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Center for Action and Contemplation

Remembering Wisdom

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Wisdom Tradition

Remembering Wisdom
Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cynthia Bourgeault, a core faculty member of CAC’s Living School, writes in her book, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: “Wisdom is an ancient tradition, not limited to one particular religious expression but at the headwaters of all the great sacred paths…. One of the greatest losses in our Christian West has been the loss of memory (in fact, almost a collective amnesia) about our own Wisdom heritage” (The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart, p. 4). And I would add, how could we possibly honor or include any other wisdom tradition, when we do not even know our own?!

Cynthia continues: “The real Source of Wisdom lies in a higher or more vivid realm of divine consciousness that is neither behind us nor ahead of us but always surrounding us…. [Wisdom] seems to go underground for a while; one loses the thread. Then, in ways inexplicable to linear causality, it pops up again. It re-creates itself over and over, so it seems, in the minds and hearts of those who have been taught (or discovered on their own) how to listen and see. It never really goes away, and it always comes back in a fresh new form, customized to the conditions of the world” (pp. 25-26). As Augustine said, it is “forever ancient and forever new.”

We pick up and follow the thread where we find it—in the Bible, through Jesus’ life and teachings, in the writings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, in the mystics of all ages and faiths, in art and psychology and myth and science. Wisdom is all around, inviting us to hear and understand—and it is not at all the same as merely knowing correct facts and information. We have confused intelligence/knowledge with true wisdom for far too long now. They are not the same at all (Isaiah 11:2, 1 Corinthians 12:8), although both are finally necessary.

Gateway to Silence:
Wisdom pervades and penetrates all things.

Image Credit: Stringing Pearls by Vanessa Guerin
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