Monday, 29 March 2021

Thoughts about a learner

People used to call me occasionally to argue over some of my opinions expressed in my blog. Usually I do not post controversial blogs, for I prefer a moderate and diplomatic way of persuasion. Do not misunderstand me, persuasion is the ultimate aim of all writers. Nobody speaks only for the sake of making sounds. All writers wish to persuade someone with their ideas. That is their legacy.

So, naturally, there will be people who refuse to be persuaded by my ideas. Some others may even rebel against me. They may call via phone or drop an email, shouting and arguing. I understand it. It is an acknowledgement that the ideas I present are disturbing someone somewhere.  And the success of your ideas and dreams is that it disturb. Socrates disturbed his society with questions that they could not answer. So when they could not answer him, they killed him to stop all questions. But the questions he asked are still alive. Jesus Christ was crucified because he disturbed the society.

Disturbing someone or something makes your existence real. So I am happy even when I hear someone arguing and shouting against the ideas I presented in a blog.

But the interesting factor in these events is that, all of them pose themselves as learners. The conversation often starts with something like this: I would like to learn more about the ideas your presented. Or they may start by a very learner friendly attitude saying, I would like to know more. But as the conversation progress, I realize that they are the angry mob. Mob is right in democracy but not in the truth realm.

From my past experiences with these angry learners, I have noted 4 characteristics of a good learner. The first characteristic is that, a good learner realize that, their understanding so far is insufficient or defective. Without this realization, no one will seek truth. Learning is a search for truth, it is not an affirmation of truth. Learning is different from the examination a student face. Examination is an antithesis of learning. A learner is a seeker of truth. His search never ends. Knowledge is like a road that leads to another. There is neither an end nor a fulfilment for a true traveler. He will find no finishing point to stop his journey. Even death is another road for him to another unexplored world.

A student who studies for an examination is not a leaner. He is not a seeker of truth. The end of his journey is fixed before he starts it. His ways have a dead end. Examination is a dead end for a student. It does not promote learning. Examinations unripely cuts off the learner is a person.

A learner is not a dissatisfied or unquenched seeker of knowledge, but he is a person who realize that is understanding so far is insufficient of partial. He is a seeker of the truth, because truth is never partial. Truth is never revealed in bits and parts. Truth is never divided. The partial knowledge is only a partial understanding of the whole. It is not a part of the truth, it is only a partial understanding of the truth. Our understanding is partial, not the truth. Truth is understood fully or not understood at all. Partial knowledge is not partial truth, it is ignorance of the truth.

This realization is the first and foremost understanding of a learner. He starts learning from here. His search begins from this magnificent realization. But not all humans realize this condition and so not all become a learner. Some frogs find comfort in a pond, some others dare not go out to the unknown world and some others believe that all except the pond is wrong and fancy. A few jumps out daring their life. And the bright warm sun and the green fabulous nature lead them to the truth. A learner should dare to leave his comfort and jump out. Knowledge is attractive, satisfying, fulfilling but dangerous also.

Once you realize that our understanding is incomplete and defective, we wish to learn. For learning we need a teacher. In Indian context, we need a Guru. A Guru is a resource for learning more. Guru teaches us not new things but reveals more knowledge. A good Guru is a revealer. He is a leader who leads us to the green pasture of fresh knowledge. He never feed us, but helps us to feed ourselves. He identifies safe zones and stands guard to protect us from going astray. A Guru is a light in the darkness who shows the safe way. He is not the way we should travel. Only a Guru can lead us to a better understanding.

So a learner is a person who seeks a Guru to learn more. A Guru is a spiritual authority. No learner learns anything without accepting the authority of a Guru. Seeking a Guru is seeking and accepting an authority. Authority is like an umbrella which protect us from rain and sun. The umbrella does not stop the rain or the heat of the sun. It protects only those who comes under it. It never invites, never attracts, but always receive and provide protection.              

A guru walks before us with a lamp in his hand. He has gone before through this way. He has experienced the way before us. He has found it safe and correct. He always says, follow. A learner should follow him. Still he has the freedom to reject and turn away. A true learner always follows the light of the Guru.

A Guru never comes to our way. Because he never steps into ignorance. He cannot leave his world of knowledge. A learner or a seeker of knowledge should find him, meet him where he is and follow him.

Without a Guru, a spiritual authority, none learns anything.

Only those who follow a Guru learns. Following is leaving the present and moving forward to the certainty. The way may be tough and harsh. It may be long and weary. You may feel lonely and foolish. But we reach no new destinations without moving forward. A step forward is a step near to our aim. Moving forward is gaining knowledge. Standing firm is continuity in ignorance. Dreams are sold everywhere, but the fulfilment of it is available only at the finishing point.  

The fourth characteristic of a learner is that he is ready to accept new knowledge. Knowledge undergoes a never ending process of mutation. Nothing static is knowledge, knowledge always transforms itself in to new shape and size.  So finding and accepting new knowledge is like conquering unknown empires. New knowledge is never the old one. It is never a repetition. It may not be even a better version of the old one. A new knowledge is always new. Everything new is startling, amazing, shocking, unexpected and disruptive. A learner must be ready for it. He must be willing to acknowledge that all his past understandings were partial. All what he has been thinking, talking and working was only elementary.

At the same time, a learner is not at all ashamed of his past assumptions. Because everything has an old foundation. New is new built on the old foundation of rudiments. They may look unattractive. But as we learn more, we realize the strength of the rudimentary foundations. What we have learned is important in what we are going to learn.  

But though the river is the same, it is new always and everywhere. None dips twice in the same river. It a beginning, a middle, a continuity but not an end. It is old and new. It is disruptive and calm. It is attractive and dangerous. Still, it is the life source. Without it none can live. And those who live without are the dead.


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