In addition to valuing principles and evaluating experience, there is one more important way we suggest to increase your wisdom, and that is to “invite inspiration.”
Historically, there are two general approaches to wisdom. One suggests that wisdom is the pinnacle to which you ascend through knowledge, experience, and maturity. The other agrees that such ascension is vital, but adds that real wisdom is achieved through a higher source, a divine intervention. In this latter case, wisdom is seen as a gift.
In the first approach, the gate to the path of wisdom is wonder— curiosity, excited amazed admiration. In the second, the gate is humility—being open to guidance from a higher, more all-knowing, source.
However you may see the source of inspiration in your own life, the fact remains that we all experience flashes of insight that are definitely beyond our experience. And the degree to which we pay attention to these insights makes a profound difference in the direction and quality of our lives.
In the wisdom literature, this kind of personal inspiration is often connected with the word conscience. Classically, conscience is attributed with the ability to help us discern principles and the degree to which we are living in accordance with them. But it is also attributed with the ability to provide specific, personal life direction. And the observation has been made that the more heed and diligence we give to what we perceive through inspired experience, the more active it becomes.
Every human being has a work to do, duties to perform, influence to exert, which are peculiarly his, and which no conscience but his own can teach.
—William Ellery Channing
There are moments in your life when you must act, even though you cannot carry your best friends with you. The “still small voice” within you must always be the final arbiter when there is a conflict of duty.
Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.
Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.
I feel within me
A peace above all earthly dignities
A still and quiet conscience.
The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it; but it is also so clear that it is impossible to mistake it.
—Madame Anne Louise
Germaine de Stael
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.
The existence of this “inner voice” of conscience is one of the most validated truths in all of wisdom literature. As we nurture and engage it in our decision making, we access a powerful wisdom far beyond our own.
One way to grow in our ability to receive and effectively use inspiration is to record it in our personal learning journal. As we record it, review it, act on it, and evaluate the results, we become more aware of the role and the great benefit of inspiration in our lives.