A wooden post in front of tree branches. A sign on the post reads 'Wisdom'
24th July 2017 The MALESTROM

Ancient wisdom for the modern world

Wisdom comes from a life lived, experience, mistakes made, growth born out of the day to day challenges faced and taking the not at first obvious lessons firmly on board. Sound familiar? Maybe not. This isn’t the case for everyone, some of us fall into patterns and routines, we repeat behaviour and are trapped in cycles that offer little or no benefit to us, blocking us from learning when things go wrong in our lives.

To be wise is to understand the fundamentals of the universe, the workings of the world, the power of nature and the unnecessary value of the rules and social constructs that are presented to us, alongside the subsequent worries and fears that accompany them. It’s also to understand that you have power and options beyond your wildest dreams, but realising often the simpler things that stare you in the face can bring untold joy. From generation to generation throughout history respected village elders, gurus and mentors would pass down their wisdom often through the medium of storytelling. Here we present you with some ancient wisdom and some slightly more contemporary words to the wise that you can begin living by right now.

Confucius, was a Chinese teacher and philosopher, who proposed justice and sincerity through one’s own self cultivation. An avid learner from a young age, he believed that education should be available to all, and that humans should  His teachings have played to this day a huge role in the politics and philosophy of Chinese society. Born in 551 BC he is a source of some of the most ancient known wisdom. He championed and taught morality, and believed that collective prosperity could be achieved firstly through self improvement. He was the first person thought to adopt the principle, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” In fact many ideologies are attributed to his works.

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Beauty isn’t only skin deep. Sometimes you have to dig beneath the surface.

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

Put your full heart and energy into all your endeavours.

One of the founders of modern philosophy Socrates. was a character that has had a profound effect on humanity, best known for his indefatigable desire to question everything. The Socratic Method as it is now known involved ‘cooperative argumentative dialogue,’ asking question after question until his students suitably stimulated in diverse thought, came to their own personal understandings. He never wrote anything down, but luckily his famed student Plato did or we would have been deprived of some of mankind’s most thought provoking statements…

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

In modern day terms get that work life balance in better harmony!

“He is richest who is content with the least, for contentment is the wealth of nature.”

Or learn to appreciate and be happy with what you’ve got in life rather than yearning for too much.

In Norse mythology the book The Poetic Edda includes a copy of a sacred text called the Hovamol. A long single poem that some believe to be attributed to the Norse god Odin or at least that these words were his thoughts projected into man so he may write it. It contains a number of stanzas filled with wisdom, these two are from The Ballad of the High One.

Verse 9

A better burden may no man bear
For wanderings wide than wisdom;
It is better than wealth on unknown ways,
And in grief a refuge it gives.

The words are telling us wisdom is the most precious possession we can take with us on our life’s journey. Even giving us solace in the darkest moments.

Verse 23

The witless man is awake all night
Thinking of many things;
Care-worn he is when the morning comes,
And his woe is just as it was.

Or in other words obsessively worrying about things gets you nowhere.

Moving into more modern day thinking American Writer Prentice Mulford was one of the founders of the New Thought movement in the American 1800s. He coined a phrase that many of you will be familiar with, ‘the law of attraction.’ His book Thoughts Are Things is essentially the guide to the belief system.

In his book Your Forces and How To Use ThemThe complete six volume collection, Prentice writes …

“Whatever the mind is set upon, or whatever it keeps most in view, that it is bringing to it, and the continual thought or imagining must at last take form and shape in the world of seen and tangible things.”

We attract to us what we concentrate upon. If you keep focussed on a subject it will manifest into your reality.

“To learn to forget is as necessary and useful as to learn to remember. We think of many things every day which it would be more profitable not to think of at all. To be able to forget is to be able to drive away the unseen force (thought) which is injuring us, and change it for a force (or order of thought) to benefit us.”

Certain thoughts can be very damaging. If we can get into a better mindset and think positive thoughts, that’s what will be drawn toward us.

Another scribe known for his sage words was playwright William Shakespeare. One statement attributed to him was …

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

The wise man knows there is an infinite amount of knowledge to learn so he can never feel himself truly learned. It mirrors another saying from Socrates …

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” 

Florence Scovel Shinn was an American artist born in 1871. She became a thought teacher and metaphysical writer who well knew the power of words and thoughts and shared her knowledge of spiritual law with others, chiefly through her book The Game Of Life, although she wrote many others. In her books she sets out real-life examples of how keeping a positive attitude and using affirmations can lead to a life full of whatever goodness you’re seeking. She often writes about karma coming to bite us in the behind …

“The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.”

So be careful!

“Do not neglect the day of small things, for little beginnings have big endings”

Here Florence is saying don’t ignore small signs of things you’ve asked for in your life, don’t think that the small things are all that are coming to you. Keep the faith and big things may well be right round the corner.

Finally a book all will be familiar with in some capacity, The Bible. The Book of Proverbs by Solomon is a mine full of ancient wisdom. Here’s a good one to live by …

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Solomon 15:1)

Soft words have a calming effect when speaking to those who are angry. Whereas returning the anger will only make the situation worse.

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