The Art of Learning

In his twilight years, in a bid to spruce up his spiritual life, my father started attending discourses by a renowned swami ji (Spiritual Guru). During the course of time after a few interactions, the two came closer & a strong bond of mutual trust developed between the two.

Once, for the spiritual benefit of all our family members, my father invited swami ji to our home, to which he reluctantly agreed. Although, initially we were awe struck by his personality but soon the atmosphere melted into an informal chat. Seeking to extract the intended benefit of this meeting, my father asked swami ji to sprinkle a few drops of holy wisdom on us through his words, so that we could also learn from his spiritual experiences.

As we alerted our minds for a deep spiritual talk, swami ji gave us a brain-teasing surprise when he told that learning does not always necessitate running to special places & special gurus.”If you keep an open mind you can learn all the time, at all the places, in all the situations”, said swami ji.

“In fact”, he said “you can even learn from this inanimate, rotating fan”, pointing his finger up towards the ceiling fan. Before our minds could waste his precious time in peeling off the mystic layers from over his powerful words, he deliberated further, implying that in the spiritual context even a rotating fan can make your mind delve into motion; dynamism; action; performance; providing relief; obeying the master and so forth & so on.   learn21

In short & simple words, swami ji made us realize about the endless ways of learning, if we leave the doors of our mind open to let wisdom flow in.

What is learning? Learning is the pursuit of understanding the unknown & refining the known. In our formative years we learn from our parents, teachers, peers, mentors & guides. Once we are through with our formal education, we ourselves have to explore other channels to keep learning. Learning at a different mental level, much beyond the conventional education & vocational courses, requires a more alert & open mind to look for the right meanings in all kinds of situations.

The story of Robert Bruce & the spider is well known to millions of people. Robert Bruce has been understood to have learnt from the perseverance of the spider that failed in six attempts but succeeded in the seventh. Getting motivated, King Bruce also made a seventh vigorous attempt & won the battle. Robert Bruce learnt about perseverance by keenly watching the antics of the spider. But how many of the millions, who have read this story, remember about perseverance when it is really required in real life?

If you keep an open & unbiased mind, you would be able to permit the free flow of thoughts into your mind while you are listening to others, reading books & periodicals, watching other human beings & creatures, observing the bounties of nature and other happenings on the planet & the universe. These unbiased thoughts would be accompanied by new tips to be learnt & understood.

A close observation of the green leaves of a tree would reveal a different character of every leaf in terms of its construction & color. You may even get surprised at the variety of greens unfolded by nature. Once you recognize this your mind would start exploring other varieties of natural colors. The process of learning would continue.

There are, thus, endless ways to learn more. Nature, in fact, has been very generous in showing the ways to explore & learn about the unknown. Throwing an apple from the tree in front of Newton’s eyes was one of those ways. The waves in the oceans, the clouds in the sky, the lightening & the thunder, the twinkling stars, the dew on the grass, the breeze & the storms, the birds flying, the fish swimming, the fire through friction are some of the modes nature has used to teach certain lessons to the observing & curious human minds.

Learning, therefore, is an art to be mastered consciously with keen observation. The more we learn, the more we seek. Our mental faculties grow, making us richer with the wealth of wisdom. One of my relatives, who is nourishing an alert mind in a comparatively old body, once remarked, “We don’t grow old, it is only that when we stop growing we become old.”

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