Sophia by Young Shanahan
Sophia by Young Shanahan

Readers of the blog know I’ve studied world philosophies, particularly Vedic. If you study to higher degrees, you usually end up with a Doctor of Philosophy in your field.

The roots of “philosophy” are interesting. It comes from a Greek term with 2 parts: Philo and Sophia.

The first, Philo, means love. The Greeks described several kinds of love. Philo relates to the form called Philia, defined as social or brotherly love. We can say a loyalty or devotion to knowledge.

Sophia is the second meaning wisdom. Thus, philosophia was for lovers of wisdom.

Sophia (then called Sirach) was the source of Solomon’s wisdom in the Old Testament. Speaking of her in The Wisdom of Solomon, he said:

Wisdom reaches from one end of creation to another mightily, and sweetly does she order all things.

She is more beautiful than the sun and above all the order of the stars; being compared with the light, she is found before it.

For Gnostic Christians, Sophia was a feminine aspect of God, the bride of Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity (Father, Mother, Son).

In the Vedic canon, Sophia is Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and the arts. As in the Gnostic approach, nature (Prakriti) is seen as born and thus of feminine origin.

However, in the Christian approach, coming down into the world came to be seen as fallen. She lost favour in most branches.

Today, Sophia lives on in philosophy, our worldview. Yet true wisdom comes from our inner intelligence recognizing itself in the world around us and in the nature of life itself. I am a devotee.

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  1. Jeff

    After I learned TM, I decided to take a Western Philosophy class so that I could compare TM with these philosophies. After finishing the course, it was obvious that they were all an extension of the Self.

  2. I did similar in college, Jeff. Wrote a paper on how they were all branches of one deeper reality. The prof considered this simplistic. He felt you needed to chose one perspective and learn to defend it. That didn’t encourage me to pursue the field. 🙂

  3. Lynette

    D, depending which version of the Bible we read, there is a Book of Sirach in the old testament, so is this the same Sirach you wrote here as Sophia? I loved that book growing up. I found that book of Sirach very practical.

  4. Peter

    Hi David, part of my searching in the past 5 years has been the creation, refinement, and recreation of worldview. A certain life philosophy that changes and grows as experience shifts and knowledge changes.

    With a focus on awakening, worldview and beliefs get called into question.

    Is the creation and maintenance of a certain worldview antithetical to awakening? Does it get in the way, have to be surrendered?

    I find that it is often the topic of my conversations, comparing and contrasting worldviews with that of others. \I have noticed that it can create positions and feelings of im right and others are wrong.

    1. Hi Peter
      Yes, it’s natural for the mind to create a worldview so it can process experiences and recognize benefits and hazards.
      We sometimes forget that our worldview changed a number of times as we grew up. But we can get a little rigid as adults. If we allow growth to continue, then our worldview can evolve too, as you describe.
      Rather than looking for the “right answer,” its better to consider what is real for me now.
      The issue is not so much the worldview but the attachment to it that gets in the way of shifting. Worse, if the worldview doesn’t match the experience. For example, taking a neo-advaita philosophical position that the world isn’t real and thus has no value even when that’s not the day-to-day experience. We’ve built a construct the mind holds in spite of experience.
      It’s valuable to recognize that each shift has it’s own reality. There isn’t one “true” perspective but rather a series that unfold as we do. “World is not real,” for example, is a perspective that may arise when rajas guna is dominant. Adopting it as a philosophy prior can add to the barrier rather than reduce it. We may instead experience that the world is divinely created. 🙂
      Some even get attached to their worldview post-awakening. Yet it’s just another perspective that can evolve. It’s valuable to understand there’s more.
      The Unity stage has a number of sub-stages as each layer of experience is united. You get very used to changing worldviews. 🙂

    2. PS- yes the desire to be right or judge another as wrong indicates attachment.
      Sometimes it can be valuable to point to a better perspective, such as to offer hope or reduce suffering. But that should be done as an offering or pointing. And just once. Never push as that just brings resistance and defense, entrenching it.
      The best is to be a living example. That will invite people to ask when they’re ready.

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