One hunded people came together a week ago at the annual conference of the Sage-ing Guild to celebrate the conscious aging and spiritual eldering work of Rabbi Schacter-Shalomi and to share life experience and learn from and be inspired by others. There are several things I took away from the conference that I would like to share with you in the next few posts.
What is it to be be a "wise sage"? Bob Atchley, an award winning and internationally recognized gerontologist, offered a new twist on this for many of us in attendance. Dr. Atchley defines Sage-wisdom as the ability to respond to a situation with clarity, compassion, deep understanding , broad knowledge, and powerful listening and interpersonal skills. It is NOT about having the correct answer or even an answer at all! How different this is from what we normally label as "smarts" or "intellectual capacity" where having the answer to a problem is highly regarded.
But how can a person have "clarity", "deep understanding" and "broad knowledge" and still not have the answer, I asked him? His response was that clarity relates to personal clarity about your sense of purpose, deep understanding relates to understanding human nature and broad knowledge comes from life's lessons, philosophy and experiences and not from anything specific learned from a book. In short a wise sage has mastered the art of "waiting" for the answer to develop.
Is there a role for Sages in today's society? Although there was no consensus among the participants I discussed this with, there was agreement on the following. Sages embody the values that transcend individual conflicts and selfishness. With the attributes listed above if modern sages were provided the opportunity and authority to exercise their advisory capabilities, they might inspire society to discard short-sighted mentalities in favor of broader spiritual values that lead to a more sustainable, peaceful, and joyful lifestyle for us all.
Can you imagine how your family, neighborhood and community might be different if more people like this were available as resources?