Throughout time, wisdom schools have developed during periods of spiritual and cultural transition. Wisdom schools emphasize a deep respect for the diverse experience of the individual and offer teachings to help with the natural spiritual unfolding of each student rather than provide a static doctrine to which one must adhere.
It is time for us to take our spiritual and personal growth back into our own hands, which is not to say that there is nothing to be learned from spiritual traditions and personal development theory. These things are rich storehouses of information that can serve us in many ways, and their traditions deserve to be respected and honored. We can benefit greatly from the wisdom of those who have walked before us.
However, any system that demands exclusive loyalty to itself over our personal truth is a corrupt system that, while it might teach us many things, will ultimately fail us.
Unfortunately, the teachings of personal empowerment that we are so in need of are limited in supply. We are taught through many established educational and religious structures—starting when we are very young—that intelligence and spiritual development is something that is endorsed through people and systems that are external to us. We are indoctrinated into giving up our own personal knowledge by the well-meaning caregivers of our childhood—who have also been damaged by the system.
Developing our own wisdom thus becomes a balance between learning from those who have walked before as well as from our own experience. Since many of us have been conditioned to give up our own truth, we benefit from learning how to engage and honor it. This allows us to have an honest and deep personal relationship with any teachings we encounter.
To connect to our own wisdom, we benefit from applying the intelligence of our senses. Even the most esoteric of teachings and the most abstract of theories can be validated in part by the senses. For example, if you were taught that god is love, you will have, if you pay attention, some sensation in your body of the truth or untruth of this proposition. This is a starting place for our own inner wisdom.
Likewise, we may be told that a spiritual guide feels or acts a certain way, a particular approach is healing, or a particular spiritual development tool works in a certain way. If we connect to it, we will sooner or later know the truth of those proposals.
In this way, we can listen, learn, and experiment with what we are taught by validating those lessons with our firsthand knowledge so that we may “know we know” rather than believing in something external to us.
When our own inner wisdom is combined with theoretical perspective and expansive and honed spiritual traditions, we have the ability to advance our own growth and aid in the transformation of others in a profound way. We can maintain respect for all teachings while simultaneously verifying what is taught through our personal experience. This marriage yields the birth of our spiritual empowerment.
This is extremely important as we learn to open ourselves to higher levels of consciousness. If we do not personally verify the information we receive, we can suffer from doubt that limits our effectiveness, we can more easily fall prey to misinformation and manipulation, and we deprive ourselves of our own true inner knowledge