The Smart Change Group, Inc.                                         
The right change at the right time

Wisdom Watch

Do a thing in its time, and peace follows it.--Mandinka (Sierre Leone)

The art of living is grounded in timing. Patience and intuitive awareness allow us to choose the appropriate action/behavor at the right time.

When a person dies, his or her tongue does not rot.--

What a person says remains long after he or she is gone. Respect the power of your words. If you want a legacy that speaks well of you, be cognizant of your language and your choice to be silent.

Wisdom is not like gold that it should be tied up and kept in a safe place

Wisdom must be shared and applied to our day to day experiences. Wisdom is as wisdom does. Others pay attention to what we do as well as what we say.

A little rain each day will fill the rivers to overflowing.--

A person consumed with greed is likely to be impatient, and unable to delay gratification. This proverb reveals that abundance comes with patience and awareness of the unfolding nature of life.

Indecision is like the stepchild; if he doesn’t wash his hands, he is dirty; if he does he is wasting water.--

With every choice there is regret, but when we make a choice do so with wisdom and awareness that if it does not work out, we can simply make another decision. Life is a series of choices, not just one with many consequences.

He who is unable to dance, says that the yard is stony.--

Sometimes we make excuses for our incompetence, but we can come to realize that all knowledge is available to us. We must move from blaming to claiming our awareness of the abundant wisdom in the world. The key to facility in performance is practice.

If a person were to get everything he wanted, he would go mad.--

Too many possessions can cause a person to identify himself almost exclusively on the basis of his possessions. We are not what we have, we are what we are. Realize that without a single possession, we are still whole. Greed attempts to convince us that we are as important as the weight of our possessions.

Kindness is a loan, not a gift.--

Repay kindness with kindness. If we decide to take advantage of the generous person, we are treading on thin water. Know that one day the benefactor will be in need and will expect kindness in return. Leaders know that influence is based on exchange, and that kindness is a loan.

If the quantity of the water does not suffice for a bath, it will at least be sufficient for drinking

We must be confident that our resourcefulness will allow us to use what we have in the best way. When we take stock of our assets, we realize our true wealth is measured by what we do with what we have.

African proverbs have been repeated for thousands of years, sometimes to answer a question, sometimes to acknowledge history, but always intended to teach powerful lessons about life and personhood. Although African proverbs offer counsel on many subjects, the power of experience is central to the union of African and Zen concepts. We can begin to use the lessons of African philosophy to pay attention to the wisdom of experience and awareness. We call it African Zen.

Zen means that if you want to understand what a watermelon is, you take a watermelon, get a knife, and cut the watermelon. Then you put a slice in your mouth—boom! Your experience!--Seung Sahn

The experience basis for African proverbs, and the keen awareness they demonstrate through analogy and life perspectives are in fact quite “Zen” in tone.  African proverbs are reality wisdom.

A village community gathering for an enstoolment ceremony in Ghana, 1995.