Daily Tao / 336 – Wisdom

golden autumn

A white-haired couple sits on the park bench,
Reading the paper, discussing the day’s news.
He repeats a poem, learned in his youth;
She finishes the stanza as he nods in pleasure.
At twilight, the air seems clearer than noon.

In past times, educators emphasized memorization. You can still meet older people who can recite certain poems, passages from classics and religious texts, or mathematical formulae. In fact, some people assert that those who remember more are wiser.

Young people often have a mania for more and more information. But mere accumulation is not enough. The more you take in, the more that data needs to be managed. Without that, you have encyclopedic knowledge and minuscule wisdom. True wisdom is a qualitative value built on a quantitative foundation. The vital elderly did not become venerable through good memory alone. They also learned to manipulate those facts. They mixed their knowledge with a healthy dose of experience, experimentation, and contemplation. It takes time to intuit special connections between facts.

One might say that wisdom is not simply a mental process but the sum total of a human being.

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