wis·dom (wizdəm) / noun – the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. synonyms: sagacity, intelligence, sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, smartness, judiciousness, judgment, prudence, circumspection.
Reader Question: What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?
I often speak and write of the topic I call wisdom so this reader question was of great interest to me on several levels. Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in many cultures and texts, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting. Knowledge, on the other hand, is information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance. Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. I often think of and wisdom as dangerous when they are left unchecked or used improperly so within that context we could say – Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it put away.
Life to some extent literally requires us to have knowledge in order to survive. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts rules and requirements is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is what allows unto see beyond our knowledge and and interpret complex emotions, make abstract assessments and ultimately put our “knowledge” to good use.
Let us boil it down to some simple statements:
Knowledge understands the light has turned red and what it means; Wisdom applies the brakes to avoid unseen outcomes.
Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study or experience. Wisdom, in turn, is the ability to utilize this knowledge for better outcomes.
I encourage everyone to take a meditation and explore this topic. Search out its meaning in your own daily lives and its application minute to minute. I would love to hear your thoughts and discoveries!
Knowledge without application is simply knowledge. Applying knowledge to one’s life is wisdom — and that is the ultimate virtue that unlocks us all.
Peace and Love, Jim