Some of the visitors found the sage’s teaching on God and
human identity powerfully inspiring, deeply challenging and
rationally contradictory. One day, as they discussed the role of
a sage, a visitor said, “A sage is someone who shows what
human beings are capable of becoming, isn’t he?”
The sage was quick to correct him. “You don’t become what
you are not,” the sage said. “A sage is someone who wakens
you to who you already are.”
(F. J. Padinjarekara: The Ocean in the Dewdrop, De Mello Publications. page 293)
The most important lessons in life cannot be taught, they have to be learnt. These relate to the vital aspects of living – the art of making contact, of loving, making peace, finding one’s place in the world, or discovering a vision for one’s life.
Likewise, the most beautiful things are invisible but need to be seen. The depth-dimension of life cannot be told, yet it has to be understood. At that level, our ordinary language of information and rational discourse which we use to describe, analyse, argue or prove something, fails to communicate what is most essential in life. Those who attempt to convey their experience or understanding of the divine, the meaning of enlightenment, or even of human identity and destiny, acknowledge that they come up against the inability of our day to day language to express what is beyond its grasp.
That is why mystics and sages have used the language of transformation with its metaphors, parables, and stories to teach what cannot be taught and to show what is invisible to the eyes.
The function of the sages is to point beyond themselves to the truth of who we are and to wake us up to our own identity. Those who convey to us what is difficult to grasp and those who reveal to us the wisdom of life, do us a great service. But they serve us best who disclose to us the truth of who we really are.