The Wisdom To Know The Difference
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Peace, happiness, contentment. I believe that these are things that we all crave, whether we know it or not. While it is easy to get side-tracked by looking for external events, circumstances, people, or even possessions to bring us to a place of serenity, we will not find it within any of those things.
Inspired by the latest book that I have been asked to review for TLC book tours, I find myself wondering if the balance that the Serenity Prayer speaks of might be one of the best avenues toward finding that peace.
Eileen Flanagan’sThe Wisdom To Know The Difference is definitely a great place to start when pondering such a question.
From the first page I knew that I had in my hands one of those magic books that I will cherish, and savour for many years to come. It is a treasure chest that is too full to sort through only once.
The Wisdom To Know The Difference,When to Make a Change__and When to Let Go is a fascinating look at these concepts at work in the lives of various people. Through the stories of different people from many spiritual traditions we read about how they applied various combinations of acceptance, and courage to find their way through adversity, towards peace and the wisdom that they gained through their experiences.
One story that stood out for me was the story of Dr. Dan Gotlieb who had to learn to let go the hard way after he became paralyzed in a car accident which caused him to lose his best friend, then later his marriage, followed by the deaths of his Mother, his sister and his ex-wife. What he found helpful was the insight that it is clinging to our picture of how life should be that makes us suffer.
Eileen Flanagan combines these fascinating stories with stories from her own life experiences as well as wisdom from her own spiritual tradition as a Quaker, taking you on a journey that is as thought-provoking as it is inspiring. It was difficult to put the book down.
What moved me most, was the concept that the biggest stumbling block that gets in the way of our finding the wisdom that we need comes from fear. Learning to trust is key to understanding how to discern between the need for acceptance, and the courage to create change.
Learning to trust our own inner guidance, in the Higher Power that we believe in, that things will work themselves out, or that we have the strength to move on. There is much that we need to trust so that we might be able to more clearly discern when to take action or not, and what action to take if any.
Ideas such as facing change with willingness rather that wilfulness have sparked a new perspective for me and added new meaning to the idea of letting go, in order to grow both personally and spiritually.
As I have been struggling with my own inability to “Let go and let God” of late, the stories and insight in this book have more than opened up new avenues to explore with greater hope and a move toward less fear.
The questions at the end of each chapter are designed to enable the reader to reflect deeply on the concepts of the book as well as oneself. Quakers call these Queries and this is a practice that I would love to learn more about. I am still going through the process of sitting with and reflecting the queries in this book, and I am sure that I will visit them again when I am done. This book will definitely be taking up space in my “must have at my fingertips” pile of books. It’s a tiny pile reserved only for those books that not only inspire me to grow, but will surely inspire me to grow again the next time I pick them up. It is not often that I find such a gift and it is a blessing that I will not take for granted.
The Wisdom To Know The Difference is a book about personal growth, greater wisdom, and working towards these things to create a better world for ourselves as well as for others. It is not surprising that it is endorsed by His Holiness The Dalai Lama himself.
This book is a gift to anyone who has the opportunity to read it. I would imagine that it would not be for everyone, but for those of us who have embarked on a spiritual journey, regardless of which path or tradition we choose to make that journey, it is unlikely that you would be disappointed.
This book is available through Amazon.com