Knowledge, Wisdom, Insight and Enjoyment

Knowledge, wisdom, insight and enjoyment relate to the mind but differ in kind. Knowledge is information, wisdom is the application of knowledge, insight is awareness of an essential truth, and enjoyment is, as writer Paul Goodman (1911-1972) observed,  “not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity.” 

Knowledge is, “Nothing but the facts ma’am.” If you’re a carpenter, you have knowledge of carpentry. If you play guitar, you have knowledge of guitars. If you’re an astronomer, you have knowledge of stars. Knowledge requires research, study and experience.

knowledge is power

Knowledge is the foundation for wisdom. Wisdom is knowing why something is. Wisdom is the application of knowledge for making sound decisions because one can’t act wisely without knowing the potential consequences of a choice.

Wisdom requires reflection and contemplation of what you know and don’t know so as to understand and use that knowledge in an intelligent way.

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Wisdom is necessary if you are to have insight. Insight is a personal realization. Insight is an experience. It is the deepest level of knowing. It is understanding a specific cause and effect within a specific context.

Insight is a clearer perception of knowledge and wisdom as it pertains to your life. Whereas knowledge and wisdom are based on rationality, insight is based on intuitive understanding. calvin and hobbes i have to do this

The application of wisdom enables a person to gain insight into the essence of an underlying truth. To enjoy insight you not only need to acquire knowledge and take that knowledge and contemplate it—look at all sides with care and attention—and deliberate it—weigh facts and arguments with a view to a choice and consequences—so as to gain wisdom, but you need to make an intuitive connection which is hard to explainlet alone impart to another person.

If you have insight, explanations are meaningless to another person. Like enjoyment, insight is an individual experience that can be described and analyzed but not transmitted or shared. When discussing knowledge, wisdom, insight and enjoyment, we are digging into two incompatible types of thought: rational and intuitive.

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Rationality employs language, logic and reason. Think of rationality as a machine. Rationality can be taught but intuition cannot. Think of intuition as a flower. Intuition is embedded in your consciousness but it is often repressed by self-consiousness.

rational-emotional.jpgRational knowledge is knowing what people, things, practices and pleasures make you happy, but wisdom is knowing that things you enjoy do not actually make you happy; happiness comes from within. Insight is feeling that whether or not you believe something isn’t the right question because the answer is what you know through experience.

chicken of depression

Intuition is beyond words. You can’t manipulate intuitive consciousness with rational thinking. Rational thinking is a veil through which we think we see reality, but we’re really only perceiving a shallow portion filtered through our constructed perspective.

To see reality directly as reality is to be in reality with acceptance as it is (see also: The Art of Love And Enjoyment Incarnate).

Rationality constrains one’s mind and intuition releases it.

Intuition is a key to what might be called, “higher consciousness” which is, “the part of the human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts” (Wikipedia). Higher consciousness has been described as a feeling of oneness where the world is seen directly and not analytically. The world feels like an extension of your consciousness and there is a sudden sense of freedom from a bondage to the way you think about things.

An insight of higher consciousness is a highly enjoyable direct experience with reality in the present. It is knowing that the happiness you feel is a temporary emotion just like any other temporary emotion that you experience. Happiness is one emotion in a spectrum. If you give yourself permission and relax with acceptance, if you let your face go slack and see from the sides, if you hear without hearing, if you do all this without trying, you will enjoy the intuitive realization or insight that there’s nothing to realize.

The world is there. It is unchanged regardless of how you perceive it. Now is the time to give birth to an awareness of all the love and care you have in your body for everything that is, was, and shall be.

This is not a matter of believing or not believing. That’s the wrong way to look at it. This is about knowing from direct experience. It’s when a feeling of awareness dawns in you. It’s when you stop interpreting what you see, hear, smell and feel. That’s when you realize that you and the world around you are one and the same. Like a cell in a body you are. But wait, before you make a decision as to whether or not this is nonsense, try it yourself—then you’ll know. The trick is to try and not try without effort.

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So This Is Christmas

christmasChristmas. It’s a time to enjoy being a kid again. ‘It’s time to be nice to the people you can’t stand all year’ (Blink 182, Won’t Be Home For Christmas). It’s time to lighten up like a string of lights and not be so serious. Serious people lose their sense of humour. They lose perspective, get mad, start wars (or self-destruct).

Let go of expectations. Lower the bar! It’s time to take stock, have a good cry and then: move on – refreshed – ready for a new year.

where is mindIt’s time to pay attention to matters of love and friendship and textured vests. It’s a time to want what you get and be thankful for it. It’s a time to enjoy being mild and to smile for no apparent reason. It’s time to relax your face muscles completely, to not be critical of the idiot next door or find fault with yourself and all the others out there.

It’s like Ebenezer Scrooge said in A Christmas Carol after his nightmare and metanoia (change of heart), “It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” And then, later a new and improved Mr. Scrooge said, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

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It’s time to hear a Medieval Christmas Carol and imagine. Christmas is a perfect time for a philosopher of enjoyment because isn’t enjoyment what it’s all about? Isn’t that why we’re here? Don’t all mothers and fathers want their children to be happy?

With or without a religious affiliation, everyone believes in love. Everyone believes in happiness. Christmas is a time for traditions, for remembering good times and the lessons learned in bad. It’s a time to stop competing, to get off the rat race and enjoy being alive.

being in the momentChristmas is a time to enjoy seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, imagining (and caroling). It’s a time to be in time (not on time).

It is time to take a simple approach: When looking, look. When hearing, hear. Look without judgement. Hear what is there. Let thoughts come and go like the trace of a line left by a fly.

This Christmas be introspective with a difference: Pay attention to sights and sounds and let thoughts move along like marching bands in a Santa Claus parade.

santa-clause-paradeIf you get sucked into the vortex of thinking, take a deep breath and start again. Gaze at Christmas ornaments unabashedly wide-eyed. Listen to music of love like it’s as essential as the air that you breath. Watch thought bubbles come and go and you will feel lighthearted love for all.

bubblesNot that thinking is bad (unless it is bad thinking). It’s just that being perpetually absorbed takes you into a mental world that isn’t real. Before his transformation Scrooge was in a mental world where only money mattered. He was blind to the world outside his mind. But you don’t need ghosts to tell you what is.

christmas ballsLook at Christmas tree balls. No sorrow. No lamenting. No coveting. No grief. Feel a passion for what is real in every moment, undistracted and accepting.

Christmas is a be-in-the moment thing.

christmas treats

Christmas is a time for bitter-sweet tears of loss and heartache (in a good way!), but try not to let emotions of love get mixed with pain. Love hurts. That’s what it does. Too often people have unrealistic expectations and engage in too much self-reflection. As a result, there’s an increase in depression and suicide attempts (Psychology Today).

christmas3The trick to all this is to ignore how the media presents Christmas perfection. Christmas is not perfect. Be with what is and remember the kid that you were.

expectationsAs much as we may ponder the past and worry about the future, Christmas is time to focus on now.

This is it. This is it. This is it.

If you want to be happy in the world, there is nothing more important than to understand this. The trouble is that we spend our lives forgetting and overlooking the truth. We flee from it and manage to avoid being happy while we struggle to become happy by fulfilling desire.

Listen to that old song called Stewball that goes, “Oh Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine. He never drank water, he always drank wine,” and remember how Stewball became something else.

Stewball’s melody was turned into a new Christmas song about love, “So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over and a new one’s just begun. And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, the near and the dear ones, the old and the young…” (John Lennon, So this is Christmas).

Now is the time that is. Now is the time for your transformation. Now is the time to enjoy what Christmas is. Go forth and enjoy all the love that you can.

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Humour, Enjoyment and Low Hanging Fruit

low-hanging fruit

People are consistent when it comes to humour. You meet someone and know pretty quickly where on the humour continuum they stand.

Not that you need a sense of humour. A University of Karachi study found that, “there is no relationship between a sense of humor and mental health” (Tariq & Khan, 2013, p 338).

richIn today’s world, where banks create money out of nothing and charge interest for it, where a few people are hilariously rich and politicians are in their pockets, where a GDP is more important than our biosphere and spandex is suitable for any body type – if you didn’t laugh, you’d probably cry.

Tears of laughter and sadness look alike, but sad tears make you feel sorry for yourself and happy tears take you out of yourself. Humour can re-frame the world in a light that’s enjoyable (instead of deplorable).

In psychology “framing” refers to how we “react to a particular choice in different ways depending on how it is presented; e.g. as a loss or as a gain” (Wikipedia). How we frame predicts enjoyment potential.

confuciusConfucius gave two answers to the same question to two students. Zilu asked, “May one immediately put into practice what one has learned?” The Master said something about one’s father and brothers. When Ran Yǒu asked the same question, the Master said, “Yes, one may” (11.22, Book XI, Analects). Teachings are correct in relation to the student. So is humour.

death is badConfucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” The same goes for humour.

Each of us is born into a situation. We inherit a genetic blueprint not of our choosing. If you have mild brain damage and grow up in a bad home, that’s the hand you’re dealt.

bad handPeople come to the table with different ways of seeing the world and different personalities and capacities to make decisions. You could be rich and miserable, poor and miserable or in a miserable middle. Misery is not totally monetarily related.

Books like A Fine Balance (2001) and Tortilla Flat (1935) show how people prevail under any circumstance. Despite incredible hardships characters are amused by things that are easy to get and all around (like low hanging fruit).

bear2Wit can be barbed and satire harsh, but humour expresses comfortable feelings without unpleasant effects on others. Humour can help you bear “what is too terrible to be borne” (Tariq & Khan, p. 333).

steve martin
A wild and crazy guy.

Mel Brooks (a comedian) said, “Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around” and Steve Martin (a sort of comedian) said, “Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke,” meaning: the degree to which something is funny suggests that almost anything could be funny, it’s just a matter of sensing it (without vomit).

To be funny (and not scary) humour has to be benign. It can be dark but not too dark. It can be offensive but not too offensive.

minorities-in-heaven-science-projectA teeny weeny minority (in number, not stature) don’t find anything funny. An even teenier (and weenier) minority find everything funny, but the vast majority find at least some things funny.

granny
Video of Granny.

So, what’s funny? Is an old woman wielding a shotgun funny? It depends who she aims at. It’s like musical appreciation. Some people actually enjoy Huey Lewis and the News.

It’s all relative.

When a person says to you, “I’m trying to find myself,” it’s not funny to say, “Where’d you go?”

who am iWhen someone says, “Who am I?” and you say, “A big goof-ball.” That’s not helping. As Mother used to say, “Another person’s angst is not cause for merriment.”

When someone complains of a lack of meaning in their life, you know that person has indoor plumbing.

When someone asks, “What’s my purpose?” and you say, “To massage my feet. Here, I’ll take off my socks.” That just isn’t funny.

MyLifeHasNoPurpose (1)Snoopy (aka Charles Schultz) thinks his life has no meaning, but he is happy. It’s funny because it goes against a preconception. Slavoj Žižek (a philosopher) tells a story of a worker suspected of stealing:

wheelbarrow“Every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he rolls in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards can find nothing. It is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves…” (Violence).

Humour is like that – so is amusement and enjoyment. It’s under your nose. Lighten your wheelbarrow.

albert-einstein-fuzzy-slippersWhy is purpose and meaning associated with happiness? The Dalai Lama (aka Lhamo Dondrub) said between giggles, “men should have a purpose.” He also said, “The purpose of our lives is to be happy” (29 Dalai Lama quotes).

Perhaps purpose and result are the same thing.

Meaning is in the thing itself. Just as a flower flowers to flower, you are you to be you. Enjoy to enjoy to enjoy. It’s nuclear and self-fulfilling.