Wisdom, Semantics and Neurosis
By Greg Mack , CES, MATCs, RTSm


Fair warning; one of my personal neuroses is clarifying communication by defining the terms I personally use and those used by the people with whom I am communicating. I have learned that I can no longer assume that people always know what I mean when I write or speak, and I can no longer assume I understood their message to me as clearly as I might think, or they intended. (See, I told you I was neurotic about this). So bear with me as I explore the three words of this issue’s theme: Trust, Inner, and Wisdom.

Webster’s defines the three words as follows:  

                   Trust: (noun) Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something: one in which confidence is placed.  

                   Inner: (adjective) Situated farther in: being near a center especially of influence: of or relating to the mind or spirit:  

                   Wisdom: (noun) Accumulated philosophic or scientific learning: knowledge: ability to discern inner qualities and relationships: Insight: good sense: Judgment.  

So, if I put these together as a theme, “Trusting Inner Wisdom”, and I presume it is a self directed statement (meaning I trust my own inner wisdom versus someone else’s inner wisdom) I can accurately interpret this to mean:

 Placing my confidence in the reliability of my own strength and ability which resides farther in from my conscious awareness, at the center of my mind and spirit, which represents my current level of accumulated learning and knowledge, giving me the skill to discern good sense and exercise sound judgment.  

I have to admit that this makes me a little uneasy. First, I am not sure of the geographic position of the center of my mind and spirit. Secondly, I don’t believe all of my currently accumulated knowledge is accurate, and thirdly, I know I have made a few significant mistakes in judging the circumstances in my life. Is Inner Wisdom more simply just what is often referred to as our base instinct or intuition, that proverbial “gut feeling”?

Setting aside the issue of trust and geography, it strikes me that the source of the wisdom (the reference point from which we make decisions and compare data points and evaluate relationships) is the critical issue. Critical, in that if we are relying on this source to help us make key decisions which affect our individual life and inevitably influence those within our community, it better be the right stuff.

The statement also clearly indicates that the source is “Inner”, from within us. Some repository of knowledge and experience, most of which lies below our conscious access, is alluded to in the phrase. Is this knowledge, which I suspect includes the emotional, psychological, and physical components of our existence, simply the cumulative total of our individual experiences up to a given point in real time? If this is the case, then the source of the inner wisdom is finite and flawed. Or is the source of Inner Wisdom actually external, as my holistically oriented colleagues and acquaintances have shared with me, and as I have read in many books on the subject.  

Can we tap into a transcendent universal “wisdom” or “consciousness”, then download this knowledge into our inner being and then, tap into it via meditation or prayer? If this is the case, then is the universal source accumulating knowledge progressively over time, or is it an omniscient source having always possessed an infinite database of unchanging, absolute truth? Truth assumed to be absolutely benevolent which is the reason we are pursuing it? My personal studies of various world religions and philosophies like Buddhism, Hinduism, Unitarianism, and others tend to suggest that we are divinity and that the entire storehouse of absolute knowledge and wisdom is within us.  

I can’t escape a fundamental concept critically connected to the word “trust” – the idea of faith. Because we do not know this source, and are unable to qualify it, and cannot easily access the knowledge it possesses without years of disciplined training and practice, then only by faith can we proceed into any process that claims to lead us to “Inner Wisdom”.  Faith itself,  must hold us to the self-generated belief that, wherever an inner search for wisdom goes, we will find accurate, truthful and beneficial knowledge; that this knowledge can only be interpreted on a personal level, which ironically seems to make it now relative, not absolute. It seems that faith would have to be more powerful and influential than trust or Inner Wisdom because only faith would motivate you to pursue an uncharted path without foreknowledge of the outcome. I warned you… neurosis.

I like the Biblical Proverb’s simple and poignant description in chapter 19 verse 7 “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” I know, what does the Proverb mean by “fear”, “Lord” and “Holy One”?  In the original Hebrew the word fear is often used as a synonym for reverence and deep respect. We tend to equate fear as a negative term, but fear can be a powerful source of wisdom. I should fear high speed traffic when trying to cross the street shouldn’t I? That seems to be a powerful positive application of fear.

The term “Lord” as it is used in the biblical context means Master. A distinct authority willingly submitted to by an individual.

      “Holy One” is a reference to God’s Spirit which is part of the unique and mysterious Trinitarian nature of God’s personal being in the Christian biblical context. The word “holy” in Hebrew actually means “separate”.

     The Proverb’s author appears to be telling us to “have reverence for the authority of God, submitting to him as master and work to increase our individual understanding of the Holy Spirit which will end up giving us wisdom.”

      In this context, any wisdom gained comes from an external and separate source, the Lord, and from our personal efforts to improve our information database, about God’s Holy Spirit, through an ongoing and nurturing relationship that will lead to understanding.  This would appear to be in contradiction to the self directed, inwardly focused search for wisdom from one’s inner repository of knowledge.

Either way, my conclusion is that faith is the cornerstone for any search that assumes the endpoint of wisdom, no matter what that source may be. Depending on a source and the knowledge gained to date by the pathways chosen to access that source, one’s ability to fully trust that information is an exciting and interesting topic.


What’s your source and why do you trust it?


Greg Mack is a Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist and Certified Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist and has been in full time practice for over 16 years. He was the 2003 IDEA International Personal Trainer of the Year and has authored many articles in medical and fitness publications. Greg is the founder of Columbus-based Physicians Fitness, Inc. His work primarily focuses on assessing neuromuscular integrity and biomechanical correction for chronic pain and movement dysfunction. He can be reached at (614) 989-1465 and greg@physciansfitness.com.