You learn something new every day.
This is not just some cliché phrase, it’s literally true. Some things we learn are huge and life changing, but most are minute and easy to overlook.
One of the greatest joys of life is that there is always something new to be learned. Because there is always something new to learn, virtually no situation is impossible or irreparable. We simply may be lacking in the necessary knowledge.
Learning is often tied in with change. As we learn new things, we change our opinions, we change our technologies, our lives shift. It is as inevitable as change itself, so it’s no surprise learning and change are linked.
One of the oddest things about people is our paradoxical resistance to change and desire to change. We get comfortable with the world as it is, and dislike change. Yet, at exactly the same time, we want to be happier, healthier, more centered, and that is a product of change.
Controlled change versus uncontrolled change.
While this is not a black and white, either/or concept, change generally happens in these two forms. Controlled change, when we make choices like new jobs, new diets, new relationships and such. Uncontrolled change is not in our hands, involves things like natural disasters, being dumped by a lover, getting fired from our jobs, breaking bones and being unable to exercise, and so forth.
Most people seek changes in their lives. Some huge, some small, some subtle and some drastic. In order to make changes, we usually have to learn something. Examples of this include new dietary techniques, new job skills, new exercise routines, etc.
I suspect that because change can be so scary, and change is tied to learning, that this is where the current anti-intellectualism streak we’re seeing comes from. All these new ideas we have available to us signify change, and people fearing change resist. This partially explains science deniers, because science is all about learning and learning leads to change.
This is where choice is important. When we choose to change, we increase our knowledge and learn more. When we resist it, we still learn something, but it might not be the lesson we think it is.
Knowing can be a dangerous thing.
Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more tools we have available to us. One of my first self-help/spiritual reads was Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. While it’s an excellent introduction to Zen practices, it also makes some interesting statements about learning and knowledge. For example, “We should not hoard knowledge; we should be free from our knowledge.” This might be open to interpretation, but I view it this way: what we know is not set in stone, we should always be open to knowing more.
We live in a society where people mistake demagogues for the wise. The “knowledge” they impart has no basis in fact, but they claim to “know” things. While I do not like to get political in this blog, the perfect example is climate change. Science has shown us that mankind is effecting climate change in an unnatural way, but many of our leaders prefer to ignore science for their own “beliefs” on the topic. They “know” better.
While I know a lot of things, most, if not all, are open to reexamination. Because there are new things to learn, what I know today is probably going to be different from what I will know tomorrow.
Recognizing that knowing is ever-changing is a part of learning. When we recognize this, we can choose to learn things in order to take control of change.
Wisdom is learning, not knowing.
The use of the words “I know” frequently close us off from change. In especial when we take them as truth from outside influences without giving them a thorough examination. The primary notion of Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is that the “beginner” is always learning. We gain experience, we gain knowledge, but so long as we keep our minds open like the beginner, we continue to learn and grow. The wisdom of Zen practice is knowing that there is plenty you don’t know.
Stating “I know” with absolute certainty when it comes to self-actualization can be empowering, however. Statements of this nature include I know I am amazing and I know I am the conscious creator of my reality and I know I am worthwhile and I know I am loving and lovable and such. This is not conceit, its self-awareness. Saying “I know” in this context is a matter of defining the self in positive, generative terms.
It has been long argued that human beings use only a fraction of our mental capabilities. True or not, we can still conceive of and create amazing, incredible things that we have not created before. Ergo, new learnings. Only a hundred years ago global communications, computer technology, transatlantic flight and other modern conveniences were almost unimaginable. But here we are, a century later, and look what all we have learned? Science fiction postulates faster-than-light interstellar travel and other fantastical notions; but who’s to say we won’t learn these things in time?
Learning is joy.
I love to learn new things. I also love to share the things I have learned with others. This is why I write these posts, this is why I teach fencing, this is why I read self-help and spiritual books. I love to learn, and there is always something new to be discovered and revealed and shared.
The world is pretty big. The solar system is bigger. Larger still is the galaxy. On the same scale, the Universe is nearly infinite. Great or small, there is always something new to learn, always experiences to be had. Pathwalking is choosing to learn, to grow, to effect change for ourselves.
Every single day I learn something new. This is what excites me most about life. Everything new I learn opens up possibilities. Consciousness creates reality, so there is always learning to be had.
What did you learn today?
This is the two-hundred eighty-ninth entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas for and my personal experiences with walking along the path of life. I share this journey as part of my desire to make a difference in this world along the way.
Thank you for joining me. Feel free to re-blog and share.
The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available here.
If you enjoy Pathwalking, you may also want to read my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.