Archive for March, 2015

Wisdom as a tool

March.28. 2015

Wisdom for me is a tool.

A tool to elevate your existence and create a more effortless life for yourself.

That’s what tools do—they make life easier for you.

For example, have you tried driving in a screw without a screwdriver?

Or a nail without a hammer?

Or tried to cut a board without a saw?

Without tools, life is a constant struggle. With tools, life becomes easy and effortless.

And that’s what wisdom does for you.

It gives you the tools to cut through the crap of life and see right to the essence of things. So that you can concentrate on the things that matter and not bother about the rest.

This makes life easy and effortless.

You don’t waste time and you still get to produce great results.

For example, if you work in a big impersonal organization. Organizations tend to operate with many layers of bureaucratic red tape (otherwise known as policies.)

You can blindly follow every one of these policies, but you’ll be wasting precious time and worse, you won’t be able to do your job, the job you’re hired for.

Or you can figure out which of these ‘policies’ can be dispensed with and focus your energy on doing your job well.

And this is where wisdom comes in.

What is your job?

Is it to fill out countless reports for your supervisors so that they can cover their butt and look busy and engaged?

Or is it to get things done?

For example, if you’re a teacher, the essence of your job is to educate.

Once you figure this out, you can focus all your energy on teaching.

And do the minimum on the rest. (Minimum here meaning doing what you need to do to give the appearance of having done what is ‘required’ and nothing more.)

This way, you’ll be able to produce the goods and still look good to the paper pushers and rule enforcers.

In guitar playing, wisdom will tell you that the essence of what you do is to play and express yourself on the guitar.

Everything else is secondary.

So if you’re playing well, but your teacher still tells you that you need to change your hand position because it doesn’t quite fit his idea of what is a good hand position, it may be time to look for another teacher.

Because obviously, he is more interested in enforcing his preconceived ideas than in teaching you.

Wisdom is especially important in sorting out the real from the phonies, the sincere from the scammers.

If you go to a church and the pastor tells you God wants you to contribute more money so he can expand his church, that’s an instant red flag.

Because wisdom will tell you that the essence of religion is to bring you salvation and not to help someone build his own megachurch. (Which sounds more like an ego trip than the word of God.)

Or if he tells you God wants him to have a new jet, stay very far away.

Because you’ll be financing his lavish lifestyle instead of finding salvation.

This has nothing to do with not being generous with God’s gifts to you, it has everything to do with not being taken in by some scammer.

Wisdom to me is a functional tool. Something that is actionable, something that actually makes a difference to your life.

It’s not to be confused with the ‘sage-like’ wisdom that does nothing for you except make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Yes, you can find your ‘inner child’ or ‘live in mindfulness’ but that’s not going to put food on the table or pay your bills.

The natural order of things

March.2. 2015

Wisdom, I’ve found, has a lot to do with the natural order of things.

What is the natural order of things?

It’s how things work in their natural state.

Take a mountain stream. Left to its own devices, it will find the straightest and most direct path to the ocean.

That’s how streams operate in the natural order of things.

And that’s how we operate too when we gain wisdom.

We begin to act like the mountain stream. We naturally find the straightest and most direct path to our goal.

And usually this means a path of least resistance.

A path of directness of purpose.

A path with only one objective, to reach the ocean.

That’s the simple scenario of working within the natural order of things.

But it gets a little more complicated at the human level.

Because along the way, your directness of purpose and efficiency must not create any resistance.

Because if you create resistance, you bring the forces of the universe against you.

(Think of the resistance as obstructions in your path to the ocean.)

Suppose your directness of purpose has to do with defrauding people, and you’re quite efficient at doing that, and for a moment it might appear that you have been uplifted—you’re living in your fine downtown mansion.

But you can’t defraud people without creating ill will and bad feelings, and this creates resistance in the universe (for you), and you soon find that your uplifting was only temporary.

This is the problem with some people.

They forget that the universe is full of energy and you want that energy to work for you, not against you.

The minute you create bad feelings and ill will, you invite that energy to work against you.

In other words, you’re not working with the natural order of things, and sooner or later, you will find your reality has been downshifted instead of uplifted.

Let’s see how this relates to the guitar.

Let’s say that you’re filled with directness of purpose and efficiency and you practice diligently every day.

But your directness of purpose is to follow someone’s prescriptions for guitar playing rigidly, without considering whether it’s working within the natural order of things in your body.

And the result is resistance within your body.

And sooner or later this resistance will manifest itself in subtle and unsubtle ways.

Subtle—by limiting your technical development and unsubtle—when you start suffering from all kinds of “overuse syndromes.”

(Neither one of which you might call uplifting outcomes.)

There’s, of course, no such thing as overuse syndrome, only misuse and abuse syndromes.

If you work within the natural order of things in your body, you can practice ten hours a day and not experience any ill effects.

To rephrase my original point.

Wisdom, I’ve found, really means understanding how the universe works and working with it in a way that creates least resistance and brings you to your goals simply and efficiently.