Updated: Jun 8, 2020
All great leaders have one common trait. They are possessed by insatiable curiosity and keep on learning throughout their lives. They are all prolific readers.
Our current social and schooling systems, the product of organised religion and industrialisation are designed to produce identical thinking cogs, to fit into society. As a result, individuality is seriously threatened if not destroyed.
Whether we realise it or not every human being has tremendous potential. All creatures simply are, only humans have the potential to become and evolve into something.
All awakening begins with an enquiring mind. If we consider life as a series of challenges, then 'every battle is won, before it is fought', in our minds and in our hearts.
If the mind is open and sincere the battle is half won, the other half comes from sincerity in implementation. Success requires, as a precondition the individual's desire to learn and evolve.
Simply learning tricks on how to be rich, powerful and influential quickly is not evolution, unfortunately we have come to believe them as to be the only measures of success and progress.
Not all of us are fortunate, to be born into families, or find ourselves in an environment that favours awakening. We can also create these opportunities by opening the window of our minds which have been shut by circumstances.
'What the individual can do?'
The first step in learning is 'to know what we do not know, and what we could and should know'. Let me share with you my own experiences.
"Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Our association will mould our character and how our minds open. We were encouraged to meet, discuss, and interact with a wide range of people from all walks of life.
Everyone needs guides, and genuine teachers who mentor the individual to help him or her understand themselves and their own potential. Mentors can be Gurus, relatives, friends or even strangers.
Right from childhood, my father and uncle kept on tasking us, with assignments and challenges, some simple, others fairly demanding, while just giving us very bare information.
This forced us to find solutions on our own and this inculcated within me and my brothers a love for learning.
No wonder our home then and now has always been filled with books, which made us all prolific readers and stoked the fires of learning and not only the habit of enquiry but a way to seek answers on our own.
Our enquiring minds were fed with discussions and debates, within and outside the home, on a wide range of topics. Father and uncle not only indulged us, but facilitated our exposure to a large variety of people and situations. This also expanded our horizon and capacities immensely.
Scientists have found that we remember 70% of what we read and only 30% of what we hear. But mere reading achieves little, unless it impacts us emotionally. Our minds store information and learning by associating them with emotions.
My father and uncle were born in Burma. The outbreak of World War II all but ended their formal education while they were in the 4th grade. This did not stop them from educating themselves to make a great and positive impact in their own lives and those of many others.
It is tragic, that many people do not read,
'A person who can read but does not do so has no advantage over the illiterate person.'
The other factors that help open the mind are
Conversation, yields different perspectives, when we challenge others, or are ourselves, challenged intelligently by ideas, philosophies, style and explanation by them. (Gossip and proclamations, etc. do not constitute useful conversation.)
It is important to listen more not only not to what is said, but what is implied by the unspoken.
“Music is the space between the notes" ~ Claude Debussy
Viewing, observing, working, travelling all lead to experiences and this enrichment in turn opens the windows of our mind. Prejudices, misplaced concepts and approaches all disappear in the light of learning.
These are all very important points, but for sake of brevity, will have to be covered by future articles.
I say, 'We do not stop learning because we grow old, rather we grow old when we stop learning.'
'We have grown arrogant in our ignorance and beliefs. We have aged before we have awoken and the great tragedy is we do not even realise it.'
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