Monday, June 4, 2012

Introduction: Who will ask for Wisdom?

                                                    Elana Gibeault

King Solomon and Lady Wisdom

There was once a king in Israel named Solomon, a son of King David, the shepherd boy who slew a giant, and Bathsheba, the beautiful one who stole a king’s heart.  After David died, his son Solomon became king of Israel. 

The first thing Solomon did after he was crowned was to go to the sanctuary of Gibeon, a holy place where the Hebrew god, Yahweh, spoke to a seeker in dreams. 

And that night, Yahweh came to Solomon in a dream and said: “Ask of me what you will and I will grant it to you.”  
And in the dream, Solomon said: “You showed great mercy and kindness to my father David while he was king, for he loved you.  And now you have shown him even greater love by letting his son sit on his throne after his death.”

“You, O Lord, have now made me king over a great people, and I feel like a little child.  How can I rule over them if I don’t know how?”

“Therefore, I ask you for an understanding heart to judge your people, so I can discern between good and bad.  I ask you for the Wisdom to judge your people and be a good king.”

Now you might ask “what is Wisdom?”  Why would a king ask for Wisdom above power or glory or victory in the field of battle?  But Solomon knew what he was asking for.  

With you [God] is Sophia [Lady Wisdom], she who knows your works, she who was present when you made the world; she understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what agrees with your commandments. (Wisdom 9:9)
And Yahweh was pleased with Solomon for asking for this gift.  And Yahweh said: “Because you have asked for Wisdom and have not asked for a long life for yourself, or riches, or power over your enemies, but instead seek Wisdom, I will give you what you ask for.  I will give you a wise and understanding heart.  And no one before or after you will be remembered as you are – the wise king.”

And then Yahweh added: “And I will give you the things you have not asked me for, both riches and honor, and there will be no other king like you in all your days.  Just promise that you will walk in my ways, and keep my commandments as your father David did, and I will give you a long life.”
Then Solomon awoke, and remembered his dream.  And went back to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and gave thanks.

Now soon after, two women came to Solomon for judgment, for he sat in his judgment hall and his people could come before him to ask for justice. 

And one of the women said:  “Oh great King, this other woman and I live together in one house.  Not long ago, I gave birth to a child and three days after, this woman also gave birth to a son. And in the night, this woman must have mistakenly smothered her child, for she came to my bed and stole my living child, while she left her dead son with me. And when I awoke in the morning and saw that the child was dead, I thought at first that was my son, but when I looked closely, I saw that it was not. This woman took my son and left me her dead son.”

Now the other mother spoke up: “No, great King, this is not the truth. The living child is mine, and this woman speaks out of her grief and guilt.  This is my son.”

And the first mother cried out that it was not true.  And so the mothers argued before the king over the living child.

Now Solomon looked at the women and said:  “Both of you say that this is your son.  How will we find the truth?”

And Wisdom whispered in Solomon’s heart and he listened.  Then Solomon called for his sword.  And he stood with the sword in his hand and said to his guard: “Divide the living child in half, and give one half to one woman and the other half to the other woman.”

Now, when the true mother heard this, she cried out in pain.  “No, no.  Do not kill the boy.  Give him to this woman.  Only let him live.”  And Solomon asked the other mother what should be done.  And she said: “Divide him in two.”

Then Solomon looked at the women and took the boy in his arms and gave the child to his true mother.  “I will not slay this child, but I give him back to the mother who loves him.”

And the people of Israel heard of this judgment and understood that Solomon’s wisdom came from their great god, Yahweh, and they feared and honored him.

Wisdom’s Daughters

"In this crucial time of our Earth walk, it is essential that we women reclaim our ability to nurture, create, and renew life. It is our responsibility to heal ourselves, reclaim the healing power that is ours, and thus form a solid foundation for transformation on other levels of life. "                                 Brooke Medicine Eagle

"The world will be saved by the western woman.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Peace Summit in Vancouver, 2009

“Wisdom preacheth abroad; she uttereth her voice in the streets: At the head of multitudes she crieth out, in the entrance of the gates of the city she uttereth her words, saying: Oh children, how long will ye love childishness?”  Proverbs 1:20-22

Wisdom is a Lady

What would you ask for if your God promised you anything you wanted?   Who amongst us would pick Wisdom, as Solomon did, when offered that miraculous gift?   How many of our leaders have asked for a wise and understanding heart above all else?   Perhaps we don’t ask for Wisdom because we don’t feel the burden of responsibility that Solomon felt for his people.  But if we don’t take responsibility for ourselves and our world, who will?  Freedom implies responsibility.
If there was ever a time in our human history when we need Wisdom, it is now.  We are living in extraordinary times, a moment of supreme destiny where the human race can and must participate consciously in our own evolution.  This evolution is both personal and collective, opening us to new capacities for co-creation and offering us new possibilities for cultural transformation.    For the cultural paradigm that we live in is dying, but it is not going gracefully.   We need a new way to understand our world and our place in it.  And then we have to create a new and more viable way of living here on our beautiful planet, Earth.
It’s true we live in chaotic and changing times, and so people live in fear of war, disease, poverty, death, violence and the unknown.  Because the human psyche processes life through stories and images, our unconscious is bringing up ancient images of apocalypse, earth changes and end time scenarios.  People have been content to remain unconscious of the damage done to our environment, but we are already living with the results of these misguided policies. 
 But to allow ourselves to fall into more unconsciousness and despair is unimaginative and lazy.  We have been given the supreme gift of free will and so our choices do matter.   What if, by choosing to follow Lady Wisdom’s call, we learn to turn our god-like creative imagination to transforming our society and re-creating the world rather than continuing our wars and our conspicuous consumption?  We do have it in our power to create a ‘heaven on earth’ if we so choose.   It seems we might only have a small window of time to accomplish this.  As of now, the patriarchal paradigm that has shaped our worldview and brought us to this crisis point does not want to transfer its power to the children who will have to live in the future world. 
We who are living in these most interesting times have a challenge before us – will we be strong enough and committed enough to use our free will to create peace here on this beautiful Earth of ours?  Or will we continue to allow the death and destruction that is rampant in our present world to rage on until we are all lost.  Perhaps the fires that raged in Arizona during the early summer of 2011 were synchronistic natural disasters which reflected humanity’s inner raging at the state of our world.  Each of us holds the world in our hands through our choices.  It is time to take responsibility for those choices and evolve into a greater vision of who we might become.
If we choose to take up our responsibility to all of life, then we absolutely have to be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves’ (Matthew 10:16).  Unfortunately, the mystics who wrote about Wisdom say that although Lady Wisdom cries out in the streets for people to come to her so she can give us her gifts, most people ignore her.  Could it be because Wisdom is always imagined as feminine? 
While we haven’t seen great Wisdom in society’s leaders, more and more ‘ordinary’ people are looking for meaning in their lives, and that’s when Wisdom begins to be sought after.   My experience as a counselor is that many women ask for Wisdom as they search to understand themselves.   And that fact gives me hope that we will, indeed, create the right kind of change in our world.  Like Solomon’s judgment about the baby, most women would know who that baby’s mother was.  
With the enormity of the issues facing the world today, I believe that women’s freedom and equality is the most important challenge we face, because it is not only a social issue but a Soul issue.  Our world is facing tremendous challenges, challenges that will force us to change our worldview, and it is women, many of whom champion the soul’s perspective on life, who will help find the right answers we are searching for.  I also believe that if women and our unique ways of perceiving life are not respected and granted equal validity on the world stage, we won’t make the absolutely necessary changes we need to make so life can continue to evolve here on our home, the Earth. Perhaps that’s why women’s rights are under attack again.  The patriarchy has always feared the power of women. 
Social and economic equality between the sexes is not enough though, if by equality we mean what we find in America and the West today.  As women entered the workplace, we were expected to act like men, and so we have learned the masculine qualities of mind and spirit.  But for true equality to blossom, women need to find our unique feminine standpoint and unique feminine voice.   To do this, women need the freedom to explore our own feminine way of being, our own way of knowing and our own way of connecting to Spirit.   And men and our social structures need to evolve so they can respect and value what we discover.  
Women, in ever larger numbers, are searching for our lost Wisdom.  Don't forget, in the West, women have only gotten the right to vote in the last century, while there are large numbers of women who still don’t have that right.  While our Islamic sisters are being pushed back into virtual slavery by fundamentalist Islam, Western women find that they have to act in the appropriate, patriarchal-approved ways to be listened to and valued.   We all know that outer freedom does not guarantee inner freedom just as outer tyranny does not invariably block inner freedom.
Many women are working hard to claim our inner freedom from old complexes, beliefs and fears that have been passed on from mother to daughter for generations.  These beliefs developed from a patriarchal view of women, one that believed that women and our wisdom were not only irrelevant, but sinful.  And so women’s wisdom has been ruthlessly repressed.  Until now.    
The first thing women discover as we search for our feminine Self is how to let go of these patriarchal (rule by the Fathers) projections and expectations that have constrained us for the past 4,000 years. C.G. Jung defined the Self as the archetype of wholeness, the unique and individual spark of Spirit that is our truest nature. To really become relevant in these changing times, women must search for our wholeness, for that is where our native Wisdom will be found.  We do this when we trust our own instincts, listen to our intuitions and are honest with our feeling and then use our rational mind to make the right choices.  Women have to step outside the box of collective convention (the Father’s House) and learn to be free.  Our still-patriarchal culture wants all of us to believe in its version of reality, a way of understanding the world which subjugates our feminine gifts to its service, gifts that are used, but often not valued.  
These gifts of feminine consciousness are still viewed as less important than the masculine gifts of rationality and focus, individuality and scientific facts.  When are feelings taken into account when deciding on issues of war and peace?  When is intuition honored?  Why are psychic abilities still characterized as witchcraft or worse? Where are patience and endurance valued?  When do we value the whole instead of the separate parts?  When I was growing up, I wanted to have a man’s freedom and power to affect change in the world.  My heroes were mostly male, since there weren’t very many powerful women in my life.  I worked hard to become a good Father’s Daughter, sharpening the sword of my intellect, striving to live the values that both church and state promoted, getting my degrees so I could become a ‘useful’ member of society.   
But I soon realized that I hadn’t been given the equal respect for my own deep feminine wisdom in my personal life, nor did I see any feminine wisdom respected and used in decision-making by our cultural institutions.  Women’s wisdom, which springs from compassion, feeling, cooperation, endurance and intuition, is still too often disregarded in personal relationships as well as in cultural settings, and so we all lose out on valuable opportunities to change our world for the better. 

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