In a traditional school setting, teachers teach and students learn. Most of us have done it all our lives. We learn from actual teachers, and also from the teachers that exist all around us—Nature, our children, our parents, our pets, ourselves, books, and of course, Google. When you read, hear, or see something new, you are discovering knowledge and gathering information. We know that this has a physical effect on our being—it’s scientifically proven. Every time you learn something new you get another wrinkle on your brain. Imagine all of the knowledge—and wrinkles—we have gathered throughout our lives on Earth!

But as we go through our lives building our banks of knowledge, we try to also grow in wisdom. These two concepts are entirely different. You cannot gain wisdom by reading, hearing, or seeing. This is someone else’s knowledge that is being shared with you. But if you delve a bit deeper, you’ll realize that you chose to read, hear, or see that information for a reason. You picked up that book and turned to that page where you found information that excited you. So how then do you make this information your own? How do you turn it into wisdom that will guide your life?

Traditional Chinese philosophy often says, “Be mindless.” Knowledge involves the mind. It is the process of receiving information and using the mind to comprehend it. We live and learn as we go. We try and fail. And then we try again. We see what works and change what doesn’t. And as we grow, we begin to slowly take that knowledge or information that was shared with us, and make it our own. We use it to change our lives. But we cannot enact that change when we are stuck in our minds.

Often, we search high and wide for the answer. We cover all of our sources of information looking for new insight, a new perspective, a hopeful solution. You can gain a lot of information from a book, another person, or the Internet. But you cannot reach a state of wisdom through the mind. You’ll never find the answer you’re looking for in those external sources. The answer is always found within.

Wisdom is the process of transforming and of letting go. In order to find wisdom and walk the path of enlightenment, you must be truly mindless. When you become nothing, you become everything.

Mind, Body, Spirit, TCM

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