The famous ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, said:-"knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom". Well, this is easier said than done, I think, and yet these few words are truly hugely pregnant with deep meaning though at the same time presenting a bit of a conundrum in the sense of how do you get 'to know yourself'? Outwardly of course I know myself very well, I know my name, my age, my birth date, the work I do, I know the state of my finances, where i live, who my family and friends are, my likes and dislikes, and so on. However, Aristotle was referring to the inner man, the higher mind or consciousness, the soul and spirit but the vast majority of people around the world are generally not concerned with this inner state and its attainment. Those of Christian belief do however temporarily address this by going to church, the Jew by attending Synagogue, and the Muslim by praying in a Mosque, and all this is the sole method as it were of peoples efforts towards some form of spirituality even though it be via the religious avenue. The great Chinese sage Confucius ( 551-479BC) penned some wonderful and enlightening words on the theme of wisdom.
He wrote:- "By three methods one may learn wisdom. Firstly by reflection which is the noblest. Secondly by imitation which is the easiest, and thirdly by experience which is the bitterest./" Now one can flesh this out to some extent by saying that reflection can be that of serious thought, consideration or deliberation, meditation or brooding. Imitation of course is the action of using someone or something as a model, while experience is the knowledge or mastering of a subject, a process, a way gained through involvement in or exposure to it. Terms in philosophy such as 'empirical knowledge' are used to refer to knowledge based on experience. I have no doubt that the words of Confucius would resound very strongly in the minds of a great many since life's experiences on the whole are to a large degree bitter and painful and ultimately usher in the greatest lessons. Naturally these are interspersed with moments and times of happiness and joy which are as it should be. Life on this Earth would be absolutely unbearable if it were not for these times. Many of the truly great poets of the past referred to this as those times of "light and shadow, or light and the dark. This is so true. In my own life and that of my wife we have often retired at night burdened with some weighty problem and yet on awakening the next day as dawn appeared painting the skies in the most vivid and glorious colors, and with the birds chirping merrily, we would feel uplifted and just knew that our problem would somehow be resolved. it always seems that in the darkness of night ones woes appear so much greater and insurmountable, but comes the new day and it all seems not that bad at all./ I often think that the Almighty Creator gave to man the joys of sunrise together with birdsong to uplift the soul. Cares and problems, sorrows, obstacles and suffering are a intrinsic part of life and how we meet them measures and molds the character. If we meet them with the wisdom of inner strength, with fortitude and maintain this, we shall overcome. This is a truth set in stone and the more this becomes a part of ones life, the closer one draws to the temple of wisdom. There are many cultures who live close to nature where the elderly are highly respected, esteemed, and looked up to for advise and wisdom on many matters involving the well being of their people. All these people recognize that wisdom also accrues from a long life lived close to the laws of life and respecting the wonders and awesomeness of all creation.
Aldous Huxley wrote:- "Experience is not what happens to a man, it is what a man does with what happens to him./"
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