Facts matter little. It is your relationship with those facts that makes all the difference. If you doubt that, just watch the evening news… everything from the extreme left to the extreme right, even split decisions in our Supreme Court. One may wonder why, if the court is truly supreme, the justices usually disagree. Now it is easy enough to come to conclusions about that, but just generalize this principle and then take a look at how we humans function.
Back when I was a kitchen director in the ashram, I had a standard rule: No quotes of the Master allowed in the kitchen! Why? Because people would take an isolated quote to justify their perspective on just about everything: how to prep veggies, how to behave in the kitchen, what to eat, etc., etc. So one might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” The answer: For every quote, there is an equally valid, yet contradictory quote. That is why the field of relativity is called “relativity.” It is all relative. And relative to what? Relative to your relationship with the facts.
Facts are like dots on a page. Connect the dots one way, and you get one perspective. Connect the dots another way, and you get another perspective. Like dots on a page, connect them one way and you see the face of Buddha. Connect them another way, and you see Attila the Hun.
So how do people usually connect the dots? It is generally based more on their conditioning; psychological makeup; biases; life experiences; indoctrination; provincial, social, and subcultural orientation; rather than their wisdom. This even permeates the field of spirituality. People may read and memorize the same scripture, but they connect the dots all different ways. Sadly, if a person has memorized enough spiritual facts or quotes, they may conclude they are a spiritual scholar, Master, Guru, etc. They may then conclude that they have wisdom! But that is not wisdom.
So how do we cultivate wisdom? Certainly, learning what facts and principles we can helps. But what it really amounts to is what lies deeper than the facts and principles. It is about cultivation of the depth, the fiber, the fabric of our being. That is what evolution is all about. That is what proper meditation cultivates. There are deeply spiritual people that know few spiritual facts, yet are wise and therefore truly spiritual. There are those who know many, many spiritual facts, yet are not really very wise or spiritual.
When everything is going well and everyone likes everyone else, it is easy to be ‘spiritual.’ We find out just how spiritual a person really is when things get difficult. How we connect the dots is the best indicator of how spiritual we truly are. Yet we judge how spiritual another is by the barometer of our own level of understanding, our own level of spirituality. Basically, how we, ourselves, connect the dots. We then project our world view upon others. When wisdom is most needed, it is most often abandoned, as people revert to their conditioned responses, their conditioned ways of connecting the dots.
So the wheel of life spins ’round and ’round. As Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” That is to say, you know that which lies deeper than ‘things,’ deeper than facts. After all, the Transcendent, Ishwara, lies deeper than the dots. It is being established in that deeper place that enables one to wisely connect dots.