As you may have noticed recently, I have been mostly reticent on this blog due to life’s commitments getting inconveniently in the way ever so often. So I thought I would try my hand at the less time-consuming arts of writing the odd aphorism, maxim or short essay (very short I hope). Not to say that I have anything wise or knowledgeable to offer but I thought from time to time I’d share my own thoughts and observations on this mysterious journey called existence.
So here I begin this series “Words To The Wise” with a legendary Greek sage who knew how much he didn’t know.
#1 Be as Ignorant as Socrates when it comes to acquiring knowledge and truth;
seems to be an oxymoron at first glance, but to those who are slightly familiar with Socrates’ story this advice will make good sense. For those who know Socrates to be “the wisest of them all” but cannot fathom him also being ignorant at the same time, must understand what being “the wisest of them all” truly meant.
Does being wise equate to possessing absolute knowledge, be it of the physical world, corporate world or, as we think we know, the spiritual? And even if we think we know everything there is, is this so-called knowledge the truth or does it actually benefit us in any way? Socrates had the capacity, humility and awareness of his own ignorance to delve into his inner resources to pursue truth, self-knowledge and wisdom, whilst encouraging others to follow his example. By displaying his own ignorance whilst exposing the burdens of false beliefs and conceitedness held by others was in fact the reason why Socrates was labelled “the wisest of them all”.
All I can say regarding attaining knowledge, which can altogether makes us both ignorant and falsely perceive a complex path towards truth, is to simply understand that we don’t need to know everything for one to be wise and succeed in life. In fact, too much knowledge can debilitate common sense and delay righteous action. You should only need to know what is required in the present moment.
“Know Thyself” were the very words pronounced by the Delphic oracle to the ignorant Socrates who is someone, according to a wise old Benjamin Franklin, that we should all choose to imitate, especially in regards knowing ourselves – which is the only thing that every one of us need to know in our lifetimes.