Wisdom v. Knowledge

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” Lao Tzu

(Music by Michael Gold)

Hi, this is Emerald and welcome to the Diamond Net. 

Today I want to talk to you about a very important distinction between two opposite but seemingly similar concepts. They are in truth two sides to the same coin. Those concepts are knowledge and wisdom. 

We often think of these two things as the same because we relate them to intelligence and things that we learn. We think that a person who knows a lot of things, has experienced a lot of things, or who has gained a lot of knowledge as a very wise person.

While this may be true in many cases, it undermines our understanding of what knowledge is and especially of what wisdom is. 

To understand knowledge, its primary aspect is that it’s external and geared toward understanding things in our environment. Because of its external nature, we could say that knowledge is a form of Masculine or Yang Energy. 

We gain knowledge from exploring our environment and using our intellect and senses to understand the world. We can gain knowledge from books, teachers, religions, sciences, observation, and pretty much anywhere else you can look in the world.

Knowledge can be true or false. It can also be beneficial or detrimental to us. 

Wisdom, in contrast to knowledge, is an internal force, making it a form of Yin or Feminine Energy. Wisdom, unlike knowledge which must be sought after, is inherent in all beings. To be in touch with wisdom is a home coming. It is an internal form of knowing that never leaves truly leaves us. However, we can become disconnected from our wisdom if our ego becomes resistant to it. That’s when we lose receptivity to our wisdom. In fact, in this way wisdom is like a broadcast signal being cast out from a broadcasting tower. If you’re antenna doesn’t work you won’t receive it but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Now only the enlightened among us are fully in contact with this force, but everyone can make steps toward connecting with their own wisdom.

Now to give a more concrete definition of wisdom, I will propose a metaphor.

Now think of wisdom like a vast river that flows from the unconscious mind into the conscious mind. This river contains every internal thing that we need to know as human beings. It is a loving force that connects us with each other, the Earth, and with all of existence. The river’s nature is ever changing oneness and pure unconditional love.

Now, in this metaphor you want to think of the ego like a dam, that restricts the vast majority of that water from coming through to the other side of the dam. So the portion of that water that flows through the dam and on into the conscious mind. That’s the portion of our wisdom that we are in touch with.

For those whose egos are very fearful, rigid, fragile, closed- minded, or impeded by limiting beliefs and traumas, very little of that water gets through to the other side of the dam. This is because the dam is air-tight and most of that water, most of that wisdom is held back in the unconscious mind.

However, even people who think of themselves as mentally healthy, open-minded, and flexible can have many hidden barriers to wisdom.

Another thing to keep in mind is that wisdom is situation specific. Like the wisdom river from our metaphor, you can’t step in the same river twice. In fact when you apply an insight that you received from your wisdom at an earlier time, in a different situation, it’s no longer wisdom that informs your decisions but knowledge. 

Now, this could work well in your situation but it could also be detrimental too as we live in a world with many different levels of truth.

The main take away here is that wisdom is a state of being, and not a particular insight that you received from your wisdom.

As you can see, knowledge and wisdom are very different. 

Knowledge is very straight forward and can be sought after using direct straight forward action. To gain knowledge we read a book, we watch a video (like this one), we talk to a friend. In fact, we value knowledge so much in western society that we spend 13+ years in school doing nothing but retaining knowledge. Also, most religions practiced in the west, focus on morals, principles, and ideals which are also forms of knowledge.

But the big question is, how are knowledge and wisdom related?

Well, if we say that knowledge speaks very loudly, then wisdom speaks very quietly.

So, if our knowledge doesn’t complement our wisdom, then the quiet voice of our wisdom is easily drowned out by the bold voice of knowledge.

With the help of knowledge and experience, we create concepts, theories, morals, ideals, and many other mental frameworks that we set for ourselves and for others. We have an idea of the way that reality does work and should work and that becomes the lens through which we see all the world. 

In fact, by the time most people become adults, they rely solely on these knowledge-based, abstract ideals. In the rat race of life, this leaves little opportunity to hear the voice of wisdom.

Now, this is not as to say that knowledge is bad and wisdom is good. They are both important parts of the human experience. Actually, the marriage of these two opposite principles often creates the most beautiful results. 

Like, we could think of a newborn baby as being 100% in touch with their wisdom. Babies have an amazing energy about them because of this. However, due to their lack of knowledge and skills, babies don’t have the ability to create things in their environment that would have a positive, far-reaching effect like a knowledgeable skilled adult would.

So, when knowledge is put in service to unearthing wisdom, as opposed to covering it over with its abstractions, we can access deeper levels of peace, love, and compassion. Knowledge also enables us to manifest results in the world that are deeply rooted in the soil of wisdom. That is when we can create things that are valuable for humanity and the world at large.

But how do we know if we’re out of touch with our wisdom? This can be difficult to tell because our barriers to wisdom are often out of reach to the conscious mind. But here are some symptoms.

Number one: You feel a lack of passion or boredom with the activities of life. If you feel like you’ve experienced everything there is to experience and that there’s no more joy, you can be sure that you’re out of touch with your own wisdom. Remember that excited feeling that you had as a child when you were experiencing something new? Someone who is fully mindful and in touch with wisdom can see that every moment is different from the last. And so there are always new experiences to be had. If you haven’t felt that state of childlike wonder since you were a child, you can be sure you’re out of touch with your wisdom.

Number two: Extreme Self-Focus. If you think too much of yourself OR too little of yourself. If you find yourself out in public scrutinizing everything you do or comparing yourself to others. If you make a minor mistake and beat yourself up about it for hours. You did not come to this world to micromanage yourself, so this also robs you of your wisdom.

Number three: Discomfort with spending time alone. As I said earlier, wisdom speaks very quietly, stillness and alone time are essential for cultivating insights. Sometimes discomfort with being alone with you self can be a sign of self-hate, and hate and wisdom don’t go together.

Number four: Caring too much what others think of you. This one’s been particularly challenging for me, so I can tell you from a firsthand experience that this is soul poison. When you’re concerned with being seen a particular way this undermines your authenticity because you’re constantly vying for a particular type of approval or attention. You are essentially selling yourself out for something that’s worth very very little, so it saps you of your integrity and authenticity which are both essential for receptivity to wisdom.

Number five: Lack of physical or mental energy. Now of course there can be practical causes for this too. Like if you stayed up all night last night or you just ran a marathon. Of course you’re going to be tired. But wisdom brings joy and passion to your life, so without it we feel sluggish and tired all the time.

Number six: Lack of creativity. Many people might not fathom themselves to be very creative because they relate creativity to skills in art, music, or drama, or some other field like that. But anything can be done creatively. In fact, creativity is a basic human instinct. It is the ability to find unlikely solutions to problems and to be able to manifest our ideas into the world. We find these solutions only in our wisdom. If we have difficulty thinking outside the box then something that we’ve learned is keeping us stuck.

Number seven: Perfectionism and excessive judgement of yourself and others. When we expect too much of ourselves and others we can never be in a state of acceptance because we’re always resisting reality as it is. Perfectionism is an extreme state of resistance that dis-allows and invalidates anything that isn’t seen as perfect in the eyes of the beholder. This resistance leaves very little room for wisdom.

Number eight: Numbness to you own emotions. Emotions are naturally very strong, and are wired to tell us very important information about our likes and dislikes. In our society, we value stoicism so many people learn to repress their emotions at an early age. But wisdom and emotions go hand in hand so if you’re numb to your emotions, then you are also numb to your wisdom.

Number nine: Not standing up for yourself, expressing yourself, or speaking your truth. This one is substantially tied to caring too much what others think of you. If you’re afraid to rock the boat or put yourself out there and you stifle your voice. People who have this issue are constantly try to neutralize your opinions, this not only puts a cap on their expression but also puts a damper on wisdom as well.

Number ten: Holding too tightly to beliefs, dogmas, or political opinions. Of course it is fine and natural to have beliefs and opinions. However, if we hold them too tightly then we become closed minded to everything that doesn’t support our beliefs. For instance, Let’s say that I have a dogmatic belief that my political party is right 100% of the time. Then, let’s say that that same political party begins endorsing something that my wisdom is trying to tell me is wrong for me. If I’m 100% dogmatically committed to that political party the chances of me hearing my own wisdom are going to be very very slim. The more tightly and dogmatically you hold onto your beliefs the less likely you’re going to be able to hear your own wisdom.

Number eleven: Saying yes when you mean no and no when you mean yes. We are once again caring too much what others think but this time we are putting ourselves in situations that we don’t want to be in and keeping ourselves from situations we do want to be in.

Number twelve: Feeling ungrounded and out of touch with reality. If you feel like you go through life, wrapped in cotton and like nothing in life affects you, then there’s something going on there. If you live most of your life unaware of your surroundings or lost in thought then you live in a place that’s too loud for wisdom to be heard.

Number thirteen: Closed-mindedness. If we’re unwilling to accept the choices and beliefs of others and we are unwilling to accept that other people have different worldviews then our worldview is going to be so airtight that no wisdom can get through.

And finally, number fourteen: Keeping yourself in a negative situation. If your job makes you miserable and you feel like you can’t find a new on. If your relationship is struggling yet you don’t take any action steps to improve it or to leave it. If you’re unwilling to change things about your life that are making you unhappy, then you can be sure you’re out of touch with your wisdom.

Ultimately the main idea that goes through all of the points that I just mentioned is that wisdom is ever present but there can be barriers to it to keep you from experiencing it. In order to get back in touch with wisdom we must practice removing these barriers. In a moment, I’ll give you some ways to do just that.

You may want to get a pen and piece of paper for this. I recommend only picking one or two per week to work on. That way you can really track your results and go really in depth with those too. You don’t want to get overwhelmed. 

So, here’s the list:

Number one: because wisdom and hatred don’t go together, you must become aware of and remove all bigotry, hatred, or prejudice toward particular groups of people from your mind. Some very common examples of this are racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, religious discrimination, and xenophobia. However, there are many types of prejudices that don’t fall into these categories that we might be less aware of. You could also have a prejudice toward people who do a particular activity or live a certain lifestyle. For example, you could have a prejudice against rednecks, children, or people who go to expensive Ivy League colleges. Either way, it has to go.

Number two: choose your favorite meditation practice and stick to it. Think of yourself as a snow globe that’s being constantly shaken around by your thoughts. When you take the time to be still and quiet your mind, it’s like setting that snow globe down. After a few seconds of immobility, all the snow from the snow globe falls down to the bottom and you can see clearly through the water. When your mind is quiet you can hear wisdom so much better. Also, there are so many other benefits to meditation. It actually changes the structure of your brain if practiced over time. In fact, research has shown that people who meditate on a regular basis have more gray matter in areas of the brain that deal with concentration, creativity, compassion, and kindness. They also have less gray matter in areas of the brain that deal with stress and anxiety. 

Number three: Practice the art of positive focus. Because excessive negativity puts us in a state of fear and resistance to our wisdom, we must practice thinking positively. Now, this doesn’t mean that we pretend to feel positive about something that we actually fell negative about. This will only make us feel worse because we’re being inauthentic and lying to ourselves. This in itself a state of resistance. However, once we handle our negative situation and we’re out of the woods with it we can then divert our attention to something positive, that way we’re not dwelling on negativity. Remember, there’s a silver lining to even the darkest cloud.

Number four: Adopt a worldview that breathes. Be radically open-minded. When we are closed minded to all but our own beliefs it creates a barrier between us and the outside world, but it also creates a barrier to our internal. Things that will help open your mind are having friends from diverse backgrounds, traveling to different countries, and learning about other cultures. You can also practice finding similarities between your culture and another person’s culture. 

Number 5: Get out of your comfort zone. When we try new things and do new things, we are in a state of not knowing. In these situations we have the privilege of having a beginners mind and a beginners mind is one of the key components to unearthing your wisdom. So, break up the monotony. Go learn something new, make a new friend, travel to someplace you’ve never travelled before. Challenge yourself.

Number six: Surround yourself with people and put yourself in situations where you can be vulnerable. The feeling states of vulnerability and openness are ideal conditions for wisdom to flow into your conscious mind. If we surround ourselves with people who are eager to judge us, then we will get constricted. Because human beings are social animals, we are very sensitive to what others think of us. So, find a friend or two or three that will accept you and all of your strangeness.

Number seven: Do something creative. This can be something seen as traditionally creative like painting, drawing, writing, sculpting, making videos. However, anything that has open ended possibilities that you can manifest into the world is a creative activity. One example of this is starting your own business. When we do something that’s creative that is moderately challenging to us we slip into a state called flow. In this timeless state, the conscious and unconscious mind are completely in synch with one another. When practiced effectively, we can manifest and create things directly from our wisdom.

Number eight: Practice self-love and love of others. This means unconditional love and unconditional positive focus. In just about every major spiritual tradition there is a golden rule to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. This is a wonderful rule principle to adopt. However, I would propose to some well-intentioned people that struggle in the self-love category to do unto yourself as you would do unto others. Many times we tell ourselves the nastiest criticisms that we would never say to anyone else. We may think of this as humility but lack of self-respect and self-flagellation are not virtues. In fact, surprisingly, they come directly from the ego. So, we must detach from our negative self-talk and even practice loving our flaws as an integral part of ourselves. Only when we love ourselves, can that love really overflow to others.

Number nine: Get rid of any and all small-minded concerns. Forget about what others think of you. Forget about that rumor that you heard the other day. Don’t worry about that small mistake that you made two days ago. Oh and definitely don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Number one, these concerns will never bring you the happiness that you’re seeking. But more than that, wisdom is big and expansive and cannot exist in a small mind. It is said that small-minded people talk about people, average sized minded people he he. Average minded people talk about events, and that people who are expansive talk about ideas. So, set your sights on higher goals and truths. 

Number ten: Be mindful and aware of your emotions. Now this might be difficult because our society does not value emotions. Strong emotional reactions are often seen as a sign of weakness. In fact many of us semi-consciously hold the belief that emotions have no function at all. However, emotions can tell us a lot of things if we really pay attention to them. To do this, we should first accept the emotion that we are feeling fully and completely. No matter what the emotion is, we need to admit to it, validate it, and then go in and explore it. Then we should pay attention to the thoughts that caused our emotions in the first place, and then notice the physical sensations that it brings up in the body. Being mindful, self-honest, and accepting of our emotions is an integral way to make that which is unconscious conscious once more.

And finally number eleven: Take time to practice the mindset  “everything is perfect the way that it is.” This may both be the most difficult and the most effective way for cultivating wisdom. Many people are reluctant to hold this mindset because there are so many things that need improvement in our world. Children are starving, people are dying in war, corporations are corrupt, serial killers are on the loose, minorities are being treated unfairly, the environment is polluted, mass shootings are happening and so much more. And that’s barely even scratching the surface. This is really just scratching the surface of how many problems we have. Not to mention all the micro-concerns and flaws of everyday life. These are of course pressing issues that we need to be making systematic efforts toward improving. However, if we never take a break just to accept the world as it is and see the beauty in its imperfections, then we will wear ourselves very very thin. My advice is to spend at least one hour every day practicing the mindset that “everything is perfect the way it is” and seek out proof of that. For that hour, refrain from looking up anything negative. Don’t read anything about oppression, war, terrorism. For that hour, your slate is blank. Instead for that hour look up articles and watch videos or just reflect on how great the world can actually be. I mean, we’ve come a long way. In fact, you can use the phrase ‘everything is perfect exactly the way it is’ as an affirmation to get yourself in the mood for this. When we let go of resistance to what is, beautiful things will grow in our mind and in our worlds. And remember, whatever you resist persists. So, never be anti-war but pro-peace.

Well that’s it for the list. 

So, again if you want to unearth your wisdom, just pick one or two things from the list that I just gave focus on those for a week or two weeks or more. That way you get the real depth of results. If you try to focus on all of them, it’s going to be overwhelming and you’re not going to make very substantial progress. If you are consistent in your practice you should start to see some results in the areas of emotional awareness and well-being. 

Well, that’s it for now. I hope that you enjoyed this topic.

If you liked this video and would like to see more, go ahead and click the subscribe button below. You can also visit thediamondnet.org for access to my personal blog. 

That’s all I have for today.

Until next time, keep becoming more you.