Beware of Unearned Wisdom

Beware of Unearned Wisdom

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Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

- The Rock, T.S. Eliot


Coaching is so much more about sharing wisdom than merely providing information.

Information makes us smarter, while wisdom brings contentment, tranquility, and serenity. Who doesn’t need more of those things in their lives?

Information is easy to find. Wisdom is hard to earn.

Information differentiates, whereas wisdom integrates.

Information is like the bubbles that appear when water begins to boil. Wisdom is the unseen force that unites them, creating the miracle we call hot water.

Wisdom makes sense of what we learn and gives us life-changing insights.

Wisdom is the vast tapestry that holds together the individual designs that tell a story.


Photo: Sketchplanations 


Normally, we gain wisdom through life's many lessons, often learned the hard way. This is why when we meet a young person, sometimes even a child, who is exceptionally wise, we wonder if they have lived through a past life.

Deep inside, we know that wisdom cannot be acquired by taking a class, getting certified, reading books, or listening to podcasts.

But we try anyway.  

Because wisdom almost always requires life experience and we can’t speed up time, we often look for hacks instead. Carl Jung might have been pondering a seemingly modern dilemma a century ago when he said, “Beware of unearned wisdom.”

I understand “unearned wisdom” as wisdom achieved by means other than “my struggle.”  

Unearned wisdom can manifest in advice from others, which explains why it so often fails. It can also involve taking on someone else’s life path and assuming what worked for them will work for us.

And these days, so many of us are hacking our way into what we believe to be higher wisdom through the use of psychedelics and what many call plant medicine.

I have not (yet or maybe ever) experienced a psychotropic journey, but I have witnessed a great number of my clients doing so and have a few thoughts to share on the subject.

  1. Visiting a foreign country does not make you a citizen of that country. I notice a great expansion in consciousness immediately after a plant medicine journey. Insights are gained, and the whole world looks different. But over time, the realizations diminish and often disappear altogether. This is the prompt for repeating the experience.
  2. The psychotropic experience, however profound, is only the beginning of our transformation. If our guide, coach, and fellow travelers don’t transition with us into the “real” world, we have arrived at the start line but will not begin the actual journey of transformation. The true and sticky change occurs at home, not in Peru or Yosemite (unless you happen to live there 🙂).
  3. Unearned wisdom can feel too heavy for many of us. We can feel lacking when we gather ten pieces of information but don’t know how to connect them to make new meaning.

So, for those who use plant medicine and others who are curious, I suggest we find ways to weave together the transcendental information downloaded during such an experience into an integrated tapestry linked by wisdom and masterful guidance.

When our everyday lives resemble the changes and insights gained on that higher level of consciousness, we have moved from information to wisdom. And only then it might be wise to encourage others to attempt such a journey.

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