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Keep learning - (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

A little knowledge, it is said, is a dangerous thing.

When we first start learning about something, the increase in our knowledge about that thing can sometimes lead us to believe that we know all there is to know.

Imam Ali (as) says:
One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

On the contrary, the more we learn about something, the more aware we become about how little we know.

Here is how Imam Ali (as) puts it:
The man of knowledge is the one who recognizes that what is known is very little compared to what is not known, and as a result he considers himself ignorant, and accordingly he increases his efforts to know more by going out in search of knowledge.

Humility, he also said, is the product of knowledge.

In other words, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

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Knowing and doing (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

We love learning don't we?

I believe that we have an inherent attraction towards wisdom and acquiring knowledge of what makes sense, of what aligns with the deepest truths that human beings are hard-wired with.

Putting the knowledge into action, however, is sometimes a little more challenging.

Spiritual wisdom often differentiates between surface knowledge and true knowledge.

True knowledge is transformational. When you know better, you do better.

Here is how Imam Ali puts it:
Knowledge is accompanied by action, for whoever knows acts. Knowledge calls out for action: if it responds to the call then it remains . . . otherwise it moves away from it.

In other words, knowledge, if not acted upon, departs.

A great way to remember what we learn is to start acting upon it immediately. Taking baby steps . . .

So, how much of the Daily Wisdom have we acted upon??

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Take action now (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Have you noticed how many times we have fleeting thoughts of doing a good deed or showing kindness towards someone . . . and that while we are still pondering about it and trying to figure it out . . . the opportunity has passed?

Here is what Imam Ali (as) says about it:
Opportunity passes away like the cloud. Therefore, make use of good opportunities before they pass you by.

Research confirms that the more you procrastinate about doing something, the less likely you are to do it.

The inspiration to act, it seems, along with the opportunity, passes by like clouds.

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Pursue excellence (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

The worth of every man is in his pursuit of excellence.

Imam Ali believed that whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.

Do not try to be quick in what you do, but try to do it well, for surely people will not ask you: "How long did it take you to finish what you were doing?" Surely they will ask you how well you did it.

Are we pursuing quantity over quality in our daily actions?

Whether it completing a project at work, laying the table for dinner or being emotionally available to our children, how can we take the time to do at least some things really well every day?

The satisfaction of a job well done far exceeds the relief at getting something checked off our 'to do' list.

Don't you think?

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Be pleasant company (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Live amongst people in a manner, such that they long for you while you live and cry when you die.

Wow.

All of us know people whose company we crave.

What makes them so special? What makes us long to be with them?

Presence, patience and pleasantness stand out for me. How about you?

Being pleasant company, is so much easier with acquaintances rather than family or close friends.

We can all fake it for a while. Put on our best face in public.

But this is not what Imam Ali is talking about.

Recognizing that those closest to us sometimes see the worst parts of our personality, Imam also said:

Do not let your family become the unhappiest of people because of you.

A little more challenging, no?

How can we live amongst those closest to us so that they long for our company? How can we be a blessing rather than a trial for our families?

Your thoughts?

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On acquiring wisdom

We will explore the wisdom of Imam Ali (as) in this series of Daily Wisdom.

This is how Reza Shah-Kazemi introduces Imam Ali in his fantastic book Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali:

"To speak of Ali – cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, fourth caliph of Islam and the first in line of Shi'i Imams - is to speak about the quintessential spirituality of the Islamic tradition. For in this seminal figure of nascent Islam, one finds an integral expression of the two fundamental sources of Islamic spirituality, the Quranic revelation and the inspired Sunna of the Prophet. By his Sunna, we do not mean simply the outward imitation of the Prophet's – a reductionism all too prevalent in our times – rather, we mean the spiritual substance of the prophetic perfection to which the Quran itself refers: "Verily, thou art of a tremendous nature (68:4)"

The Prophet Mohammad (saw) had advised his followers:
I am the city of knowledge and Ali...

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Problems as Opportunities (Quotes to live by)

When we face challenges in our lives, it can really throw us off track and destabilize us. Once we start getting some perspective, we can learn and grow from the challenges and use the challenges as catalysts to propel us onto a path of learning, healing and growth.

Here is how Louise Hay thinks about it:

If we can use our problems and illnesses as opportunities to think about how we can change our lives, we have power.

When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.

Louise Hay is the one who popularized positive affirmations as tools for transformation and growth. Used wisely, affirmations can be helpful in changing thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve us. Here are two powerful affirmations from Louise:

When we want to change a condition, we need to say so. "I am willing to release the pattern within me that is creating this condition." You can say this to yourself over and over every time you think of your illness or problem. The...

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Louise Hay on Self Love (Quotes to live by)

How much of your self talk is about criticizing yourself and giving yourself a hard time?

Women in particular have been somehow conditioned to be way more mean to ourselves than we are to anyone else, don't you think?

This is what Louise Hay has to say about it:

Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

(New research on willpower actually confirms this – that self-criticism depletes the will to change while self-compassion encourages change and helps us live up to the best versions of ourselves – who would have thought!!)

She also said:

Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives.

The more we love...

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Wisdom from Louise Hay (Quotes to live by)

Those of you who know Louise Hay's work, may have heard that she passed away peacefully last week at the age of 90.

Louise Hay was one of the founders of the self help movement and her book, Heal Your Body, was first published in 1976, long before it was fashionable to discuss the connection between the mind and body. After the publication of You Can Heal Your Life in 1984 (which has more than 50 million copies in print worldwide), Louise started to inspire and uplift millions with her words of wisdom, now contained in over 30 books for adults and children.

You can read much more about her work and legacy here.

Although criticized by some for her "woo-woo" new age messaging and lack of scientific backing for her work, there is no doubt that Louise's words have supported millions of people through life's challenges. Even if we don't entirely buy into Louise's messaging (and I do have my reservations!), there is so much we can learn from her about helpful versus unhelpful thinking.

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Live fully (Quotes to live by)

Today's quote is a lovely poem from Khalil Gibran

Don't live a half life

Do not love half lovers
Do not entertain half friends
Do not indulge in works of the half talented
Do not live half a life and do not die a half death

If you choose silence, then be silent
When you speak, do so until you are finished
Do not silence yourself to say something
And do not speak to be silent
If you accept, then express it bluntly
Do not mask it
If you refuse then be clear about it
for an ambiguous refusal
is but a weak acceptance

Do not accept half a solution
Do not believe half truths
Do not dream half a dream
Do not fantasize about half hopes

Half a drink will not quench your thirst
Half a meal will not satiate your hunger
Half the way will get you no where
Half an idea will bear you no results

Half a life is a life you didn't live,
A word you have not said
A smile you postponed
A love you have not had
A friendship you did not know
To reach and not arrive
Work and not work
Attend only to be absent
What makes you a...

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