Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the sage makes use of it,
embracing his aloneness, realizing
he is at one with the whole universe.
The sage is a loner. He avoids unnecessary contact with people. He does not feel at home with small talk. He abhors gossip. He avoids talking too much. Most people would probably find his company dull. Not that he would mind, for he is indifferent to his own popularity.
The sage is timeless. He lives outside the collective paradigms and ideologies controlling and manipulating society at any given time. He seems immune to even the subtlest efforts of indoctrination or manipulation.
He moves in society without being immersed in it. He stands aloof from the conceptually fashionable. He does not become part of socially acceptable prejudices. He refuses to participate in the pretentious verbal exhibition of the latest in intellectual chic.
Historic paradigm shifts do not unsettle him. He knows that everything changes and yet nothing changes. His perspective is timeless, vaster than any scientific dimension. For this reason the sage remains calm in times of upheaval. Even when humanity is losing its faith in whatever it has lately invested its faith, the Taoist sage remains unperturbed. He does not invest his faith in man-made concepts and therefore has no faith to lose.
The sage lives outside the dictatorial reach of the “group mind,” untouched by the mindless Zeitgeist of his era, and he therefore has little part in the collective guilt of the society of his day. But he will try to live on the periphery of human folly as unobtrusively as possible. Only when he is left with no other choice, will he actively oppose the predominant delusions of his day, and he will do so courageously, suffering any resulting persecution with quiet dignity.
A remote cottage in the midst of jungles of northern Iran…