Saturday, October 28, 2023

The Seven Stone Path

After teaching world philosophy, religion, and mythology for 33 years, I thought it
was time to write a book. Lots of people do it, I thought to myself, how hard could it be?

            Fourteen years and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears later, it’s done. The Seven Stone Path: An Everyday Journey to Wisdom (Balboa Press, 2023) is available now wherever fine books are sold.

            The book is built around a simple image—seven stepping-stones that form a path to wisdom. The seven stones are acceptance, surrender, engagement, allowance, enjoyment, love, and integration.

            But first we have to explore the word wisdom. What is it? Why do we need it? How do we get it? When we look at ancient sources we come away with the realization that wisdom is not a set of specific doctrines or logical explanations. In fact, wisdom might be content-free. Wisdom is a way of being in the world rooted in honest humility and the admission of ignorance. Only when we say “I don’t know” can real wisdom emerge.

            The wisdom of acceptance, whether through the lens of Buddhism or Stoicism, counsels us to say yes to our current conditions. By practicing acceptance, we are released from the suffering that results from clinging to our opinions, resentments, and judgments. But acceptance does not mean rolling over and playing dead. Quite the contrary. As we’ll see, meaningful action can only arise from accepting things the way they are.

            The wisdom of surrender means moving even deeper in the realization that we are not in charge. By aligning our mind, body, and soul with the wider currents moving through and around us—Dao, Brahman, God, or Spirit—we tap into an organizing energy far more real than our fear-addled ego.

            The wisdom of engagement, rooted deep in acceptance and surrender, moves us into the field of action where, by the melding of our courage and intention, we rise into our rightful place in the necessary work of creating beauty, facilitating justice, and serving others.

            The wisdom of allowance draws us into an even deeper understanding of right action. From Daoist sources and the voices of the world’s mystics we learn how to wield our talents in deeply fluid alignment with the energies already unfolding around us.

            The wisdom of enjoyment reminds us that alongside life’s necessary suffering, it is also our birthright to experience and embody joy. There is beauty and delight everywhere we turn, and missing that robs us of life’s greatest truths and treasures.

            The wisdom of love take us all the way down into the primal oneness of all matter, energy, and consciousness. In the final analysis, our lives are not our own. The universe, or God, has taken form as us, and the longing we feel for truth, beauty, God, and one another is God’s longing for God.

            And finally, the wisdom of integration lifts us across all paradox into Rumi’s field “out past all ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,” where “the world is too full to talk about.” Beyond all contradictions, where words fail us, there lies a final unity, and when we have our being there, wisdom wells up through the cracks of our everyday lives like holy water.

            The Seven Stone Path is made by walking. No one can walk it for us. But we can walk it together.


Find The Seven Stone Path: An Everyday Journey to Wisdom on Amazon or wherever you like to buy books. 

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