Growing in Wisdom
Growing in Wisdom, by Rev. Teresa Stuefloten - 1/26/19
My message today is about Growing in Wisdom. What is wisdom? It’s not the same as knowledge. It’s not just knowing facts.
Webster defines wisdom as:
a: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : INSIGHT
b: good sense : JUDGMENT
An article regarding the difference between knowledge and wisdom states:
“Many people mistake knowledge for wisdom because they are intimately related, and this is unfortunate because they are quite different in an important way. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information. Wisdom is the synthesis of knowledge and experiences into insights that deepen one’s understanding of relationships and the meaning of life. In other words, knowledge is a tool, and wisdom is the craft in which the tool is used.”
With the Internet it is easy to find information on any subject. “But having a hammer and knowing how to use it are two entirely different propositions… Sadly, history is a lengthy record of the harms wrought by knowledgeable, well-meaning people who lacked wisdom…In contrast to knowledge, wisdom is generally considered to be morally good. Why is this the case? Albert Einstein once said, ‘Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.’…‘Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers,’ wrote Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Truths stay with a person for the rest of his or her life, coloring all subsequent thoughts and actions…
Society esteems the wise for their virtuosity and for their rarity. Subject matter experts number in the thousands, but the wise may only number in the tens or hundreds. And history records their names and achievements for posterity’s sake.” (philoscifi.com)
King Solomon asked God for wisdom above all else.
In 2 Chronicles: 6-12 we read:
6 “And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the Lord, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it.
7 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a vision and said to him Ask what I shall give you.
8 And Solomon said to the Lord, thou hast shown great mercy to David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead.
9 Now, O Lord my God, let thy promise to David my father be established; for thou hast made me king over this people, like the dust of the earth in multitude.
10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this thy people that is so great?
11 And the Lord said to Solomon, Because this was in your mind (in your heart), and you have not asked for riches, honor, nor the life of your enemies, neither have you asked for long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may judge my people over whom I have made you king;
12 Also the things for which you have not asked will I grant to you. And I will give you wisdom and knowledge, wealth, riches, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before you, neither shall there be any after you that have the like.
13 Then Solomon came from his journey to the great banquet that was at the town of Gibeon, east of Jerusalem, from before the tabernacle of the congregation, and reigned over all Israel.”
Wisdom is considered a feminine quality. In Greek she is called Sophia, Hagia Sophia is Holy Wisdom, or Divine Wisdom. Sophia is sometimes referred to as the Goddess of Wisdom. In Hebrew she is Hohkma. In Latin she is Sapientia.
In Hindu she is Saraswati, the active energy & power of Brahma. Brahma represents the abstract, while Saraswati represents action & reality. She is dressed in white sitting on a white lotus, representing light, knowledge and truth. She represents the experience of the highest reality.
Sophia is also referred to as the Divine Feminine, the Mother of God, the Holy Spirit of the Trinity, and the Bride of Christ.
In Gnosticism Sophia is a feminine figure analogous to the soul. Gnosticism emphasized personal spiritual knowledge, direct experience, over orthodox teachings, traditions, & ecclesiastical authority.
The Book of Wisdom in the Catholic Bible, attributed to King Solomon, says Sophia is “the breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty, a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God and an image of God’s goodness.”
Christian mystic Thomas Merton said of Sophia, “The Diffuse shining of God is Hagia Sophia. We call her His glory… In Sophia His power is experienced only as mercy and as love.”
Proverbs 8:10-11 says “… and choose for yourself knowledge rather than fine gold. For wisdom is much better than fine gold; yea, she is better than precious stones, and nothing can be compared to her.”
The early Christian church knew and prayed to Sophia. “But many Greek and Egyptian goddess cults still existed at this time, and there was concern among Christians that worship of Sophia would be associated with these cults. Some of the qualities ascribed to the goddesses were similar to Sophia’s attributes—particularly those of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, who was renowned for her wisdom and guidance. Fear of the goddesses was one reason why the early Roman church gradually disconnected from Sophia.”
“At the same time gnosticism gained popularity, an early Christian movement whose followers had special devotion to Sophia, crediting her with the creation of the universe. The gnostics had an immense longing for the interior life and for the hidden things of God. Eventually they were charged with heresy, not because of their love for Sophia, but because they rejected the material world. In their passion for the interior life, the gnostics valued only the spiritual and intellectual realms. They taught that Jesus was never incarnated, that salvation was to be attained only through knowledge of the inner self. This left the early church in a bind; they believed in Sophia, yet rejected gnosticism. As the church distanced itself from the gnostics, it also turned away from devotion to Sophia for fear of appearing to approve gnostic beliefs.”
“…First-century philosopher Philo of Alexandria, as a Jew, …was very familiar with Sophia. He taught that the Divine Origin (Yahweh) had created Sophia first and then Logos (the Word) as a balancing companion. He envisioned these two working together in shaping creation: Sophia, the feminine or creating vessel, and Logos, the masculine or active doer.
…Sophia was eventually left out of Philo’s approach…a strong patriarchal emphasis on the masculine…caused the feminine to be eliminated.
For a time the early church referred to Sophia in terms comparable to that of the Holy Spirit, but this, too, gradually diminished and was lost.”
(Sister Joyce Rupp)
As metaphysical practitioners in Divine Science, we want to strengthen our relationship with Divine Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, our own inner wisdom.
There are two practices that can help us grow in wisdom: practicing awareness, and practicing meditation.
Practicing awareness means being in the present, fully aware of each moment. Radical awareness! The power of now! Only by being in the present moment can we take in the wisdom that is presenting itself to us in our daily life. If we are lost in thoughts about the past or thoughts of the future, we miss the wisdom that is being offered to us in the present moment. It is not easy to be fully present in each moment. It is very easy to be consumed in plans for the day, trying to figure out a solution to a situation that is bothering us, nostalgia for the past, regrets about the past, and worry about the future. It goes on and on! But when we are not aware in the present moment, we lose the opportunity to learn the wisdom that is here right now. What is Sophia trying to reveal to us in our daily life? I often realize how much I am not in the moment when I am in the shower and realize that I have been so lost in thought that I cannot remember which body parts I have washed!
In conversation my thoughts sometimes drift and I suddenly realize that I do not know what the person I am talking with just said! Sometimes I realize that I don’t even know how to respond to a question the person is asking because I have not been present and I don’t even know what the question is! You know how you fumble around trying to get a clue to what the person is talking about without admitting that you were not listening? Come on, admit it, you’ve done it, too! Perhaps something the person said was a message for me and by not being fully present I have lost the opportunity for that wisdom to be revealed to me.
My journey to becoming a Divine Science minister was prompted by a comment from a friend in a conversation. I graduated from a 4 year seminary program at another spiritual community. About a year after graduation I was sitting in Sunday service next to a woman who had graduated from this same seminary. She asked me if I had received any guidance as to my next step after graduation. I said “no”, and she said, “Maybe you’re not listening.” Her statement haunted me; it followed me and would not let go of me! Rev Dr Christopher Bazemore had told Rev Mark that he would like to have me as a Divine Science Minister. I had rejected this idea when I initially heard it. I had graduated from the seminary and was very involved in service with the other church. But Mark had at this point been ordained as a Divine Science Minister, and he was serving here at the Community of Infinite Spirit. We had always attended church together our entire marriage. Now, for the first time, we were separate on Sunday mornings and in week-night classes. I had to take the idea that I had not been listening into meditation and ask for guidance. I had to stop and listen within. Obviously, I think you can guess that the guidance I received was that I was to pursue ordination as a Divine Science Minister. When I stopped to be in the moment and truly listen, my destiny, and my purpose was revealed.
I have been on silent retreats ranging from 4-10 days. On silent retreat we are asked to eat with awareness, to chew slowly and to become fully aware of the tastes and textures of the food. When we eat with awareness we need less food because we feel the sensations of our body that reveal to us when we are full. When we are not in the moment we can take in a lot of food mindlessly and then, too late to do anything about it, we become aware that we are uncomfortably full.
On silent retreat I become aware of my body and its sensations when I shower. I am able to honor my body and it’s wisdom when I am present in the moment, fully aware. The body will tell me what it needs if I listen, but truly listening requires focused awareness. The body has wisdom. It will tell us what foods it needs, what it’s aches and pains mean, & when it needs rest. But the body’s wisdom can only be accessed through awareness. Slow down; stop and listen. Wisdom is revealed.
When I meditate at a silent retreat, I go deeply within. At first the mind can become incredibly active, chattering away constantly, but as I settle into the silence, it becomes powerful and wisdom is revealed.
Daily Meditation is an important way to grow in wisdom. When we shut out the outer world for a time each day, we allow the Divine to speak to us. We allow Hagia Sophia, Divine Wisdom, to be revealed to us.
James 3:17 says “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then full of peace, and it is gentle, obedient, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
We can ask Hagia Sophia to reveal herself to us in meditation. We can say her name as we breathe in and out at the beginning of our meditation. Hagia-Sophia, Hagia-Sophia. Try it with me. Close your eyes and inwardly say Hagia on the in breath, and Sophia on the out breath. Hagia-Sophiahhh, Hagia-Sophiahhh, Hagia-Sophiahhh… Ahhh is the sound of the heart. The wisdom of Divine Love. Open yourself to receive Divine Wisdom. Hagia-Sophiahhh, Hagia-Sophiahhh, Hagia-Sophiahhh. Now ask within, “Hagia Sophia, reveal yourself to me.” Listen within… (pause 12 breaths)
What did you experience? Did you feel an opening of energy, the sound of Om starting to sound, an inner light or color, a message being revealed? Try this at home this week, spending a little time each day going within and asking Hagia Sophia to reveal herself to you. Record a few notes about your experience and see how your experience expands over the week.
Proverbs 2:2-5 says: “… incline your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding. Yea, if you cry after knowledge and lift up your voice to understanding, if you seek it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure; then you will understand how to worship the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” The treasure is hidden right within our own soul! We have wisdom within, but we need to go within to search for it and ask that it be revealed. We will know God by going within and asking Hagia Sophia to reveal herself to us.
Scripture exalts the value of Hagia Sophia, Divine Wisdom:
Proverbs 19:8 “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps faithfulness shall find good.”
Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the man, blessed is the woman, who finds wisdom, and the (one) who finds understanding.”
Proverbs 16:16 “To get wisdom is much better than gold; and to get understanding is better than silver.”
Psalms 90:12 “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
The practices that assist us in expanding Divine Wisdom are awareness in our daily life, looking for wisdom to be revealed in the midst of our daily life, and daily meditation, going within to have the wisdom of our Soul revealed.
The Book of Sirach, included in the Catholic Bible, says:
“Happy is the person who meditates on Sophia, who reflects in one’s heart on Sophia’s ways and ponders her secrets, pursuing her like a hunter, and lying in wait on her paths.”
Eleventh Century Christian mystic Hildegard of Bingen revered Sophia. She wrote of Sophia:
“You of the whirling wings,
circling, encompassing energy of God:
you quicken the world in your clasp.
One wing soars in heaven,
one wing sweeps the earth,
and the third flies all around us.
Praise to Sophia!
Let all the earth praise her!”
Namaste’ And so it is!