Knowledge is accumulation of facts and data. It is to be well informed. Wisdom is application of the information. It is transformational. Society esteems the wise for their virtuosity. Subject matter experts number in the thousands, but rare are the wise. ‘Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers,’ said Tennyson. You may know recipes but not know how to make a delicious meal.
We know we should exercise, eat healthy and be positive. How many are able to actually follow through and achieve it? We know the value of hard work and discipline but we often take the easy way out and laze. Across time and throughout history many have been exposed to the spiritual dimension. But seldom has it been acted upon.
Why is this becoming increasingly difficult? The world is full of distractions and we are lured by pleasures. Instant gratification leads to long term misery while real happiness appears in the garb of pain. Anything that is in our long term interests is unpleasant in the beginning. But due to ignorance, we run after the rapture of the moment.
There are three stages of gaining wisdom – sravana, listening/ reading; manana, reflection and nidhidhyasana, application.
Sravana is the intake of knowledge. Having listened, we need to mull over it, contemplate on it, and look at it from different angles. Only then will the knowledge get integrated into our system. This is called manana. When knowledge is internalised we live it. Nidhidhyasana is meditation which leads to realisation, the last step to gaining knowledge of Self.
In the Bhagwad Gita, Arjuna speaks words of wisdom but is unable to live them. Krishna bridges the knowing-doing gap in Chapter 7 by guided reflection. He presents knowledge from a fresh perspective and ignites original thinking.
Krishna begins with an analysis of the world and shows how Spirit permeates the universe. As humans, we have the choice of staying with the world or penetrating through to the Force. Pursue limited, myopic goals or rise above the obvious and seek the Eternal. The choice is ours. Krishna supports us in our chosen path and ensures we obtain what we strive for. All paths eventually lead to him. In the end, everyone seeks happiness, infinite bliss. Some look for it in the world, some through different religious practices. Krishna respects all paths. In this lies the open-mindedness of the Indian tradition. Not only do we respect all faiths but we accept agnostics and atheists too in our fold.
The onus is on us to figure out the quickest and most effective path to the goal of total fulfilment. The ignorant, unaware of the higher, seek and obtain trivial, finite ends. A few visualise that which transcends the material plane — they belong to four categories. Some turn to God only to enhance their wealth. They believe that will bestow riches on them. The distressed, who meet with tragic circumstances and are agitated, seek solace.
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