Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Being a Sage

On Being a Sage
by Scott Bradley

One of the characters in Chen Jen is called the Surly Sage. I had something in mind to say through him, but I am not sure I accomplished it. He's a sage who lives on a mountain and throws dirt at anyone who approaches him. This is a sage? What I wanted to say was, Why not? I also tried to convey it in this 'saying':
The sage is no one.
You expected a blazing star?
The sage behaves as he does.
You expected a paragon of virtue?
The sage is innocent of sagacity,
and does not wish a known sage to be.
What does it mean that the sage is not
what you would have him be?
We have our pre-conceived ideas of how a sage should behave. This, I think, is largely because we remain hung-up on right and wrong. At least I am. I wallow in guilt. I don't behave as I think I should. I want to be someone else. And then I remind myself, 'there are no conditions to meet -- it is already true in me, just as I am'. These are words, but there is a gate behind them -- a gate to joy and liberation.

Some might say that this is just making excuses and running from the confrontation and battle required for spirituality. I make no reply. I follow another path.

It's a shame we don't have some Lin-chi's about -- Zen sages to slap us up-side-the-head or shout in our faces, to show us that, when it comes to being a sage, surly is as good as blissfully tranquil.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. I touched upon this a few times but find it to be the case. The evil are as much help pointing us to the way as the good, maybe better, perhaps more direct.

    It is tricky though because in no time at all you're babbling good and bad and then feel the need to say how they're just ideas....


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