The pursuit of wisdom is one of a very complex nature, and is unique to each person. There is no one right answer, and yet the quest for meaning has been undertaken by human beings since we have stood upright.
In assessing my own journey in this labor, I have found several methods that serve towards the accumulation of wisdom: witness, integration, openness, introspection, creativity, writing, and discipline. There is one method that supersedes the rest, and must always be employed: surrender. However vague the term, it encompasses the whole of what is learned in all of my human experience.
A certain level of openness is required for me to attain wisdom. I must remain open to any possibility in the face of great love, and during the times of terrible pain. Wisdom comes to me if I am open through any situation, and ignorance prevails when I am closed.
The practices of surrender, witness and integration are also of utmost importance if I am to fulfill a life of wisdom. I must surrender every imperfection, witness every action objectively, and integrate those experiences into synthesis.
Without vigilantly aspiring to integrate my whole being, I will flounder in suffering. This process requires facing all aspects of myself, without avoiding or stifling their functions, and instead transforming them completely. This is the process of integration.
Integration can only occur when I begin to witness the patterns of my life — both those that engender transformation, as well as those that no longer serve me. If I am unable to develop a poise for witnessing that is outside of my mind, life and body, it is difficult to integrate any behavior that does not serve a higher function.
An important aspect of witnessing myself is through writing; it is helpful to synthesize an experience, and through the process integrate it into clear, evident growth that I can then apply through the rest of my life.
What is called eloquence in the forum is commonly found to be rhetoric in the study. The orator yields to the inspiration of a transient occasion, and speaks to the mob before him, to those who can hear him; but the writer, whose more equable life is his occasion, and who would be distracted by the event and the crowd which inspire the orator, speaks to the intellect and ear of mankind, to all in any age who can understand him. (Thoreau, 2004, p. 100)
When I read this line in Walden, I felt as if I had been vindicated in my creative endeavors. Thoreau named my experience so eloquently, and so simply. The written word has great power for me, and one that proves to be more difficult in verbalization. The spoken word has power too, of course, but I have not yet developed the skills to hold this same power through spoken word. My eloquence is displayed less in my ability to convey a message, and more so when I am able to edit it to perfection. I am thus far unable to manage my speech in such a way. Though I have experienced an intentional power in speech as well, it is in less frequency than in my writing.
Integrative writing comes to me in many forms: poetry, journaling, academic papers, and fiction. Each has its own respective benefit, and when I feel truly inspired, the words move through me. I become the instrument — or the vessel — for the words to pass through, and my writing then comes from the “witness poise.”
The witness poise is the seat within myself that exists higher and wider than any other aspects of self. Ideally it remains unbiased to smaller movements, and considers the values of a bigger context. If properly exercised, it can gaze past superficial statements of personality and discover the true roots of both suffering and transformation. That is then the opportunity to expose light upon darkness and integrate more completely.
Writing is my channel into greater creativity. A creative life for me not only involves writing, but represents a much larger concept in creating an intentional path. This path unfolds in mystery, as well as my unique and conscious imprint upon it. A duality becomes apparent wherein I have choice and yet must surrender to a plan that is outside of my ability to understand, and beyond my control. My choice is whether or not to devote myself to the greater purpose.
Another part of my choice is setting aspirations. This is the method I’ve chosen to illuminate my path. One aspiration I hold is that of practicing sacred relationship. I have struggled with relationship my whole life, and the majority of my energy has been consumed by its myriad facets. I have since learned that as my greatest challenge, it becomes my greatest gift. My struggle in relationship is transformed into sacred offering. I know that I am here to aid the collective consciousness in achieving higher ideals.
When setting aspirations, a certain level of discipline must be employed, though in my experience even that has to be flexible and dynamic. The discipline must not be rigid or narrow. Though it is often rigorous and strict, there must be a certain level of spontaneity and intuition that is exercised.
If the discipline is not dynamic it becomes routine, stagnant, and stifling. Without spontaneity and fluidity, it is more difficult to discern whether or not the rigid protocol of the discipline is necessary. I strive to allow my internal experience to inform my disciplines.
As I become more disciplined, I recognize how judgmental I am about my lack of discipline in the past. I am also able appreciate those experiences because it made me who I am today, and am now living a richer life because of them.
I have to trust in those experiences in order to be elevated even higher. The deeper an experience of Ignorance, the higher into Consciousness I soar. The more I heal and integrate pain, the more the pieces of my true Self come together. I am shown often how my gifts shine through, and how they become refined and authentic as I peel away the layers of pain. I am always challenged, and moving through these challenges are what make life so joyful, so rich.
Each challenge provides me more scope of what exists in the collective. I sense that as each person does their work, they are actually doing work for the whole. I can see the potential evolution of relationship, and I can see all the wounds that must be healed as a way to reach the ideal.
There is a way to experience a more conscious relationship, a way of accessing a deeper internal space when relating to other, to Self, to Earth, and to God. We all have a greater capacity to experience Divinity in each of these relationships, and I believe I have been placed here to help people achieve that.
I’ve also learned that in knowing my purpose, I need not shout out to the world who I am and what I am here to do. If I am a healer, I need not seek out those that need healing; they will find me.
In turn the healers will also seek the healing they require. We are all in need of healing, and it is always available to us. We all find our way, one path or another, to the experiences and to the people that heal us, and those that we need to heal. We need only to accept them, to be receptive to them, and to remain open.
I will continue doing as I do, to see as I see, to know as I know, deep within, that I am in my Truth, that I express my Truth. Even when ignorant speech or action takes place, I trust that I am conscious enough to hold awareness of it, use it as a catalyst for my healing, and integrate it to these ends.
The method we have to pursue, then, is to put our whole conscious being into relation and contact with the Divine and to call Him in to transform our entire being into His. Thus in a sense God Himself, the real Person in us, becomes the…Master of the Yoga by whom the lower personality is used as the centre of a divine transfiguration and the instrument of its own perfection. (Sri Aurobindo, 1999, p. 45)
Each time I have experienced transformation, it happens as a kind of death. My vital clings to life and avoids death, and thus rebukes the notion of transformation under the pretense that if achieved, I will cease to exist.
In the past I have experienced transformation as letting go a part of myself. It feels sometimes as if that part has “died,” and at times I have mourned the loss, however much pain and suffering it had caused me.
I have since realized that this assertion is ultimately incorrect — these aspects do not die, and I do not lose them. They in fact become integrated. They are assimilated into the whole, no longer separate from the Divine. It is simply a misconception based in fear that it will cease to exist if it successfully surrenders to the transformation. I, in fact, continue to exist.
Through each transformation, I not only continue to exist, but my existence is more powerful. It is more certain. I feel that I am more full in the space I occupy. There is more of the Divine within my presence, and thus my presence is stronger.
A Life Divine is only lived through Surrender, Witness, and Integration. The myriad ways to surrender, witness and integrate are illuminated the longer I am alive. The path of consecration is unique to my stride, and each step toward a complete and total surrender provides new and different methods of fulfillment.
I am aware that I may not achieve these aspirations in this lifetime. I am aware that I may not even come close. However, this journey is just as important as any aspiration. There is complete bliss in each moment of this endeavor. I was made to hold the experience of Divine Purpose. I am was made to fulfill my Mission.
Throughout the Pursuit of Wisdom course, I have written about my experiences of pursuing wisdom. In so doing I continue to receive many important gifts and it is through writing that I have been able to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
I have learned a great deal by relating to very wise people, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, as well as the participants of my course. I once more attribute attaining wisdom to forging and developing relationships.
These relationships, like any other, had its ups and downs, its pain and its glory. I was in the end able to see each person as a comrade in struggle and loss, and experience the richness of that connection.
As I often discussed in the forums, it was a delight to see both Thoreau and Gandhi as more human. They are often lauded as champions of thought and honor, which in the past created a barrier between us. Reading deeply into the thoughts of each showed me that we are not so different. It had allowed me to approach each of my own struggles with more compassion and less judgment. It has also allowed me to experience less judgment when assessing other people’s process.
This essay is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy: the process of writing it in itself is enriching my experience of the course. Writing is clearly my passion and as I open to its channel I am filled with purpose, bliss, and inspiration. This inspiration takes me beyond the written word and into transformation of my life.
I am inspired to take all of these qualities and forge a stable and sound foundation for a continued quest for wisdom. What I have concluded thus far about attaining wisdom is that it is about accruing experience and having the ability to integrate it fully into self development. As my experience unfolds and is considered with the concepts that I have discussed in this essay, my true purpose is illuminated.
That is the true function of attaining wisdom; Life-Purpose is wisdom applied. Having these experiences and being able to apply the wisdom gained, I have no doubt that I will be able to pursue my greatest potential.
When you want to realize something, you make quite spontaneously the necessary effort; this concentrates your energies on the thing to be realized and that gives meaning to your life. This compels you to a sort of organization of yourself, a sort of concentration of your energies, because it is this that you wish to do and not fifty other things which contradict it. And it is in this concentration, this intensity of the will, that lies the origin of joy. This gives you the power to receive energies in exchange for those you spend. (The Mother, 1972, p. 33)
Thoreau, H.D. (2004). Walden. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Gandhi. (1993) Gandhi, an autobiography: The story of my experiments with truth. Boston: Beacon Press
Sri Aurobindo. (1999). The synthesis of yoga. Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press.
The Mother. (1972). Questions and answers 1950 – 1951. Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press.
© 2015 Jesse Hindman