Why is it that, when I’m a self-proclaimed lifelong learner, I’m impatient with how long it takes to assimilate a lesson into actual practice?
It’s easy to answer that question knowing that there’s hardly anyone among us who can put up with waiting. We want everything right now, fast---fast food, fast cars, fast lanes. No one knows how to wait. We want to learn the lesson now.
Unfortunately, I’m no exception.
Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s something I can add in my list of lessons to learn if I sincerely take lifelong learning as a career.
What guidelines do I need to consider in taking lifelong learning as a path?
1. The question is more important than the answer
2. Respect for the learning process
3. The more advanced the student, the more difficult the lesson
4. I am already who I need to be
The Question is More Important than the Answer.
It’s been said that questions open while answers close. This sounds correct. When there is a question, there is an urge to find an answer or to move to a resolution. Once the answer is obtained, things settle down. No further movement needs to be taken. And if we don’t move to the next question, rigidity settles in. It is not man’s or the universe’s nature to be static. Everything is changing. Man’s dynamism is only being in harmony with an ever-changing universe.
Man’s quest for the next question is only in accord with the way the universe works---each moment expanding to accommodate more changes through cycles of birth and death.
Respect for the Learning Process
Whatever courtesy and respect I can extend toward myself is the same respect and courtesy I can manage to extend towards the world, to the people I meet in my life. The same is true for love. That is why love, compassion and respect for oneself are important lessons we can teach to our children.
These attitudes are very important attitudes to apply in the learning process as well, a sacred process we could consider as dealing with the “unexplained everything”:
“What is the way to be in this unexplained everything? Watchful like being in turbulent water. Alert like being in danger. Courteous like being a guest. Yielding as melting ice. Primal as uncarved block. Receptive as the valley. –Ray Grigg”
Life like learning is a sacred process worthy of an attitude of yielding from us.
Whenever we see a Yield road sign, we can’t but yield lest we expose ourselves to the danger of colliding with another vehicle. If we refuse to yield to life’s lessons, we will just end up in colliding with the consequences and bumping into the same experiences over and over.
We are as individuals sacred as the learning process. We also need to yield to the demands of our own learning style and pace.
The More Advanced the Student, the More Difficult the Lesson
I have heard this several times before: that the higher one goes through the spiritual levels, the more difficult the lessons become. Another version of this principle could be: “When the student is ready, the teacher arrives”, with the “teacher” being a metaphor for the lesson.
I don’t think this idea applies only to isolated cases. It is evident even in the animal kingdom. Initially, the bird’s young is concerned with learning how to fly and fend for itself. Eventually, it learns to fend for an entire family. Which has a parallel in human life. We are taught life skills to enable us to learn to fend for ourselves, then to later move on to fending for a family.
Thus it’s been said that we need to be careful what we wish or pray for. If we pray to become more spiritual, we are given more difficult spiritual lessons after we have successfully learned the previous ones.
If we fail to understand the lesson, the experience returns, cycling over and over in our lives until we get the gist of the lesson.
Should this now scare us to change our minds about seeking after spiritual truths in our life? If we’re depending entirely on our own strength, I guess it should.
If you’ve come to the point of believing that there is an Almighty Loving God (e.g. Universe, Energy, Power, whatever term you may personally be inclined to use) looking after all the details of all your life, your needs, moment by moment, you will learn to trust that you will be just fine going from one lesson to the next.
This is a recurring theme for me: I tend to carry the burden alone. I end up with so much stress---so little time with so much work to do. Relief comes in the next experience only if I remember to turn my burden over to my loving God/beneficent universe. I don’t know. Somehow, the tasks get done seemingly with ease and by themselves.
I am Already Who I Need To Be
The new perspective from modern day spiritual thinkers is that we are already who we need to be in each present time and place. And that we lack nothing. We are given what we need whenever we need it. It is just our conditioned mind (i.e. to scarcity mentality) that gives us the impression that we always have to struggle to be who we are not, have what we don’t, do what we can’t.
We only need to be who we are already. We only need to do what needs to be done. A lot of us constantly strain about thinking of chores they have to attend to at some future date, instead of being fully present to what to be attended to at the moment. This takes the focus and thus effectiveness away from the present activity and adds the burden of stress to it coming from the thought of a future than cannot be presently attended to.
If I am already who I need to be, what’s the use of being a lifelong learner? Understanding that, although I am already who I need to be, as each moment arrives, as each day arises, a new lesson is presented, being a lifelong learner could be the only way to find fulfillment in the world.
A boring life could turn into one of adventure.
In the journey of lifelong learning, we must trust the process, without concern for end results.
We must also have a respect for our own learning style and pace and let this be our guide in conducting ourselves reciprocally in this world:
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