This question arises from a recent post. There is a related question on the difference between knowledge and wisdom but this is more on how wisdom (insights) can arise from knowledge.

The definition of wisdom is given as an ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. Therefore, learning and gaining knowledge of the Dharma without insights would not constitute wisdom by this definition. How do you gain insights so that knowledge of the Dharma becomes wisdom? What are the signs of wisdom? Sharing from the sutras or personal experience/insights are welcome.

  • For a definition of knowledge, please take a look at this post, it is defined as "Knowledge is conceptual, it is information, opinions and views read from books or spoken by others".
    – Desmon
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


There's a quote by Michelangelo that applies here: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." The sculptor needs skills — techniques of tool-use, an understanding of the stone, and how it might flake or crack — but the sculptor also needs to see the sculpture as it is emerging from the stone. The first is akin to knowledge, the second to wisdom.

The dharma is a set of lessons, tools, and practices that help you to understand — to know — the conditions you're working within. But the dharma is phrased as negational (which often leads people to accuse it of being nihilistic): the dharma lays out the conditions so that we can reach for the cessation of those conditions. In this sense it's like sculpting ourselves. We chip away at what the dharma tells us doesn't belong — the illusions and cravings and discontentments and such — to see what emerges. Seeing that entails insight and wisdom.

A lot of practitioners seem to get caught up in the dharma, focusing on the words and practices to the exclusion of everything else. That becomes an empty struggle, like a stone-worker trying to force a stone into a standardized shape, or merely chipping away at the block until nothing is left at all. The key is to reach for what will be left when the carving is done.

  • This is a unique insight, thanks. Meaning as long as the conditions exist e.g. dukkha exists, then there's work to be done.... chipping away greed, hatred and delusion.
    – Desmon
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 16:33

Given the importance of spiritual friends...

SN3.18:4.3: Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.

...one might well infer that wisdom grows from knowledge as we apply that knowledge in the context of our spiritual friendships, learning as we go.

Furthermore, upon experiencing that very growth of wisdom, one might then also come to understand the wisdom contained in the all-inclusive phrase, "...the "whole of the spiritual life".


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