My What is Wisdom Interview on Asian Star Radio

“Have you ever thought about what wisdom actually is?” – Philippa Sawyer, Radio Host

I recently traveled to Slough to the Asian Star Radio studios to be interviewed on the subject of wisdom by the show’s host, Philippa Sawyer.

What Philippa was most interested in knowing was, what is wisdom?, what are the benefits of wisdom, and how can it improve our lives?  Can we learn wisdom, and are we born with it?

Here’s the full recording of the discussion with transcript below.  Enjoy!

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Philippa Sawyer: You’re listening to Asian Star 101.6 FM, it is seventeen minutes to eleven, it’s Philippa here with your mind-morning show…

Now, ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’, so we’re told, and it’s a rhyme isn’t it that trips off the tongue, especially if you’re trying to get your kids off to bed early.  But have you ever stopped to think about what wisdom actually is?  Well, I’m joined this morning by James Blacker, he’s a Wisdom Coach, good morning, James!

James Blacker: Good morning!

Philippa Sawyer: Thank you for joining me this morning, so, tell me about wisdom, is it about going to bed early?

James Blacker: No, it’s not.  Er, I was going to say we’ll come back to that one.  I was fortunate enough to interview the country’s top sleep expert about ten years ago, so I can give you his position on that…

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.

James Blacker:…which is that some people are Larks, and some people are Owls.

Philippa Sawyer: Unhuh.

James Blacker:We don’t need eight hours’ sleep, anywhere between three and eleven is considered normal.  But as long as we’re asleep between two and four in the morning then generally whatever spread that is is fine.

Philippa Sawyer: Ah okay, that’s interesting.

James Blacker:So no, that thing there is just a nice bit of fluff.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay. Okay. So let’s dispel a couple of other myths then.  So is wisdom the same as being clever?  is it the same as being intelligent?

James Blacker: No, not really.  Bear in mind that people can use whatever word they want for whatever definition they want.  So we have all kinds of different attributes of mind and thought.  So, if people really want to they can use the word wisdom to mean intelligence, I’m not going to argue with them there.  But we’re talking about a pure wisdom.

Philippa Sawyer: Hmm.

James Blacker: And it might be interesting to get straight into what the definition of that is, then everything else is going to make sense.  And it’s based on a piece of pure logic, which is the relationship between Subject and Object.

Life and Health Wisdom’s James Blacker with Asian Star Radio host, Philippa Sawyer.


Philippa Sawyer: Hmm.

James Blacker: Now a Subject is defined as ‘that which is aware of an Object’.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.

James Blacker: So, there’s a chair there.

Philippa Sawyer: Yep

James Blacker: So I’m aware of the chair.

Philippa Sawyer: Yep.  So you’re the subject and the chair’s the object.  Okay.

James Blacker: So I’m not the chair, the chair’s over there.  Same with your mic.  Okay.

Now, the same really applies to our physical body.  We’re aware of our physical body… from a perspective.  …in which we can see the body as an object.  And therefore the same thing can apply with our minds, and our emotions as well.

So in a sense wisdom is understanding our true sense of self, in the fact that we have a mind and a body, and this kind of personality self.  But it’s something that we’re aware of.  When we actually get into identifying directly with things like our thoughts, feelings and desires, that’s at the point at which they can constrict us, because we think our entire sense of self is invested in them, and we lose our ability to be effective and natural, and so essentially it’s the cause of stress.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay, okay.  Fascinating, fascinating.  So is it, is wisdom something that we are born with?  Is it something that we can set out to achieve, by learning?

James Blacker: Well, if we think it’s something…  let’s take that question of whether we’re born with it…  If we think of wisdom as the absence of Ego..

Philippa Sawyer: M-hm.

James Blacker: And I don’t mean ego in the sense of a Hollywood personality, ‘cos they can be perfectly fine, depending on whether you look at it from a wisdom point of view or not…  Erm, we’re talking about… Ego is when we identify our ultimate subjective sense of self… with the objects of mind and body.  So, for example, if somebody’s given me a definition of what I need to be, and, er…  It’s about the relationship with my mind.  So if my mind is kind of beating me up, saying “You need to be this, you need to be that”, I’m ‘in Ego’.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.

James Blacker: Okay.  So everybody has wisdom at every moment, but we don’t perceive that we have that wisdom when we’re in Ego, when the mind is beating us up, telling us that we need to be this and we need to be that.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.

James Blacker: So it’s about the relationship there, whether the mind is the servant, or the master.  And the same with our desires, because the mind and desires are the same kind of thing really.  It’s great to have desires, but the point at which they control us and define us we stop being ourselves.

So in the sense of children, it’s not so much that they have wisdom, but they haven’t yet developed that ego.

Philippa Sawyer: Yes.

James Blacker: So they erm, there’s kind of three stages.  You can think of children as pre-ego, and then adults get, unfortunately they learn to define themselves with objects rather than just trusting who they are.  So that’s the ego point.

And then, of course, you can go beyond that, and realise that; “Hey, hang on a second, I’m not gonna worry about my mind beating me up for a definition of me.

Philippa Sawyer: M-hm.

James Blacker: And then you get back to that third stage.  So the child stage, and the, if you like, the person with wisdom who’s developed that, are not the same but they are very similar, because they’re non-egoic.

Philippa Sawyer: Yep.  I see.

James Blacker: So one’s pre and one’s after.

Philippa Sawyer: I see.  I see, okay.  So the Ego is the little person sitting on your shoulder, saying; “Cor, you did that wrong, you know, if only you’d planned you could have done that better, or if only you hadn’t eaten that donught you wouldn’t be as fat as you are, or you know, you would have passed your exams if only you’d done your revision”, so that’s your Ego which is, you know, restricting you from saying…

James Blacker: Exactly.  It’s about self-constriction.  I mean you’re using the word there, ‘would’, you know, “You should have done this, you would have done this”, well there’s no reality to ‘would’, in grammar that’s known as the conditional tense.

Philippa Sawyer: M-hm.

James Blacker: And actually, that’s an expression of conditional love.  Which means… essentially what we’re talking about with Ego is judgement.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: So when you take away… when you see beyond the illusion of the Ego, then you see the reality of the situation, and there’s no need for judgement any more.  But of course the judgement does… beat us up, and that has knock-on effects on all kinds of things, from relationship to weight management to career, and so forth.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay, so just taking a step back then, and trying to simplify it, because it does get very complicated very quickly…  So if we’re looking to learn about being wise, we’re learning about not judging ourselves, and just appreciating what is, and not what could be if we’d done this, that and the other?

James Blacker: It’s not trusting that which we are.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: It’s totally that.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.  So can we learn it?

James Blacker: Absolutely.  The best way to learn it is to un-learn the opposite.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: So, in a sense we don’t have to learn it because we already have it.  We have to stop the thought process that denies it.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah, so we’ve got to stop stuff getting in the way?

James Blacker: Yeah, so what you’re saying is can we learn to get beyond our Ego.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: And the best way to do that is simply to accept that the Ego is there.  …because if you get caught up in “Oh, I should get rid of my Ego”, it becomes a contradiction in terms, you start worrying again.

Philippa Sawyer: Mmm.

James Blacker: So simple self-awareness will do it.  And I get to the point at which my Ego is just there, it can nag away, but I kind of sort of just observe it and say “Okay, well you do what you want to do and I’ll make my conscious choices in the moment”, and we’ll go from there, and beyond that, as long as I’m conscious in the moment, and making my choice from there, I don’t worry about trying to control the rest, because it may have to do what it needs to do.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay, now you run workshops, you work with people on a one-to-one basis, now obviously we don’t want to name any names, but can you give us a couple of practical examples of situations that people have found themselves in where learning to just think in this new way, and having a new perspective on ourselves has helped people to work through situations?

James Blacker: Yeah, there’s quite a few.  The whole range really.  The weight management is a big one.  …because that’s based on not trusting that which we are again, so if you think of people who force themselves to exercise, or they’ll deny themselves the foods they want, what’s predicating that is a sense of self that they think they have to meet up to.  And by definition, if they didn’t trust that they would get to where they rightly ought to be just by being them, they go and do something different.  So the whole thing is thinking that they can’t trust that which they are.  They can’t trust their own relationship to exercise, and the desire for physical movement, and they can’t trust their relationship to life.  So actually, if you can correct that, you find that weight management pretty much takes care of itself.  …because… It’s kind of like…  Remember we said you don’t learn wisdom, you unlearn Ego.

Philippa Sawyer: Yes, yes…

James Blacker: Well it’s the same with weight management, you don’t learn to do the right things, you un-learn the need to do the wrong things.  And you trust the underlying relationship to the various aspects.

Philippa Sawyer: Right, okay, so that’s a really good example.  So by thinking; “I will lose weight if I go…  I don’t really wanna go and exercise, but cor, you know, if I go and exercise it will help me to get slimmer…  and if I don’t eat donughts every day, that will help me to get slimmer”, so what would the new train of thought be?

James Blacker: The new train of thought is to trust what is your underlying relationship to food, and your underlying relationship to movement.  And its desire for physical exercise.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.

James Blacker: The last thing you want to do, if you don’t want to go and exercise, is go and exercise.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: You sit there and you wait until your body says; “I want to exercise”.  And then you realise that you yourself have a desire for some form of physical movement.

Philippa Sawyer: Ah okay!

James Blacker: And it’s the same with food, okay.  So you don’t deny yourself, if you want something you eat it.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: And then again, you trust, that the underlying relationship to the kind of foods you want to eat are wholesome, are good, are good for you.  So, once you can understand, the fact that you don’t have those two relationships with food and exercise, has been conditioned.  The same way that you’ve been conditioned to identify yourself through an Ego.  You’ve been conditioned to think that your desire for food is greater than it is.  And you’ll also have, your relationship to physical activity will be conditioned as well.  So you’ll actually be out of touch with that as well.  So it’s kind of trusting that those things…  once you see that you can start to trust that you can return to your natural self.

And bear in mind also that, if you think of denial and food, I don’t know if you know any economics, but the more supply is withdrawn, the more demand goes up.

Philippa Sawyer: Yes.

James Blacker: So if we wake up and we deny ourselves something, and then we deny it again, it’s not so much that we’ve got a great desire for it, we’ve just refused supply, so our perception of how much we want something is actually distorted.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah, yeah.  I see, so it’s getting rid of all the clutter in your mind, all that, erm, the Ego as you say, and really, you know, purifying your thought process, and really being in tine with your body, and recognising actually what your physical body needs, and not what your mind is telling you.

James Blacker: Absolutely.  This is kind of a knock-on subject.  So the first thing we have to understand with Ego is that you don’t have to do anything to be free.  In order to be free in your mind you don’t have to do anything.  There’s no stage you have to reach in order to be free.

Philippa Sawyer: M-hm.

James Blacker: Otherwise, if there was a stage or something that you had to achieve, if that was the way it worked, when you got there you would constrict your identity around that and you would attach to it, and by definition you wouldn’t be free.  So freedom comes from non-attachment, and non-resistance.

Now in terms of health, you’re quite right, one thing we also teach is to listen to the body.  So that…  there’s about…  a small percentage of things that people can’t control in terms of their health.  You know, there are some diseases, some things that happen to us.  Erm, but… most of them now are through our control.  So 100 years ago people were dying of infectious diseases.  Our doctors cleared up that, certainly in the Western world, and now people are dying of degenerative diseases, like heart disease and cancer.  So these are much more to do with our relationship with ourselves.

So, as I say, other than that small percentage of things we can’t do anything about, what we’re really talking about is the first stage of health is, are we listening to our bodies?  Okay.  And as you’ve quite rightly said, what happens when the mind gets in the way of that?  So we can learn to get better and better at listening to our bodies…

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: You do that for six months, eventually you’ll realise that your mind is, erm, attacking you or beating, or judging what you’re doing, so to the point that you realise it doesn’t matter whether you listen to your body ‘cos you’re not actually responding to that.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: So we need to identify the difference between the needs of the mind, and the needs of the body.

Philippa Sawyer: Wow!

James Blacker: Now here’s the thing.  If the need for food or sex is in the mind, you can never satisfy that need with food or sex.

Philippa Sawyer: M-hm.

James Blacker: Okay.  So that’s the second stage of health, is to identify the difference between the two.

And then the third stage of health is, once you’ve identified those, the difference between the two, you have to actually get yourself, er, energetically in a state where you actually respond to the needs of the body.  ….because it’s no good simply identifying the difference between the needs of the mind and the needs of the body if you’re still allowing the mind’s needs to overrule the body.

Philippa Sawyer: Right.

James Blacker: Okay, so with increased self-awareness, you can become more and more aware that each time you respond to the needs of the nagging mind, you become less and less fulfilled, and you become actually more physically uncomfortable.

Philippa Sawyer: Yeah.

James Blacker: And then you can…  that gives you the awareness that makes you turn it around and then you just start to go beyondEgo and respond to the body.

Philippa Sawyer: Wow.  James, it’s a fascinating subject.  The time is just whizzing by.  Tell people where they can find out more, what’s the website address?

James Blacker: The website address is, and Facebook is, again, /LifeandHealthWisdom.

Philippa Sawyer:, and Facebook at Life and Health Wisdom.  Just one more question, do you think that more wisdom is required in Westminster, for example?

James Blacker: Well, what’s the latest that’s going on at Westminster?  Well I mean the answer has to be yes.

Philippa Sawyer: Yes, it does, doesn’t it.

James Blacker: If you think of erm, all of the world’s major problems, whether it’s the environment, threat of wars, or the economy, we think of these as being different problems.  But actually they’re the same problem of Ego in different make-ups.  So is the Ego causing the war?  Is the Ego causing our perception of reality to be different?  And that’s the key, because once you go beyond Ego you can see things objectively.  In Ego you have to see things in a skewed way, in a subjective way.

Philippa Sawyer: Okay.  James Blacker, Wisdom Coach.  It’s a fascinating subject.  If you want to find out more go to  James, thank you very much for joining me today.

James Blacker: That’s a pleasure, you’re welcome.

Slough, UK. 14th June 2013.

Related Links


  • The Relationship between Wisdom and Positive Thinking
  • November 30, 2012
  • In our ‘Happiness’ recording, David Heard explained to me that we find the answer to strength for life when we base our life on truth and reality. I have developed my thinking on this, and have observed that there is a very natural relationship between positive thinking and wisdom, and a common denominator; objectivity.

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