Knowledge and Wisdom

“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.” –Zen Proverb

As with most Zen proverbs, the quote above is both complicated and simple. The concept is beautiful in its simplicity. You can benefit by learning something new every day. You can benefit by letting go of memories and beliefs that are not serving you.

How is this complicated?

1) Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily routine that we overlook learning opportunities.

To learn something new everyday does not imply that you attend a class every day, that you read a book every day or that you create a new Wikipedia entry every day.
Some days your learning will be formal and planned and perhaps really, really challenging. Some days your learning is a lot less formal and a lot simpler.

  • Maybe you take a new route to work and you drive through a new neighborhood.
  • You take a lunch break with your co-workers and discover that one of them is training for their first marathon.
  • You see a word in an article that you don’t know, so you take the time to look it up.
  • You take the time to call a friend, just to say ‘Hi’ and you find out that they are an avid online gamer.

There are so many learning opportunities all around you, just waiting to be discovered. All you need to do is stop, look and listen. None of the above required any real heavy lifting on your part. You can acquire knowledge through formal education and you can acquire knowledge by keeping your eyes and ears open. Why not include a bit of each type of learning in your life, every day?

2) Sometimes we are so attached to the past and to our thoughts and ideas that we forget that we get to choose what we carry with us and what we leave behind.

Some of you drag so much mental and emotional stuff with you that it is no wonder that you feel tired. You must have the strength of 1,000 elephants. (Not that I have tested 1,000 elephants, but it seems like they would be really, really strong.) Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could harness that strength for something more productive? You can!

First you want to start using some of that strength to let go. Let go of upsetting situations from your past and let go of negative influences right now. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it might be because we discussed this in ‘What is an Agreement?

You know what? Whatever happened is in the past. Find a way to let it go and get on with your life because, again, you cannot go back. You cannot change it. Your best bet is to just keep moving forward. Make peace with past mistakes and upsets. Use the past for lessons learned. The only good it presents to you is the benefit of experience. You can learn what to do, what not to do and how to support yourself in a more positive environment. So if you’ve made peace with whatever happened and you assessed the situation, you devised the actions to do the best repair work that you can do, you took those actions and you understand what you’re going to do differently in the future, then guess what? You’re done. It’s time to let it go and move on. What else is to be gained? What do you gain by carrying around trauma and drama? And really, come on, you deserve to be set free from whatever this thing is, whatever this shackle is. Set yourself free.

Start building your knowledge and wisdom today. Ask yourself, what will I learn today or what have I learned today? Ask yourself, what can I let go of today?

And then tomorrow, wake up and do it all over again.