Wisdom for Living: Learning To Follow Your Inner Guidance

Wisdom for Living: Learning To Follow Your Inner Guidance

by Reynold Ruslan Feldman, Ph.D., Sharon Clark

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Overview

We live in uncertain, even dangerous times. If we were ships, we’d be traveling in rough waters and dense fog. Without a navigation system, we’d soon be sunk - literally. We need to know where and how to navigate to keep ourselves safe as we pursue our individual life journeys. Wisdom for Living is an invaluable resource and guide for strengthening, developing, and accessing your own inherent wisdom nature. Each of us comes hard-wired with the equipment needed to navigate the rough waters of life. This equipment is our intuition or gut feelings, available to all. Yet like the GPS in a car or phone, we need to learn to access, use, and trust it. These short essays suggest how you can find wisdom in a variety of people, places, and things. You are encouraged to keep a wisdom journal (WJ) in which you respond to a motivating question at the end of each essay. In this way, you will create a personal handbook for guiding your life while using your inner guidance to deal with challenges.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781789041491
Publisher: Hunt, John Publishing
Publication date: 08/01/2019
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 609,364
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Reynold Ruslan Feldman is a retired English professor, dean, and university vice-president. He is a non-profit consultant, fundraiser and linguist, and is an author and teacher of practical wisdom. Along with his wife, Feldman mentors young-women leaders. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Sharon Clark is a writer and editor. Re-wired after a career in public relations, she mentors seniors in preserving their personal histories through memoir writing. She lives in Novato, California, USA.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Wisdom of Beginning

The beginning is the most important part of work.

– Plato (c. 427–347 BCE), The Republic

Welcome to an exploration of personal wisdom where you are author, protagonist, and chief beneficiary. What you do or don't do today will affect who, where, and what you are not only tomorrow but all the tomorrows thereafter. In the words of a contemporary American saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." So be thoughtful about what you do with it.

Life's small changes have great importance. From them grow individual, family, even global transformation. For anyone about to embark on some new project there is a hesitation, perhaps a fear. But without a good idea and adequate preparation, the new structure will never get built. Without a suitable training program, the marathon cannot be run. Without keying in sentence one, the book will never be written. Once we get things started, the new undertaking seems only half as daunting as our fears. Soon routine helps us continue, and before we know it we are halfway to our goal. Per the Chinese saying, the thousand-mile journey begins with that first step.

Proverbs in many languages underscore the importance, and the difficulty, of beginnings: "A good start is half the work" (Gaelic). "A good beginning makes a good end" (English). "Every beginning is hard" (German, Chinese, and other languages). So why not embrace the Nike slogan and "Just do it"?

Shall we begin?

For the first entry in your Wisdom Journal (hereafter WJ), write about some small choice you made that has had a major impact on your life. Happy journaling!

CHAPTER 2

Active-Learning Wisdom

Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand.

– A Native American Saying

What do you remember from school? For my part, I don't remember much. I obviously learned to read, write, and calculate. School and college learning in my day was primarily a spectator sport. The teacher lectured. We listened and took notes. Exceptions were science classes where we had occasional labs; or English and social studies, where we wrote papers. But the concept was, the teacher explained; the student listened and learned.

Learning by doing was the domain of sports, scouts, social life, summer camps, arts activities, and clubs. Here we didn't have teachers but coaches, scoutmasters, counselors, sponsors, tutors, and each other. We learned by participating. We also learned to get along with our peers, clean our plates, and be polite to our elders. In life, we also learn by doing. Thanks to John Dewey and his ideas for progressive education, this natural strategy is now used in many schools and colleges. Computer technology helps students learn on their own through hundreds of interactive multimedia curricula. Service learning where students assist in community projects or at charities is common; and apprenticeship programs can be found around the country. A NASA satellite tracked by math and science students gives them a new way to acquire knowledge and techniques in their fields. As a teacher I believe telling and showing have their place as educational strategies. But as the saying reminds us, experience is still the best teacher.

Pick three of your important skills and describe in your WJ how you acquired them.

CHAPTER 3

Aloha Wisdom

If you examine the history of the Hawaiian conversion to Christianity ... they kept hold of their own traditions ... [while] accepting other ways of life. [They had a] philosophical understanding that [all] humans are the same ... This is the major contribution that Hawaiian spirituality has to make to the world's future.

– Rubellite Kawena Johnson, Local Knowledge, Ancient Wisdom, 1991

The spirit of aloha (love, affection, compassion, mercy) impacts everyday life in Hawaii. On a mundane level, strangers smile at one another on the sidewalk, in the mall, and at the beach. Drivers seldom honk their horns but let others in with a friendly wave. You even call bus drivers "uncle" or "aunty."

More significantly, ethnic and racial intermarriage is the rule — nearly 50 percent of 50th-State marriages are mixed. Is the Old Adam still alive and well in Hawaii? Of course. It's a place filled with human beings. And yet ...

In his two terms, our recent Honolulu-born President, Barack Obama, showed the Aloha Spirit in his low-key smiling personality, the way he played with kids or shot hoops, and his no-drama approach to both domestic and world affairs. His years in Indonesia, Chicago, and Boston doubtless also played a part in shaping the person he became. But his growing up in the Makiki District of Honolulu was clearly formative, as any long-time Hawaii resident would see and confirm.

When it comes to race and just plain human relations, Hawaii's tradition of aloha has a lot to teach the world.

In your WJ suggest three ways you might practice aloha wherever you live.

CHAPTER 4

Arboreal Wisdom

I think that I shall never see, A poem lovely as a tree A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray ...

– Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918), "Trees"

Kilmer's poem is considered a poster child for bad, sentimental poetry. How could I not agree? Still, the point on which it's based is well-taken and important.

Arbor is the Latin word for tree, the modern tradition of Arbor Day having begun in the 17th century. And I'll admit it — I am a tree hugger. What I experience from hugging trees is a sense of their strength and rectitude, qualities they seem willing to share with me.

Trees instinctively grow toward the sky. They have long lives and the resilience to stand their ground through all kinds of weather. Deep roots surely have something to do with it. They also offer shade to the earth and its creatures, provide homes to arboreal animals, and offer beauty to those who can perceive it. Moreover, they do all this in silence, without any request for payment or even gratitude.

Once I asked my inner self to help me understand what it means to be of service. I visualized a field full of trees breathing in carbon dioxide and exhaling the oxygen needed by us mammals. Maybe my feeling for trees is ancestral. After all, it was my people who thought up the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.

Write in your WJ about how you feel toward trees. Do they offer any lessons for your life? If possible, hug a tree and then write about your experience.

CHAPTER 5

Aristotelian Wisdom

The wise man ought to know not only what follows from his first principles; he should know also the truth about these principles. Wisdom therefore will be a union of intuitive reason and scientific knowledge; it may be defined as the complete science of the loftiest matters.

– Aristotle (384–322 BCE), Nicomachean Ethics

The ancient Greeks gave the world both the terms and concepts philosophy and philosopher. They mean "love of wisdom" and "lover of wisdom," respectively. Plato and his student Aristotle are considered the fathers of Western philosophy.

To be sure, Plato and Aristotle loved wisdom in different ways. Of the two, Plato was the more mystical and poetic, Aristotle the more rational and scientific. Using contemporary terminology, we might call Plato a philosopher of the right brain, Aristotle a philosopher of the left.

Plato said, "Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." For Aristotle, the wise person is not so much a sage who has learned to live the best possible life, but a logician who both knows first principles and can accurately derive what follows from these principles. One thinks of someone like Albert Einstein.

Aristotle also helped us understand the wisdom of the middle way. Courage, he explained, lies midway between foolhardiness (too much of it) and cowardice (too little).

Elsewhere, to be fair, Aristotle states, "Our idea of the truly good and wise man [sic] is that he bears all the changes of life with dignity and always does what is best in the circumstances." The middle way? Hopefully so.

In your WJ try writing your own definition of wisdom.

CHAPTER 6

Asian Wisdom

We of the West still hold instinctively to the prejudice that our world and our civilization are the "whole world." ... But times are changing ... It is vitally necessary for the West to understand the traditional thought of the great Asian cultures: China, India, and Japan. This is necessary not only for specialists, but for every educated person in the West.

– Thomas Merton (1915–1968)

Father Merton is one of the prophets of the 1960s. It took courage for him, a Trappist monk and ordained Catholic priest, to publish thoughts like these at a time when cultural and religious chauvinism were still in the ascendant. Not that intellectual and spiritual provincialism is dead, but at least many religious leaders now agree with Merton and echo his position.

Consider this statement by Pope John Paul II to a Japanese audience in 1981 when speaking in Tokyo: "You are the heirs and keepers of an ancient wisdom. This wisdom in Japan and the Orient has inspired high degrees of moral life. It has taught you to venerate the pure, transparent, and honest heart. It has inspired you to discover the divine presence in every creature, and especially in the human being."

As practitioners of a religion some not only consider best but feel called to spread to all humankind, we are well advised to refrain from proselytizing. Instead, we should learn from those different from us. Who knows how we might grow if we could hear the secrets the Universe may have whispered to others.

In your WJ discuss which non-Western influences have meant the most to you personally.

CHAPTER 7

Authentic-Living Wisdom

Too many of us spend time doing things for ... no heartfelt reason ... We do it to make a living, to satisfy the expectations of others ... but not because the doing comes from inside us. When our action is dictated by factors external to our souls, we do not live active lives but reactive lives.

– Parker J. Palmer, The Active Life, 1991

To follow educator Parker Palmer's sage advice, we have to be or become sensitive to who we are, what we are good at, and what makes our hearts sing. Then we have to have the courage of our convictions. If we are not careful, we can spend our lives doing things we don't like in order to maintain a lifestyle we do.

Back in the Sixties we encouraged each other to do our own thing. But how do we figure out what our own thing is? Or what happens when we are good at several things? In short, how do we identify our true talents and then determine how to use them in a way that will assure that we can support ourselves and our families?

Given this conundrum, our daily prayer might be the following: "O God, please help me be the self you have designed for me and grant me the strength to become that self fully. And please, if possible, let me earn my living in ways that enhance rather than deplete my soul while benefiting others. Amen."

In your WJ write about your work. If you're not doing so now, what changes must you make to really do your own thing?

CHAPTER 8

Back-to-Basics Wisdom

May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.

– An Eskimo Proverb

We don't need very much really. Shelter, light, and peace — and others or another to share them with. Many of us have lost our regard for the simple but important things of life. Growing older fortunately helps restore this appreciation. As our bodies begin to function less smoothly or well, we become grateful for each good night's sleep, well-digested meal, or pain-free day.

Life can be cold and hard. Having a place of our own that is not only physically but psychologically comforting — a home, not just a house or an apartment — is a great blessing. Being able to return to this nest for rest and recovery after a day's work or activities makes going out the next day possible.

To have the necessary provisions — oil in our lamps — is a blessing too. Not to be in want and thus in the dark is very important for living.

Most important, to be sure, is peace in our hearts. Being competitive, winning, or insisting on being right seems less appropriate as we age. Serenity comes to replace the winner's circle in the scheme of things. Give-and-take, especially with family and friends, comes to have a higher priority than winning. Letting go of that old imperative makes it easier for others to live with us and for us to live with ourselves. The basic of basics is realizing that the source of peace lies within.

What basics would you like to get back to in your life? Write briefly on this topic in your WJ.

CHAPTER 9

Balanced Wisdom

To those who choose the path that leads to Enlightenment, there are two extremes that should be carefully avoided ... indulgence in the desires of the body ... [and] ... ascetic discipline, torturing one's body and mind unreasonably.

The Teaching of Buddha, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Edition

My late mother, who lived to be ninety-five, must have been a secret Buddhist. She always counseled me, with moderate success, to take it easy.

During my student year in Germany I read a history of ancient Greece, whose citizens made the Golden Mean their ideal precisely because of their tendency to be immoderate. Chinese medicine is based on a similar concept. Yin and Yang, those complementary forces of the universe, must remain in dynamic balance.

Aristotle's ethics is also based on the middle way. The classic example is courage, which for him fell midway between its own excess and deficiency. If you have too much, you'll be foolhardy; too little, a coward.

Come to think of it, the wisdom of the middle way is instilled into us as children by the story of Goldilocks, who tried out the three bears' chairs, beds, and food until she decided what was "just right" for her. We learn from childhood on to look for situations, friends, partners, and work that are "just right" — usually occurring somewhere between the extremes.

Much of the world's religious history is based on spiritual development through extreme practices. Fortunately, the Buddha brought a measure of moderation to spiritual training.

How balanced is your life? Write briefly in your WJ about how well you adhere to the middle way.

CHAPTER 10

Best-Practice Wisdom

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

– Helen Keller (1880–1968)

I first encountered the concept of best practices at 18. An exchange student in Germany, I was brought up short by the showers and the TV there. Back in 1958, the shower heads I knew in America were all fixed, whereas in Germany I experienced the removable ones you could take out of their holders and rinse yourself off at close range.

As for the TV, the quality of the picture, with greater resolution, was crisper than the grainy ones we still had — apparently thanks to a later, better patent. Some years on, the same proved true of their color TV images, which looked like Technicolor while ours still had people with green faces. And here I'd thought America had the best of everything!

Fifty-eight years later, filmmaker Michael Moore made the same point in his outstanding two-hour documentary, Where to Invade Next? In it Moore travels to a number of mainly European countries where he is blown away by things like eight weeks of paid vacation in Italy, quasi-gourmet meals in French elementary schools, free university education even for foreigners in Slovenia, government-paid spa visits for health in Germany, humane prisons in Norway, and required gender-balance on corporate boards in Iceland. This was the booty he wanted to bring home to the USA.

Why can we get Swedish furniture and Thai food here while refusing to adopt outstanding public policies from abroad? National arrogance can really keep countries from being truly great.

Write in your WJ about some international practice you'd like implemented in your country.

CHAPTER 11

Bright-Star Wisdom

In the December of your life, you have two responsibilities: to prepare for your own death and to bless those coming after you.

– Paraphrased from Sara Davidson's The December Project (2014) about Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1924–2014)

I was fortunate to have attended Reb Zalman's last public appearance. A Hassidic rabbi, he was in dialogue with his then most-recent biographer, Sara Davidson, at not a local synagogue in his hometown, Boulder, Colorado, but the First Congregational Church. That was Reb Zalman.

When I described this standing-room-only event to my wife, who had been out of town, we began thinking about how we two septuagenarians might respond to his second recommendation, possibly as a way of achieving the first. What we came up with was Bright Stars.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Wisdom for Living"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Reynold Ruslan Feldman and Sharon Clark.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

A Warm Welcome! 1

Introduction 3

The Wisdom of Beginning 5

Active-Learning Wisdom 6

Aloha Wisdom 7

Arboreal Wisdom 8

Aristotelian Wisdom 9

Asian Wisdom 10

Authentic-Living Wisdom 11

Back-to-Basics Wisdom 12

Balanced Wisdom 13

Best-Practice Wisdom 14

Bright-Star Wisdom 15

Charismatic Wisdom 16

Children's Wisdom 17

Classroom Wisdom 18

Community Wisdom 19

Computer Wisdom 20

Confucian Wisdom 21

Conversing-with-God Wisdom 23

Decisive Wisdom 24

Deferred-Gratification Wisdom 25

Divine Wisdom 26

Do-Over Wisdom 27

Earth Wisdom 28

Ecumenical Wisdom 30

Editorial Wisdom 31

Educational Wisdom 32

Enlightenment Wisdom 33

Entrepreneurial Wisdom 34

Equal-Rights Wisdom 35

Eternal-Light Wisdom 36

Experiential Wisdom 37

Exploratory Wisdom 38

Family Wisdom 39

Fearless Wisdom 40

Feeling-Alive Wisdom 41

Gender Wisdom 42

Getting-It Wisdom 43

Global-Village Wisdom 44

Graceful-Aging Wisdom 45

Grateful Wisdom 46

Great-Life Wisdom 47

Guru Wisdom 48

Healing Wisdom 49

Healthy-Eating Wisdom 50

Heroic Wisdom 51

Historical Wisdom 52

Hospice Wisdom 53

Hospitable Wisdom 54

Immoderate Wisdom 55

Impeccable Wisdom 56

Inclusive Wisdom 57

Inner-Hearing Wisdom 58

Inner-Knowing Wisdom 59

Inspirational Wisdom 60

Interfaith Wisdom 61

Interracial-Marriage Wisdom 62

IQ-Versus-EQ Wisdom 63

Know-Nothing Wisdom 64

Laughing Wisdom 65

Leaving-Home Wisdom 66

Legislative Wisdom 67

Liberation Wisdom 68

Lifelong-Learning Wisdom 69

Lost-and-Found Wisdom 70

Mainland Wisdom 71

Majority Wisdom 72

Manna-from-Heaven Wisdom 73

Meaningful Wisdom 74

Midlife-Crisis Wisdom 75

Mindful Wisdom 76

Misfortunate Wisdom 77

Monastic Wisdom 78

Money Wisdom 79

Moral-Leadership Wisdom 80

Neighborly Wisdom 81

Nominal Wisdom 82

Non-Judgmental Wisdom 83

Olding-Versus-Eldering Wisdom 84

One-Percent Wisdom 85

Opportunity-Making Wisdom 86

Papal Wisdom 87

Pastoral Wisdom 88

Peaceful Wisdom 89

Perceptive Wisdom 90

Pilgrim Wisdom 91

Poetic Wisdom 92

Prayer Wisdom 94

Primal Wisdom 95

Progress-Versus-Perfection Wisdom 96

Right-Use-of-Power Wisdom 97

Sabbath Wisdom 98

Sailing Wisdom 100

Saintly Wisdom 101

Scriptural Wisdom 102

Self-Healing Wisdom 103

Self-Help Wisdom 104

Shakertown Wisdom 105

Simple-Gifts Wisdom 106

Solomon's Wisdom 107

Soul Wisdom 108

Sound-Priorities Wisdom 109

Steady Wisdom 110

Stewardship Wisdom 111

Storytelling Wisdom 112

Studious Wisdom 113

Teacher Wisdom 114

The Love Doctor's Wisdom 115

The Wisdom of Acceptance 116

The Wisdom of Asking Questions 117

The Wisdom of Associating with Remarkable People 118

The Wisdom of Caring 119

The Wisdom of Change 120

The Wisdom of Divine Guidance 121

The Wisdom of Faith 122

The Wisdom of Giving and Receiving 123

The Wisdom of Grace 124

The Wisdom of Hard Work 125

The Wisdom of Kindness 126

The Wisdom of Learning by Doing 127

The Wisdom of Love 128

The Wisdom of No 129

The Wisdom of Positive Thinking 130

The Wisdom of Practicing the Presence of God 131

The Wisdom of Significance over Success 132

The Wisdom of Simplicity 133

The Wisdom of Speaking from Within 134

The Wisdom of Tithing 135

The Wisdom to Enjoy Life 136

The Wisdom to Know the Difference 137

Timeless Wisdom 138

True-Philosopher Wisdom 139

U.N. Wisdom 140

Unconditional-Love Wisdom 141

Unexpected Wisdom 142

Unlimited-Capacity Wisdom 143

Utopian Wisdom 144

Vacation Wisdom 145

Walking Wisdom 146

Wealth Wisdom 147

Wisdom as Panacea 148

Wisdom as You 149

Wisdom from Failure 150

Wisdom in the Schools 151

Wisdom Is as Wisdom Does 152

Wisdom of the Tao 153

Working Wisdom 154

World-Citizen Wisdom 155

World-Healing Wisdom 156

Write-Myself-a-Letter Wisdom 157

Commencement Wisdom 158

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