Wisdom is the ability to do two things at once—to be in the world and of it, and enjoy it and participate in it fully and successfully and, at the same time, to not be here at all, to be in realms of light, to be in the super-conscious state, to be in samadhi, beyond all this. That’s true wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to take care of your life properly, to know what’s right for you, to have assessed what is the right path and to follow it with heart, with your full spirit and your full mind and your full body—to not have reservations. When you do something half-heartedly, you don’t get much of a result. When you do it fully, you get a great result.

Wisdom is the ability to let go. Children are wise in a funny kind of a way. Perhaps their interests aren’t as vested; they haven’t developed as many vested interests of self. They can just kind of let go. They can move from one neighborhood to another, one school to another fairly easily. As they get older, it becomes more difficult. There’s a wisdom, a lack of self-consciousness, that is innocence. I think innocence is the greatest wisdom.

To be wise doesn’t always mean to have a wrinkled face and sparkly eyes. Usually it does. To be wise means to be still inside, to see the motions of eternity in day-to-day life and beyond this. True wisdom is freedom. True wisdom is enlightenment. At the same time, wisdom has a practical side—the ability to make good choices. The best choice anyone can make is to educate themselves. You can’t be too educated. It’s like, you know, in Beverly Hills—they say you can’t be too thin or too rich. Well, in the world of wisdom, you can’t be too wise.

Wisdom is something that seeks itself. The wiser you become, the more you realize that you’d like to know what there is to know. There’s worldly wisdom—the wisdom of success, the wisdom of achievement, how to deal with things, politics, a political sense about life. To be sharp, to be clear, to be focused, not showing all your cards, not letting anyone really know who you are or what you’re like—there’s a wisdom to this. Why should anyone know? It’s personal. It’s private, who you are. And also, if you define yourself, then you’re defined. People have a fixed impression of you. They hold you in their mind a certain way, and that actually makes it difficult to change.

It’s very wise to be inaccessible—not to hide, but simply not to be too personal. Keep the deepest feelings of your heart to yourself. They tend to stay more pure if you do. There is a wisdom to that.

Wisdom is knowing that if you bend, you don’t have to break. Sometimes it’s necessary to go with the flow of life, to let life dictate experience and not necessarily allow ourselves to dictate it. In other words, let’s say you wanted to build a house, and you went to a place and you had your idea of what a house should be like there, and you built that house. That’s not wisdom. That’s your idea of a house. Wisdom would suggest that we go to a place and feel the place—feel its presence and feel its absence. Determine if the house should be built there at all by the feelings there. What is it that the place wants? And then allow the formation of the house—the kind of house—to come through us, to allow it to be drawn out of us by the place. That’s wisdom.

In other words, in the West, the wise are usually thought of as leaders. In the Far East, the wise are very often thought of as followers. It’s a different sensibility. Wisdom here means that you’re the boss, you’re the top gun, you’re the hot shot. And that’s a type of wisdom, certainly. But there’s another wisdom, and that’s the wisdom of following—the wisdom of not taking the lead with your ego, but allowing yourself to be still, to reflect, to meditate, to be conscious, and seeing that there are templates in life that will guide you.

There are templates in the universe that you can follow. Most people can’t see them. They’re sort of like pointers. They are there, and they will show you what to do and what not to do. But in order to see them, you have to make your mind very quiet, very still. You have to be somewhat serene and balanced, happy with your life, with who you are and how you’re doing. Because if your spirit is in a state of confusion, if you’re restless emotionally, if you’re unhappy, if you just can’t settle down, then you can’t really see very much other than your restlessness. If the lake is all stirred up and there are a lot of waves, you can’t see below the waves. It’s agitated. It’s muddy. If you allow the lake to become calm, if we wait until it becomes still, the mud settles. The waves stop and we can see all the way into its depths and know what’s going on down there.

Love is a kind of wisdom. There’s a wisdom to loving. Love is sometimes pleasurable, sometimes painful, sometimes ecstatic. But there’s a wisdom; there’s a knowing that comes from loving. I think it’s a mistake not to love. I think some people think that spiritual practice means to divorce themselves from love and all other emotions. I don’t think so. I think one just must love more deeply and without the sense of that which you love being your personal possession.

Love makes you wise. Pain doesn’t necessarily make you wise—it just makes you wary. But love means to communicate, to commune, to be part of something. Love unites. Pain divides. Hate divides even more. Hate separates and brings us down to a very physical plane. Love elevates us to a plane of spirit.

I think if you are truly wise, you love life very deeply. You love your life, the things in your life, transient though they may be, you love them—the moments, the feelings of being alive, the feeling of the morning, the afternoon, the evening, nighttime, the wind and the way it feels, the color of the rocks, the earth, the sounds of the city, the sounds and feelings of the peoples. There is something to this fabric of life that’s beautiful, and I think if you find the world simply unpleasant, I don’t think that’s a sign of wisdom. I think that’s a sign of a lack of wisdom.

Certainly there are places you don’t want to be because it doesn’t work for you. There are things that you’d find draining or not elevating. But to not see the beauty, the romance in the universe—in other words, just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that it’s not wonderful for someone else. Wisdom is the ability, I think, to realize that everyone has their own dharma, that everyone goes their own way. And your way and what works for you is not the ultimate good. It might be the ultimate good for you today. To be flexible and know that other people have different ways, and maybe you even have different ways that you haven’t discovered, that tomorrow you can let go of how you have to do things and who you are and how you have to be—that, to me, is wisdom—to be flexible, to be lucid.

Wisdom has to do with how you live, with how you conduct yourself, commerce, with how you deal with people and things, certainly. And in the Orient, there is a wisdom that suggests that it’s good not always to be too demonstrative. In other words, in Buddhism we have a great deal of etiquette. Etiquette is an intelligent way to live. Etiquette is simply ways of living that have been practiced that conserve energy, that create a more pleasant life. Etiquette is not seen as something false or unnecessary. It allows people to live together in harmony. It allows people to live in harmony with their environment. And when we lack etiquette, we trash things. We trash each other. We trash our environment. We lose sight of the value of things. And then, of course, we suffer. We suffer the alienation that has to follow when our spirit is disconnected from our physical awareness.

Etiquette is an intelligent way to live. In other words, in Buddhism, in spiritual practice, Taoism, different forms of mystical philosophy be they East or West, there are certain principles and practices, ways of living, that you will learn from reading and from being around advanced students and mostly just from your teacher. These are methods that have been handed down for thousands of years that are tried and true, tested and occasionally changed as civilization or society or life changes. And that’s the outer form of Buddhism. The outer form of Buddhism, of practice, is etiquette—a series of ways to live intelligently that keep you alive, awake and happy, wakeful.

The wisdom of samadhi is quite different. That’s the undifferentiated experience of reality. In other words, wisdom—if it’s really a higher level wisdom—can’t be written down. It can’t be spoken. I can’t tell you what it is. True wisdom is the knowledge of the universe that is beyond any physical expression. Music, perhaps, expresses it better than words. It can put us more in touch with it, certain types of music, art. But real wisdom is samadhi—to sit in meditation, to stop thought, to go beyond all things into the clear light of reality in which there is no time, nor space, nor dimensionality. That’s samadhi—perfect absorption to the point where there is no sense of being absorbed—full consciousness, but not the consciousness of the body, not the consciousness of the world, not the consciousness of daily life, not the consciousness of knowing that you are having an experience.

If you’re meditating and you sense that you are in ecstasy, that’s not really samadhi. If you sense ecstasy, that’s not really samadhi. Samadhi is beyond those things. Samadhi means that you have become the light, for a time, and there is no sense of an experiencer. There is no sense that, while I’m sitting here and even though I’m not thinking, I’m having an experience—I’m experiencing ecstasy, I’m experiencing wisdom, knowledge or something profound. Real samadhi is off the game board, friends. It’s not something that you are even aware of. And you might say, well, how do you know you were in samadhi? You know. Things don’t have to be logical. You know. You know when your awareness returns to the plane of self and ideation that you’ve been beyond it. There’s a knowing. And that’s enough.

Real wisdom, the deepest spiritual wisdom, does not occur here—it can’t. Here being in this body and in this mind and in this physical universe. Real wisdom is something that you have to move into the planes of the highest light to experience. And you can’t bring yourself with you. You have to go to the other side. The other side is what is beyond the mind’s knowing.

There’s the world of the physical. There’s the astral, the dimensions, the dimensional planes that you can traverse in your astral body. There are the planes of light, which are referred to as the causal, and you experience in your causal body. Those are the meditative planes and dimensions, the planes of light, but that’s still something that you can reference. Even the planes of light, while the experience in the higher planes of light is certainly a kind of samadhi—salvikalpa samadhi—nirvikalpa samadhi is to go to the other side, to experience the other side.

As I said before, the other side is beyond knowing. You cannot know what you experience on the other side, here. It cannot be known. The chip size here is too limited. You can’t grasp your own experience. That’s the true wisdom. True wisdom is on the other side of this life. Not in death, but beyond the grasp of the conscious mind. That’s where real wisdom lies. Someone who is truly wise makes that journey many times a day. They go back and forth from this world to the other side, and when you come back, you don’t remember the journey, but yet you are the journey. Perhaps it’s more apparent to someone else even than it is to you because the you that was you before you went to the other side is never the same when you come back—going to the other side of consciousness and to, in other words, nirvana.

Nirvana is the other side, the source of all things, where all the aggregates come from, where the templates of infinity are. To go to the other side, or where they come from, anyway, is wisdom. Wisdom is getting there. Wisdom is nirvana, and it’s something that can’t be known here. I know it seems incongruous, but it’s only incongruous from this perspective, from the perspective of the dialectical consciousness of division, of time and space.

In your meditation, you’re seeking not simply to experience ecstasy or the planes of light—that’s a type of wisdom. You’re not only gaining power and clarity of mind to lead a better physical life, to be healthy, happy, to be spiritual, to be successful, to be compassionate—those are types of wisdom. But the real wisdom, the higher wisdom, is to go to the other side, to go to nirvana, to be that. That’s the ultimate wisdom—not that it’s ultimate in the sense that it’s a final stage. There is no final stage in nirvana. Nirvana is beyond definition. It is not quantifiable.

One goes to the other side and—returns. You climb to the top of the mountain. Let’s say you go to the Himalayas and you’re drawn to tops of mountains. You climb way up through the ice and the snow and you get to the top of K2 or Mount Everest or mountains that perhaps are not as well known. You get up there. You stand there and you see the ranges, of the mountains, the Himalayas spread out at your feet. And it’s different there. There’s a different feeling there. There’s a different awareness there. It vibrates very fast. The mountains themselves and the dimensions that are associated with those mountains vibrate very quickly. You are up there in the realm of the eternal snows, and then you come back down.

And then when you’re down here, you sort of forget about what happened up there, what those experiences and feelings were like. You go back to life and your house and your job and what you do. But it changes you. It clarifies your purpose. It makes life more abundant to have had that experience. It’s not transient. It’s eternal. You touch eternality at the top of the Himalayas.

Well, samadhi is the top of the Himalayas in spiritual practice. Nirvikalpa samadhi or sahaja samadhi—that’s all the way up. You get up above the cloud line to the land of eternal snows, and it’s ecstasy, beyond ecstasy. Then you come back. Some people say, “Why do you come back?” Well you don’t, exactly. I mean the journey changes you so much that it’s not exactly the same you. Life reorders you when you go into the clear light. Even the causal structure is liquefied. In the clear light of reality, in the dharmakaya, in that highest, purest formation that is existence, it changes us into beings of light. We come back and we’re kind of ordinary. You know, you’re still walking around. And you still have to eat and live and exist. But it changes your experience of those things. You’re less here, and a part of you is still on the other side. The more you journey there, well, after a while, you’re always on the other side and always here, and that’s what we call sahaja samadhi. It’s not a journey like nirvikalpa.

Nirvikalpa samadhi means you’re sitting in meditation and you go beyond just the planes of light to nirvana, total absorption in nirvana, in complete perfection, and there is no sense, of course, of that—it’s all on the other side. But then, you’re sitting in meditation, then you come back, the eyes open and gradually you go back through the planes of light and here you are, back in the saddle again.

Sahaja samadhi—you’ve just gone back and forth so many times that there’s no back and forth for you. All you see is enlightenment and this world and the other side. Well, there’s no other side anymore. You’re in a condition of perpetual wakefulness. Which doesn’t mean, by the way, that you know everything. It means that you’re wakeful. It doesn’t mean that you have all physical knowledge. Some people think that enlightenment means that you know everything. It means that you can speak all languages, that you can fix cars if you need to, all kinds of stuff, things that you haven’t studied come to you—not necessarily at all. That’s a storybook, Hollywood-ized, version of the enlightenment experience.

Enlightenment has nothing to do with physical knowledge. It’s the knowledge, the higher knowledge—maybe that’s not even the right word—the experience of existence. Existence is infinite. There are countless universes and creations taking place simultaneously, all times present and past. The far-flung universes exist forever, and all manner of beings and creations are there. Everything that can be and everything that can’t be exists somewhere. It’s beyond the mind’s ability to grasp. And, certainly nirvana means seeing and knowing that vastness. But beyond the far-flung infinities there’s something else. Beyond the planes of light there’s something else—that isn’t a broad-based knowing, that isn’t the sense of a person perceiving what knowledge is, what wisdom is. That’s nirvana. It’s a word that’s used to describe the other side.

Somewhere there’s an essence. It’s not a physical somewhere. But there’s an essence for all of this. There, there’s nothing but light, but not even in a temporal, spatial sense. It just is. And there, there is no time, no space, no self. Existence just is perfect. There’s no sense of this world, of time and space. That’s nirvana. It’s the center of things. Then there are the outer bandings of attention. In other words, the universe is a mind, and at the center of its mind is nirvana—center not so much in a spatial sense—that’s nirvana. Nirvana is the pure and perfect suchness or thatness of being. Then, outside of nirvana, the planes begin—the subtlest planes that vibrate the fastest, the planes of light, all the way on down through the astral realms through the physical and so on.

Life is perception, and we perceive through different parts of the body of the universe. But nirvana has nothing to do with any of this. None of this is there—who you are, what you are, your pain, your pleasure, your life, your death, this world, all these myriad beings we see before us. They’re not in nirvana. Nor can you say that it’s light. And you can’t journey there and have experiences. You can’t know what’s there because you can’t be there. There is no “you” there.

The journey to the other side means the loss of the self, at least temporarily, because it just weighs too much to go there. It’s too much baggage. Nirvana is that perpetual knowingness of the universe and its perfection. And then there’s all this—this abstraction, this life we lead, this play of war and peace and pleasure and pain and birth and growth and maturation and decay and death—the thing we call life and all beings call life, that’s so different from nirvana, yet it comes from it. How strange.

Wisdom is to see the difference between nirvana and this—this world, this self-reflection that the mind creates. To do that, obviously you have to know nirvana, to get to the other side. But wisdom is also to see that there’s no difference at all between nirvana and here, between samsara and nirvana. There’s only one seamless, perfect reality. Wisdom isn’t to know these words. Wisdom isn’t to have ideas or philosophies. Those are just thoughts. Wisdom is to be that—to be that perfect consciousness. That’s the greatest wisdom there is.

And then it’s good to know that you go on green, you slow down on yellow and you stop on red. The wisdom of enlightenment does not preclude practicality. Some people seem to think that wisdom does, and that if you’re enlightened somehow you are not in touch with life and the pulse of the physical. Au contraire. The more enlightened you are, the more basic you are. The higher you go, the deeper you become, and the more conscious you are of the physical and the sensorial.

The pure and perfect radiant light that you experience in the planes of light and the experience of going to the other side to nirvana clarifies and simplifies your view of all things, and you see the world with greater clarity, because it’s not obscured by personal desire, vanity, egotism and thought, by illusions. Human beings have illusions. The enlightened don’t have illusions, they just see things as they are, and in that seeing, they see ecstasy and joy. They see the play of life.

Knowledge is, as I said, many things—the ability to love, the ability to feel, the ability to probe the depths and the heights of life. It’s the experience of the experiencer, and at the same time, it’s beyond that. So many types of knowledge, so much to explore. You know, so much enlightenment, so much time.

On your journey, try to remember that there is no end. That’s true knowledge. There is no final knowledge. There is no final enlightenment. That’s a very finite, human way of looking at things. It is a categorization that implies a hierarchical way of seeing things. Life is really relational, not hierarchical. Hierarchical is a human way of looking at things. Relational is much more the way things are. Things are relational. They depend upon each other. They influence each other. Everything is connected. Hierarchies are mental schemes. They usually involve good and bad, good and evil, better and worse, before and after, here and there and everywhere. And those are convenient ways to talk about things and to negotiate the physical world and sometimes the astral worlds to get through the day. But life is really relational.

True wisdom is to see and understand your relationship with the universe, with God, with infinity, and with all things both finite and infinite. When you gain that relational knowledge, then you’re wise. Then you’re more careful. Then you’re more kind because you see that there is no reason not to be. There’s no reason not to love. There’s no reason not to be joyous. There’s no reason not to celebrate because all of this means nothing—absolutely nothing. Why not be happy? Why not be free? Why not endeavor? It’s a happier way to be. If you’re truly wise, then you reflect the universe and you’re relational in your approach to things. You’re a mirror of infinity. That’s wisdom.