What Is Wisdom?

Wisdom is a way — the way we take to escape from folly — and folly is our ordinary way of life, the way of suffering. Thus wisdom is our Way Out.

Folly, however, is the way we know best, our everyday way, our erroneous pursuit of all that brings us grief and misery, conditions we’re inclined to find quite naturally. Our egotism takes us there, as does our anger, our unkindness, our lusts, our ignorance, and our ineptitude. All our vices lead to folly and hence suffering.



Wisdom, being rarely traveled, is a lofty way not easily traced or kept to, a way of blissful discipline. Bliss is the goal; discipline is the means to arrive there. The quest of the errant knight, the progress of the wayward pilgrim, the journey of the would-be hero-all these are allegories of our trek toward wisdom, toward a transcendent condition beyond our human achievement, yet not beyond our aspiration.

We are human. Error is our natural course, and Folly is our natural destination. Only by acting supernaturally, transcendentally, may we wing our way to Wisdom.

By Alan Nordstrom

See also