This is a story about obtaining wisdom that my college professor shared with my class many, many years ago. I pass it along to you:
Once upon a time, there was a young man who became dissatisfied with his life and disillusioned by his job. He hated being in a rat race and felt that living in the modern world brought out the worst traits in him. He desperately sought to find wisdom and inner peace.
The city he lived in was located at the base of a mountain. The young man decided that he would quit his job, plunge himself into poverty, renounce all bodily pleasure and go to the top of the mountain where he would meditate on the nature of the cosmos.
After 30 years of meditating day and night at the top of the mountain he had finally mastered all wisdom. His reputation for wisdom spread far and wide and people even began to visit him, seeking out his rare wisdom.
One day when a seeker from the city below was listening to the master expound his great wisdom, he asked the master to come down into the city where his wisdom was sorely needed. After a long discussion he finally convinced the master to return to the city below.
After reaching the city and walking along one of its busy streets, a speeding bicyclist accidentally ran over the master’s foot. Since the master was barefoot, the pain was particularly intense.
Immediately the master gave the bicyclist a one-fingered salute and shouted out his full repertoire of four-letter words to curse the fellow in a furious blast of negative energy. All the master’s followers where quite shocked by this outburst of anger and sudden loss of self-control. After 30 years of acquiring wisdom, the guru still goofed-up!
The moral to this story is that one can only use one’s wisdom where one finds it.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg also addressed this issue, particularly in the religious context of battling with one’s inner demons. When people remove themselves from the challenges of life, they are unable to gain mastery over their personal weaknesses, evils and compulsions. By tackling our personal foibles head on, and, sincerely asking for the Lord God’s help, we are given the power to both recognize and subjugate the ignoble features of our character.
One must begin spiritual growth and acquire wisdom from where one finds him or herself. God providentially puts us in situations that are the most conducive to our salvation, whether we recognize it or not.