The Wisdom Page 


Resources for Developing the
Self-Knowledge/Intuitive Aspect of Wisdom


Becoming a wiser person is largely an exercise in inner development, and there are activities that can help us along the way. Counseling and other forms of psychotherapy can, if needed, help us reach the starting point for advanced work which we might call responsible adulthood or mature ego. A person at this stage is free of psychoses and crippling neuroses and has developed emotional control and empathy to an ordinary degree. To help us move beyond this stage we need other resources. Many people start with writings that discuss the farther reaches of human development. These, in turn, lead us to do-it-yourself practices: mind-quieting practices, self-knowledge practices, ego-transcendence practices, and oneness-realization practices. There are many possible paths to follow, and many suggestions below.


Listed below, in alphabetical order by author, are books which present slants on our inner lives that I (Copthorne Macdonald) have found particularly helpful. Each of these books is a partial map of the human psychological/spiritual territory, and together they present an excellent overview. Still, while good maps can lead us to the territory and help us find our way around it, if we hope to develop self-knowledge, we need to explore the territory first hand — directly, experientially. Reading cannot substitute for that. Some of the books I refer to are no longer available from their original publishers. If a title is not available at your library or through your local bookstore or an online seller such as, you may be able to find a copy through an online used book dealer. Try, for instance, Advanced Book Exchange: or Bibliofind (now associated with>

Allan L. Combs — Teacher, lucid writer, consciousness historian and theorist, and much more

The Radiance of Being: Complexity, Chaos, and the Evolution of Consciousness. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House. 1996.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi — the recognized expert in that state of ideal functioning where capability matches challenge

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: HarperCollins. 1990.

Trevor Curnow — philosopher, and author of a most comprehensive book on wisdom's history, nature, and relationship to ethics

Wisdom, Intuition and Ethics. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co. 1999.

Joanna Field [Marion Milner] — a psychologist who wrote about the inner transformation produced in her life by simply widening her focus of attention

A Life of One's Own. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher. 1981 [1936].

Howard Gardner — a psychologist with wide-ranging interests who opened our eyes to the multifaceted nature of intelligence

Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books. 1985.

Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield — two of the best know, best respected teachers of vipassana (insight) meditation

Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation. Boston: Shambhala. 1987.

Daniel Goleman — author of the most up-to-date book on human emotions, and one of the best books on meditation

Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books. 1995.

The Meditative Mind. New York: Putnam Publishing Group. 1996.

Bede Griffith — an Anglican priest who explored Eastern spirituality and shared his selections from the wisdom literature

Universal Wisdom: A Journey Through the Sacred Wisdom of the World. London: Harper Collins. 1994.

Doug Hall — master of the creative process, adventurer, and motivator of young people; someone who helps us get beyond our fear of acting boldly in the world

Making the Courage Connection: Finding the Courage to Journey from Fear to Freedom. New York: Fireside Books. 1998.

Jon Kabat-Zinn — pioneer in the use of mindfulness meditation for healing, stress reduction, and pain management

Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion. 1994.

Michael Lerner — Editor of Tikkun magazine, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco 

Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company. 2000.

Copthorne Macdonald — student of reality, and the guy who tends this Web page

Toward Wisdom: Finding Our Way to Inner Peace, Love & Happiness. Lincoln, NE: 2001. [Chapter 9, which deals with the broadening of awareness and identity, is available online at Info about the book and other excerpts at:]

Getting a Life: Strategies for Joyful and Effective Living. Lincoln, NE: 2001. [Info and excerpts at:]

Matters of Consequence: Creating a Meaningful Life and a World That Works. Charlottetown, PEI: Big Ideas Press. 2004. [Info and excerpts at]

Contribution to the forthcoming book Living the Values of the Wise: An essay entitled "Playing the Wisdom Game:
Some thoughts about the nature and development of wisdom." [The essay is available on line at]

Abraham H. Maslow — visionary psychologist, and a founder of the human potential movement

The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: The Viking Press. 1971 .

Toward a Psychology of Being 2nd Edition. New York: D. Van Nostrand. 1968.

Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper and Row. 1954.

Milton Mayeroff — philosopher, and author of a wonderful book on the role of caring in the fulfilled life.

On Caring. New York: HarperCollins. 1990 [1971].

Stephen Mitchell — translator of spiritual works who translates brilliantly because he has spent time in the mental spaces the ancients were writing about

Tao Te Ching: A New English Version with Foreword and Notes, by Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper & Row. 1988.

The Enlightened Mind: An Anthology of Sacred Prose Edited by Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Collins. 1991.

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Edited by Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Collins. 1989.

Nisargadatta Maharaj — a practitioner of Advaita Vedanta who lived in full identification with Spirit/Being/the Absolute

I AM THAT: Conversations with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, 3rd Edition. Durham, NC: Acorn Press. 1986.

Larry Rosenberg — founder of the Cambridge (MA) Insight Meditation Center and superlative vipassana teacher

Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation. Boston: Shambhala. 1998.

John Stewart — evolutionist, and insightful commentator on the relationship of physical and psychological evolution to humanity’s future

Evolution’s Arrow: The direction of evolution and the future of humanity.  Canberra: The Chapman Press. 2000. [Check]

“Future Psychological Evolution.”  Dynamical Psychology: An International, Interdisciplinary Journal of Complex Mental Processes.  [Check]  

“The Evolutionary Significance of Spiritual Development.” [Check:]

Ken Wilber — generalist, synthesizer, and practitioner of deep understanding par excellence

Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy.  Boston: Shambhala Publications.  2000.

The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad. Boston: Shambhala. 1997.

No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth. Boston: Shambhala Publications. 1981.

Books about the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Dzogchen — Taking slightly different approaches and slants, the following books present the essentials of Dzogchen philosophy and practice:

Keith Dowman, Translator. The Flight of the Garuda. Boston: Wisdom Publications. 1994.

Namkhai Norbu. John Shan, Translator. DZOGCHEN: The self-perfected state. London: Arkana. 1989.

John Myrdhin Reynolds, Translator and Commentary. Self-Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press. 1989.

Sogyal Rinpoche. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco. 1993.

Tulka Urgyen Rinpoche. Rainbow Painting. Hong Kong: Rangjun Yeshe Publications. 1995.

Internet Resources

The Wisdom Page is "a compilation of wisdom-related resources: various on-line texts concerning wisdom, references to books about wisdom, information about organizations that promote wisdom, wise activities, and listserv groups concerned with aspects of wisdom."

New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network "strive[s] to provide listeners with practical knowledge and perennial wisdom. We foster living a more healthy life of mind, body and spirit while deepening our connections to self, family, community, the natural world and the planet."

Stephen Palmquist brings a wisdom focus to his online book THE TREE OF PHILOSOPHY: A Course of Introductory Lectures for Beginning Students of Philosophy.

Nonduality Salon is a Yahoo group dedicated to the discussion of nonduality. The list owner and moderator is Jerry Katz, and the topics discussed relate to self-realization and nondual perspectives.

Nurturing the Now, A Path to Nonduality is Vicki Woodyard's wideranging site, full of interesting essays, stories, pithy statements, and helpful links. "is a web site devoted to techniques for finding enlightenment. We provide information about yoga, meditation, enquiry, discrimination, and anything else that works.  To us, enlightenment means becoming free of the ego.  We do not identify with any particular guru, sect, or religion. We are interested in all traditional and modern approaches."  Worthwhile online text from many traditions.

(Also, see Online Meditation Course and Open Focus below.)

Meditation Resources

When it comes to actually exploring the territory of the mind and attaining self-knowledge the most powerful tool is the practice of meditation. Ken Wilber cites research indicating that meditation is the only proven way to move our psychological/spiritual development beyond the “sensitive self” stage to the “integrative” and “holistic” stages. He noted, “Less than 2 per­cent of the adult population scores at Jane Loevinger’s highest two stages of self development (autonomous and integrated),” and went on to say, “No practice (including psychotherapy, holotropic breathwork, or NLP) has been shown to substantially increase that percentage. With one exception: studies have shown that consistent meditation practice over a several-year period increases that percent­age from 2 percent to an astonishing 38 percent….” 

An online essay titled "THE IMPORTANCE OF MEDITATION" ( outlines the value of meditation in greater detail. Chapter 9 of the book Toward Wisdom deals with practices that broaden awareness and identity, and is available online at

Listed below are references for three varieties of meditative practice that have been found to produce results for the diligent practitioner.

The attention-developing, mind-quieting meditation called mindfulness, insight, or vipassana meditation

Daily sittings at home plus occasional intensive retreats make up an investigative regime that many have found highly effective.

Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA. offers weekend, 9-day, and 3-month vipassana meditation retreats in a most supportive environment. Phone: 798-355-4378

Vipassana Centers, Teachers, and Online Resources associated with the Insight Meditation Society.

Vipassana Meditation Centers presenting the practice as taught by S. N. Goenka

Online Meditation Course requires a serious 90-day commitment to actual practice.


Dzogchen is a highly effective advanced practice for developing nondual cognition. For more information on the aims of nondual practices see Chapter 9 of Toward Wisdom, "Seeing the Unity: Identifying With Being." It is online at

Dzogchen Community in America "was established in 1982, in Conway, Massachusetts by the Dzogchen Master, Choegyal Namkhai Norbu. Tsegyalgar is the name of the main seat in North America and is part of the worldwide Dzogchen Community International. Other regional centers (Gars) are: Merigar in Italy, Tashigar in Argentina, and Namgyalgar in Australia."

The Dzogchen Foundation "essence teaching of the non-sectarian practice lineage of Tibetan Buddhism." Phone: 617-628-1702, option 2.

"is an international network of meditation centers and groups
under the guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche."

Open Focus™

Biofeedback-based Open Focus is a practice in which one is aurally guided into wide-angle awareness. The CDs are designed to talk the listener into “a state of effortless awareness in which no one element of simultaneous experience is focused upon or weighted more heavily than any other part.” 

"About Open Focus" is a short online essay that tells more about it.

The Open Focus web site is at

The Open Focus audio CDs for different levels of practice are presented at