Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Path of a Sage

- in my meditation garden -

In my reading yesterday I came across a gem of an article tucked inside the pages of the latest edition of the spirituality magazine, Parabola. In an article titled, The Path of a Sage, Solala Towler, a contemporary Taoist wisdom teacher offered a very elegant and clear description of what it means to be a sage on any spiritual journey. Sages are recognized as “profoundly wise” people, but wisdom is a somewhat amorphous quality that often escapes definition, so the best we can do is to look for symptoms of wisdom manifested in the lives of sages.

Here are some of the characteristics of sages described in the article:

Sages reject distinctions and ignore social rank.

Sages don’t care how society sees them,
they don’t live their lives based on the approval of others.

Sages take care of their bodies and uplift their spirits,
they balance their energy and live a life of gratitude and grace.

Sages look within to their inner wisdom
and they look to the wisdom of the great spiritual teachers.

Sages do not make an effort to appear youthful to others,
they age gracefully and are eternally youthful in spirit.

Sages are fully engaged with the world
and yet are not overly affected by it.

Sages are not proud, they are not aggressive.

Sages do not demand love from others;
they give love freely.

Sages float along with the sun and the moon
and they embrace the whole universe.

I was deeply moved by these insightful descriptions of the characteristics of a sage, probably because this is exactly the kind of person I aspire to be at this point of my spiritual journey in my later years in life. It also strikes me that the path of any genuine spiritual journey always leads one in the direction of becoming a sage - faithfully persevering on a spiritual path will hopefully produce the sweet fruits of wisdom found in the life of a sage. 

I know I am not yet a sage but I want to be one, and so I will keep my eyes on the path of a sage and from time to time look at these characteristics of what the life of a “profoundly wise” person looks like, adjusting my course accordingly.  Every day I will try to persevere until the fruits of wisdom bloom more fully in my life – each and ever one us can walk on this path.

The article I read yesterday in Parabola ended with a bold challenge - speaking to anyone who really aspires to be a sage, the article ended with the question:

What’s stopping you?