Wisdom is not very fashionable nowadays. The idea that most people have of a wise person is a static idea; it represents an impassive person, far from so-called real life. One of the tasks of psychology should be to rehabilitate Wisdom by presenting a truer conception of its vital, dynamic and creative nature.
By Roberto Assagioli, Translated from Italian by Gordon Symons, Assagioli Archive Florence
One of the main functions of Wisdom is to dispel stupor and dispel illusion. This implies the need for Wisdom in our sphere of action and poses a constant daily problem.
Wisdom is a form of light, because it reveals the world of meaning behind the external form. It is also connected to many other aspects of life. First, it has a relationship with love. Wise love is free from emotion and from devotion and perceives the objects of love as they are in their essence. In a sense, it reveals the meaning of their true nature.
There is also a relationship between Wisdom and governing. “In the secret of governing does wisdom lie hidden.” Following the Plan, according to purpose takes time, and one aspect of Wisdom is finding the right time. It gives us the right rhythm so that we don’t run ahead too much or fall behind but maintain a right and wise pace. Right now, we are moving from one era to another; we are in a critical period, and humanity tends to err in two ways. There are those who do not recognize the situation and lag behind, trying to hinder the process of advancement and change; this can cause humanity to waste time; in this category are the reactionaries and those who do not participate in the rhythm of renewal.
On the other hand, there are the rebels, the impatient ones who would like to build the New Era in one day, without taking into account the time needed for the gradual and necessary transformation and replacement of the old forms with the new ones. Even their premature attempts, their haste, wastes time. The same happens with the evolution of the aspirant and the impatient disciple: he can only advance when he is ready.
Another aspect that does not appear immediately is the relationship between Wisdom and joy. In an important spiritual text we read “Joy is a special kind of wisdom”. Wisdom creates harmonious relationships, and these bring joy.
Harmony, Beauty and Joy are closely related to the law of Right Human Relationships. There is a relationship between this quality and the synthesis of all aspects of the One Life.
The use and application of Wisdom brings us back to the aforementioned function: the dispersion of illusion and stupor, first in ourselves and then in humanity. Another fundamental function of Wisdom is the balancing of opposites. How can we acquire Wisdom? How can we attain illumination? All spiritual work leads directly or indirectly to this. Opening to the Self, contact with the Self brings the gift of Wisdom; but there is a technique for receiving Wisdom in the personality even before reaching awareness of the living relationship with the Self: the technique which consists in turning to the Self as an internal Teacher. Perhaps not enough attention is paid in spiritual development to the fact that the first Teacher is the Self.
Many seek the Teacher externally and go to China or India, but if an individual is not ready, he will not find him, and if by chance he comes in contact with a Teacher, the desired results will not be achieved.
Since the first Teacher is the soul, only through a certain degree of soul infusion can we profitably receive and sustain the energy and light that radiates from a Teacher. Therefore the first step is to be in contact with the soul, with the transpersonal Self.
Before concluding, I would like to quote a seed thought proposed by a great Tibetan Master: “The gift of the game comes to you, brother. Play on earth, play in the secret space and have fun in the field of the Gods”.
The whole event can be considered as a performance, in the theatrical sense of the term. The event is the stage, the “playing field of the Gods”; it is symbolic, because, as Goethe asserted, “all that is transitory is but a symbol”. Manifested life is therefore a symbol, it has no permanent, intrinsic, stable reality; this is the essential difference between being and becoming. If we take this attitude, we get rid of the deadly seriousness with which we are led to consider ourselves, others and events. This could be expressed in theatrical terms as the difference between the tragic and the dramatic. Life is dramatic but not tragic: tragedy has a sense of negativity, of failure that drama does not have. Recall that everything passes and is short-lived from the point of view of eternity: so let’s not take it too seriously or think in “serious” terms. Here Wisdom appears again, because one of its aspects is the sense of proportion. In this we “sin”, so to speak, constantly. What is immediate and close appears to us to be greater, without regard for perspective and for a broader overview. It is as if, holding one hand in front of our face, all that is beyond remains hidden. By developing a right sense of proportion, we give everything the right degree of importance; otherwise we squander our capital of seriousness in small change, on small things that do not deserve it, and there is not enough left for big things, which, consequently, we do not consider with adequate attention.
Therefore, let us play, in our personal life, with the things that pass; so that we can be serious with the big realities. This “playfulness” is connected with that great aspect of Wisdom which is humor. The intimate spiritual sense of humor is both a manifestation and a product of Wisdom, as witnessed by the Great Beings. The Buddha had a great sense of humor which, somewhat caustic and sparkling, is revealed in many of his symbolic statements and expressions.
So, let us joke about everything that doesn’t deserve to be taken too seriously, starting with our funny little personalities. Let us smile and, affirming that we are souls, from this level we watch over the bizarre movements of the personality; this attitude is connected with the technique of acting as if.
We recognize, even if at first this produces a shock in us, that our personality is the product of the past; therefore, it must be left behind and transformed.
So, for big decisions, existential turning-points, let us try to develop the right attitude; let us understand that important decisions cannot be made by the personality. In times of crisis, the personality can call for help, be available to act in the best way, but then he must wait.
If the personality does not interfere, but invokes the help and guidance of the Self, important decisions are then suggested by external events, or emerge through clear internal indications. Therefore, let us stop planning , wanting and fearing from the personality level, and if desires and fears emerge, let us not suffocate them, but neither will we identify with them, and let us persist in asking for help and guidance from the Self.
It is a law of harmony of life itself: if we do not interfere with our emotional reactions and mental obstinacy, life adjusts things; it can take time because of accumulated problems, but life straightens things out. Therefore, faith and patience: faith to assume and maintain the attitude of expectation, and patience to let the solution be worked out. Let us remain silent in the presence of Wisdom.
This writing includes, in succession: The Act of Will, p. 79; Wisdom; Wesak 1962; Transcript of a conversation of 10.8.67, Taken from “Filo Conduttore – Research Booklet of the Center of Rome” n ° 4 – third year