Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wisdom



“Stoicism is the wisdom of madness and cynicism is the madness of wisdom,” said Bergen Evans.  Both stoicism and cynicism are stances that spill over the borders of the normal; hence the nuances of madness.  Can’t one be normal and yet be wise?

Psychologist Erik Erikson described wisdom as “detached concern with life.”  Detachment implies a transcendence of emotions while concern involves a certain degree of emotions.  If the stoic and cynic in ourselves can come together in a rational understanding, we will be sanely wise.

Life inevitably takes us through a multitude of experiences.  Some are good experiences while the others may be bad.  Joys and sorrows are intermingled in life.  There are both successes and failures.  A time may come in our life when we learn to rise above the urge to celebrate joys and successes and lament sorrows and failures.  That’s when we have become wise.

As we grow older we should acquire greater integrity of being.  Integrity is a psychological state in which the external factors don’t unsettle us much: neither positively nor negatively.  In other words, we don’t rejoice much over good things happening, nor do we weep over bad things.  We have learnt to accept them all as integral part of life.  

Integrity is a unique personal style.  It is a particular way of facing the external realities.  With a fair degree of equanimity. 

Integrity and wisdom are two sides of the same coin.  They are not much different from each other.  One cannot be found without the other.


It may be much easier to come across stoics and cynics than people possessing integrity and wisdom.  It is easier to suffer injustices stoically than to understand them wisely.  It is easier to look around cynically for a coffin when you smell flowers than to absorb the pain of the realisation that the fragrance of flowers is as ephemeral as the innocence of children.


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5 comments:

  1. I really agree with the part where you said "it is easier to come across stoic and cynics thant people possessing integrity and wisdom". You've given me a thought for the day and now Its actually making me think about a lot of things.

    Great post.
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  2. I support only the goals of Stoics and Cynics but it's better if a person gets wise gradually with his own experiences with life, (As you said that life takes us through various good and bad experiences) rather than by a deliberate attempt (by giving up worldly comforts and disregarding things of passion).
    I even fail to understand every time that how does a person feel an urge to turn into someone's disciple. As an individual I find myself unable to follow a person or any of the doctrines completely. Wisdom comes from within, by our own experiences, and not by the external impositions, that's what I believe in till now.

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    Replies
    1. Namrata, I like your comment especially since it is very much in tune with the psychologist I cited. Erikson is of the view that real wisdom comes with age. In fact, it is the developmental goal of the last stage of life, according to his division of life into 7 stages. At each stage we go through certain crises.

      In infancy it is basic trust vs basic mistrust.
      Toddlerhood: autonomy vs shame and doubt
      Early childhood: initiative vs guilt
      middle childhood: industry vs inferiority
      Adolescence: identity vs role confusion
      Early adulthood: intimacy vs isolation
      Middle adulthood: generativity vs stagnation
      Late adulthood (old age): integrity vs despair

      I worked on that last concept in this blog. For more, just google Erikson. You'll find an amazing lot of information on this issue.

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    2. Oh yes. I found Wikipedia's article upon the stages of life as explained by Erikson. I am amazed to see how I can relate with it. Presently I am going through a phase of life where intimacy with a person and a persistent feeling of isolation accompany me always. Brilliant like anything. :) Would be reading more about it.

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