Life is a series of decisions made on choices. Choices are made available by opportunities. Learning creates opportunities. Quality of our life is an index of our learning. Relatively, ‘Learning’ is among the easiest phenomenon. But it is arduous to put it into action. It is in understanding of this that most of us fail and hence the entire implementation of the new learning fails.
Newer learning means to unlearn first. Past conditioning of the mind requires to slowly shrivel to pave a way for new a learning to begin. In all action learning process there is agony involved. Agony comes while trying to destroy status quo by all means.
What is status quo? It is a comfort feeling that mind brings itself to rely upon built upon a set of fortified ideas. This initially provides for our well being. It is good, but only ephemeral. Status quo is also ego. Getting familiar to surroundings, mind builds its own support apparatus and with it is associated the entire transaction of the mind. When this is transgressed, mind feels vulnerable and its existing thought process and functioning is threatened. So, mind reacts. This is how stiff ego functions. To lunge forward in learning, ego requires to be made supple or diminished. Better yet eliminated. Only then the novel learning begins.
When it is required to tread into unfamiliar ground or uncharted waters, more and more it calls for unlearning or undoing of the conditioning of the mind. Here ‘experience’ is in itself ‘inexperience’. Along with ego lie pockets of past experience as poignant memories as both happy and unhappy. It is these experiences, which are primarily responsible for modulating human response system to any given stimuli. One can give it a try by closing eyes and bringing to ones mind ones own reactions and see how ones ego acts. If this is difficult, then one may try to bring someone else to the fore of the mind. This is easier. It is difficult to observe ourselves, for our ego makes it difficult to see our own self owing to ‘narcissistic’ character which is inherent in all beings. Narcissistic nature is one like a constant reminder of our well-being. When this is over done then the problem starts. ‘No one can be as smart as I am’ is the essential nature of narcissi. This is also responsible for bringing complacence. Hence, status quo. Hence, torpor. This demon exists in all of us and our entire intellectual system is built upon this. Our rational is built upon this. Our reasoning relies on this. It is for this reason that overcoming complacence and putting learning into action is very difficult. Therefore, before starting to understand the process of learning it is better to understand the truer purpose of learning and the obstacles involved. This is the most difficult task. On beginning to envision what the true and absolute purpose of learning is, it becomes easier and easier. But this does not mean that paths to be treaded become any less thorny. In fact it becomes more and more thorny. Then, what makes it easy? ‘Aspiration’. Aspiration of the human’s spirit to bring more and more order into world. It is minds strive to lessen the strife, which brings in tremendous energy to overcome the constricting obstacles. This makes it easy. Also, learning registers newer and newer things to mind and thereby enlarges the conscious boundary. And, propelled by Aspiration mind becomes insatiable.
As time goes by world order will only get more and more complex and it will require a different means to approach, grapple and manage it. The process of trying to bring order into the world will be a ceaseless process. Mind grappling with this will only evolve more and more and will come in terms with ever-changing and intriguing mind matter phenomenon. It will be a ‘journey from conscious to super conscious’. But again, learning alone is not much of help. For we live in community and it requires team learning. Furthermore, analytical based learning will not be very fruitful. Dissecting a problem with incisive mind is good. But better than that is ‘synthesis’. Building up and taking a holistic look. It is at the state of Brahma (holistic view) or ‘Catholic’ (all encompassing) that we can observe and discern harmony from chaos.
So what are the ways of learning? As Krishna puts it across to Arjuna in the midst of chaos ridden war as related in Bhagavat Gita. First and foremost it is to clear mind by going through a catharses process. This could be either inbound or outbound. Meditative process is inbound. In the western world more of outbound exercises are employed. This is also very good. Any healthy process, which helps one in getting rid of negativity in mind, is the first step. Along with negativity lurk very strong animal instincts. These were useful in the past, millions off years back. But not now. Now, mind is traveling to super conscious and super cosmic world. Animal feelings have to be got ridden off through fierce determination. These instincts make us feel vulnerable and hence tamper with our growth. There are many catharsis processes. And, all of these are self-discovery sort. One can only be showed the path and it is required for one to experience it by oneself.
After the clogs of web clear the mind only then does the feeling of vulnerability recede. Then yearning to enlargen the human spirit douses the mind. Also, most importantly, at this state mind becomes objective, leading to studying the environment and its stimuli and its reaction to it. Objectivism will make mind to overcome the natural response-stimuli system and brings mind to act instead of reacting. This unbridling process is ‘KarmaYoga’ (process of converting reactive instincts into harmonious action). It is through teaching this essence that Krishna brings enlightenment in Arjuna. Stephen Covey called this pro-activeness and objectiveness while postulating ‘begin with an end in mind’ .The final outcome of learning makes one to empathize with the other who could not overcome this traverse filled path. It is for this reason that Lord Jesus Christ says while being crucified “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. It is worth taking a moment to envision the circumstances under which Lord Jesus brought learning into action. He was subjected to excruciating pain through gruesome torture and his spirits were exasperated. Only a feeble mind was available to him to think and operate. Out of this he put tremendous learning into action. This is what makes him divine. This is what is the hallmark of learning. Only by displaying our harmonious actions, i.e. converting learning into action, that we can help others to learn. It took manifold centuries for one to take notice of what Lord Jesus Christ was trying to say. And, even now it is much misunderstood, as much as Hinduism is. Ritualism or symbolic display (in other words brandishing) is in itself negativity and index of how unlearned we are. Buddha tried bringing this knowledge to us. But owing to our inability to overcome status quo we exported him and fell back to ritualistic methods. Falling back or status quo is one of the biggest devils in the learning process. Now, Zen is making rounds. And, China remains conquered from past 20 centuries by Buddha’s teaching. Last but not the least, it is worth mentioning that Vivekananda once recounted that sequential based learning which filled his mind with just more and more information proved to be useless, for the prevailing education system which has been designed on basis of ‘learning by rote’ provides not one class or subject on the development of the mind. What good use is any heap of information when the instrument that forges on the information, which is mind, is not honed. When we have a good strong mind based on a certain character, only then we can know on what subject to become objective and forge on those information which matters to us the most. This makes our actions very purposeful and only then truer and truer aspiration will arise in us.
Never in history has there ever been a movement of self determination on mass scale on the path of non-violence, as led by Mahatma Gandhi. This was not just self-learning and putting it into action, this was action learning on a scale of the society. Outcome was a country to be secular and democratic. Country, which stands, united with all its diversity. So many disparaging elements come together to form a harmonic tapestry of the country. It remains to be seen in future if this learning sustains. History will certainly be worth going back to if there are some cultural values to be imbibed. Finding divine inspiration from the non-violent teachings of Gandhi, another young man Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (fondly called as Frontier Gandhi) set out a non-violent struggle in Afghanistan against then British tyranny in the Indian subcontinent.
After knowing what learning is and what is the process of learning, one may begin to wonder where can one go to learn? Is one predestined? If yes, then what is the use of building new learning apparatus? At which place in human can one reach to unlock the inner reservoir? Am I predestined and what are my real inner purpose and ability? Am I born to be a pilot, priest, writer, mechanical engineer, software engineer, biologist etc.? A program experienced and devised by a French priest Fr.Andre Rochias is available as an attempt to answer these intrigues. Program is called ‘Who Am I’. This is an empirical program, which all can attempt. While designing this program, anthropology, psychoanalysis, spiritualism, psycho-pedagogy, rationalism etc, have all been taken into account. And it is a divine experience to know oneself wholesomely, while coming out of status quo defeating atrophy. This also helps in unlocking the past suffering and pains hidden in the subconscious mind, which are primarily responsible for our unconscious actions and reactions. Which in turn enables one to live much in the open with congruent values. When one is revealed of oneself by ones own effort of plumbing deep into the mind, there is no ecstasy or any exuberance feeling, It is just like taking a good square look at oneself. This program transcends all human barriers, such as religion, caste, creed, etc. It is purely Spiritual. And, what is Spirituality? Ability to develop that faculty in mind, which can bring itself to comprehend the nuances in nature, which otherwise cannot be comprehended by bringing together all our sense-intelligence functionality.
More information is available at site http://www.prh-international.com/.Program is also available at Bangalore in India.
Interesting books for reading are ‘Fifth Discipline’ and ‘Dance of Change’ by Peter Senge. These two works by Peter Senge deals with learning processes, learning organisations and also a bit with ushering of spirituality to workplace. ‘Road Less Traveled’ by Dr. Scot Peck will also prove to be very resourceful in the learning process. One among the most precious to hone our learning abilities is Bhagavat Gita, provided religious connotation is kept at bay as prescribed in it. Plus ” Persons and Their Growth”, by PRH (this is culmination and continuation of the works of Fr.Andre Rochias. More information on this is available at http://www.prh-international.com/html/our_book.html.