Friday, April 26, 2013

Pursuit IS the prize!

     The Book of Wisdom (also known simply as Wisdom or The Wisdom of Solomon) is a collection of teachings similar in content and nature to other "wisdom" books of the Hebrew Bible, such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job.  Probably written in the 2nd or 1st century before the Common Era, it was apparently accepted as scripture by many Jews and Christians in the early centuries of the Common Era.  It was not, however, composed in Hebrew, but rather in Greek, and partly for that reason, did not remain in the official list of scriptural books among Jews and most Protestant Christians.  Its absence from those collections, however, doesn't diminish its capacity for teaching!
      I was reading Wisdom this morning, specifically this passage:

Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those who seek her, she is readily found.  She anticipates those who desire her by making herself known first.  Whoever gets up early to seek her will have no trouble but will find her sitting at the door.  For she herself searches everywhere for those who are worthy of her, benevolently appearing to them on their ways, anticipating their every thought.  (6.12-14, 16)

I was struck by the notion that, in short, Wisdom is found wherever we are, wherever we look, whenever we desire it.  But I also got the impression that wisdom is NOT something that is ever completely captured.
      In my pursuit of learning to fly-fish, I have read (and heard), over and over again, that one never stops learning, or never becomes completely proficient.  Even the best fisherfolk get "skunked" some days; the fish will not take their fly, or they forget a basic tenet of casting.  The flow of streams is constantly changing, presenting new challenges to the one who stalks the wily trout. What works on the water one day doesn't work the next!  The teaching of Buddhist Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki applies here to fishing:  "The goal of [Zen] practice is always to keep our beginner's mind."*
      I heard echoes of similar teaching last evening at DU's annual Men's Basketball banquet. Head Coach, Joe Scott, in his "State of the Program" address at the close of the evening, spoke about one of the main hallmarks, or foci, of the program:  Humility.  I must admit I was a bit surprised by that, not because I witnessed arrogance from the team--quite the opposite, they're a great group of young men.   But "humility" was not something I immediately associated with a highly competitive basketball team.  Coach Scott continued on to say that humility leads to "thirst for knowledge".  And then it made sense:  if one is humble, one realizes that there is always more to learn; one has never achieved it all.
      And, so I thought this morning, "It is the pursuit of the prize that is itself the prize."  It is an endeavor born out of humility.  Or, as Suzuki echoes the Hellenistic-era sage, "It is wisdom which is seeking for wisdom".**


Chaplain Gary

*Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Weatherhill, 1996), 21.
**Ibid., 19.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Gary

    This is me. I enjoyed your article on Wisdom. You have a gem here. I like the description of wisdom as 'she'. No wonder men want it so badly but women have it already. It is so unfair alas - life passes on in search of wisdom. Searching is the proecss - which makes us wise. wisdom is earned through the journey not at the end of the journey. Thus, wise person, at a point, stops traveling and stops searching outside as s/he faces inwards. And the light inside comes out shining bringing brillaince to the world. He who knows inside - knows all about outside.
    Travel for wisdom is always internal in direction. It moves from darkness to light, death to immortality and untruth to absolute truth. Places may not bring wisdom but people may. Things may not bring wisdom - prayers may. Rituals may not bring wisdom but righteousness may. Humility may bring one closer to wisdom than all the victories could. Alexander, Genghis Khan and Sirous did not find wisdom by conquering lands. But Buddha, Jesus, Moses and Gandhi traveled inwards to meet the waiting wisdom.
    Let the souls ripe with pain of search and the divine will step in with a bowl of nectar sprinkled with grace and wisdom.
    He who cries for others - never have to cry for himself. He who feeds others - never goes hungry.
    If we are not living for others - why are we living.
    Wisdom lies in knowing why we live not how we live.
    Duality is the reality. When one finds unity in diverstiy - duality dissipates - and wisdom arises and search ceases. Ony then Divinity finds humanity - noble soul raises the masses.