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Wisdom: The Intentional Consciousness of Present Good in the World Today

by Dr. Hal Taussig

Wisdom

“Wisdom anticipates those who desire her by making herself known first” (Book of Wisdom 6:13).

For those who need encouragement in these troubled times, this small biblical writing and the larger, deep and insightful body of text that surrounds it may ring true.

When, from all sides, people are screaming about disaster, malevolence, and suspicion, I recommend this kind of presence in our lives. It asserts good sense, broad learning, and spiritual intuition.

Besides this first tidbit, there are many other ancient writings and scriptures that are much needed these days.

Please know that I worry a great deal about our nation and world. Just because I am presenting you with this very strong Wisdom ‘presence,’ does not mean that the world isn’t f****d up, and that we aren’t in big trouble.

Especially in these difficult times, it is important to take into account dynamic wisdom, and to actively pursue it. When we are worried and anxious, it’s even more important than ever to consider that there is an intentional consciousness of present goodness in the world.

Here’s more of the scriptural passage I cited at the beginning.

Wisdom is bright, she never fades.
By those who love her, she is readily seen.
By those who seek her, she is readily found.
She anticipates those who desire her by making herself known  first.
Whoever gets up early to see her will have no trouble but will find her sitting at their door.
Meditating on her is understanding in its perfect form and anyone keeping awake for her will soon be free from care.
For she herself searches everywhere for those who are worthy of her,
Benevolently appearing to them on their ways, anticipating their every thought.
Book of Wisdom, 6:12-16

This writing, from the Book of Wisdom (also known as Wisdom of Solomon) is found in Catholic, Episcopal, and Study Bibles. More specifics on that in a little bit. First, let’s notice some important aspects of this writing. Right away we notice that this ‘Wisdom’ is somewhat spiritual. Not super spiritual, just somewhat. We might say that Wisdom seems to be something that comes to us in thinking, meditating, and seeking. Wisdom is bright, readily seen, and smart. In some ways, Wisdom is what one learns and knows about life.

Actually, on the next page of the Book of Wisdom, Wisdom is also described as “the structure of the world and the action of the elements, the beginning, end, and middle of the times, the alternation of the solstices and the succession of the seasons…” (7:17-20). So we could see Wisdom as everything from science to emotions.

Another thing we notice in this writing is that Wisdom also seems to be everything from learnings to feelings, as well as a person. So this part of the Bible portrays the power of science, emotions, relationships, and meditation as a Person. One of the very cool things about Wisdom is that she is ordinary but ordinary that is wrapped up together with scientific and supreme knowing inside us. In that way, Wisdom can be thought of as sort of like a personal divine presence. On the other hand, Wisdom can also be something not particularly divine inside us and in something or someone else. Just smart and wise.

But now let’s think a bit more about what a difference it could make to take Wisdom seriously when we are handling the trying times of our day. This could happen in a number of ways, some more scientific, some more spiritual, and some more everyday-like. For instance, notice how much help it is to have science and the presence of scientists during our struggle with the coronavirus.

Getting to think alongside the likes of Tony Fauci or the myriad of other scientists on TV, on-line, or in the papers, gives us lots of comfort, real information, and reality. This kind of Wisdom presence, thinking alongside good doctors and scientists, does not make everything better, but it does help things to make more sense. There is a kind of presence in science—not just with the virus—that makes us feel included in a bigger picture and helps us conceive of how humans and the rest of reality can work together.

At the same time, meditating, praying, looking at nature, or feeling the presence of many things (that may or may not be conscious), can also be enormously healthy for us individually and together. This more feeling level or spiritual level of understanding one’s connections to the universe, bigger parts of the world, parks, concerts, or games makes us aware of a dynamic presence that works mostly for the better. Whether with science, taking a walk, or being spiritual, this presence is real and can positively influence the way we live, know, feel, and act.

But right now in the middle of our big messes, the presence of Wisdom can make the difference between
good heath/a sense of goodness itself/at homeness/beauty/divine presence
and
anxiety/bullying/terror/mocking/name calling/violence/lack of trust/fear.

Again, I am not saying this Wisdom presence solves all our problems or changes everything. I am simply saying that for many people it makes a substantial difference. I suspect that even when we remain more anxious than we wish, calling forth this Wisdom presence both helps us and plays some role in making the world better.

What do you think that you might do for yourself?

Several final notes about Wisdom scripture in case you want to learn more about developing your relationship with Wisdom.

  1. There are lots of Jewish and Christian Wisdom scriptures both in the Bible and beyond.
  2. There are also important Wisdom scriptures in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and the spiritual expressions of indigenous cultures—although there is more difference between these than there is between Jewish and Christian Wisdom scriptures.
  3. In Jewish, Christian, and other (but not all) Wisdom scriptures the person of Wisdom is mostly female. For many of us, though not for everyone, this makes a positive difference in what Wisdom does for us in our lives.