Inner, Outer, or Everywhere Wisdom
By Leigh Randolph, D.D.S., M.S.

Is inner wisdom different than outer wisdom? Prevailing wisdom suggests that personal, inner wisdom comes after the individual has had enough life experience to learn that consequences always follow actions. Outer wisdom, then, is carried by the Elders, whether they be grandparents, parents, philosophers like Plato and Socrates, or Black Elk and Fool’s Crow. Do the inner and outer worlds merge so we can gain insight from either or both?

My life experience suggests to me that wisdom available to us is found within and without all at the same time. Wisdom is gained by integrating the lessons from life into an insightful problem solving process. How do we get comfortable trusting insights from choices that didn’t turn out so well? How do we learn to trust our own roadmap of life?

We live in a world of conflicting messages that encourage us to be independent and self reliant, and yet often causes us to question our own judgment. The map through that is to find the way that allows us to access the insights from our own life experiences and allows us to use all of the accumulated wisdom around us.

Is that possible? Yes, it is.

We tend to live in a literal world, and get caught up in the very literal things that take up our daily existence. If we examine ancient wisdom, we find that the Elders of those cultures examined not the physical literal world, but what those signs meant. In other words, the ancients lived and breathed within a world of symbolism; a very different place from television and a fast paced life. Symbolism was pervasive in the ancient world to the extent that indigenous people worldwide used the same or similar symbols to represent the same things. Carl Jung identified this aspect of the human psyche as the Collective Unconscious, that place of symbols and archetypes universal to human consciousness.

A piece of navigating our own roadmap is to look at our previous experiences and see what the choices and outcomes meant to us; what did we learn, and how did that piece fit into the rest of our lives? How can we use that knowledge to help the next time? That kind of integration brings wisdom and often makes future choices simpler.

And what about that map of life? Actually, it is like any other roadmap. The journey we have chosen is unique and the path we take is ours to navigate. However, the information on the map that helps us navigate is available to any one willing to use it. It can show landmarks and changes in landscape if we stop to use it as a resource.

There are choice points in life when we welcome and need input from other sources. Sometimes that source is a mentor, elder or peer. Sometimes we need to look beyond our immediate community to a greater wisdom. It is possible for us to connect with the Collective Unconscious and access the wisdom and knowledge available there. It can happen as an unexpected inspiration or thought that comes to us when we ask, and then sit in silence. We can request and receive counsel through our dreams. The Oracle at Delphi brought aid and healing to people through dreams, and that source is still available to us today. Synchronicity is another happening in our lives that can provide us with needed answers.

Most ancient cultures had Augurs, individuals trained to interpret the signs and symbols that appeared in response to a question. We tend to live so literally that we ignore some of the signs that are all around us. The Macumba priestess said "Everything can serve prophecy. You only have to pay attention. The universe is full of signs - when you learn to look at things the right way, you will understand what I am trying to say. The shape of clouds, the way birds fly, the sounds of nature, an unexpected meeting, all these transmit a message that expresses the will of the Gods."  The Collective Unconscious and the Universe communicates with us through all the aspects of life that surround us, we have but to ask to have access to that wisdom. Connection to that wisdom supports and reinforces the learning we have accumulated in a lifetime.

To experience the power of and possibility of merging internal and external wisdom you can try this experiment the next time you need insight greater than what you believe you can navigate on your own:  

  1. Formulate your question and write it on a piece of paper that you can carry with you. Read your question and observe your emotions during the day. Are you excited, anticipatory, or do you have fears that may block your powers of observation? This is the tool to communicate and set your intent with the Universe.
  2. Determine a time limit (a few days, a week).
  3. The answer to your question will be found in becoming aware of synchronous and unusual events expressed literally, symbolically, paradoxically or creatively during this time through a person, newscast, animals, weather, and patterns, as all things represent a living vocabulary.

The purpose of this exercise is to help you recognize the levels of reality, perception and wisdom available beyond the literal. When you open to different kinds of perception you literally draw different people and events toward you, bringing the insight asked for.

Using the world around us to draw in information and insight connects and merges our inner world with the much greater Universe that is around us. We are a part of that Universe and we have access to its wisdom, if we are willing to ask for help and counsel. The more we are open to the signs and symbols around us, the more we realize that we are not separate from the world around us, and the accumulated wisdom of the epochs is there to help us navigate through life.

Try it. You may find you really are never alone.


Leigh Randolph, D.D.S, M.S. is a Board Certified Endodontist who has a private dental practice and teaches dentistry at The Ohio State University. She is a certified Visionary Craniosacral Work™ practitioner, Holistic Coach™, Reiki Master, and Family Constellation Facilitator.