No one is an island. Whether we realize it or not, we leave an imprint on the lives and places we touch. I don’t think we realize just how important the little things are.
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect was used originally for weather prediction. The phrase was coined by Edward Lorenz, who reportedly titled a speech, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”
The basic idea is that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado.
This may seem strange to many people, but science is continually proving just how interdependent we are. We see this clearly in the effect we are having on the environment. But social psychologists see this also in interpersonal relationships. Social networks connect everybody to everyone else. No one is an island.
This may seem strange, but science is continually proving just how interdependent we are. In fact, I have a textbook on my bookshelf that is entitled, “Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships.”
Have you ever thrown a stone into a pond? After the stone sinks into the water, a ripple effect begins its journey away from the place where the stone hit the water. I picture wisdom having this same effect.
When wisdom hits our consciousness, and we get insight into how to ethically and skillful use what we know. It has a ripple effect in our lives. Wisdom changes things because wisdom helps us get true insight into the nature of things. We see the bigger picture, the different relationships, and what all of it means.
For me, wisdom includes being rational, ethical, and mindful. And so I imagine a ripple radiating from the word wisdom. The ripples represent the influence and effect of wisdom in our hearts and minds, and the hearts and minds of others.
If we want a better life for ourselves, and a better world, we need more than knowledge. We need to know how to use that knowledge in an ethical and skillful way. In fact, that is what wisdom is – the ethical and skillful application of knowledge. It becomes spiritual wisdom when it is applied to expanding and deepening of our consciousness, the awareness of the union and interconnection of all things. The big questions of existence and meaning in life are addressed through wisdom – the ethical and skillful application of knowledge.
We need theory and knowledge. That is where we begin. But it is not enough. We must add to our theoretical understanding actual practices. It is the doing that makes the knowing real. It is the doing that makes the knowledge mean something. All experiences flow from knowledge in motion.
Like ripples on a pond, so should knowledge lead to application, and application leads to change in the world. This is what wisdom is all about. It is not just knowing what, it is knowing what to do with what we know. Wisdom is not known, it is lived. So take your knowledge and live it.
The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.