You Cannot Learn From Others
You have to find out for yourself …
One of my students mentioned that he was bothered by something he could not understand.
Given that humankind is evolving, how come we have made so little progress in spiritual growth when we have made such revolutionary advances in science and mathematics and medicine and engineering and virtually every field of learning?
A scant hundred years ago Einstein came up with his radical understanding of the universe and formulated the theory of relativity.
Today, a competent undergraduate physics major knows all about it and can work with its implications.
Over the centuries great seers and sages – The Buddha, Lao Tse, Socrates, Jesus, Sankara, Al Ghazali, Maimonides, Ramana Maharshi and many more – have shared their penetrating insights into the nature of reality.
So how come we are still the struggling creatures that we are? Why have we not picked up the insights so generously shared by these giants and moved beyond them?
This is where we run into a fundamental problem on our journey of growth.
In the vast majority of fields, you can learn from others and move further and faster. You don’t have to rediscover what they found.
Thus, if you are a physicist, you know all about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Schrodinger’s Wave Functions while still in college.
But in the field of personal development, you cannot ‘learn’ from others. You have to make the discoveries for yourself and all over again.
You can be helped a little bit by knowledge of what works and what does not but only a tiny bit.
Thus, the Master can tell you about the benefits of meditation, but you have to travel the same path yourself to realize them in your life.
Arnold Schwarzenegger supposedly said that nobody ever built muscles by watching him work out.
So any number of sages have told us about the great illusion we are all stuck in, but their words can only give us some hope and inspiration.
We have to break out of this on our own and not many are ready to put in the effort because the benefits are not clear, and they are distant.
And so we chase our short term pleasures of fame and pelf and power.
And, like Niobe, we weep endlessly.
Good to remember the words of Ram Dass and I am paraphrasing. “The vast majority of persons do not wish to escape from prison. They just want better food.”