“The ancient masters were profound and subtle. Their wisdom was unfathomable. There is no way to describe it all we can describe is their appearance. They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream. Alert as a warrior in enemy territory. Courteous as a guest. Fluid as melting ice. Shapable as a block of wood. Receptive as a valley. Clear as a glass of water.
“Do you have the patience to wait till the mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things.” ~Tao Te Ching
The ancient masters were great. Modern masters are just as great. We all have the potential to become a spiritual master. But it won’t happen just because we want it to. It also won’t happen if we do nothing. The spiritual masters are hard-working and sacrifice much that others hold dear. But in sacrificing much, they gain a lot more.
The Wisdom of Spiritual Masters
The wisdom of the masters is unfathomable because it is not earthly wisdom, material wisdom. Being spiritual in nature, it is wisdom that the brain-mind cannot really understand. Only the soul can understand it. That is why the first task of the spiritual student is to awaken the spirit and soul using the light of the spiritual sun.
Attributes of the Spiritual Masters
The Tao Te Ching is correct in saying the attributes and wisdom of the masters can only be described allegorically. That is because we have no words to describe that level of truth and wisdom.
So allegorically speaking, a spiritual master is as careful as someone walking on ice. His means that she makes no move without thinking about it first. Not only does a master consider the immediate effects of his thoughts and action, but also long-term effects. Few of us do that, but it is a wise habit to develop.
The master is alert. He doesn’t have “accidents” because he pays attention to what is going on around him on all levels. The master isn’t surprised because he understands cause and effect. He is spontaneous, yet also a planner because he knows what effect actions will have.
Fluid and Shapable Master
An odd choice of words, I think, to say a spiritual master is as fluid as melting ice and as malleable as wood. As someone who took woodworking classes in high school, I can say that shaping wood is not that easy.
The point being made is that the spiritual master is flexible and adaptable. When the situation changes, he adapts to it. He can blend in without difficulty. As new truths are revealed to her, she is able to absorb it and act accordingly. They can work with people of any religion, nationality, race, or political party.
We all know that patience is a virtue. It is even more so for he spiritual master or spiritual student. When the quote asks if we have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water is clear it means hat we must have the patience to wait until the time is right to do some things. Everything operates in cycles, waves. If we try to do something during the down side of the wave, we will be fighting against nature and not likely to progress. So the spiritual master waits until the time is right to do something. And when progress is slow, he doesn’t get upset or disappointed. He is happy just to be moving in the right direction, no matter chow slowly. Even during those down cycles when he moves back a little, he doesn’t quit. He just patiently waits for the cycle to start up again.