Information is factual — this is this and that is that. Knowledge is categorical — this is this but not that. Wisdom is metaphorical — this is this and also that.
We live in the Information Age. Via the internet and many other means we can garner as many facts as we need for whatever purpose we decide. We might also call this the age of scientific knowledge. Science itself has many categories or sciences, and each science has many subcategories, all of which make knowledge easier to obtain and retain, However, metaphor has been pushed aside as being ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading’. It’s fine for poetry but ours has become a prosaic age. Once Joseph Campbell was interviewed on the radio by someone unfamiliar with the term ,so Joseph tried to explain its meaning. To say “he runs like a deer” is a simile, which the interviewer accepted as meaningful, but to say “he is a deer” the interviewer said would be meaningless and a lie. Or one could say it was a myth, today often used as a synonym for ‘a lie.’ So myths and metaphors are now considered by many as equivalent to lies. How then can one refer to them as ‘wisdom’? As Jung wrote:
Wisdom is neither a question of belief nor of knowledge, but of the agreement of our thinking with the primordial images of the unconscious.
My first lesson in the language of the unconscious came from a message from Poseidon while traveling with my friend David in Europe by auto. I was at that time learning how to deal with Hermes through active imagination when he told me one night that he had a message from Poseidon, which I assumed was from the depths of the unconscious since in Jungian terms that is what Poseidon represented. It was: “You must drive on the mainland, but among the islands it doesn’t matter.” I assumed it was meant literally, and therefore could not obey since that meant that I would have to insist on driving the whole time until we reached the Balearic Islands which we were not intending to visit for a couple of weeks, and David would think I was crazy since he had not yet heard of my dealings with Hermes. So we continued to share driving and shortly after we both got very ill, I in France and he in Spain. We decided to cut this trip short and go to the islands as soon as he got well. Until recently, I assume we were punished for my disobeying an instruction, but now I have come to the conclusion that the spirit does not punish, (and why punish David for something he wasn’t even aware of?) but I had simply failed to get the point (and what better way could the so-called unconscious have figured out a way to do it?); that is, that the unconscious communicates primarily through metaphor, and Hermes wanted me to learn his language, a fact which he explained later, in a most informative way. (more…)