The Voice Of Fear



The Zen you find on a mountain top,

is the Zen you brought with you.

There are three parts to the journey in which learning leads to wisdom. First we have information, which leads to knowledge and from that knowledge we find wisdom.


While in the process of building the Panama Canal, workers were dying from mosquito-borne diseases. The natives repeatedly told the workers that when the mosquito lands on your head you die. The workers laughed them off as ridiculous as the men continued to die. Finally, our science figured out that the mosquitoes were indeed carrying the deadly diseases and steps were taken to protect the workers.


The wisdom of the natives had been ignored. Their words were too simple for “advanced” civilization to take seriously. Wisdom appears to be simplistic information – and that's because it is.


Think of the process towards gaining wisdom as a factory:


First, huge trucks bring in massive amounts of raw information. That information is then crushed down into knowledge which is then crushed down even further to yield a few drops of wisdom.


One particular saying that I like goes like this:


“The tree that bends with the wind survives; the tree that stiffens breaks.”


It's a simple saying, but it is one of those drops of wisdom that came from lifetimes of  information and knowledge. Fear has no wisdom because it is trying to affect short term outcomes. It uses information from the moment, rarely seeks out knowledge and is incapable of wisdom.


I have a friend who is a real tough guy. He prides himself on his toughness. So much so that his self-image and self-worth are based on it. He is also a husband and a father. In a discussion one night I asked him if he would do anything to keep his family safe. He looked at me as if I insulted him just by asking.


“Of course I would,” he said.


“Would you pee your pants if it prevented you from getting in a bar fight?” I asked. He looked at me as if I had gone crazy. I repeated the question.


“I don't understand,” he said.


“What if a guy squared off with you and you knew that if you peed your pants right there he would be so disgusted that he would leave you alone and you could leave safely.”


“No way! I would kick his ass!”


“What if you knew that if you got in a fight you would have to kill him.?” Again he gave me a look. “Let's say he pulled a knife and you would have to kill him in order to stop him, but you could avoid the fight if you just peed your pants. Would you pee your pants?”


He still said no.


“So you would kill a man and possibly go to jail because you are afraid of being embarrassed?”


At that point I thought he was going to punch me. Eventually he calmed down and let me explain. I asked him if he had ever heard the saying about the tree. He said he had, but until now it had been just a saying. He had the information, but now for the first time he was seeing it as knowledge. I told him he was the tree that stiffened against the wind, and if he really wanted to honor his family he had to be the tree that bent with the wind. He was silent for a long time. Finally he said, “I agree.”


When you turn information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom and you can implement that wisdom into your life, then you are truly wise. Fear is the great destroyer of wisdom, while the heart is the great creator.

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