Books? That’s the first thing that crosses our mind as we come across words like “wisdom” and “knowledge” but the reality, at least to me, is far from this. When I was still at school, I had this notion that books only are the doors to wisdom but after completing my studies from institutions made of walls and roofs, I understood that what books impart to us is knowledge, not wisdom.
So where is wisdom found?
In my early twenties, when I began traveling the world, I met thousands of people. From the vibrant Masai people along the Great Rift Valley of Kenya to the “Pahari” (people living on mountains) people in Pahalgam, Kashmir, each one had a story to share with me and from these stories emanated morals of life. These morals formed the pillar of my character and made me the person I am today. Meeting people does not automatically guarantee the flow of wisdom. We need to connect with people at different levels, listen attentively to what they have to say, engage in deep conversation with them and see them as gurus. When someone imparts wisdom to you, he or she must be seen as a guru and a guru deserves full respect and gratitude. The problem nowadays is that people are keener to get people interested in them, than to get interested in people. In the process of feeling important, we miss what’s important really. We aren’t listening enough. We aren’t humble enough to accept wisdom from others. We are filled with ego. We do not want to appear as students; we want to be seen as gurus. We crave for glories and pride. If we do not shed off this mindset, we can never learn and if we don’t learn, we cannot never be wiser than we are today. As from today, see everyone as your guru and learn from them because everyone has a story and an advice for you.
2. Mountains and hills
This might seem surprising or strange to you but to me, it’s my source of wisdom and inspiration. From the Uetliberg of Switzerland to the Philopappos in Greece, I have been trekking several hills and mountains. The summit is the destination and the steep of the mountain is the journey. We spend more time on the steep and lesser at the destination. The mountain is the guru. The climb teaches us to move forward in life if we want to attain the summit. Applying this in our life, if we wish to achieve our goals, we must progress step by step. Like the mountain, we must be patient, our principles must be firm and our decisions must be immovable. Mountain is a place to meditate and breathe, to put ourselves to test, to challenge ourselves and as we climb, we discover not what the mountain is but who we are. There’s a lot to learn from mountains and hills. We just need to climb, listen to what the mountain is saying, and apply the learnings in our lives.
Maybe we are forgetting that we are the intruders in a world that belongs to animals; not them. Animals were here before us. They’ve known this planet before we’ve even tried to conduct scientific researches to understand what gravity is. They’ve felt the fresh breezes in the wide blue sky before we’ve even invented helicopters, planes and parachutes. They are intelligent creatures and if we consider them as our gurus, we will grow into wiser individuals. Let’s take for example, the penguins. I stood at the zoo in Zurich, with a cup of coffee, and watched this group of penguins with a conscious goal to learn something from them. They stay in group and if one of them is lagging behind while moving in a direction, they make sure not to desert him. So, I hope you will check on the animals in or around your house as from tomorrow itself. Observe them and find meaning in how they act, interact and react.
It’s after all not so difficult to become wiser in life. Open your heart and mind to learn, be humble, see everyone and everything as a guru, listen and observe, and eventually, you will find wisdom.