Friday, May 11, 2018

The Virtue of Wisdom

Rudolf Steiner:

The first virtue which we must consider, if we speak about morality from a comprehensive knowledge of human nature, is the virtue of wisdom. But this wisdom is to be understood in a rather deeper sense, more related to ethics, than is usually done. Wisdom is not something that comes to man of its own accord; still less can it in the ordinary sense be learned. It is not easy to describe what its meaning for us should be. If we pass through life in such a way that events work upon us, and we learn from them how we could have met this or that more adequately, how we could have used our powers more strongly and effectively — if we are attentive toward everything in life, so that when something meets us a second time in a comparable way we can treat it in a way which shows us we have benefited from the first experience — then we grow in wisdom. If we preserve all through life a mood of being able to learn from life, of being able to regard everything brought to us by nature and our experience in such a way that we learn from it, not simply accumulating knowledge, but growing inwardly better and richer — then we have gathered wisdom, and what we have experienced has not been worthless for the life of our souls.
Life has been worthless for us if we pass through decades and still judge something that we have experienced in just the same way as we thought about it earlier in our lives. If we pass through life in such a way, we are most remote from wisdom. Karma may have brought it about that in youth we grew angry, and condemned this or that human action. If we retain this quality we have made poor use of our lives. We have used them well, supposing we formed harsh judgments in our youth, if at a later stage of life we do not judge harshly, but with understanding and forgiveness; if we make the effort of wishing to understand. If we have the character that from birth some things aroused furious anger in us, and if when we are old we no longer grow angry as in our youth, but our anger has left us and we have grown gentler — then we have used life in accordance with wisdom. If we were materialists in our youth, but then allowed ourselves to experience what our time could bring us as revelations from the spiritual world, then we have used our life in accordance with wisdom. If we close ourselves to the revelations of the spiritual world we have not used our life in accordance with wisdom.
To be enriched in this way, and to achieve a wider horizon, we can call the use of life in accordance with wisdom. What spiritual science seeks to give us is able to help us in opening ourselves toward life, in order to grow wiser. Wisdom is something which strongly opposes human egoism. Wisdom is something which always reckons with the course of universal events. We let ourselves be instructed by the course of universal events because this liberates us from the narrow judgment made by our ego. Fundamentally, a wise man cannot judge egoistically; for if one learns from the world, and grows in understanding for the world, one allows one's judgment to be corrected by the world; thus wisdom detaches us from narrow and limited vision and brings us into harmony with itself. Much else could be described, in order gradually to form a picture of wisdom. We should not attempt a definition of such ideas, but keep our hearts open, in order to grow wiser, even about wisdom.

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