It’s hard to see the forest for the trees when one of the trees is COVID-19.

If you’re like me, you’re hoping this is our once-per-century global calamity, and that we’ll be through the worst of it some time in 2021.

While we’re busy being as safe as possible, a “forest” of worldwide wisdom is available now, silently waiting for our discovery. I recently resumed my part-time position teaching World Religions at Brevard College. I feel fortunate to introduce 70-some undergraduates each semester to the rich wisdom of the great religious and spiritual traditions of the world. It feels like a tremendous privilege.

In my “Intro to World Religions” class, one of my goals is to introduce students to the difference between information, knowledge, and wisdom. I tell them that information is merely data, and knowledge is information-plus-context. But wisdom offers us deep, holistic meaning with the power to transform us and the world. Wisdom is at the heart of the religious & spiritual traditions that we rightly call “great.” Through the miracle of digital libraries and the web, this wisdom is available to us now.

You don’t have to join a religion to receive its wisdom

I reject the idea that a person must be a card-carrying member of a specific religion to appreciate its wisdom. After learning some basic concepts, we can benefit from a spiritual tradition we don’t know — as long as we bring an open mind and heart. Even if you claim a particular religion, you can still learn from the wisdom of a tradition other than your own. For example, I know that I receive insights every time I learn more about Buddhism, even though my primary spiritual identity is Christian.

If you’d like to drink from this deep well of interfaith and inter-spiritual wisdom, join me in October and early November for The Wisdom of World Religions, a 6-week online learning series. Together, we will explore the spiritual wisdom of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism. (CLICK HERE for details.)

Rob Field