Chapter III, Verse 21
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Whatever the wise man does, that is followed by the multitude. Whatever standard he setteth, by that people go.
With great wisdom comes great responsibility. People seek leaders and follow those examples they admire.
All lasting lessons for the masses are taught by example and experience, not by the intellect. A surgeon can study medical books, memorizing every detail, yet does not develop his practical skills until he follows the example of an experienced surgeon.
Even the chef who tries a new recipe incorporates lessons learned from other chefs in order to ensure success. Following examples combined with the trial and error of personal experience produces knowledge.
For a sincere person who is striving to become a sage, the journey from ignorance to wisdom becomes a balancing act of difficult proportions. Some ancient sages compared it to walking on the sharp edge of a blade.
Each human incarnates for selfish gain and personal experience. The vast majority of humans are clueless beyond following the ego’s desire to “enjoy” life and the animal compulsions for survival like eating, sleeping, procreation, and self-defense.
The aspiring sage suspects that the material life is not what it appears to be, but needs the time and some privacy to learn through personal experimentation. As the zygote of conscious awareness grows within the sage, it attracts the zombie-like following of those who seek to please the senses.
For example, the aspiring sage may decide to try psychedelic drugs like peyote or LSD to “see” another realm. The zombies line up to share in and support this materially binding experience. However, if after a few acid trips the sage decides that strict avoidance of drugs must be practiced for progress, the zombies rebel and may even kill their leader for suddenly turning against their desire.
Leading the undercover life of an aspiring sage is like becoming a chameleon that changes in each environment. The budding sage seeks the flexibility to grow in understanding while making a living in the world. To progress, each person must explore unfamiliar territory.
The zombie masses gladly follow an idiot as often as they follow a wise man. However, the impact followers have on a wise man is much greater their impact on an idiot. With the expansion of consciousness, a wise man becomes his brother’s keeper to a greater degree. So, if a wise man starts a cult that requires weekly use of peyote, for example, his consciousness becomes bound to the actions of his followers. A sage will not progress significantly for as long as he continues to counsel harmful behaviors for others.
If the aspiring sage has any doubt about whether a particular action is helpful or harmful, he can also learn by watching his behaviors reflected in the actions of his followers. The relationship between a leader and his followers is symbiotic. Each helps or hurts the other according to the degree of their understanding.
At some point the aspiring sage learns to embrace the zombie hoards. The undeveloped consciousness of the masses is a material reminder to increase his own efforts at self-discipline. The wise approach to the masses is discussed in the upcoming verse #26 of this chapter. As Mahatma Gandhi eloquently stated, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
No additional notes at this time.
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