With age comes wisdom, so the saying goes, but the passage of time alone does not guarantee that one will also become wise. I often ask in classrooms, how students perceive an intellectual person and a wise person. The words associated with wisdom are commonly; calm, patient, insightful, humble, joyful, peaceful and innocent. Although certainly not mutually exculsive, the strictly intellectual generally brings a feeling of egoism and proprietary attachment to what they know, while the wise often have no desire to take credit for their knowledge and wisdom. In fact, to become wise is a process of reliquishing long held beliefs while being open to deeper and more profound understanding.
While intellect expands through analysis, memorization, and rational thinking, consciousness expands through contemplation. Intellect looks for solutions from known factors often coming up with brilliant discoveries and mathematical formulas that prove what is already evident. Contemplation is a process of allowing truth to be revealed directly to consciousness. Einstein’s genius was a unique combination of mastering contemplation and possessing massive intellectual capacities. He could “dream” what it would feel like to ride a light beam and mathematically compute that, at light speed, time would slow down and space would collapse!
Consciousness becomes what it contemplates. The process is not to strive or over effort, but to become calm and slow down the random image making energy of the mind (Yogas Chitta Vrtti Nirodha). There are many techniques in yoga to develop this skill. The calm mind can then focus on what it desires to know or become. When we look with the mind’s eye in calmness and clarity, the Truth is revealed regarding the object contemplated or about the correct course of action to take. When actions derive from wisdom they can prevent much suffering and wasted effort. There is a story of some monks in a particular order who were pressing for an upgrade to the organization’s computer hardware as their current equipment was sorely out of date. Everytime they took the propsal to their superior, she would meditate on it and say, “not yet”. This went on for 6 frustrating months for the monks until one day, she came to them and said, “its time to purchase the new equipment.” It so happened that that was the day of the unveiling of high speed internet! Had they not waited, there would have been wasted time and expense, since they most certainly would have had to upgrade again.
BKS Iyengar states that, “this illuminating (truth-bearing) knowledge is free from doubts”. And Patanjali says, “ A new life begins with this truth-bearing state”. A new life of seeing and feeling our kindred nature with all of life expands the desire to serve that life in all.