World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Chapter 15: Wisdom

1. The Search for Knowledge
2. Scripture and Tradition
3. Poverty of Conceptual Learning
4. Scripture Teaches in Parables
5. Learning and Practice
6. Teacher and Disciple
7. New Wine and Old Wineskins

To recognize Ultimate Reality requires knowledge--not conceptual knowledge, but knowledge to be practiced in life, to be understood by the heart, and to be realized in spirit. It is divine knowledge, as revealed in scripture or imparted through the teachings of people who have realized truth. This chapter deals with this intellectual aspect of the life of faith.

Passages on the search for knowledge in general are followed by a section on scripture and tradition as the most reliable repositories of truth, whose study and practice is efficacious for gaining knowledge. The limitations of conceptual learning and the accumulation of facts, which fill libraries but may be of little value for spiritual advancement, is the topic of the third section. Indeed, the most essential knowledge is not confined to words, but must be apprehended directly by experience and action. The following section concerns limitations of scripture itself: cast in parables and limited by words, it is often clouded by interpretation; and as a finite vessel, it cannot encompass the infinity of Ultimate Reality. The fifth section deals with the requirement that knowledge, if it is to be of any value, must be practiced. Another section has texts on the way of gaining wisdom through the discipline of discipleship. Some traditions advise the seeker to become the student of a living teacher; others call one to follow the example of founders and spiritual giants of the past. The chapter concludes with a section entitled New Wine and Old Wineskins, on the wisdom of the aged and the need to devote oneself to learning in one's youth.

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