There is a longing within each and every one of us to understand. Behind every interaction, thought, and emotion is a longing to know, to merge, to commune, and to fathom that which lies within and outside of us. Consciously or unconsciously, we strive to fathom life, and reduce it down to a belief system, a perspective.
99.9% of this world we live in is perspective. It’s just opinion. It’s a viewpoint to which people cling to as valid. We base our lives upon these perspectives. They define our science, our religion, and our moral values. Yet, as Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Reality is not concrete. It is paradoxical, undefinable, and ungraspable. The physicist, Heisenberg, may have alluded to it best for the Western mind by saying that everything is just a probability cloud. It’s only when we grab onto a perspective that we reduce it down to something it is not. This grabbing confines, defines, and limits the true nature of anything and everything.
We do not need to look too far to see examples of this. Though wisdom underlies most every religion, we tend to reduce religions down to a dogmatic perspective. We are then apt to cling to our perspective as a sacred doctrine. As that perspective is passed down through the generations it becomes, oftentimes literally, etched in stone. Though a more profound understanding of life may underlie these teachings, the concrete and rigid perspectives through which we interpret them compromise the teachings. It is no longer what it was originally meant to be. When the Master (of whatever religion) speaks, it immediately ceases to be what the Master said, and becomes what the listeners heard. Therein lies the birth of religion. So, religion simultaneously has two sides: the dogmatic perspective and the wisdom of the Master who saw beyond the perspectives.
Politics, particularly these days, is a highly charged example of the power of identity with a perspective. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if political debates ceased to be a tug-of-war between perspectives? In fact, ceased to be debates at all? Instead, what if they became a meeting of minds, a communion of thoughts, and a refinement of contradictory perspectives that brought people to a deeper and more sophisticated understanding? An understanding that honored whatever value underlies each perspective, while separating the wheat from the chaff.
Wisdom means finding fulfillment and peace in the understanding that, in every interaction, truth lies beyond the grasp of our current perspective. The more loosely we hold firm to our perspectives, the closer we come to the ungraspable 0.1% of life and existence. It is that unfathomable, undefinable, abstract and intangible 0.1% that holds together the entire field of polar opposites, paradox, and contradiction. That level of life and understanding is called wisdom. The flip side of wisdom is not arrogance or rigidity; instead it is humility and open-mindedness. For every perspective, there is an equally valid and opposite perspective. The resolution of life, of paradox, is found in the ungraspable depth of one’s being, one’s soul.
Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Connect with Dr. Mamas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.