Unless your a President or CEO, daily life rarely bothers you with too many pressing decisions. Of course now and then it does and then what do we do? We stress, we worry, we sweat it out or we may consult with someone with more expertise or wisdom. But what if you already possessed the answers, if only you trusted yourself a little more.
Imagine if somehow you could magically bring the answers you need to the surface of your consciousness like an Indian snake charmer does to a snake while playing the flute and dancing from toe to toe. Well, maybe it’s possible… and all just by asking yourself one simple question:
‘What Would A Wise Man Do Here?’
Then simply pause for a few seconds and wait for the answer.
More often than not an answer will just arise and from my own experience the first answer is almost always the right course of action to take. Of course you may have a thousand different thoughts that immediately follow and contradict your first instinctive answer. Bu that’s not the point and you obviously have to employ some judgement and common sense too.
I first learned of this in a course called Practical Philosophy and it’s worked so well I thought I’d share it. It’s the swiss-army knife of questions, ready to cut through the most sticky of situations. Give it a try, the next time your feeling stuck.
But How Does It Work?
Ultimately the only way to know if this works is to test out for yourself, but we can gain a little better understanding if we dig a little deeper and ask a few more basic questions.
What Is Wisdom?
Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement”. Great but…
How Do We Recognise Wisdom?
I’m sure we can all recognise wisdom when we see it. We may not quite know how, but we can. It may be epitomised as a quality reserved for an old sage or saint, but the proposition here is that wisdom is actually innate in all of us. How else could we recognise something that is seemingly a totally new experience?
Granted the degree to which we have access to it may vary but what if, instead of being something we accumulate from experience, wisdom is something we all already possess or to put more accurately, have access to? If only we could develop the ability to tap into it.
Only A Theory
So I have a theory on why this works… When you ask yourself this question and pause — your mind chatter ceases for a moment and you open up enough space for the answer to rise from depths of your consciousness. It’s as if there’s a deep intelligence in there waiting to be addressed by a focussed request from you. When given the space to shine through the noise, it does just that. Where it emanates from I’ve no idea, but this is the best description I can give from my own experience and limited understanding.
People talk about light-bulb moments and tapping into ‘the flow’ state while doing creative work. I’m willing to bet that it all comes from the same source. A source that finds expression in varying degrees from person to person and under certain conditions such as the level and intensity of focus and attention.
While being in the ‘flow state’ is probably more like surfing this wave of intelligence for a prolonged period, asking your self ‘what would a wise man do here?’ is more like taking a quick 1 or 2 second dip in it.
It seems like all that needs to happen for this creative magic to flow through is that the channel through which it flows be unblocked. If that nanosecond of space after which you’ve asked the question is enough for it to work, imagine what could be discovered if we can extend this time period.
I’ve experimented with this a little in my yoga and meditation practice, and unsurprisingly it’s when some of my most creative ideas have surfaced. I wouldn’t go and ask myself anything specific rather these questions would have been bubbling in my sub-conscious for days or weeks. Then all of a sudden, as if from nowhere, a thought would spark & burst through the mental fog and there it would be — the answer. Maybe not a fully comprehensive answer but enough for me to build on and take action.
The problem is, in a world of instant gratification and distraction, we are living on the periphery of this intelligence the vast majority of the time.
Far away from this centre of unfathomable creativity, we wander through life often feeling isolated, disconnected unaware of the vast potential we possess at our core.
To be able to tap into this well of pure creative energy, we must start the journey away from the mental noise and distractions of daily life to the peace and potent intelligence of whatever this is. I believe meditation is the vehicle for such a journey and by strengthening the muscle of focus and attention we can begin to live the life we were meant for.