Knowledge and Wisdom

By Steven Palmeri

“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

If I remain open and receptive when I open a book, listen to a teacher, or sit and meditate, I will have gained knowledge. If I stay openminded, pay attention to everything going on around me, and listen, I will have gained knowledge. If I go to school, do studies, and have new experiences, I will have gained knowledge. If I seek to expand and enhance my walk-through different teachings and modalities, I will have gained knowledge. Once I have done all that, I will have gained knowledge.

So, if we fail to incorporate any of that knowledge that we have gained along the way into our core, into the very essence of who we are, then that will be all we have, is knowledge, and knowledge is not enough. We will be a knowledgeable person who sounds like a wise man.

If you remain in denial about the simple fact that you think you are in control, ego, pride, and self-importance will not allow you to even see that you have to incorporate the knowledge you have received into your core and you will remain a foolish person convinced that you are wise, talking the talk without knowing how to walk the walk. You will remain judgmental, condescending, overbearing, and superior in your walk, which everyone will see, and that you are not a wise person. Everyone but you. The only one you will be fooling is yourself.

          If you go around repeating knowledge you have gained to others, you will be able to reach many thirsting for enlightenment themselves who you can manipulate to your own will to satisfy your own ego and self-centeredness, to be able to feed your fears. These are not traits of a wise person. This is not wisdom. They are traits of an insecure person trying desperately to fill a void within.   

          Even the most foolish of men may be filled with a vast amount of knowledge. It is easy to mimic, or repeat what one has heard. It is another to put it into practical use

Nothing can be achieved without knowledge and yet everything can be achieved just through pure heart”

-Haidakhan Babaji                                                                                            

        To have pure heart, I must have the wisdom that I am doing the next right thing, that my motives are correct, that I am doing everything I can to incorporate what I have learned into my core. Then I can let go of fear, ego, self-centeredness that keep me from becoming a wise man.

          So how does one turn knowledge into wisdom, how does one actually incorporate knowledge into their core being, their essence.

          Through practicing what they have been taught over and over again.

          Anyone can cook. All you need is a recipe, all the ingredients and the utensils necessary. That doesn’t make you a chef. You are just repeating what someone else has done and left for you to do.

          To become a chef, you need to practice, and practice. You need to learn the flavors of each and every ingredient out there. You need to start to comprehend what flavors mix well and which do not. You will learn timing and multitasking, just the right temperature to make a hollandaise sauce without it breaking. You will make mistakes and make some awful dishes along the way and you need to accept this as the learning process. You will work twelve to fifteen hours a day, six days a week just to start to understand the basics of cooking.  After years of trial and error you will be able to create dishes that no one else has ever seen. You will be a master of your trade. You will have wisdom.

          The same holds true with everything else. Take the knowledge you receive and work at it every day, all day, to incorporate it into your core.

          When I read “The Four Agreements” By Don Miguel Ruiz, the first time, just because the second agreement says ‘don’t take anything personally’ didn’t mean that all of a sudden, “Ah-Ha,” I get it and will never take anything personally ever again. No, I now have the beginning knowledge of the Toltec Wisdom. Now it is up to me to put in the work. I now have the task to stay ever mindful when something happens to me that I don’t take it personally. When I get in a heated debate and someone finally calls me dumb for not agreeing with their side, I have to be mindful to not take that personally. I have to be ever so conscious of what is going on around me so not to let my ego, pride, self-centeredness get in the way. I am first able to see when I am taking things personally, then work on letting it go, turning it over, trust and surrender that this is the other persons perception, reality and have acceptance of that person just the way they are.

          When my teacher, Jack, told me I had to learn what Trust and Surrender is, I started to work at this every day, all day, in every aspect of my life. Two decades later and I am grateful to understand I will never truly understand Trust and Surrender to the fullest extent of its meaning. But today I have the ability to see it in all I do and can recognize when ego and pride rear their ugly heads always wanting to be in charge. It is in the willingness to be patient. Practice, practice, practice, and recognize whenever fear comes back that say; I am not good enough, I am not getting what I want, I am being rejected.

Some say knowledge is power, but that is not true. Character is power.”  – Sai Baba

          Knowledge is just that and nothing more, knowledge. By incorporating it into my core being, my essence, my soul, then I will start to become wise. I will build my character in a positive way where I will be selfless and without ego. I will want to be of service without expecting anything in return. I will start to understand the meaning of ‘Trust and Surrender’ even deeper.

          Wisdom is not something I, or anyone else can pass along. It is something I strive to achieve each and every day. It is only up to me if I am willing to do the work and not sit back on my laurels that I have knowledge and that’s all I need.

By practicing and making knowledge part of your existence so that it becomes part of who you are without thinking, makes you a wise person. Be determined in your process, don’t live in denial and let go of the fear that you are in control. Trust and surrender to your higher power and do the work. As a wise person I am able to laugh at myself, let go and let God, live and let live, and have peace and serenity in my life. I’d rather be happy than right.

4 thoughts on “Knowledge and Wisdom

  1. Hi Steve! Thumbs up on your latest post! I couldn’t help but recall as I read it, my training of teachers days where I regularly told the joke about the cab driver who when asked “how do you get to Carnegie Hall?” answered, “Practice. Lots and lots of practice.” I also related to your chef metaphor. I regularly gave my lesson plans and activity sheets (my recipes) to teachers who wished to be master teachers of best teaching practices. And whether in a book or to a live audience, I always encouraged teachers to be passionate about their students and their practice because it’s ultimately not what they “do” but who they are/become. Thanks for inspiring my self-reflection☺️


    The best way out is always through ~ Robert Frost

  2. Thank you Anne, I like your metaphor about Carnegie Hall. Well said. It does take a lot of practice to incorporate all the knowledge we gather through our lives.

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