Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Most Precious of Things

“The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. . . The ordinary objects of human endeavor -- property, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible.” ~Albert Einstein

Okay. So I’ve been thinking about life a lot lately (as if that’s something new), and I’ve been trying to rank the different ideals and characteristics we all search for and sometimes encounter in one another on a value scale. Forget about material possessions… I’m talking about the stuff of life here! And after much thought, I’ve sort of come to a conclusion, and I’d like to know what you think…

Studying the book of Proverbs, I noticed a trend. So I started poking around other religions (Buddhism and Judaism) and great thinkers and saw a pattern there too… I think that it’s safe to say that the two most important things we can seek out in ourselves and in others is truth and wisdom. These precious human commodities are worth more than gold. They cannot be bought; they cannot be gained in mere degrees, offices, or rank. They can’t be bartered for, feigned, or ill-constructed because they will fall like a house of cards.

TRUTH

Truth is a silver bullet, isn’t it? Like the Eightfold of Buddhism and the teachings of Christ, honest and right acts by way of our mouths and our doings leave us blameless and enlightened. The truth makes for a good pillow at night. The truth always rises, and it will set you free. You will be known by your truth (or lack there of), and it’s as pure and simple as that. If someone wrongfully accuses you, you can stand behind the armor of truth. And when someone tries to deceive you, if you look hard enough, the truth will always be found somewhere, waiting for you. That is the power of truth.

So, if we can manage to live truth and speak truth from our lips and in our actions, we can be at ease. But truth requires a full-on commitment. We can’t dabble in the truth or merely put it on when it suits us best. The truth is an unyielding shield, but it also invites arrows. Truth is sublime, and it can be a jagged pill to swallow. But in the end, it’s always better to be on the right side of the truth, isn’t it?

"The truth is heavy; therefore few care to carry it." ~The Talmud

"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth… and there are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." ~Buddha

"God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth." ~Henry David Thoreau
"Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying." ~Vincent de Paul

WISDOM

And wisdom? It seems like an illusive commodity in this day and age, but it just might be the worthiest attribute to chase after. It is more than knowledge and intellect, which is the thing of books. Wisdom is the thing of life. Its ways and insights can only be earned by living life with eyes wide open. And sadly, many men live full lives without ever finding it. It’s as if they are groping in the dark for a destination that eludes them.

Wisdom requires reflection and solitude, but when we are able to find even a kernel of wisdom we are able to buy some peace or piece of mind. We are able to see things in a different light, and in the enlightenment, we are kinder, softer people. We are able to forgive our enemies because they are people first. We are able to put others first because we know everyone is in a struggle with someone or something too. We smile at strangers, and we learn to let the little things go so that we can be blessed by what’s important in this temporary journey.

You want to know what might be the best thing about wisdom? We can put it on in layers, just like warm winter clothes that protect us from the frigid snowy nights. Wisdom can be gathered up as we go about our lives. And if we are smart, if we are paying attention, then we will know to put it on in preparation for the next storm.

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

"How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!" ~Proverbs 16:16

"Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life." ~Sandra Carey

"The highest form of wisdom is kindness" ~The Talmud

"Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue." ~Buddha

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DISCLAIMER

Now some of you might be shocked... Why not love, you may ask. Love is the most precious thing! All you need is love (to quote the Fab Four), you might say. But isn’t it true that if a relationship with another human being is founded on truth and wisdom that then, and only then, can real love be grown? How can a bold, forever love last on anything else? Perhaps love is the result of truth and wisdom shared.
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What do think? What are some other precious human commodities?

2 comments:

  1. It's always a tricky proposition to discuss Love as a thing, because all the words can do is point to a great Mystery. C.S. Lewis's book "The Four Loves" is one of the more coherent ways for the mind to tackle the subject, but ultimately it still remains a mystery.

    I believe "Love" - with a capital letter--is the spiritual equivalent of the force we call "Gravity" in the physical dimension--a universal, enormously powerful, attractive force whose effects are clearly discernible throughout the universe to astrophysicists.

    I do have to disagree about giving Love a back seat to Wisdom and Truth, even when wisdom and truth may be precursors to lasting love in many human relationships. Even in human relationships, the love of a mother for her child is natural and spontaneous for most mothers. I don't see it as being dependent upon the mother's being a wise and truthful person before her child is birthed. Nor do I see them as attributes necessary for the mother to develop in order for her to continue selflessly loving her child until her death--and beyond. Children can teach us wisdom and help us to develop truthfulness by their very nature, when parents pay attention, though, so if anything, I suspect that wisdom and truth follow on the heels of love and that all three are indeed close companions.

    Beyond the realms of consciously intending to cultivate truthfulness and wisdom within ourselves is Love in the form of true, unconditional love--Love, as brought, taught, and demonstrated for humanity through the ministry of Christ. "Wise" people tell us that human beings are incapable of unconditional love and that we have no direct connection with Divine Love. Have they been in the presence of Amma, the hugging saint from India? I suspect not. Yes, human beings are capable of unconditional love, though we rarely manage to demonstrate it.

    We Are Unconditional Love. The spark of the Divine exists within us all. It can become consciously so in humanity when we intend it to be and act on that intention and ask for divine assistance. We can actually birth the Christ consciousness dwelling within us into outward expression in our lives. Master teachers from other spiritual traditions have taught this as well.

    The attempt to develop the quality of unconditional love, especially if you expand it to include all of humanity, is a huge undertaking for a human being, no question, and if you hear the calling and ask for help with moving into that state of consciousness, be ready for the toughest, most devastating trials of you life. Your teachers will be the very people you love the most. They will do everything in their power to dissuade you from ever having believed you could love anything or anyone unconditionally. Ask for the courage to continue, avoid giving up, avoid judging yourself when you fall short--and you will.

    Ultimately these people are your master teachers for this lesson. There are many twists and turns. Just follow the path you have chosen. Yeshua ben Joseph / Jesus spoke, during the crucifixion, of his tormentors, saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Being unconditional love necessitates forgiving those who seemingly wrong us or betray us. Perhaps they are serving a larger purpose and perhaps appearances are deceiving. One way or another, unless you give up, when you ask to develop unconditional love as a human being, you will begin to move along a blessed path.

    Being wise, being truthful, being peaceful, and being free are the gifts of Being Unconditional Love.

    "Love is the brilliant and shining way. Love is always and forever the only way Home." ~ Simeon Nartoomid

    copyright 2010, Carol Stall

    ReplyDelete
  2. What you wrote here is so beautiful, so thoughtful, so eloquent, so RIGHT. This pure, spiritual love that has no expectations or conditions is the type of love we should chase after.

    I have "The Four Loves" and started to read it a while back; now I want to pick it up again and finish it.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete

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