James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is in the first place pure; and then
peace-loving, considerate, and open to reason; it is straightforward and
sincere, rich in mercy and in the kindly deeds that are its fruit.”
I’m often asked, “How do I know which internal voice is the voice of God Within, my Higher Self?” I answer, the voice of God Within is the Wisdom voice that speaks quietly, sometimes without words. It is never harsh, critical, punitive, or shaming. It usually comes as a felt sense with one or two words, or a simple phrase. It conveys a purity of heart where we feel inner peace. It’s affirming of life in its totality; not loyal to one specific, momentary emotion or thought. It brings an energetic charge that moves us to think, feel, and act according to its guidance.
The author of James offers a concise description of wisdom that can clarify which voice is the inner Wisdom voice. He begins by noting “the wisdom from above is in the first place pure.” He describes wisdom that emanates from the Divine, not the wisdom of the world, or the wisdom of unconscious, one-sided impulses and emotions.
On the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, Wisdom (Chokmah) is the second emanation of the Divine essence flowing into the soul of humanity and the world soul. It is an extension of the Crown (Kether)—the Limitless Light that is the Beginning of the Whirlings (of life), the prima materia or primary substance of all creation. Pure wisdom is received, not created by intellectual gymnastics, adapted prejudices, or collective convention.
Wise men and women throughout the ages have been called fools. Pure wisdom usually prompts the receiver to quietly follow a different path from the conventional. The author of James says that Wisdom is peace-loving. Wisdom doesn’t seek to bring another up short, to create conflict, or start disagreements. It is “considerate and open to reason”. Wisdom wants connection and dialogue.
When Inner Wisdom speaks, it invites the ego or self-conscious “I’ to relationship. The Western Mystery Tradition describes Wisdom as the Universal Mind or Divine Essence turning inward. The movement invites relationship between the ego and Inner Wisdom (God Within). We often experience this connection as insight—seeing “into” a situation, behavior, relational dynamic, problem, form, etc. Wisdom moves us from outside, surface driven ideas to subtle, invisible energies inherent in the forms. We all sense these but tend to dismiss them as we cannot “prove” them with physical senses.
We can lose connection to Wisdom by doubting, dismissing, or poo-pooing what we know in our gut. When we listen, we experience Wisdom as “straight-forwarded and sincere”. It doesn’t argue back or demean oppositional ideas. It stays its course as a quiet current of energy within us. Aligning with it, we experience “mercy and kindly deeds”. Our inner world bestows riches and support that include vitality, compassion, strength, beauty, balance, at-onement with ourselves. These gifts flow outward as we live from a deep connection to the source of Wisdom, God Within.
When we live from the purity of who we are as a child of God, we can let others be who they are. By being who we are, we are accepting and considerate of whom others are. We don’t have a need to make them who or what we want. We are able to see together, to dialogue, when there are differences instead of creating conflict.
Wisdom leads to acceptance and integration of varied desires, impulses, sensations, thoughts, and feelings we have. The result is the ability to be straightforward and sincere about who we are. We give up hiding from our selves. We express an attitude that is “rich in mercy and in kindly deeds” as we interact with ourselves and others.
Inner Reflection and Outer Action
Create a checklist of the qualities of Wisdom described in James and how you understand these to manifest. Check your guiding self-talk throughout the day, and in contemplative practices, with the list. Listen beneath the chatterbox and adaptive, ego ideals to connect with the Wisdom Voice inherent in all you experience. Act with the energy Wisdom brings.