A stirring scene of activity in nature – swaying trees and above a cloudy sky, penetrated by streaks of light and flashes of lightning signalling an imminent gale. Against this backdrop of seeming conflict and order in the cosmos, an abbreviated visage of a wizened old human probes the abstracted space, shrouded in deep blue dye, with spurts of white and purple colours.
This flicker of mystery illustrates the cover of Charles Ayodeji Dada’s book, The Sage, whose title features in a strip of lighter blue in flaming colours at the bottom. This enigmatic cover illustration presages what the book really is all about: a revelatory quest, a fathoming of the mysteries and complexity of the cosmos and perceived contradictions in human existence!
At the same time, however, the cover raises a puzzle as to which literary genres the book belongs. At a casual glance it looks a novel; but deeper contemplation of its features and title may tempt the reader to classify it among the esoteric, theological or even philosophical order.
But the book is neither! Interrogating its 172 pages, the reader is confronted with a unique kind of writing that probably defies strict compartmentalisation in terms of disciplinary approach, form and style! In it, the author, Ayo Dada, with a superb blend of interesting episodic tales and poetry serves deep insights and invaluable lessons that clears up many questions about life and existence, preferring the elixir for a God-willed happy, harmonious and successful life here on earth and in the hereafter.
He examines the universe of problems and issues hindering humanity from already achieving and enjoying this idyllic within the context of prevailing ignorance, superficial belief, willful distortion and/or rejection of certain basic spiritual truths and principles, which, according to him, undergird creation and are responsible for all that happens within it. The resultant misconceptions about them has devalued and divested these spiritual principles and codes of their glorious and simple naturalness, a correct understanding and proper use of which would otherwise have been a blessing to the world!
In a volume covering 100 topics divided into two sections, Ayo Dada tries to clear up some of the erroneous notions as well as light up new paths that could guide diverse aspects of human lives, using wit, drama, and an uncanny logic emanating from the pronouncements and events involving a Wise Teacher, and his band of students around which the stories are woven.
The anecdotes, starring the Sage in encounters with his devotees or some other persons in the community, form a channel for giving explanations and wise counsels on various phenomena as well as cryptic issues of life and in the existing bodies of spiritual knowledge. The stories further depict human frailties and foibles on which the Sage runs salient commentaries oftentimes underscoring their spiritual significance and implications. The language is exceedingly simple, lucid, lyrical and picturesque, conveying cinematic images of the characters and events that appear to almost leap out of the pages.
The reader is encouraged, or perhaps, compelled to meditate or review his hitherto-held opinions on many a subject matter in light of simple, logically compelling and irrefutable truths, (sometimes revolutionary in nature), given as hints, well-meant advice or a times delivered with ruthless candour, even while the reader’s desire for some comic relief and literary entertainment is gratified with an uncanny display of wit!
Perhaps, the parallel that could be found to The Sage in literary history is Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. But, while the two books share a common thematic preoccupation, that is, focussing on the ecclesiastical or spiritual state of humanity of their times, as well as a similarity in the use of storytelling, poetry, and satire in their styles, The Sage exudes a distinctly transcendental moral tone and is utterly devoid of the earthy and the ribald that characterized its Elizabethan sibling to a large degree.
The verses come in capsule doses –short, sharp, concise, succinct, and in measured pace and tempo that thrust the messages into you with such power and force that leave the effect of the dissolving contents lingering in lively, vivid images.
The book demonstrates the folly and harm of religious bigotry, frivolity, vanity, hypocrisy, presumptuousness, overcultivation of the human intellect, neglect and consequent degeneration of the human intuitive faculty and stresses why fellowship, union, unity, forgiveness, atonement and liberation the true meanings of which it unpacks among other things are necessary within the context of the spiritual underpinnings. Also, it offers the reader deeper appreciation of some concepts beyond the common meaning hitherto ascribed to them.
Among these are: good and evil, prayer, miracles, leadership, womanhood, materialism, love and marriage, trust in relationships. The revelations elicit an epiphany… a joyful consciousness of the true value of these concepts that prompts one to want to voluntarily adjust all one’s thinking, attitude, conduct and habits accordingly so as to maximally profit from them in the experiencing. A sampler: “On getting to a TEE Junction, the Sage and his devotees pondered which way to turn// Consciously taking a close look at the ground, one of the devotees logically reasoned// ‘A great number of the footprints point left// This route should lead to the healing waters!’// The Sage spoke his truth quietly:// ‘It’s a sound observation no doubt.// But hundreds of years of world history have irrefutably proven… that the majority have always gone astray!” (Footprints)