What is “wisdom”?
There is a simple definition – without any attribution, I think that wisdom is one’s ability to reach intelligent conclusions on any problem statement, with a combination of judgement, insight, experience and knowledge that one has accumulated over the years. Of course, there should be ample common sense, a keen understanding of the issues on hand, an analytical mind, et al.
However, wisdom is not just knowledge only. Neither is it just experience. And, I don’t believe that wisdom accrues based on age – meaning it is not necessarily true that wisdom is directly proportional to just age. The older one is, the wiser he becomes – this is not true, while it may be true in exceptional individuals who combine other factors to become a sort of sage with head filled with abundant wisdom.
It is also not true that young people are waiting to gain wisdom. There have been thousands of stories of young individuals who are far wiser for their age, and have even built companies at a rather tender age, and running their business with financial and technical acumen, not seen even in much older folks.
So, wisdom has a qualitative edge to it which is sometimes inherent in the individual. Experience does add significant value to people, and helps to generate an insight into problem resolution. Knowledge is important, but much less important than experience and judgement. We find older folks (like me for instance) are more judgemental (not a good thing), more critical (not a bad thing), and less wise when it comes to seeing new things in a new light, or even existing things in a new light. Being judgemental is not a good thing, but having a good judgement is a good thing. Hope you understand the difference. Being negative does not add to one’s wisdom either. We can be critical, but cannot be negative.
Increasingly, we find that young folks between the ages of 10 and 30 are playing in the world with wisdom that did not exist in us when we were their age. So, we need to understand that the context, ecosystem, and social development have progressed in an exponential manner just in the last two decades, which has produced wisdom in many young people.
Why did this not increase wisdom in the older people?
Interesting question. My answer may not satisfy the older folks, however.
As we age, we set our minds on things which we believe are unchangeable. What are these things? Integrity, Honesty, Affection, Commitment, Focus, Dedication, Determination, Achievement-orientation, and a lot of ego. We think and believe that in essence, we are innately good people, and we can do nothing wrong. At least, nothing wrong that could affect other people. Nothing wrong in the moral, spiritual, religious, or intellectual spheres.
In other words, we get fixated on things which are important and critical to us.
We also do not update ourselves to stay in sync with the fast evolving human ecosystem, and we dismiss most of it as not relevant to achieving what we had achieved in our working lives. We continue to live in our own space, not really accepting what our children are doing while they are growing up. This means that mentally and intellectually, we stay disconnected, though we yearn for a complete sync.
It does not take more than 30 seconds to put your right hand on your heart and feel if what I am saying is true or complete hogwash.
I truly believe that though I have kept myself technologically updated, in my mind I am still the same old guy from wherever I came from. Nothing much has changed in my mind, though I do certain things not compatible with my heritage like eating non-vegetarian foods and sending ugly WhatsApp messages, etc., We all have to make an inventory of things that have changed in ourselves from the time we started going to primary school.
When I am still the same old guy, how am I going to change myself? Can I ever change? Can I challenge myself? What should I do to generate “new” wisdom in myself?
I have not finished. I am just at the ground floor of this rather interesting and challenging topic. This blog post came about because I met one of my mentors (who really thinks I am a rebel in most things I do) this evening, and he suggested that I should start analyzing the subject of wisdom vs. age……….that set me thinking.
Wine has been banned at home for some 10 days, so my brain is a bit challenged to think more at the end of my Saturday. However, don’t you guys think this is a good and relevant topic for all of us?
Let us exchange notes and discuss.
Have a great weekend.
23rd September 2017
This blog post is one of my self-help advice posts, which I sometimes write out after significant experimentation with myself. May not work for all, but I believe that it is important and critical to share one’s own experiences, positive or negative, in trying to shape one’s life. Simply because the sharing will potentially help someone with positive benefits of positive experiences, or dissuade one from pursuing similar tactics if the experiences related are negative.
Well, I hear some grunt nearby – can’t I write simpler English please and why do I have to resort to compound sentences to convey something which could easily have been explained in simpler terms?
Well, my dear, you know what, I relish in writing such complex and complicated English precisely because it allows me to torture my readers. Why do you read the same?
Just ignore the above two paragraphs!
Now how do we get control of ourselves?
What are the mechanisms that we can follow?
Or, indeed can we ever get control of our thoughts or even actions?
Difficult questions, I agree.
But then, as intellectually driven species with our infinite capacity to think, there is always a different way to look at anything – any complex matter, with an understanding which could vastly differ from traditional views or understanding.
Do you agree? You may or may not.
However, I believe that any big learning comes from looking inside oneself. Of course, some part of our learning comes from external sources, for sure. But, if we do not learn from our behaviour and our mistakes, then that would be the biggest mistake that we can commit in our life. It is all right to read philosophical books and listen to the occasional books on how to lead your lives in a more productive yet peaceful manner. There are any number of mythological, parental, spiritual and friendly influences in our lives that demonstrate how to plan and lead our lives on this planet. And, of course, there are examples of friends who are apparently leading successful yet controlled lives, are they not?
So, what is my prescription to the apparent lack of control most of us experience in our lives all the time? There is this seeming lack of a solid grasp when things happen to you without any forewarning, the tendency to blame oneself for what are not controllable factors, the feeling that everything is slipping away………….
What does one do?
Well, first it is critical to gain focus on yourself – who are you, what have you accomplished in life, what are the things that are yet to be done, who are the people very close to you, what are the things in life that you hold dear to you, and most importantly, what are you doing at this moment. Are you creating or adding value, or are you frittering away preciosu time that we all have before we realize there is no further time available? Are people around you feeling the strongly positive impact of your presence and advice? Are you proactively seeking out and helping people around you? Have you given at least one hour of your time, on a weekly basis, to help disadvantaged or poor people? Look at yourself, look at what you are doing, imagine what better things you can do in this life, and think while keeping your eyes completely closed. If you find it difficult to gain focus, I would suggest that you first try a breathing exercise, focus on your own breath while keeping your eyes closed. Inhale to four counts, hold the breath and slowly exhale to the same number of counts. I am not a yoga teacher, so you would have to figure out how to control your breath and focus on it. Once you gain some focus traction, use that ability to think of things which I explained earlier in this paragraph in a calm environment. Make a list of things you can do, which you haven’t yet accomplished.
It is not that difficult if you think about it. Just give it a honest try.
I can assure you of the benefits of such hard thinking – you would discover a new “you”, who can deliver much more to this planet than has been the case thus far (bad English, I guess!!!).
You are now well on the way to “gaining” control of yourself. There is no self help book required. You are an intelligent human being, that’s all you should care about. You are able to focus and you are able to think. Then you are able to make a “to do” list and execute for your own benefit.
There will be a huge change in yourself, and your family members and friends will see that you are a “transformed” individual with a far greater potential than they imagined, or you yourself had imagined. Now, you are ready to unleash the potential that you have gnerated in yourself – for your benefit and for the benefit of this world. It is not difficult, it is not complex, it is not complicated, it is rather simple.
This is what I do. This is what I believe in. We do not need gurus or books. What we need is an attitude, an inclination, a propensity to rediscover oneself and do good for others.
Think about this message. Let me know if this does not work for you. I will be very surprised. Have a good week.
31st January 2017
More than anything else which matters, it has always intrigued mankind when it comes to a state of happiness – when is a man or woman truly happy? What makes one happy? How long that state of happiness lasts? What results from a state of happiness? Why are most people around you look morose or forlorn? Why are people not generally smiling?
We often read that the happiest people on earth is from one of its poorest countries – viz., Bhutan. How come Bhutanese are the happiest people on earth when they simply cannot afford many of the material possessions that we take for granted in the more developed countries? Is there any mystery to their happiness?
Well, it turns out that they live a peaceful, calm, and nice life in the Himalayas surrounded by some of the most gorgeous sceneries in the world – more than 60% of Bhutan is still in wilderness, untouched and amazingly beautiful. Bhutanese are Buddhists which means that their religion is a peaceful influence in their lives. Buddhism teaches them non-violence and peace – which the world lacks today almost everywhere else. Buddhists believe in performing good deeds in this life, so that they can be reborn in a better life. The Bhutan government actually measures its citizens’ GNH or Gross National Happiness index! They are so serious about ensuring happiness!!
Have you seen a country like that? We are surrounded by concrete everywhere we live, we face pollution, we have struggles and war, we have violence, we have countries at loggerheads, we have racial and colour issues around the world, we have religious issues all over the world, and what not. Is it a surprise at all that most people are unhappy, or the GNH is far lower than that of Bhutan?
While it is difficult to underestimate the influence of material possessions on most of us (why not get a BMW or Mercedes instead of Toyota or Nissan for example), it is critical to realize that people tend to be happier when they can have social cohesion, freedom of thought and expression, psychological and physical well-being, good quality of education for the children, non-violence, and good governance. There are many such factors which go into the measurement of GNH, not the least of which is how people feel about their overall quality of life. I think GNH is a very important measure for all of us to understand, imbibe and communicate. Contentment and being happy about what one has are important aspects towards achieving happiness in one’s mind.
Are we there yet?
Most of us are not. We are so mortally afraid of missing out something in our lives, of not being able to be around when our families need us, of death and misery, of war and violence, and what not. We must think of such fear every day, it keeps our head on our shoulders! But we cannot be subjugated by such fears. The world moves on without all of us anyway, so why be afraid? Participate in the happiness around you, or be the creator of happiness for folks around you. It is critical to be happy. It is very critical to ensure that people around you are happy. This would involve a lot of work if you think of it.
Spreading joy should become everyone’s mission instead of spreading unhappiness. Come to think of it, I realize that being joyful for even a minute about something as simple or as casual as my car looking swelte and clean after a car wash that I myself performed for more than 60 minutes with my hands, will lead to a positive state of mind over the next day or so. You can think of countless such examples. When you meet positive people, then you can see that things happen. Things work out. Everyone seems happy and positive.
This is not hogwash. This is real stuff. This is the way to become happy.
You will see that your life improves dramatically with positive and happy frame of mind. You will tend to be more successful. You will make others successful. Now you start to understand why Bhutanese people are happy, living, working and playing with each other in their tiny country without much separation from one another. They are in their lives together!
Don’t you think you should be happy? I can be your consultant!! Or you can visit Bhutan to learn firsthand!!!
21st August 2016
I have written previouly on how leading a purposeful life with clear goals will reduce stress and create a more meaningful life for you and a fruitful impact on others surrounding you.
Not sure which one of the over 1,200 blog posts cover this topic however !
I have long been looking for meaning in life. Is there a greater purpose to one’s life than just performing routine task-oriented demand-driven and interrupt-driven chores right through the day ? And, tomorrow and the day after ? Is the purpose of life to make money and lead a comfortable life ? Is it to ensure that your immediate and extended family is well taken care of – in some sort of way ? Is it to network and build equity with friends and business associates ? Can one find meaning in his/her own life within a reasonable period of time, instead of belabouring upon this topic till the end of one’s life ? Is there a way to discuss these matters with others and with one’s mentors and family and friends without being perceived as crazy ?
I am sure we all go through these kinds of situations in life. As we collect baggage living the life we are destined to live, our inertia increases. We are loath to make changes in our own lives, which are definitely possible if a purpose or meaning could be established for a serious change. But do we even have the courage to countenance such changes ? Are we in a position to visualize what purpose that we wish to go after ? What kind of troubles that our pursuit of meaning in life could bring upon us ? etc., etc.,
We have to think of course. Thinking is the gift that humans have received from a bigger force which creates order and maintains the same in this universe. If a bigger force exists, and if it could sustain the orderliness of this universe and, therefore this world, then that bigger force will provide human beings with the capability to run this world, and along with that capability, the ability to think. And when we do think about matters such as science or maths, our minds do get the clarity needed to solve the world’s problems.
But do we think about ourselves and our apparent inability to find a meaning in life ?
Life is tough with the kinds of problems that it throws on unsuspecting lives. It is hard to keep up with the pace of life. You solve one problem, another one pops up in a few minutes, and so on and so forth. In this non-stop life handling, we do miss the ability to decipher the code that exists in all of us.
What is that code ?
It is the cipher which if you could break it using your intellect and experience, will tell you what is the kind of life that you are destined to lead, what is your purpose in life, what are your goals, how are you going to be measured by the bigger force which controls this universe, and what kind of actions that you have to take in what time frame to be able to find the meaning of life and impact the lives of others.
Just think about it – the meaning of life is not in the Himalayas or in the Arctic Ocean. It is within you. It resides in you. It is waiting for your urgent discovery.
Only when you are able to calmly decode this cipher of your life, will you be in a position to appreciate your life with all its full purpose.
Every human being has a purpose in his/her life. He or she needs to discover it. And, do that quickly. I have taken a long time to discover what is my code. With all the technological marvels that increasingly surround us, I am afraid we will miss the boat of life’s meaning. Technology makes us interrupt-driven. It is essential for our lives, but it also disrupts our lives every six months. There is an urgent need to step away from the mayhem and think calmly about oneself. Find your code, and do that quickly. Do not wait, time is very precious in life as you all know.
Well, it is not magic. Look inside yourself first. Look at what you are doing in your life. Look at what others around you are doing. Look at the moral predicaments that the world puts itself in – one has just got to read the world news. Why is everyone killing each other ? Have they all lost their purpose in life ? Why is everyone so rushed ? What is happening ? Take a raincheck. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Stay in a trance-type condition for some 30 minutes. You will feel that your mind is going blanc and your blood pressure is dropping. You will rise and fall with your breath. You cool down. You exhale and come off the trance. Look at yourself. You will new and fresh. You can think more calmly, more intensely, more productively.
Well, find the code and find the meaning in life.
Each human being is precious. Each person has a purpose in life, whether he or she knows it or not.
Strange, isn’t it ?
Well, we will connect soon for more on this topic.
19th December 2015
I know a number of friends who have deep faith and follow highly spiritual philosophies in their daily lives.
I respect them and their commitment to faith. Their commitment to their faith is of the softer variety, and is very personal to each one of these individuals that I have known for many years. They do not carry their faith on their sleeves – there is no proclamation, no evangelizing, not much of a talk except for messages that they are planning to attend some related event.
I also respect folks who apparently do not profess any faith. Not that they do not have faith in anything, but they probably have faith in themselves.
There are many such individuals, who have come to “terms” with themselves, are in perfect sync with themselves, have been able to reconcile differences with society at large, and at the end of the day are in peace with themselves. They also do not harm others intentionally or even unintentionally.
In the first group of folks, there is a full sync with the immediate and extended families and friends’ circles. Most of the people with similar faith congregate together, network together, connect with each other vigorously, see eye-to-eye on most matters, and even eat/travel together. There is a feeling of comfort that, while not unique, provides a sense of togetherness and comfort. There are many such communities, but in keeping with my tradition of not naming specific things to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings, I leave it for the readers of this blog to derive the meaning of what I am writing about.
In the second group of folks, the sense of community does not exist. The reason for the same is not easy to determine – such people are spread around in the society, and do not publicly proclaim their lack of the “traditional” faith. In circumstances wherein they do so, it is not difficult to visualize their predicament as it is likely that most of the people surrounding him/her are of the first variety described above. Not that such self-faith people will be automatically excommunicated, just that there is a possibility of discomfort developing when the views do not match.
There is a quiet determination in people belonging to the second variety that they made their own lives and directed the circumstances and the environment around them to move ahead in their lives. While this can mostly be true, I discovered (obviously I belong to the second group) that while my hard work, commitment, passion, drive and determination got me to where I am today, the circumstances and environment could not have been “accidental” or directed by me alone.
This is not an insight. It was a learning from a senior friend of mine, who acknowledged respectfully my position, but differed that everything has been done by me in my life. Obviously others have helped me to shape my life, even though I do not think they have been instrumental. But my friend pointed out one critical aspect – things happen positively to those people who work hard (not always though) and they are put into a situation which is conducive to their success. Not always as I only too well know. However, there was some point in what he said. Obviously, there is a bigger force which organizes matters and determines the flow of situations, circumstances and opportunities.
I asked this friend about possibility of reaching a higher set of goals faster, if I could only negotiate with this bigger force. Is there a shortcut to success that could be achieved by praying ? How about I switch over to the first group in the hope of a shorter runway to more material (and spiritual) success ?
My friend said “no” – that is not possible. The bigger force, or the God, does not work that way. If He gives in to such rather mundane requests which would be pouring in by the millions every day, He would not be doing His job. He expects people to work their way through their lives, while holding on to their faith.
My faith still remains on me – may be I need a stronger anchor. I am working on the same. In the meanwhile, this post might have baffled you. I do not wish to offend anyone. This post is more about the deeper inner conversations that each one of us have to have in our journey of life.
30th August 2015
Courtesy: Ravi, my relative
1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.
2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called “life.” Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation – trial and error. The so-called “failed experiments” are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “work”.
4. A Lesson is repeated until learned. It will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it you can then go on to the next lesson. If you do not learn easy lessons, they become harder. You will know you have learned a lesson when your actions change.
5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. Every person, every incident is the universal teacher. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
6. “There” is no better than “here.” Nothing leads to happiness. When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that again will look better than “here.”
7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate in yourself.
8. What you create of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources your need; what you do with them is up to you.
9. All your answers lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.
10. You will forget all of this.
Courtesy: Ravi, my relative
8th March 2014
I had lunch with my long-term mentor yesterday.
Apart from mutual catching up, he asked me a question which set me into some deep thinking.
He asked “what is your philosophy in life?”.
I should say I was a bit stumped at first, even though I had thought about this topic in the past and written about the same in this blog itself.
However, I managed to tell him that I wish to help poor people and children in some way – via volunteering to assist people who have challenges in life like depression and poverty, and poor children who need to be taught maths and science. Plus, I am a bit low on spirituality and godliness.
He listened to me and explained his philosophy on believing that there is a supreme being somewhere which controls the universe and this world, based on what quantum physicists themselves explain. He stated that these physics folks actually believe that there is some super being which ordains this world and all of us, because they have “felt” it while researching physical phenomena – like photons and neutrons and particles which purportedly travel even faster than light.
I thought that there is some learning in that proposition – we are talking about hard core scientists, not just the average joe on the street, not even the average professor who talks about atheism. These are folks who have investigated particle physics, and the black hole, and various other such phenomena and have actually gone on to prove theories.
So there must be something out here……….
Well, I don’t know really – it is rather mystical to me, as I am yet to feel the vastness of space that the astronomers see or astronauts experience personally. May be that would have a big impact to change my views, I guess.
Physics is a subject that I like and I had always wanted to pursue advanced degree in Physics when I was young. But I could not. This is fascinating.
Time to think of the supreme being.
28th July 2013