I love this one, and it’s one I have problems doing myself.
Who are the wise? They are those trusted souls who have walked before us. They might be elders in our family or communities. They can be authors of books. They could be our mentors, teachers, or spiritual leaders. Maybe even one of our friends is especially wise. Many of the people around us have struggled with the same questions or tried some version of a similar task or quest. All we have to do is reach out and ask, “How did you do it? What was your experience? What did you learn?”
And that’s the part I struggle with. I am so independent that I too often forget to consult the wise ones around me. I storm forward. I ask for forgiveness, never for permission. This kind of boldness and initiative is often a blessing. I am rarely stymied by others’ opinions of my abilities. My courage muscles are well flexed. But this kind of independence can be a weakness too, as I have to learn the hard way. I also deprive the people around me of being more intimately involved in my life. I miss out on the wisdom of the wise in my life.
Consulting the wise can bring perspective and sometimes that perspective isn’t what I want to hear. I don’t want to ask permission, because what if the response is No? What if the wise tell me to wait? As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more receptive and open to reaching out to others for advice and assistance. I have cultivated relationships with many people whom I trust and respect, and who have a wealth of diverse experiences. I know I have much to learn from them, and I trust that they love who I am.
At its core, this Maxim is yet another one reminding us the value of listening (to ourselves, to our gods, to each other) and of interdependence. We need each other. And I definitely need to be reminded to consult the wise more often than I do!