Category Archives: Wisdom Quotes
A wise master received a university professor who came to inquire about true wisdom. The master served her tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until she no longer could restrain herself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” said the master, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?”
This is one of my favorite wisdom parables. It is a great reminder that we can become so full of ourselves, our opinions, our convictions, our beliefs, and our ego that we are unable to receive something new, different, exciting or growth producing.
To come to each day with an empty cup and allowing it to be filled with each experience, every person, circumstances, and situations is to be a true student of wisdom.
What We Know –
Wisdom begins when we realize we know nothing.
Philosophers tell us that everything changes, doesn’t stay the same. Mountains wear down, skies fall, mighty trees topple and the greatest among people are but a wisp of wind, sound, and fury signifying nothing.
Reducing our ego is one of the hardest wisdom disciplines. One of my favorite wisdom proverbs says; “Take compliments and criticisms with equal value.” Too often we believe the good and ignore the not so good. It’s easy to focus on what others like about us. We wrap ourselves in the words of friends, families, even those whose positivity drips off their tongue like poison, people who see us mere objects to use to further their objectives. Ego builds us up only to be pulled out from under us by someone with a bigger, stronger ego. We fight back and when one take on another, no one wins and out of control egos only destroy never heal.
Humility is wisdom’s greatest and most difficult lesson. Saying; “No” to puffery and stroking; “Yes” to a self-awareness that leads us to a place where our egos are not bruised, or quickly heal, from a careless word, a selfish act, a purposeful plan to defame, defraud, demolish. Wisdom tells us; “Smaller egos take less time to heal because the wound isn’t as big.”
Socrates once said; “There is true joy (bliss) when we realize we know, and are, nothing.”
The Obstacle is the Path –
This morning, on my way to Fayetteville, Tennessee, I came across a couch in the middle of a 4 way stop intersection. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion; “That doesn’t belong there!” It had obviously been dropped out of a vehicle because it was broken in half and the feet and cushions were scattered. I cautiously drove around the couch, and through the intersection, continuing on my journey wondering who dropped it, why and that someone should pick up the unsightly mess before some body gets hurt.
A few more miles down the road a baby deer hopped onto the road while its sibling stayed off to the side. I slowed down and thought; “What a beautiful sight!” and proceeded cautiously in case the one, not on the road, decided it wanted to be reunited with its sibling. I soaked in the beauty of nature, wondered where its mother was and was thankful for being present at that time and place.
Two sights, two different responses.
I reflected on how we decide what should and should not be on our road of life. For the unwanted, ugly, messy thing we judge as not worthy, we try to avoid it and want it gone. To others, which we deem as beautiful and worthy, we are thankful and count ourselves blessed to enjoy the wonderment of life.
Wisdom teaches us to accept all things on the road of life. We are not to judge which is good or bad, positive or negative, but to allow the possibility of everything to teach and guide us. It is only when we stop slapping labels on things, (including people) and accept each experience with open minds, hearts, and spirits that we can appreciate, find the mystery and beauty in all obstacles on the road of life.
“The obstacle is the path.” -Wisdom Proverb
Wherever You Go –
I have a friend who was struggling. Several years ago he was miserable in his personal, vocational, and spiritual life. He was looking for a change that would solve his malaise. We sat in a restaurant and talked about what he was needing and why. Finally, he decided he needed a new job. “I don’t get along or agree with the vision of the current leadership. Every time I walk into those offices I get a pit in my stomach. Finding another position with a place in a new state might be exactly what I need.” In silence, we ate our food and then I told him; “Remember, no matter what you do, where you go or live, who you are here is who you’ll be there. You always bring yourself with you.”
The hardest changes we make in our life are ourselves. One of the biggest temptations we battle is the lie; “What’s wrong is outside of us, not within.” Until we understand the way forward is to travel inside we’ll never find what we seek.
Most wisdom teachers will tell us; “The only peace you’ll find is the peace you bring with you.” and “If you’re not at peace where you are you’ll never be at peace wherever you go.”
Best of Teachers –
I come across many types of animals traveling the back roads of South Central Tennessee. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen turkeys, deer, turtles, armadillos, and most recently two dogs walking in the middle of the road without a care in the world. I slowed down and honked the horn, multiple times. Finally, one decided to heed the warning and move out of the way, the other, however, just increased its pace. I am sure, it felt that it was moving fast but for me, it was still too slow. I honked again and as we passed another street that turned off to the right the dog went one way and I the other. He never wavered from staying in the middle of the road he was traveling.
I increased my speed, continued on to my destination, shook my head, and smiled. Most canines like the first scurry at the first sign of trouble but the other knew where he was going and nothing, not even truck weighing thousands of pounds, with a driver in a hurry was going to deter it.
I think the dog could teach me multiple lessons about life’s journey, determination, and more.
A famous wisdom teacher said; “I’ve learned many lessons of wisdom from the best of teachers; all of them cats.”
A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, ‘My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother’s faults.’
The old man told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus, ‘In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man he asked him, “Father, why are you weeping?” “I am weeping over my sins,” the old man answered him. Then his disciple said, “You do not have any sins, Father.” The old man replied, “Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them.”
This painting is named; “The Astonishment of Sisoes.”
It is both a commentary and a contemplation on death, not only of man, but of earthly empires.
It was painted following the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century and shows St. Sisoes, at the tomb of Alexander the Great, standing over the bones of this once great ruler, with the following inscription:
“SISOES, THE GREAT ASCETIC, BEFORE THE TOMB, OF ALEXANDER, KING OF THE GREEKS,WHO WAS ONCE COVERED IN GLORY.
ASTONISHED, HE MOURNS FOR THE RAVAGES OF TIME AND THE TRANSCIENCE OF GLORY, AND TEARFULLY DECLAIMS THUS:
‘THE MERE SIGHT OF YOUR TOMB, DISMAYS ME AND CAUSES MY HEART TO SHED TEARS, AS I CONTEMPLATE THE DEBT WE, ALL MEN, OWE.
HOW CAN I POSSIBLY STAND IT? OH, DEATH! WHO CAN EVADE YOU?‘”
“A brother asked Abba Rufus, ‘What is interior peace, and what use is it?’
The old man said, ‘Interior peace means to remain sitting in one’s cell with fear and knowledge of God, holding far off the remembrance of wrongs suffered and pride of spirit.
Such interior peace brings forth all the virtues, preserves the monk from the burning darts of the enemy, and does not allow him to be wounded by them.
Yes, brother, acquire it. Keep in mind your future death, remembering that you do not know at what hour the thief will come. Likewise be watchful over your soul.‘
My Golden Retriever Belle getting “tagged” by a Mocking bird because she keeps wandering too close to its nest.
“It is not age that engenders wisdom.” #Menander
“45-year-old Eric ‘Badlands’ Booker managed to gobble up 12 plates in all; 48 potstickers, 36 Buffalo wings and 8 potato skins, before a waiter said; ‘he had eaten every pot sticker in the restaurant.'” See video and full story here.
Part of my reading this morning from The Rule of Saint Benedict;
Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brethren;…Let a good pound weight of bread suffice for the day, whether there be only one meal or both dinner and supper. If they are to have supper, the cellarer shall reserve a third of that pound, to be given them at supper. But if it happens that the work was heavier, it shall lie within the Abbot’s discretion and power, should it be expedient, to add something to the fare. Above all things, however, over-indulgence must be avoided and we must never be held captive by over consumption; for there is nothing so opposed to purity of heart as excess. As the Master says; “See to it that your hearts be not corrupted with the desire for more.” – Rule of Saint Benedict
As I reflected on this passage from the Rule, the article above about the “Competitive Eater” & TGIFridays’ “Endless Appetizers” came to mind.
We live in a society of over indulgence, consumerism, take all you can while you can. There doesn’t seem to be any thought given to self-restraint, self-control, self-discipline. Excess rules and is the rule most live by.
I wonder what all of this consumption means for my generation and the ones coming after us.
Why do we so often ignore the truth that abundance of material things leads to poverty of the soul?
blessings, bdl http://www.thewannabesaint.com
“We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.” ―Immanuel Kant
The Master says; “Love God, love people, these two commands sum up all instruction.”
The desire to be wise compels people to travel great distances both outward and inward, question long held beliefs, release opinions and judgements, accept truths once feared, and to close mouth, open ears.
One of the greatest lessons is that we’re all fools and only a few, willing to admit their ignorance, can begin the journey to truth.
This path, though at times lonely, doesn’t lead us to distance ourselves from others or look down upon those who do not walk with us.
True wisdom teaches kindness and love, reveals what all humanity has in common not focus on what divides it, pulls together not tears apart, shows mercy not hate, gentleness not judgement.
“Wisdom, truth, is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” -anonymous
If our path toward wisdom doesn’t teach us to live a life of kindnes then our journey has taken us in the wrong direction, separating us from truth and love.
(brianloging on Instagram)
… newborn baby birds in a bush at my parent’s house… reflecting on these life words from the Master…
“There’s nothing that can harm your soul, your core being. God holds your entire life—body and soul— safe in his hands.
Consider the birds of the air and how much he cares for them. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be afraid, full of anxiety.
Trust in His leading, even when the way is dark and uncertain. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to Him, you’ll find both yourself and the One who is everything.”
-the Master, Gospel of Saint Matthew
This quote from Thomas Merton rings true for those following the contemplative way and all following the way of the Master…
“It is Christ’s love that has brought us here together in this house. The sanctity of each one is somehow bound up, in the inscrutable designs of God, with the sanctity of the others.
We did not come here for the scenery, the architecture, the fresh air, the music, the country life, or for human friendship. We were brought here to be sanctified by the Holy Ghost—first, no doubt, as individuals but also together as a community.
We were brought here that God’s love might live in us: that God’s grace and the constant daily contact with one another might ground us in a deep, experimental knowledge of what we ourselves are and what all men are, that we might learn patience and unselfish, gentle obedience and be filled with the humility and mutual forbearance without which it is impossible to ascend to the higher reaches of contemplation.”
“And I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of Heaven. And the name of that river was suffering.
And I saw the boat which carries souls across the river. And the name of that boat was Love.”
“A mind that has come to the stillness of wisdom shall know being, shall know what it is to love.
Love is neither personal nor impersonal. Love is love, not to be defined or described by the mind as exclusive or inclusive. Love is its own eternity; it is the real, the supreme, the immeasurable.”
“…An act of kindness produces and fosters in the soul mildness, peace, comfort, light, purity, and strength. … (an act of selfishness) brings about torment, fatigue, weariness, blindness, and weakness.
Through the practice of kindness souls grow, and similarly, through acts of selfishness, hate and darkness increase…”
“Consider how we are all governed by the presence of invisible forms spirits, ghosts, ancestral and parental influences, inner voices, dreams, impulses, untold stories, complexes, synchronicities, and mysteries which move through us, and through history.
Understand(ing) them, examining the persistence of the past in influencing our present, conscious lives and noting that engagement with mystery is what life asks of each of us.
From such engagements, a deeper, more thoughtful, more considered life may come.”
“. . .it is precisely because it is public in the classical or “political” sense of the word, that the liturgy enables us to discover and to express the deepest meaning of Christian personalism.
We must first emerge from the private realm, the “household” which is the realm of necessity and the proper domain of children and slaves who have not yet a mind of their own and who are therefore completely absorbed in their own bodily and emotional needs.
We must be able to put aside the “economic” concern with our superficial selves, and emerge into the open light of the Christian polis where each one lives not for himself but for others, taking upon himself the responsibility for the whole.
Of course no one assumes this responsibility merely in obedience to arbitrary whim or to the delusion that he is of himself capable of taking the troubles of the whole assembly on his own shoulders. But he emerges “in Christ,” to share the labor and worship of the whole Christ, and in order to do this he must sacrifice his own superficial and private self.
The paradoxical fruit of this sacrifice of his trivial and “selfish” (or simply immature) self is that he is then enabled to discover his deep self, in Christ.”
“Someone who takes pity and lends, who is disposed to be compassionate, quick to render assistance, who believes that there is more happiness in giving than in receiving, who easily forgives but is not easily angered, who will never seek to be avenged, and will in all things take thought for his neighbor’s needs as if they were his own.
Such a person is overflowing with affectionate kindness, making himself all things to all men yet pricing his deeds like something discarded in order to be ever and everywhere ready to supply to others what they need, in a word, so dead to himself that he lives only for others.”