Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom – CREDO XCI
Let me start with Wisdom, because for some reason people often think I am “wise.” This may be because in less than a month I will be 87, which is old and ready for cackling lessons(!) or because I am still semiliterate, but I wish to straighten out the matter for good. I am wise in one respect only: I know for sure how much I don’t know!! So, there, just remember that.
In Beejumstan, the land of my The Beejum Book, there is a character called Virgo Prunefiddle, a lady elk. She carries a large leather bag full of “facts”! Period. Ten thousand Lithuanians wear bed socks. A horse has no toes, etc. The problem is that for a fact to be meaningful, it has to relate to something further, or So What?
There is a gap between knowledge and understanding. Many think reading some texts equips you to be a teacher or a therapist, but book learning needs life experience to yield understanding. “Emotional Intelligence” as Daniel Goleman puts it. If you think about it, there is a huge imbalance between knowledge and understanding, and it is getting worse every day as technology makes leaps and bounds, and meaning, in the deeper sense, is lost. A dangerous example is our overuse of plastic which doesn’t deteriorate or the worst – the use of drones in warfare to kill human lives!
A sacrament could be described as an outer and visible sign with an inner and spiritual meaning. Science alone covers three levels of knowledge and by its own definition stops, but the fourth remains unspoken. This is meaning which leads both to potential understanding and greater wisdom.
Science 1) Observes and studies. 2) Experiments and proves. 3) Draws conclusions and makes assumptions.
Spirit 1) Intuits symbolic meaning. 2) Our Divine Guest, (Jung’s Self) teaches us from within, i.e., Sophia’s process of Wisdom. (The word science comes from the Latin scire, to know.)
Nothing is hidden but we are blind, and “having eyes we do not see!” which is what I learned from that dream in which Jung shouted at me: “Consider the obvious! I did!” When I checked the root of obvious, I found it comes from Latin ob via, on the road, which is where Petrus Bonus, the alchemist, says the Philosopher’s Stone is said to lie, “and wagon wheels roll over it!” I have written this before, but not in connection with science. Let me bring this down to a kindergarten level. Suppose:
1. We wind up a long length of string into a ball.
2. Hanging on to the string, we let the ball drop.
3. The drop is far quicker than the winding up.
Meaning? An analogy that applies to making mistakes?
Years ago, I was chapel lady for a group of Sunday school kids, K–3rd Grade. The reading included the mysterious saying of Jesus: “To him that hath shall be given but to him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him.” There was dead silence. Then a little boy held up his hand. “If he had stuff in a bowl and turned it upside down, what he had would fall out.” Brilliant! Perhaps the bowl is symbolic of our need to be receptive? The bowl in every kitchen can now instruct you further! Yang/yin?
This is my source of delight lately. I look at things and ask, What do you do? Then the archetypal process takes over and you have released the noun to become a verb.
Agrippa, the alchemist, wrote Virtutes divinae in res diffusae. Divine powers are hidden in things. I used to write that quotation on the top of every blackboard at every lecture. But recently in my old age, I see the entire manifest world concealing this wisdom everywhere I look! I am beginning to see! Shakespeare expresses it best in As You Like It:
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
I would not change it.
This all started for me in giving names to things (see Credo 82). This may seem silly to some of you, and yet the word silly comes from the German selig, which means holy, blessed. As it is, many give names to their homes, cars, boats, so why not more intimate things? The whole point is that it helps us to learn wisdom from wrapping paper, window panes, pencils, the spiral of water going down an emptying bathtub – that one yields the mathematics of the Spiral Nebula, the nautilus shell, the Golden Rectangle, and the shape of the Parthenon! Phew! God does indeed geometrize!
This is a Geometry of Being, and these archetypal processes can be found anywhere you look if you know the secret. It helps to know astrological processes because they make the linking go quicker. Remember my definition: Astrology is a symbolic language of archetypal processes! The zipper demonstrates this perfectly. Sym-bolos means putting two and two together: going up the zipper unites the manifest with its meaning, and the wee tab is Jung’s Transcendent Function! Going down, it becomes dia-bolos! which separates the two through doubt and cynicism, ridicule, and we are left with a dead world of matter only. Think this through. But even the word matter comes from mater, mother (Goddess!) Sophia is giggling and so am I!
I hope you see how etymology, the meaning of words, is another of Sophia’s clues. My friend Jungian analyst Russ Lockhart and I both came up with the phrase “Words are eggs,” because they hatch out hidden meanings. Another “obvious”!
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