The myth of wisdom and age

Wisdom comes from experiential doing.

Children gain huge amounts of daily wisdom through play.

Children gain huge amounts of daily wisdom through play.

Via WordPress I came across a video of a nine-year-old child offering their insights on deep questions relating to the universe.  Everyone was commenting how wise this child was, and indeed his insights are good.  The video reminded me of the insights on what it means to be happy by another nine-year-old via WordPress.

What is wisdom? Wisdom is obtained through experiential doing.  You won’t find wisdom reading a book, or watching television, or updating Facebook, those are spectator activities that offer knowledge rather than wisdom.  You can study the chemistry of an apple, but until you bite the apple you will gain no wisdom of the apple.  In life you have to be the actor on stage rather than the spectator in the audience to obtain wisdom.

Children are always involved in experiential activity, they are building up a huge amount of wisdom through their daily play.  The adult favours mostly routine and spectator activities which whilst their knowledge rises, their gain in wisdom is limited, and perhaps even falls through forgetfulness.

Leonardo da Vinci said:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Because of his childhood poverty da Vinci never had a university education, he was treated with contempt by scholars, but they forgot that their knowledge was useless unless it was applied through the doing, da Vinci was a doer, and history stands in awe of his accomplishments.

The apparent connection of age with wisdom is a myth for the adult has the advantage over the child only of the number of years of opportunity to accumulate wisdom from experiential doing, whilst the child has been eating up wisdom through quality doing every day of their childhood, by the age of nine they are sometimes glowing with wisdom.  In addition the modern adult is stupider than their ancestors thanks to the modern technology that reduces them to spectators rather than doers.


29 responses to “The myth of wisdom and age

  1. Great post offering a profound insight on life.

  2. What a great quote by Leonardo. My little philosopher used to say that all the time- “Make, make, make, do, do, do.”

  3. Absolutely spot on Alex. I have met many old, unwise people, and am fortunate enough to have a wise 13 yr son I can converse with!
    In engineering, I have met many highly educated, recently graduated MSc’s and PHD’s, but often they’ve known nothing!

  4. I have referred to and linked your post to tomorrow’s post on Genes and used the video clip… 🙂

    You fired a spark.


  5. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    I really love the way Alex brings important things to light, in quick simple ways. Having been raised to respect elders, I have recently been having a good bit of stress dealing with a couple of older folks who are a good bit more fond of cocaine than play and wisdom;-) and have been forced to accept that wisdom certainly does not naturally accrue due to age. I too have noticed that children not yet programmed to think in certain paths, often have a clearer and more truthful vision of the world. Perhaps it is more the focus of the person, their openness to understanding and learning, than it is their age that produces wisdom.

  6. Very true. I am amazed by my 6 year olds wisdom on a daily basis. She is very intuitive and has more common sense than a lot of adults I know.

    I’m glad also that I never embraced fully being an adult. I am responsible and all that, but I still like learning new things and playing.

    Playing is undervalued in adults. Coloring and making things with paper and clay stimulate your creativity which in turn helps your thought processes in many other aspects of life..

  7. I may have more years of living on my grand children but they teach me something every day. My youngest attended a montessori based school for a year, he’s 25 and still remembers the things he learned from the experiments the teachers had them do while can’t remember much of what he learned the rest of his time in school. Children learn from day one to experiment to learn, putting things in their mouths as babies, and only forget to live this way once they enter the school system which replaces experimentation with books.

  8. Very nice! Didn’t Yoda say ‘There is no try, there is only DO’ – He must be very WISE. 🙂

  9. True, but I was just thinking…..technically the adult is wiser than children because they were once children too. So they have that wisdom plus what little they’ve gained over the years…..Just a thought.

  10. Pingback: To be old to be wise… | They Say it's in the Genes

  11. Loved the video and the post. and links you speak your own words of wisdom Alex, especially in your last paragraph. 🙂

  12. Pingback: Friday Favorites, April 5th | Living Simply Free

  13. I whole heartedly agree with your last paragraph and have often thought the same thing. Where is humanity going? Are we, as a race, de-volving, due to our comfortable lifestyle? Where is (are) the Da Vinci(s) of today? If Da Vinci had been born in this era, would his genius have been snuffed, distracted by tv and technology? Or would his innate curious and experiential nature have won out? How much are we losing in trade for social networking sites, console games, tv programmes etc?
    Great post.

    • It is a tragedy that many potential Da Vinci(s) shall never be thanks to enslaving technology, but also due to a modern education system that kills off creativity and wisdom.

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