The journey to wisdom travels though 3 levels. The first most basic level is knowing a lot of stuff. Anyone who has a lot of accumulated knowledge is on the first level of wisdom. As the saying goes “knowledge in itself is useless, it’s what you do with it that counts”. Or as a university professor told me “a degree is like a dance ticket, you can have many. But if you can’t dance, the tickets mean nothing”. Reaching level one happens through reading, listing and thinking.
The second level is reached by contemplating on the particular knowledge to the point where it is deeply understood. This can happen only through vigorous debate and concentrated analysis. We all know the saying that you only really know something if you have to teach it to someone else. At this stage knowledge become useful. One gets an inkling of how to go about getting the best results from life and others. But this is more like being street-wise than being truly wise. Reaching level two happens through debate and deep analytical contemplation.
The final level of generating wisdom of a particular aspect is reached when the digested knowledge is internalised to the level where it becomes so much part of you that it reaches the status of “second nature”. This deep internal knowing is best achieved by meditating on the particular body of knowledge. When one understands something from all levels and transforms that knowledge to a deep knowing, a sense of quiet wisdom presents itself. And as the Tibetans teach us, the root cause of all our discomfort is as a result of not knowing (sometimes we think we do). Metaphorically this ultimate level of wisdom is almost like the propeller of an aeroplane. When it is stationary, it blocks part of the view. But when it is in motion, one can see through it with clarity and ultimate understanding.