New Thought Editorials > Working with Wisdom


Spring 2010

Working with Wisdom

Lately, Alan and I have been reading the Book of Wisdom, also known as "The Wisdom of Solomon". It is classified as deuterocanonical because it is not part of the original Jewish canon, having been written by a Jewish scholar in Alexandria about 100 years before the birth of Jesus. We are impressed by the beauty of the poetry even in translation (New American Bible). From the footnotes we learned that discipline is another name for wisdom, who here and elsewhere is frequently personified as female. Lest you wonder about its relevance for today’s frenetic world, consider this: "For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right/ and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind" (Wis 4:12). In chapter 8 we find the cardinal virtues: "For she [Wisdom] teaches moderation and prudence, justice and fortitude,/ and nothing in life is more useful for men than these./ Or again, if one yearns for copious learning, she knows the things of old, and infers those yet to come" (7-8). Speaking as if he were Solomon, the author declares, "Thinking thus within myself,/ and reflecting in my heart/That there is immortality in kinship with Wisdom,/ and good pleasure in her friendship,/ and unfailing riches in the works of her hands,/And that in frequenting her society there is prudence,/ and fair renown in sharing her discourses,/ I went about seeking to take her for my own." (17-18)

New Thought is more than a little anti-intellectual and could stand to pay more attention to wisdom, which Emmet Fox describes as "the perfect balance of Intelligence and Love. . . . If you had Intelligence without Love, you could, for a time at least, have cleverly organized wickedness. . . . Again, when you have Love without Intelligence, you can have boundless folly. The spoilt child is the most obvious example of this danger." Fox also states, "The clearest open channel for the Jesus Christ teaching was the clockmaker of Portland [P. P. Quimby], and because we always get at all times just what we deserve (which means just what we are ready for), the clockmaker got the revelation" rather than "the leaders of the great universities" or "the heads of the great churches". It is interesting to note that Quimby’s favorite name for God was Wisdom.

Much has been written about intellect versus emotions, in New Thought and elsewhere. Reality Therapy, for example, is predicated on the idea that our emotions lag behind our thoughts because they result from our thoughts; therefore, if you don’t like your emotions, change your thinking in order to change the resulting emotions. Some people would say that the intellect should lead the emotions, which can get you into trouble. But research has shown that we make decisions based on emotions, then go back and fill in with rationalizations. Apparently, half of us lead with intellect and the other half with emotions. That’s fine, as long as you go back and touch base with the missing element. We need both head and heart in order to make good decisions. I like to say—although I freely admit that it is strange anatomy—that head and heart meet in the gut. We say that we have a gut feeling or gut instinct about something, by which we mean our intuition about it. Much research has been done about intuition in psychology, some of it even spilling over into the sixth sense or psi realm. Psychiatrist Harold H. Bloomfield remarks, "Psychiatry involves making the spirit whole." He continues, "With good intuition we can transcend our ordinary state of mind and become more deeply and completely ourselves." Researcher Philip Goldberg points out, "Intuition is defined mainly in terms of what it is not: rationality...It is also not mere observation....Intuition is experienced as nonsequential....We reason, analyze, gather facts; then there is an intuitive breakthrough; then we reason and analyze again in order to verify, elaborate, and apply the product of intuition." In other words, we gather data with the intellect, then let it incubate. From this gathering/incubation come the flashes of intuition. Obviously, both intellect and emotion are involved.

So we have come full circle. Both head and heart are involved in wisdom, each playing a vital role. Somewhere in each developing occasion of experience, God’s initial aim is leading and guiding us, co-creating with us in the newness of each moment. Wisdom—that balance of love and intelligence—is leading us on to the perfect solution for whatever we are currently seeking to untangle.