Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In love of Sophia

When one experiences a rather strong turbulence in the force that keeps their mental and emotional make-up as a whole together, they find themselves needing to better understand what that make-up actually entails. That leads to a need to find a meaning for it all, the reasons why things are, and to make sense of things that have long been ignored, or misunderstood.
It’s not only because of some sort of turbulence, but also an everlasting curiosity about what comprises one’s “fabric”, and how that fabric relates to the world’s.

So in an attempt to calm these incessantly inquisitive voices in my head, I’ve recently taken up learning philosophy, not fully realizing that I’ll actually be ending up with a whole lot more questions than answers. But interestingly enough, I’ve been feeling so much better after each session, more tranquil in a way, even though it’s been making me all the more curious and creating more voices rather than shutting ones that were already there up.

They explained the meaning of philosophy using the constituents of the name; Philos Sophia. Philos in Latin, meaning love, and Sophia, meaning wisdom.

The love of wisdom.

What exactly is wisdom then? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not something you reach with age. I bet we’ve all met younger people who struck us as being a lot wiser than ones much older than they are.

It doesn’t depend on the amount of experiences one has had either, although that sometimes might help. Experience is quite personal, and very unique. It can’t be true for all.

It’s also not the bucketloads of information we know about things. In+formation basically means no formation. There are tons of it to go around, it’s continuously changing, and having a lot of it doesn’t mean you become something.
Information alone isn’t really getting us anywhere. It has to be followed by something critical, integration, so we can reach a “formation”. Once we put things to practice, we transform.

For example, if someone writes everything they know about training dogs, and I read it cover to cover, focusing on every word like my life depends on it, it still doesn’t make me a dog trainer. Without applying the information I’ve attained, without making it a part of me, I don’t take much from it.  The first step to truly knowing more, is to first understand what it means to know. Having information and shallowly knowing things doesn’t mean we actually know. We don’t know until we “do”.

Our opinions? They’re no good either. We’re very opinionated beings. We think our opinions in one way or another define who we are. But they too change all the time, and they don’t often project themselves from the purest of sources. Whether we have certain opinions because people around us validate them, and we like that since it gives us a feeling of belonging or being appreciated, or because we strive to be distinct and want it known that we’re “different”, opinions are seldom our own. As impossible it is for us not to have any, and regardless of their importance for “starting from somewhere”, they’re fake.

So what’s genuine wisdom? It can’t change with time no matter how long that is, nor across the borders of countries. It is timeless, eternal, unfeigned. And seeking wisdom then becomes about how much one wants to be close to this timelessness, no matter what their age or experiences are.

But what’s truly timeless? What applied thousands of years ago, applies now and would still apply for as long as the universe continues to exist? They’re these everlasting ideas, better called ideals or principles, that we should get closer to. It’s averting from everything that’s fake and fickle in our worlds, and getting closer to the truth.

Continuously asking questions is key. If we don’t, how else would we go through our education? (Or un-education, but that’s a topic for another time).
We need to decide what kind of students of life we want to be. Do we want to be true to ourselves?  Are we looking for authenticity?  We most definitely have the capacity and means to learn, and all the time in the world to go through the process.

It’s still a long way to go, though. Most reactions I got when I started voicing my interest in philosophy were ones that deemed it as useless, or me as a crazy person. They asked me “why?!” like I was telling them I’d be building the contraptions from all nine Saw movies and trying them out on babies.

Philosophy isn’t for old German guys with long beards, crazies and people who can’t think of anything better to do with their time. No one is above it, or far from it. It’s us, everything around us and everything we do. With seventy three red lines under the word “do”.
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