The Sage

The Sage is an imaginary figure used by ancient philosophers as a metaphor for someone who has attained the wisdom which a they seek. It is, nevertheless, an unattainable goal, but a useful one for to set Wisdom as their aspiration. Philosophers (lovers of wisdom) aspire to be Sages, yet acknowledging they are not wise, but hoping to progress in the direction of wisdom.

It was an important subject of meditation among ancient philosophers both eastern and western. Trying to decribe how a perfect Sage would be and how she or he would live and act was an important endeavor. The idea is to build a model that we can use as a compass for our meditation. How would she face the very problems that we encounter throughout our life? If facing insult, disappointment, poverty or pain, how she would act? First we should spend some time thinking how a Sage would be. The Stoics used to point at Socrates as the closest to a Sage that a mortal and imperfect human being could aspire to. We can use someone we know and admire for her wisdom, but, since Sages are not common people to be seen around, we can adopt some historical or fictional character that we can use as an subject of study, such as Lao Tsé, Buddha or Rumi. We should first study his life, meditate upon his dids and ideas, and then try to model our life accordingly in little steps.

In my view, if a perfect Sage ever had to exist, could be described as:

  • A person who never ceases to see the world with fresh eyes and a sense of wonder.
  • When suffering hardships, would take them as exercises for life, using them as opportunities for growth.
  • Would not let negative emotions such us anger, envy or frustration to control his life. But rather than trying to suppress them, would welcome them as sources of experience and self knowledge, helping him to understand other people’s problems.
  • Every experience would be a chance for growth and transformation, turning fear into prudence, anger into motivation, envy into admiration and pain into knowledge.
  • A Sage would teach others through actions rather than words. Being exemplary, rather than eloquent.
  • Would be content in solitude, although would prefer and enjoy good company.
  • Would set high goals in life without losing sight of the ground.
  • Pleasure will not be a goal in life, nor something to be avoided or feared.
  • Has learned what is in his power and what is not, and focus in what it is.