What is wisdom if not the simple act of making a good decision?
It is a concept so basic it risks being viewed as obvious and mundane, yet little could be farther from the truth. I would offer that there are numerous paths to making good decisions consistently; I share one with you here.
The foundation of wisdom lies in honesty, first to oneself, then to others. Self-honesty, the opposite of self-delusion, is both an uplifting and painful experience, but without it nothing can be trusted or known for the lens through which all is processed is the mind, and if the mind deludes itself then everything is likely to be clouded or false.
The quest for self-honesty is in many ways the quest for enlightenment of many spiritual practices: to know oneself wholly is to know all of existence, or to know God if you prefer. Within the realm of wisdom, honesty is not a goal but a prerequisite for application in the decisions of life. Honesty yields perspective, or more accurately multiple perspectives. Once personal ego, cultural indoctrination and genetic imprinting are brought to light within oneself, one can work towards not having these deep seated influences dictate one’s decisions. From this place it quickly becomes apparent that nothing can be viewed from only one vantage point.
Moreover, the more honest one gets with oneself, the more perspectives one can see simultaneously on virtually everything one can experience or think of. It is this multi-faceted prism of perspective that allows us, on a basic level, to see goodness in evil, blessing in tragedy, life in death, or the opposite: negativity in positivity. (A most obvious example of this is comparing a culture within which death is treated as a natural part of life and is celebrated, versus one within which death is a tragedy filled with sorrow.) To my eyes, most of the problems currently associated with humans, including sociological, religious and environmental, are a direct result of our incapacity to see the vast arrays of perspective as opposed to adhering to a rigid structure of perspective and belief.
Born out of the ability to see multiple perspectives is clarity. If you view a 3-dimensional object from one perspective only (ie. from a static position), you may think you know what the object is but this is obviously untrue for only as you move around the object and explore its insides and outsides do you know what it truly is. In the same way, only when you view the world, on the micro or macro scale, from multiple perspectives, can you attain a clarity of vision and understanding. Clarity, simply put, is the ability to hold multiple perspectives simultaneously and view something honestly.
Clarity is the direct precursor to capacity. Capacity is one’s ability to make a good decision. Until one sees clearly, how can one have the capacity to make good decisions? If you did not see the ground in front of you clearly, would you have the capacity to walk well? This holds true from the most basic decisions (left foot, right foot) to the most complex. Capacity is, in many ways, what we strive for most in life: the capacity to love, the capacity to be successful, the capacity to experience happiness. All of these large goals are not, in fact, single large goals, but rather the result of the countless smaller decisions we make constantly. It is our capacity to make good decisions on an ongoing basis that yield such lofty ambitions as happiness.
Once we have the capacity to make a good decision, we require two final, tangential skills: critical thought and emotional intuition. Through critical thinking we decide how to use our capacity based on logic and an honest examination of past experience; through emotional intuition we learn to trust our advanced (non-primal) instincts and our body-mind in ways that transcend logic. When used in tandem, these two skills allow us to use our capacity both effectively and conscientiously. This application of capacity yields a wise decision; the frequent application is wisdom.
Amongst ripe blossoms, Bees bring life with each motion, Can you hear their wings?
Mike King enjoys contributing to and drinking from the cycles of inspiration, growth and happiness.