MD: We hear a lot about wisdom today from clergy to celebrities. What exactly are we talking about? Does it have different meaning for our time or is it an ageless idea?
NG: Wisdom is ageless, timeless. And yet I think of it as time-bound. That is, it is sourced in an experience of time – in lived life. It’s an unfolding process. That same wisdom, when we tap into it at age 20 and again at age 50, will be experienced and understood differently. When we have more life experience to hang it on, we have a greater understanding or clarity – a unique knowing that comes with age.
MD: Webster’s’ Third International Dictionary defines wisdom as “the effectual mediating principle or personification of God’s will in the creation of the world”.
NG: Websters has just given us a Kabbalistic definition of wisdom! God’s desire gives rise to the process of creation, which is shaped by divine wisdom. That wisdom is then hard-wired into creation itself.
MD: And we come to know God through that wisdom that we find within ourselves and in every aspect of creation. Each stage of life has its own wisdom, and the wisdom of “Adulthood II” is the picture of wholeness about our lives. We finally understand who we are and we are pleased.
NG: This is the ideal for the “third act”. In fact, Jung refers the the 4th and final stage of life as ‘maturity and wisdom’. Erik Erikson teaches that one may achieve wisdom in the final stage which he calls ‘ego integrity vs despair’. Wisdom is the successful outcome of this stage, and is defined as “informed and detached concern for life itself in the face of death itself.” Reb Zalman agrees that this is not an automatic state that we attain, and he created a spiritual practice that he called “Sage-ing” and which we are sharing in this book.