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  • Writer's pictureGaelle Bretin-Tokpo

3 Ways to Become Wise (part 1)

I was inspired again today by an Aussie friend of mine, Jay Scott Berry, who wrote yesterday on the need to "put principles into practice", to write myself something on the topic of Wisdom.

The full post to give him the honour he deserves is this: "Verily, you may read all the holy books, follow all the masters and worship in all the temples. Until you put principles into practice, you will forever be as a moth circling the flame. Enlightenment is, and always has been, an inside job. You may choose to lead a life of vicarious spirituality, reading about, following or worshiping someone who saw the light. Or you can open your eyes and see for yourself. You can chase the flame or be the flame." - JSB

Of course it resonated very much with me since I often say (and those who know me can attest) that "knowledge without experience is philosophy and experience without knowledge is ignorance. Only knowledge AND experience is wisdom". It's probably a quite popular adage and we probably do understand its easy-to-grasp "wisdom". Indeed, it seems clear that to master something we first need to learn some kind of theory and then put it into application. We also get easily that if we only know the theory we are most likely to be a literate parrot and that if we do things without understanding we may well look like a trained monkey or a happy idiot, not that the latter would be bad. Being happy is all we want after all... The thing is that, without understanding, the benefits of healthy applied principles are usually not reproductible to other areas of one's life or mindset. Besides, it is not teachable. The parrot, on the contrary, may teach but for it to be happy and see positive changes in its life, it's another story. Now, all this is pretty clear-forward and while we usually know how to learn theory, the blunt question that comes up at this point is: how to actually apply it??? Where should we start? What concretely do we have to do? How to pass the first barriers that dig a gap between theory and practice? How to do when emotions take over our behaviour so fast that it's only when it's all over that we realise we could have used the tips? That's when it gets tough. I'm French and before moving to Australia I was the perfect philosopher example, the literate parrot. I had been introduced to esoteric knowledge at a young age by my mother. I grew up deeply interested in figuring out existential and spiritual questions and further on read everything I could, related to personal development. But with all my knowledge and although I tried, I couldn't properly apply the teachings, if I could apply them at all. It's only when I arrived alone in this unknown far-off territory where I came to start up a new life that I began to actually apply the stuff and experience it for myself. I have to acknowledge that it all started thanks to the 10-days silent Vipassana retreat I did in the Blue Mountains (Australia) because it provided me with the perfect environment to make me genuinely look inside for the first time in my life and actually meditate. I'm very grateful for the invaluable experience although it was clearly Buddhist teachings while I don't want any affiliation. So where should you start to leave the literate parrot behind you and become wiser? I think I am going to answer that question in a second post because I realise that this one is becoming very (too) long. I'll give you three suggestions and some concrete steps to help you put all your knowledge into practice. Soooo, to be continued... In the meantime, go on Peace, Unity and Freedom. I do mean it. Gaëlle

Jay Scott Berry

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