Einstein had a feeling. He sensed that all things were interconnected. It felt to him they were all coming from the same place. As he reflected upon this further, it made more and more sense to him. It became reasonable. Reason is that level of awareness that has one foot in abstract feeling and the other in concrete thought. Our ability to reason bridges our wise inner feelings with clear substantive thought. Einstein felt, then reasoned, then thought: How could all the laws of physics be brought together into perfect concert with one another? He reasoned that the only way this could be, is if they were all emerging from the same one thing. Finally, he articulated it as a concrete thought: there must be one thing that is the source of all things.
Einstein didn’t even have the math to work out the details of his theory. Nevertheless, he was so certain it had to be valid that he spent the last 30 years of his life trying to work it out.
Though we may not all come up with a Unified Field Theory, the process Einstein went through is common to us all. Namely, a thought begins with a feeling. As you reflect upon that feeling, you begin to reason. Though they are not quite yet concrete thoughts, things become reasonable. As you reflect further, a concrete thought emerges. So, the process is feeling, then reasoning, then concrete thought.
Imagine you are painting a picture and someone suggests adding a particular color. That suggestion may immediately not feel right to you, but you are not quite sure why. So you begin to reason. What is it about that color that feels off to you? Your eyes may scan the rest of the painting, exploring how that additional color does or does not fit. You may feel it clashes with some of the other colors, or perhaps you feel it brings imbalance into the painting, or pushes the painting in a direction you don’t want it to go. However at this point, your notions are not exactly clear. They are in that zone called ‘reason,’ in the gap between feelings and concrete thoughts. As you sit with it longer, the understanding becomes more clear. It becomes something you can articulate.
How many times a day do we go through that process? We have a feeling, we reflect upon it for a while, and then we come up with a concrete thought. It is important to understand this is a natural process. Otherwise, we may try to push the thought before it is fully matured. Then the thoughts we articulate are not really consistent with what we really believe and what we really feel. They are not really reasonable. By expressing them prematurely, we paint ourselves into a corner.
The other obstacle to this process is called “conditioning.” The classic Pavlovian example of a dog trained to salivate not based on the smell of food, but on the sound of a whistle that he has come to associate with food is just as common in humans. Conditioning is basically bias—programmed responses, points of view, and belief systems. They are the result of impressions your life experiences left on your awareness. Sometimes those impressions can come from traumatic, early childhood experiences. In fact, studies have shown that impressions from the first five years of our lives very much determine how we function the rest of our lives. These impressions distort how we really think and feel.
Wisdom is a process—the process of sorting all this out so that our thoughts and feelings are consistent with our true nature. Wisdom then, is the process of filtering out biases and distortions that arise through conditioning.
The spiritual path, the path of personal development, can be considered a path of wisdom. Wisdom is not something we acquire, we already have it within. Nevertheless, understanding this process of wisdom allows us to access the wisdom that is there. That way, our lives and behavior can align with our inner wisdom. Without wisdom, our thoughts and emotions are triggered on a very superficial level. As a result, our behavior has more to do with our conditioning than our inner wisdom. Wisdom is the key to everything.
Aspire to integrate your wisdom, the depth of your being, with the surface of your life. Ask yourself what you really feel about something deep inside. Look to that place that is untouched by programmed emotions and thoughts. Question why you feel the way that you feel, why you think the way you think. If you are really honest with yourself, you can sense when your emotions are out of balance. Work with that. Feel into that. Ponder that. Reflect upon that. In other words, cultivate wisdom. By spreading the cards out on the table, you can examine the distortions and free yourself of the programming. Basically, you are just cleaning up your life. The rewards cannot be overstated. The path of wisdom is the path to fulfillment.
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