June 23      

Today's quotation:

You can tell whether one is clever by his or her answers.  You can tell whether one is wise by his or her questions.

Naguib Mahfouz

Today's Meditation:

It seems that many people value cleverness over wisdom.  To me the difference between the two is immense:  cleverness entertains me for a moment or two, while wisdom can provide me with something important to me for the rest of my life.  But many people are almost always "on," and they value the laughter that results from their cleverness over the thought that could result from sharing the wisdom they've gained over the years.

A clever person can almost always come up with clever answers that amuse me.  I can amuse others with my clever answers, too, and I'm often very good at it.  But my clever answer won't give you anything that will be of value tomorrow.  But answers are merely responses, and they wouldn't exist unless someone else made a statement first.

In the context of this quotation, cleverness also can refer to smart answers-- I can be smart and know how to fix things and how things work, but not understand how things are affecting people or how things work in broader contexts.

My questions, when wise, can get others to think more deeply about life and living, about their own thoughts and actions and motives in life.  They can also get people to solve their own problems and set their own courses in life, if I ask them well and give up the need to answer questions for other people.  After all, we all have the answers to all of our own questions already.  Clever answers on my part will not allow you to discover those answers in yourself; wise questions will allow you to find and implement those answers.

If my goal in life is to help others, then my goal should be to help them to help themselves.  Only wise questions, not clever answers, can fulfill that particular goal.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people find it necessary to give clever answers to others, rather than asking wise questions that may help them to discover their own answers?

What's the difference between cleverness and wisdom?

Why do we find it easier to reply with clever answers than with wise questions?

For further thought:

We can be knowledgeable with other people's knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other people's wisdom.

Michel de Montaigne

more thoughts and ideas on wisdom



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