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Does age equal wisdom?

topic posted Fri, March 12, 2010 - 9:50 PM by  Misha
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In my opinion, experience does not always equate to depth or knowledge. I'm wondering about, specifically, the idea that only those that have experienced extreme hardships can fully embody enlightenment. How much of being wise, grounded, and deeply compassionate is experience vs., say, being an "old soul", if you believe in such things? I ask because all of the wisest people I know, the souls that feel the oldest to me, have experienced such deep pain in their pasts, seem to have some place of deep perspective and strength through which to view any current hassles. I am quick to discredit anyone's perspective that has had a sweet and easy life, and I don't actually want to do that, but I can't find myself trusting their credibility. Alternately, there are plenty of people that have had lives that are absolute train wrecks, but there's no growth there. For example, my own mom, while she's lived a long time, and has had a really hard life, she's still just so new and clueless about how to be in the world, thus my being conflicted about how age/experience relate to wisdom, enlightendness, and intelligence. Stove's hot - OW! Stove's hot - OW! Stove's hot - OW!!! The self-protect mode of just not touching the fucking stove doesn't kick in, for some reason. Thoughts? Thank you - I deeply value your input! I will be posting this in multiple spots, but that's because I deeply appreciate all of your perspectives, dear ones. If you'd prefer to PM me, it's all good. Thank you, Bless you, and take good care! ~ Misha
posted by:
Misha
Portland
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  • to me its all about functionality, if i see something in a person i can respect, that from their experience of pain and suffering they can give advice that is useful or good, then i will listen, if i hear the truth from a fool i STILL admit that it is a truth, but i try to keep in mind that perhaps not ALL of the advice from fools i should keep.

    In short, YES, age equals wisdom, but not all who speak the truth are wise. I have heard excellent advice from kindergartners, and from ancients alike, i listen to both.
    • Misha, you don't have to live it to know it. You don't have to experience it to pass on the knowledge. The concept of old soul is probably the connection you have with that person. Like being sexually attracted but not knowing or putting the words together to explain why. It's just chemistry you can relate too.
      • Many people have lived through severe hardships and learned very important lessons from them. Even had their attitudes changed for life because of certain traumas. Others don't learn from anything, be it trauma, hardship, or any other event in life. Some are just stumbling through, not paying much attention. They're not hard to recognize.
  • I think that when you face hardship, you have to do a lot of self-analyzing to figure out why, how you got there, what to change, and how to survive it...not that everyone does that, because you're right, some people never seem to "get it" and just keep repeating the same mistakes. But that questioning is how wisdom happens. Maybe it's not a cause-and-effect relationship between suffering and wisdom, or age and wisdom, but that certain people make something more out of the experience they've gained...I'm not sure.

    Also, we as a species value experience, and tend to place a lot of authority (not in the power sense, but in the wisdom sense) on people who have "been there." And often it seems that people who have had negative experiences *can* (not always *do*) gain some flexibility in dealing with crises, and a certain amount of strength from surviving hardship and being able to move on. Not sure if either experience or strength equates to wisdom - I guess that depends on the definition of wisdom.
    • I know that with certain traumas that I have personally experienced, comes a knowledge that I don't believe can be attained without having gone through that particular trauna. I feel that in those areas, I do know more than most people. In that light, I understand that other people's traumas and hardships, which I have not experienced, leave them with knowledge and insight that I don't have. Call me an elitist in an offbeat sort of way if you will, but I look at people who have never experienced trauma or hardship beyond having breakfast served late, as people lacking the kind of knowledge and insight that those of us who have suffered greatly. Because of the limitations of language, the pain, either emotional or physical, can never just be told to a person, or read out of a book. It has to be experienced to be understood. Not that I recommend that people go out looking for terrible experiences just to broaden their understanding, but those of us who have gone through hell do have a special understanding of it.
      • As an axiom, I don't think age equals wisdom. Wisdom seems related to a knack for learning from our experiences and errors, especially learning not to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We all make mistakes and suffer errors in judgment. Some of us are just more prone to repeat the same mistakes and traumas, while others make their mistakes and go about the wisdom business of self-correction. In this way, making new mistakes may be as much a sign of wisdom as the knack for correcting old ones. And this can occur to almost anyone at almost any age.
  • Unsu...
     
    I had the exact same thought when I was eight! I was like, "Huh, my mom and my aunts are so much older than me, but they still act so childish! I think I have more common sense, compassion and wisdom than they do."
    • Reminds me of when I was five. My mom met this guy, and three days later, they went to Vegas to get married. I told her before she left that this might not be the best idea. But did she listen? So, wisdom can come with age, but there's no guarantee.
  • my simplest answer would be..not in the least. I think it is more experience equals wisdom. this would also include the people we experience as we learn things through their experiences.
    • Experience does NOT equal wisdom. I know a 66 year old idiot who has ceased to learn anything outside of his 'convenient' victim/martyr perspective when it comes to relationships and life in general. Always something or someone to blame except the person in the mirror.

      No. True wisdom comes from a place inside that cannot be described easily in words.

      But words are what we have on tribe.net.

      Strength of character, humility of existence, insight into the past (near and far) and honor in a sense of resolve are a few keys to wisdom.

      We reap what we sow, without fail.
  • I have some of that too. I don't know how someone with an easy life here in our culture could truly have compassion and a depth of understanding. I can see that it may be possible in another culture(if any are left) for one to remain innocent and wise in the way of innocence their whole lives.

    It would be a different kind of wisdom but here is how I think life works. You are born with amazing simplicity and a kind of being in the moment that is wisdom in it's way. Being able to be truly in the moment and without the teachings of others piled on you is simple wisdom. Then people begin to pile this shit on you. They teach you that crying means you're a sissy or that you don't matter or that only you and whatever you want matter and as you get older the shit they pile on you becomes more and more and of a more complicated nature.

    Then if you are of the nature to want to grow you must begin the process of pulling off the layers of shit. In some ways you are actually working toward being more innocent. Letting go of the idea that you are worthless so that you can simply be as you are or whatever.

    So I would say that some people are far wiser the day they are born than the day they die. Their innocent wisdom all gunked up with shit they bought into and did not make it out from under.

    On the other hand you have people who have used the painful experiences of their life to rip the layers of shit off, instead of letting more layers be piled on. Those people are working towards having some layers of that innocent wisdom but they also have the depth and compassion and sharper questioning and perception of the world around them that comes from learning from experience.

    I do not know what the difference is that causes one person to get through a bad relationship and say "holy crap I need to do whatever I need to do to avoid ever doing that again!" and one person to come out of the very same relationship more sure that they deserve only crappy relationships and end up in an even worse one.

    Part of that might be the level of the poison of the shit thrown on them as children(it's certainly going to be more of a struggle to get the shit off if the shit was sexual abuse then if it was a well meaning but overbearing parent or something). I think there is also something in our nature that makes us either someone who questions things or someone who does not. I know that when I was little I was a "why?" child. Why? ...but why is that? ...why do they do that? ...why don't they do this? driving my mom and everyone completely bonkers. But it's that very nature that I think has brought me to be who and where I am. Would I have been able to make it out from under more toxic shit than I had piled on me? I like to think so but I am sure there is limit.
  • lf the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then l believe the definition of wisdom would be 'Doing something, realizing that approach didn't work, and approaching it in new ways until it does." And, of course, recognizing where you went wrong in the process and why. That has no age limit.

    Wisdom isn't about what you know, it's about what you do. This is an important lesson l've learned in the last few years.
  • No.

    But then... can you think of a time in your past when you were wiser than you are now? ;)


    I've met some preternaturally wise children and teenagers ( I wasn't one of them), and I've met some adults and older folks that made me feel like Einstein by comparison.


    In my humble opinion, a more revealing question might be: What exactly does make a person wise?

    (I sure can't think of an answer that makes much sense at present...)

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