What is Wisdom?

16th of Mar 2013

Delhi, India

(India Today Conclave is a signature event of India Today Group, India's leading media conglomerate. Over the last eleven years it has hosted the best minds in politics, finance, business, academia, technology, arts, etc., from across the world providing them a platform to explore and discuss unique ideas, strategies & solutions for the 21st Century World.
H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was invited as a speaker for India Today Conclave 2013. Below is a transcript of the same.)

Wisdom is beyond time!

The sun is ancient, but today, the rays from the sun are fresh. It is not old or stale rays. The same is with water. The river Ganga is so ancient, but today’s water is very fresh.
In the same way, I would say, Wisdom is that something which is applicable to our life, which is ancient, yet new and fresh. That which upholds life is wisdom.

See the ignorant, or fanatically religious; the so called intelligentsia is fashionably atheistic, and it is the wise ones who know how to combine the old and new and make their lives.
Like a tree, which needs the roots that are old, and the shoots, that are new, life needs to be adaptable, and this exactly is ancient wisdom.
The very first hymn in the Rig Veda is, ‘Agnih puurvebhir rishibhir idyo nuutanair uta’. The old and the new, they exists together, and that is wisdom.
Just like technology and trade, tradition needs to be revived and reviewed again. This is essential. And the vibrancy of India, is that we were able to do this. From ancient times, certain aspects of tradition were kept intact, yet it became very much adaptable as time flew towards the modern day requirements, and life’s challenges that one has to meet.

What really is wisdom? Why should we be wise?
Nobody wants to be in suffering. Nobody wants to be upset. That something which takes us away from suffering, which gives us a vision, which makes life vibrant, and which connects the individual you to the universal you that exists in the universe, is wisdom.
Wisdom brings immense satisfaction that small gratification does not bring. And it is available to everybody. It has nothing to do with education, I tell you. You will find wise people even amongst the illiterates in the villages. Perhaps even more. They know how to manage their homes, they know how to keep harmony in their neighborhood, they know how to bring people together, and how to bring celebration in life. Wisdom is that which brings celebration in life, which brings a smile on your face. That which keeps you healthy, and gives you the intuitive ability to see what is ahead of you in life.

I would like to add one more thing, as we were talking about thought.
I find that thought is only the gate keeper of the house. Emotion is a little more powerful than thought. You may think, ‘I am happy’, or you may put all your attention towards that thought, but when emotions come, that is it, they just barge in with such force, that all the thought process that you kept with yourself, just disappears.
You know, you will find your emotions are much more powerful than thought. Situations overpower you; though you try to say, ‘I want to be happy’, or, ‘I am happy’, suddenly a bolt of emotions comes, or energy comes and then all these thoughts disappear.
So we need to work on several layers of our life. The first is the environment, then the body, the breath – breath is the link between the mind and the body. Then the mind; thoughts. Then emotions, which are subtler and more powerful that the mind. And then beyond that, the energy field, which is the positivity, the radiance, the soul or spirit that you are, that comes into play.

And all these techniques of meditation, contemplative prayer as in the Christian tradition, or Buddhist Zen meditation, all this is to transcend the thought and reach to that level from where everything runs. And that is like attending to the house owner. Once the house owner is attended to then the guard will listen to what the owner says.

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