What is Ancient Wisdom?

Although each age needn’t invent the wheel, each must learn how to use it anew; this is the story of mankind. From his genesis, man has sought to formulate and express wisdom in monuments, rituals, doctrines, music, paintings. These cultural mores are passed from generation to generation, along with the burden of breathing new life into them. Through this ancient chain of benefactors and beneficiaries, wisdom has threaded its way through the eons to our age, which is why we call it ancient wisdom.

Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content…
– Walt Whitman

knowledge and wisdom

Wisdom is so close to knowledge that the one cannot be approached without touching the other. To understand the nature of wisdom, we must contrast it with its brother, knowledge.

Knowledge can exist without anyone harboring it, as in a book, a library or a website. Wisdom, on the other hand, is inseparable of its owner. So long as knowledge remains unconsumed, like the book that has yet to be read, it remains inanimate. Yet once the book is read and its instruction put to practice, knowledge can be transformed into wisdom. One definition of wisdom is, therefore, living knowledge.

Since wisdom is alive and knowledge is inanimate, the two have different lifespans. Knowledge can be passed on from one person to another by a mere handing over of a book. Wisdom, on the other hand, cannot be bestowed; it must be earned and constantly reaffirmed. Being alive, wisdom possesses a finite lifespan after which it inevitably dies.

Yet neither does knowledge last forever. Like the child’s game of ‘broken telephone’, the message of knowledge is whispered from one ear to the next – from africacasinos.co.za one generation to the next – till it assumes an entirely different character than when its origin. The transmission of knowledge is, therefore, heavily prone to misinterpretation and distortion. Knowledge is as mortal as wisdom, but it’s degeneration is slower.

the resurrection of ancient wisdom

Wisdom is non-transferable. It is gained through experience. He who possesses wisdom can bequeath only his knowledge and instruct his beneficiary how to put it into practice. Only through practical application of this legacy can the beneficiary breathe new life into his inheritance. Thus, we say that transforming knowledge into wisdom is a form of resurrection.

The image of an ancient Ark wading through the floods of time is, therefore, most appropriate. What goes up must come down: now mankind exhibits a profound civilization that produces a rich legacy; then time degenerates it into savage barbarism. Nevertheless, driven by the next wave of time, mankind rises again to express its ancient wisdom anew.

ancient wisdom in the information age

Our age is, very likely, the most prone to confusing knowledge with wisdom. The availability of information is overwhelming. We publish an unprecedented amount of books and movies each year, most of which disappear into obscurity, if not total oblivion, within months of their release. Their immediate relevance makes them temporarily popular, until a new work outruns and overshadows them. They entertain rather than inspire; inform rather than instruct. They prove poor conductors of wisdom.

Yet despite today’s crowded bookshelves, the ancient bodies of wisdom remain prominent sources of inspiration. And this holds true to all areas: Greek architecture persists in the triangular roof of our home and the architecture of our capitol; Shakespeare comedy and tragedy persist in our favorite books and movies; Hebrew, Latin and Sanskrit still stand at the very roots of the languages with which we communicate. The influence of ancient classics has subtly trickled down to present times and is likely to persist in times to come.

By the same token, those works of our age that will successfully capture the spirit of ancient wisdom will be blessed with longevity. Ark in Time opens a door to the resurrection of ancient wisdom. Here we share the fruits of decades of work from among hundreds of individuals both living and deceased, who have dedicated their lives to transforming knowledge into wisdom. Drawing from the ancient flood myth, we seek to preserve the valuable contents through an imminent flood. But ark, contents and flood are not physical: the content is wisdom, the flood is time, and the ark is our own expression of the ancient legacy.