A Mindful Doctor – Does wisdom come with age?

I like to think of wisdom as our ability to take action using our knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and intuition.

Learning with Age

While it is obvious, as people get older they have had more life experience, not everyone learns from their experiences. It is by learning from our successes and mistakes that we begin to build a store of wisdom. It is true that many young people have acquired more wisdom in their short lives than others who are much older. It is just that older people have more opportunities to acquire this wisdom.

Not Knowing

I have begun to realise as I get older how little I really know. A wise person has an understanding of the vastness of how much there is to learn and how complex everything is, while at the same time how simple it can be. They learn to live with this paradox of knowing and not knowing. They understand that there is not one truth, but many versions of the truth, and that people most strident in their beliefs are often furthest from ‘the truth.’

A wise Person

One way of learning about wisdom is observing someone who you think is wise. Observe what they say and don’t say, and what they do and don’t do, and if their actions are consistent with their ethical beliefs. A wise person is generally patient, understanding, calm and considerate.

In some meditation practices we use visualisation to imagine being in the presence of a wise person. An example of this is to sit in front of a figure or picture of someone we consider as wise, such as a Buddha, and absorb their wisdom. This is not the worship of an idol, but Buddhism teaches that the Buddha you see in front of you is your own inner Buddha. Wisdom is within each of us waiting to be realised.

Dr Craig Brown

To follow Craig’s daily mindfulness suggestions @amindfuldoctor  please click here.

Craig’s free meditation podcasts can be accessed by clicking here. Do listen to podcast 14 for a meditation on wisdom.

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