• Just What Is Wisdom?

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    Welcome to Wisdom in Life and Learning. This site is devoted to exploring the topic of wisdom and its relation to humans. In my first book on the topic, Finding Wisdom: Learning From Those Who Are Wise, I describe my methodology for studying wisdom, and also reveal the life stories of some of the wise people I have met. Enjoy the following excerpts.
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  • Excerpt: Page 42 - 44

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    Itani-san, a generous and kind woman, used the Japanese word suku whenever she referred to her occupation of helping people. In Japanese, the word suku is typically used to refer to the concept of saving people, including their souls. To this day (August 2009), Itani-san, now eighty-seven years old, continues to help people from her humble Tanabe home. When I asked about her ability to help so many people, she simply explained, "You can't help people without love."
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  • Excerpt Page 83 - 84

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    Her final words to me reflected her concern for young people everywhere, not just among the Navajo. "Wisdom, I feel, is learned from a young age – as a toddler – and the family (the extended family) is very helpful. Parents must learn to discipline their kids and tell them what life is all about and how to carry themselves as individuals. When people learn their values at a young age, their wisdom will grow as years go by .... But nowadays, you know, ... a lot of that learning is dying out."
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For the last fifteen years I’ve been trying to discover just what role wisdom plays in human life, and what those individuals whom we know to be wise are like.  All people, everywhere, value wisdom.  Wisdom is the oldest topic of written literature. It is an understanding of what is important to life–all life.  It is often intuitive and general in nature. It has been hard to define. As you know, not everyone is wise.   But, those who possess wisdom have been said to have a gift far more precious than rubies (Old Testament). Wisdom appears to be more than just some sort of specialized knowledge.

The result of my inquiries into wisdom is found in my book, Finding Wisdom: Learning from Those Who are Wise.  The book has taken nearly ten years to write, and many people have contributed to the end result.  Please let me know your reaction to this website, and to the book if you get a chance to read it.  I enjoy presenting the topic to groups, large and small, so if you are interested in learning more, please contact me to arrange a presentation.

Also, please share with me your ideas about wisdom and the wise in general.  Stories are an important source of wisdom as well.

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Wisdom in Life and Learning is a site composed by Merriam Bleyl to present ideas, past and present, about wisdom in everyday life.  Certainly most people would agree that the world’s people (especially its leaders) could use a bit of wisdom to guide our various countries toward making good choices, and sustainable progress.  If you’d like to add your comments, please register and add your thoughts to this blog.  This is still a “work in progress” and the more people who contribute, the better the understanding of wisdom becomes.

Merriam also speaks to groups about wisdom and its various aspects.  If you’d like to schedule her to speak to your group, please contact her at mbleyl@mac.com.  She speaks about wisdom’s history, its importance to contemporary society, her own research in interviewing wise individuals, and is willing to adapt the topic of wisdom to your group’s interest.

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Merriam Bleyl is fascinated by the phenomenon of human wisdom. She spent the last fifteen years investigating wisdom and interviewing wise individuals in western and non-western cultures. During this time she earned a PhD degree from The University of New Mexico in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology in 2000. Her real interest is in the adult learner and in how humans acquire wisdom. She has an appreciation for the “wise ones” in all cultures.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Utah in 1962, she embarked on a long hiatus from formal education, during which she married, mothered four children, taught piano and creativity workshops, and served as a community volunteer. With thirty years of life experiences and a passion for learning more about how adults function in the world, in 2001 she started her own educational research company, Wisdom in Life and Learning. She is an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she occasionally teaches a course on wisdom,

She presented two papers and an experiential session at the 2004 and 2007 Transformational Learning Conferences, one of which, Transformative Rungs on Wisdom’s Ladder, was subsequently included as a chapter in Edmund O’Sullivan and Marilyn Taylor’s, Learning Toward an Ecological Consciousness: Selected Transformative Practices, published in 2004 by Palgrave Macmillan. She served as a panelist at the Conference on World Affairs at The University of Colorado at Boulder in 2004.

Dr. Bleyl lives with her husband in “God’s country”—the mountain town of Star Valley, Arizona— amidst magnificent Ponderosa Pines, marauding javelinas, and occasional herds of visiting elk. The grandmother of thirteen, she is also a musician—playing the piano, the organ, and directing choirs and musical plays. Music is her hobby; the topic of wisdom remains her passion.

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