more secure.

Rule # 2 – Come to accept that fate whose old definition is “the will of the gods” can be viewed as people, places, and events mostly out of your control.

Rule # 3 – Come to effective at identifying what is in your control and what is not, and willing to act with the former and letting go of the later.

Rule # 4 – Come to accept your limits which are guaranteed due to the immensity of fate. Appreciating that such acceptance will yield a measure of humility.

Rule # 5 – Come to identify your desire as an authentic way to participate as fate issues its invitations and challenges, and to be willing whenever possible, to do nothing alone, and finding strength in being accompanied by others.

Rule # 6 – Come to remain curious about your essential nature as well as the anatomy of the human condition. In this way, you can remain an apprentice to the unknown. (See more in my book “Wisdom – Apprenticing to the Unknown & Befriending Fate”.)

Rule # 7 – Come to access compassion for all that you access about yourself and the human condition.

Rule # 8 – Come to pay attention to what is asking for healing within you, starting with your fear of being overwhelmed by life and your fear of abandonment. See your wounds and healing as large statements about being human, rather than a statement about your unique journey. Healing will provide you with more permission to be yourself and more of an ability to make peace with life.

Rule # 9 – Come to know your gifts, your strengths, and the development they are asking for. They will point you toward where you belong and possibly whom you may serve.

Rule # 10 – Come to know and accept the fool within, for it is the part of you willing to risk and willing to act without having all the necessary information. Mistakes will be the compost where the seeds of wisdom might flourish.

These rules constitute some understanding about the game of life and what it means to participate, allowing our involvement to generate more conversations about wisdom. These rules guarantee nothing but invite us to get closer to ourselves while we engage the immensity of life’s mystery, and ultimately coming to know that it was a life well lived.

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