Why wisdom doesn’t automatically make us wise

When we are taught wisdom-texts such as the Bhagavad-gita by its expert teachers, we may learn much wisdom about how to act wisely when faced with challenging situations. Still, when we actually confront such situations, we often act unwisely. 


Because learnt wisdom doesn’t automatically translate into lived wisdom; we need to teach it to ourselves. That is, the responsible part within us needs to become a teacher to the part of us that is like a student who can be forgetful, frivolous or even foolish. 

The Bhagavad-gita (06.05) calls for such inner responsibility when it exhorts us to elevate ourselves with ourselves, not degrade ourselves with ourselves. If the idea of two selves inside us seems confusing, we can consider the second self to be the mind, the part of us that can be impulsive, emotive or uncooperative. What makes the mind especially deceptive is that it is not entirely dumb; it can quote wisdom for superficial purposes such as impressing others. But it won’t act wisely unless it is expertly monitored and mentored. 

When we face challenging situations such as temptations or threats, our mind reacts with desire or terror. At such times, we need to remember the wisdom that can guide us through such situations and then communicate that wisdom to our mind effectively. Just as good teachers find ways to get to difficult students, we need to find ways to get to our mind. Maybe we can prepare wisdom-cards, physical or digital, that we can train ourselves to read whenever provoked. 

When we thus become resourceful at teaching ourselves in the heat of daily life the wisdom that we have been taught in the classroom, we progress toward becoming wise. 

One-sentence summary: 

Wisdom that is taught needs to be self-taught before it can make us wise.

Think it over:

  • What does teaching wisdom to ourselves mean?
  • How can we teach wisdom to ourselves?
  • List one typical situation where you struggle to apply some learnt wisdom. Prepare three resources that you can use to teach yourself in those situations. 


06.05: One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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  1. I want to convey a hearty thanks to you for all these articles Prabhu ji..please accept my humble obeisances unto your lotus feet..Hare Krishna!

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    • Thanks for your kind comments; grateful to know that the Gita daily articles are of service to you.

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  2. Very apt practical and profound prabhuji. Never thought of this dimension.Same happens while facing situations in real.This is going to be helpful for our future dealings. Thanks
    Hare Krishna

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    • Happy to be of service; thanks for your comment.

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  3. Thank you chaitanya Das! Difficult to apply when the situations are purposed at work setup ,past impressions are so deep ,mind never listen wisdom and act unwisely based on collected data in the past….still experiencing constant struggle between my mind and wisdom…after reading the article I need regular input and inner responsibility to mentor and monitor the process to act wisely….still its challenging for me for my present situation…..

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    • Yes, it is a struggle for all us. Still, by steady practice and divine grace, we can improve.

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