„Always pray for wisdom above all other things, it's like magnate.“

Edited by Cornelius Keagon. Last update Nov. 11, 2020. History

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Russell Brand photo

„Pray, then, for wisdom, wisdom to know the difference between things we can change and things we can’t.“

—  Russell Brand, book Revolution

Revolution (2014)
Context: The first thing is serenity. The agitation has to end. The itchy irritability, the restlessness, the wanting. So do the lows, the self-loathing, wretched, heavy-hearted, lead-gutted, teary-eyed, dry-mouthed misery. The pain. So do the highs. The wide-eyed, bilious highs, the cheek-chewing, trouble-brewing highs, the never-stopping-till-I-touch-the-sky highs, the up-at-dawn hitting-the-pipe highs, chasing, defacing, heart-racing highs, gagging, shagging, blagging highs. All the things we do to change the way we feel, the way the world looks and tastes: It’s all got to go. So courage is necessary. Courage to change yourself, the one thing you can change. Your attitude and actions. Neither the serenity nor the courage are available to you on your own; if they were, you would’ve found them by now—you’ve been pretty fastidious in your research. God, however you conceptualize him, will have to grant them to you. And whatever you conceptualize God as, with your human mind, your individual brain, made up of instinctive responses, training, and memories, however you conceptualize a power that’s beyond you and the decisions you’ve made so far, your conception will be extremely limited. Likely as limited as my cat’s conception of the Internet. The invisible network of interconnected portals that communicate data are beyond my cat’s comprehension. My cat’s inability to comprehend does not impede the Internet. The World Wide Web (which is incidentally quicker to say than “double-you, double-you, double-you-dot”) will continue to exist, regardless of my cat’s awareness. Pray, then, for wisdom, wisdom to know the difference between things we can change and things we can’t. Likely this will be a lifetime’s work, undertaken one day at a time. Which, for humans, is the way time happens. I don’t have to live the 25th of May 2022 yet. I might never have to. I only have to live in this moment. That’s why meditation comes in handy, and practicing it as a community has benefits too. How are we to achieve real change, conditions in which practices that lead to a different type of consciousness can plausibly be pursued?

Michel De Montaigne photo

„The most manifest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness; her state is like that in the regions above the moon, always clear and serene.“

—  Michel De Montaigne (1533-1592) French-Occitan author, humanistic philosopher, statesman 1533 - 1592

Book I, Ch. 26
Attributed
Variant: The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.

Seneca the Younger photo

„What is wisdom? Always desiring the same things, and always refusing the same things.“

—  Seneca the Younger Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist -4 - 65 BC

Here, Seneca uses the same observation that Sallust made regarding friendship (in his historical account of the Catilinarian conspiracy, Bellum Catilinae[XX.4]) to define wisdom.
Original: (la) quid est sapienta? semper idem velle atque idem nolle.
Source: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter XX: On practicing what you preach, Line 5

Alexandre Dumas photo
Woody Allen photo

„More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.“

—  Woody Allen, book Mere Anarchy

"My Speech to the Graduates"
Side Effects (1980)
Variant: Mankind is facing a crossroad - one road leads to despair and utter hopelessness and the other to total extinction - I sincerely hope you graduates choose the right road
Source: Mere Anarchy

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky photo
Christina Rossetti photo
Charles Hamilton Aide photo

„I sit beside my lonely fire
And pray for wisdom yet:
For calmness to remember
Or courage to forget.“

—  Charles Hamilton Aide French writer 1826 - 1906

Remember or Forget, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Joseph Heller photo

„The only wisdom I think I've attained is the wisdom to be skeptical of other people's ideology and other people's arguments. I tend to be a skeptic, I don't like dogmatic approaches by anybody.“

—  Joseph Heller American author 1923 - 1999

In an interview for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "Joseph Heller - Closing Time" (1998) by Ramona Koval http://web.archive.org/web/20000306044602/http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/bwriting/heller.htm <!-- accessdate=2007-08-30 -->
Context: The only wisdom I think I've attained is the wisdom to be skeptical of other people's ideology and other people's arguments. I tend to be a skeptic, I don't like dogmatic approaches by anybody. I don't like intolerance and a dogmatic person is intolerant of other people. It's one of the reasons I keep a distance from all religious beliefs. I think in this country and in Australia too there's a late intolerance in most religions, an intolerance, a part that could easily become persecutions.
We have some ultra-orthodox Jewish sects here in New York and I fear them as much as I would fear a Nazi organisation.

Evelyn Waugh photo

„To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.“

—  Evelyn Waugh British writer 1903 - 1966

Part 1, Chapter 1
Brideshead Revisited (1945)
Source: Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder

Thomas Henry Huxley photo

„The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all the other woes of mankind, is wisdom.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley English biologist and comparative anatomist 1825 - 1895

1860s, A Liberal Education and Where to Find It (1868)

Giordano Bruno photo

„If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom.“

—  Giordano Bruno Italian philosopher, mathematician and astronomer 1548 - 1600

As quoted in Giordano Bruno : His Life and Thought (1950) by Dorothea Waley Singer http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/bruno03.htm#CH3
Context: If all things are in common among friends, the most precious is Wisdom. What can Juno give which thou canst not receive from Wisdom? What mayest thou admire in Venus which thou mayest not also contemplate in Wisdom? Her beauty is not small, for the lord of all things taketh delight in her. Her I have loved and diligently sought from my youth up.

Bawa Muhaiyaddeen photo
Hermann Hesse photo

„Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish… Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.“

—  Hermann Hesse German writer 1877 - 1962

Siddhartha (1922)
Context: Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge photo

„Silence does not always mark wisdom.“

—  Samuel Taylor Coleridge English poet, literary critic and philosopher 1772 - 1834

Baruch Spinoza photo

„I do not think it necessary for salvation to know Christ according to the flesh : but with regard to the Eternal Son of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise.“

—  Baruch Spinoza Dutch philosopher 1632 - 1677

Letter 21 (73) to Henry Oldenburg, November (1675)
Variant translation: The eternal wisdom of God … has shown itself forth in all things, but chiefly in the mind of man, and most of all in Jesus Christ.
Context: I do not think it necessary for salvation to know Christ according to the flesh : but with regard to the Eternal Son of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom of God, which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise. For without this no one can come to a state of blessedness, inasmuch as it alone teaches, what is true or false, good or evil. And, inasmuch as this wisdom was made especially manifest through Jesus Christ, as I have said, his disciples preached it, in so far as it was revealed to them through him, and thus showed that they could rejoice in that spirit of Christ more than the rest of mankind. The doctrines added by certain churches, such as that God took upon himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand; in fact, to speak the truth, they seem to me no less absurd than would a statement, that a circle had taken upon itself the nature of a square. This I think will be sufficient explanation of my opinions concerning the three points mentioned. Whether it will be satisfactory to Christians you will know better than I.

Iain Banks photo
Reinhold Niebuhr photo

„God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, courage
to change the things which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr American protestant theologian 1892 - 1971

Niebuhr's preferred form, as declared by his widow
The Serenity Prayer (c. 1942)
Variant: God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Nyanaponika Thera photo

„True wisdom is always young, and always near to the grasp of an open mind.“

—  Nyanaponika Thera German Buddhist monk 1901 - 1994

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation (1965)
Context: Some doubt may arise in the minds of Western men how they could be helped in their present problems by a doctrine of the far and foreign East. And others, even in the East, may ask how words spoken 2,500 years ago can have relevance to our ‘modern world’, except in a very general sense. Those who raise the objection of distance in space (meaning by it, properly, the difference of race), should ask themselves whether Benares is truly more foreign to a citizen of London than Nazareth from where a teaching has issued that to that very citizen has become a familiar and important part of his life and thought. They should further he willing to admit that mathematical laws, found out long ago in distant Greece, are of no less validity today, in Britain or elsewhere. But particularly these objectors should consider the numerous basic facts of life that are common to all humanity. It is about them that the Buddha preeminently speaks. Those who raise the objection of the distance in time, will certainly recall many golden words of long-dead sages and poets which strike such a deep and kindred chord in our own hearts that we very vividly feel a living and intimate contact with those great ones who have left this world long ago. Such experience contrasts with the "very much present" silly chatter of society, newspapers or radio, which, when compared with those ancient voices of wisdom and beauty, will appear to emanate from the mental level of stone-age man tricked out in modern trappings. True wisdom is always young, and always near to the grasp of an open mind.

pp. 20-21

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