wisdom 2

All discoveries in art and science result
from an accumulation of errors.

Marshall McLuhan


Wisdom cannot be imparted.  Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else. . . . Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.  One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Hermann Hesse


At twenty-two, I thought I knew everything.  Now, at sixty-seven, I find I haven't tasted a drop from the sea of knowledge.  The more I learn, the more I find out how little I know.

John Copage

The voice of wisdom is inherent within us and willing to guide us when we stop to listen.  Of course, there are times when we feel we've been still as stone, and the still, small voice is still too quiet to hear.  When this happens, the challenge is to practice quieting your mind anyway.  Stopping and asking, quieting and listening, trusting and waiting.  Waiting is difficult but worth the effort because a quiet, uncluttered mind is a natural antenna for whispers of wisdom from within.

Sue Patton Thoele
Only the wise person draws from life, and from every stage of it, its true savour, because only he or she feels the beauty, the dignity, and the value of life.  The flowers of youth may fade, but the summer, the autumn, and even the winter of human existence, have their majestic grandeur, which the wise person recognizes and glorifies.


Old places and old persons in their turn, when spirit dwells
in them, have an intrinsic vitality of which youth is
incapable; precisely the balance and wisdom that comes
from long perspectives and broad foundations.

George Santayana


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When people are on the point of drowning, all they care for
is their lives.  But as soon as they get ashore, they ask, "Where
is my umbrella?"  Wisdom, in life, consists in not asking for the umbrella.

John Wu


A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action,
for one single good poem, accomplishes more than he or she
who fills our memory with rows on rows of natural objects,
classified with name and form.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren't we like that wise old bird?

Edward Hersey Richards


We should never be ashamed to own
we have been in the wrong,
which is but saying in other words, that we are
wiser today than we were yesterday.

Jonathan Swift


Dare to be wise: begin! Those who postpone the hour of living
rightly are like the rustic who waits for the river to run out
before he crosses, yet on it glides, and will glide forever.



We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it--
and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on the hot stove-lid.
She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again--and that is well;
but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.

Mark Twain



I hold myself indebted to any one from whose enlightened
understanding another ray of knowledge communicates to mine.
Really to inform the mind is to correct and enlarge the heart.



There is no greater mistake in the world than the
looking upon every sort of nonsense as the want of sense.

Leigh Hunt


Those who have the largest hearts have the soundest understandings;
and they are the truest philosophers who can forget themselves.

William Hazlitt

The differences in human life depend, for the most part, not on
what people do, but upon the meaning and purpose of their
acts.  All are born, all die, all lose their loved ones, nearly all
marry and nearly all work, but the significance of these acts
may vary enormously.  The same physical act may be in one
situation vulgar and in another holy.  The same work may be
elevating or degrading.  The major question is not "What act
do I perform?" but "In what frame do I put it?"  Wisdom about
life consists in taking the inevitable ventures which are the
very stuff of common existence, and glorifying them.

Elton Trueblood

wisdom 2

Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon,
and the deeper it sinks into the mind.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge


It is far easier to be wise for others than to be so for oneself.

Duc de la Rochefoucauld

The first step to wisdom is to be sure one says and does what one believes.

Pam Brown

Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.

Lin Yutang


Wisdom never kicks at the iron walls it can't bring down.

Olive Schreiner



The foolish reject what they see, not what they think;
the wise reject what they think, not what they see. . . .
Observe things as they are and don't pay attention to other people.



The highest wisdom is kindness.

The Gemara


There is a wise being living inside of you. It is your intuitive self.
Focus your awareness into a deep place in your body, a place where
your "gut feelings" reside. You can communicate with it by silently
talking to it, making requests, or asking questions. Then relax,
don't think too hard with your mind, and be open to receiving answers.
They are usually very simple and relate to the present moment,
not the past or the future, and they feel right.

Shakti Gawain



There are many ways to seek wisdom.  There is travel, there are masters,
there is service.  There is staring into the eyes of children and elders and
lovers and strangers.  There is sitting silently in one spot and there is being
swept along in life's turbulent current.  Life itself will grant you wisdom
in ways you may neither understand nor choose.    It is up to you to be open
to all these sources of wisdom and to embrace them with your whole heart.

Kent Nerburn


Wisdom is often born in the shadows, frequently more visible in the darkness
than the light.  The stadium lights of knowledge that seek to eliminate natural
cycles of night and day, death and rebirth, sorrow and joy do not cast shadows--
they provide only the steady glare of illumination.  We must move into darker
places if we are to find the wisdom we so desperately need.  We rarely go there
willingly, though every life contains its own cycles of grief and celebration.  To
meet wisdom in these dark places we must be willing and able to hold all of what
life gives us, to exclude nothing of ourselves or the world, to tell ourselves the truth.
Wisdom will stretch us far beyond where we thought we could or wanted to go.
She will show us what we cannot change or control, reveal what is hard to know
about ourselves and the world, and tear at the illusions of what we think we know,
until we are surrounded by the vastness of the mystery.  And all the while, wisdom
asks us to choose life.  She does not want us to just continue, to hang on, to survive.
She asks us to experience life actively, fully, every day--to show up for all of it.

The Invitation


If wisdom were offered me with the proviso that I should keep it shut
and refrain from declaring it, I should refuse.  There's no delight
in owning anything unshared.




Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.

David Starr Jordan


Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry,
the philosophy which does not laugh,
and the greatness which does not bow before children.

Khalil Gibran


The poor long for riches and the rich for heaven,
but the wise long for a state of tranquillity.

Swami Rama



Until we stop ourselves or, more often, have been stopped, we hope to put certain
of life's events "behind us" and get on with our living.  After we stop we see
that certain of life's issues will be with us for as long as we live.  We will pass
through them again and again, each time with a new story, each time with a
greater understanding, until they become indistinguishable from our
blessings and our wisdom.  It's the way life teaches us to live.

Rachel Naomi Remen


The clearest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness.

Michel de Montaigne


Wise people are able to give themselves gracefully to seemingly
contradictory experiences, because they know that they belong to
different seasons of life, all of which are necessary to the whole.
Spring and winter, growth and decay, creativity and fallowness,
health and sickness, power and impotence, and life and death
all belong within the economy of being.

Sam Keen


wisdom 2

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Do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for
oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of
things that once were needful for the wise to know.

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Rings

Knowledge is happiness, because to have knowledge--broad deep
knowledge--is to know true ends from false, and lofty things from
low. To know the thoughts and deeds that have marked humankind's
progress is to feel the great heart-throbs of humanity through the
centuries; and if one does not feel in these pulsations a heavenward
striving, one must indeed be deaf to the harmonies of life.

Helen Keller


A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be
objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is
both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and
deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no
one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.

Eleanor Roosevelt


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I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances,
which is not swept away by the torrent of events, which is not the creature
of accidental impulse, but which bends events to its own improvement,
and acts from an inward spring, from immutable principles
which it has deliberately espoused.

William Ellery Channing

The first key to wisdom is this--constant and frequent questioning . . . for by
doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.

Peter Abelard


To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even
to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates,
a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.

Henry David Thoreau

Wisdom is rooted in the souls of human beings.  The way to
acquire it is to follow the simple advice of Socrates:  "Know
thyself."  This is the starting point for the establishment of a
sense of human dignity, preventing the degradation of human
beings into anonymous, interchangeable cogs in a machine.
The essence of true knowledge is self-knowledge.

Daisaku Ikeda
Buddhism Day by Day

But in fact the kind of wisdom which can be put in the form of specific
directions amounts to very little, and most of the wisdom which we
employ in everyday life never came to us as verbal information.  It was
not through statements that we learned how to breathe, swallow, see,
circulate the blood, digest food, or resist diseases.  Yet these things are
performed by the most complex and marvelous processes which no
amount of book-learning and technical skill can reproduce. This is real
wisdom—but our brains have little to do with it.  This is the kind of
wisdom which we need in solving the real, practical problems of human
life.  It has done wonders for us already, and there is no reason
why it should not do much more.

Alan Watts
The Wisdom of Insecurity


Seek wisdom, not knowledge.  Knowledge is of
the past, Wisdom is of the future.

Lumbee proverb



Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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