On words of wisdom: wisdom matters and so do words
We can easily understand the power of wisdom: it can help us choose properly, communicate effectively, live fruitfully. However, we may not so easily understand the power of the words which convey that wisdom: quotable quotes and scriptural verses, for example. Those words are the concrete carriers of that wisdom.
And we need such concrete manifestations to anchor our consciousness in wisdom amid today’s distraction-filled world. Otherwise, we may not only forget subtle wisdom in the gross world but also forget that we have forgotten.
Though words are concrete, we nowadays access them in less concrete forms by reading them in our mind. Such reading, being faster, may be practically necessary in our fast-paced culture. Still, it is a suboptimal way to connect with deep wisdom; the best way is by speaking words of wisdom aloud. Here’s why:
- Better contemplation: Articulating words of wisdom aloud slows us down, giving us more time to contemplate that wisdom.
- Multi-channel connection: Articulation engages our senses — our tongue and ears — in addition to our mind and intelligence, thereby increasing the channels through which our consciousness can connect with the wisdom.
- Improved recollection: If we articulate aloud repeatedly and regularly, we gain a verbal and aural memory to complement our intellectual memory, thereby making memorization easier. That’s why spiritual traditions across history and geography have practiced the loud recitation of their sacred texts. And even today, children usually learn alphabets and math tables by repeating them aloud.
Rather than believing presumptuously that we have outgrown what we did in our childhood or what humanity did in the past, maybe we can enhance our learning of deep subjects by re-adopting the practice of reciting words of wisdom, as the Bhagavad-gita (17.15) recommends.
Cherish not just the wisdom that illumines, but also the words that illumine.
Think it over:
- How can words of wisdom help us connect with the wisdom better?
- Why is reciting words of wisdom aloud the best way to assimilate that wisdom?
- Try reciting scriptural verses or reading wisdom-texts daily for ten minutes for a week and evaluate if it enhances your learning.
17.15: Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.