We Teach What We Most Want to Learn

So what do you most want to learn?

Are you happy? Do you want to experience peace, joy and freedom? In my experience, these two question are really the same. To misquote Lincoln, ‘People are just as miscible as they make up their mind to be.’

If you want to break free from the old mindset and experience peace, joy and happiness, then perhaps you should consider what it would mean to teach it to others. If that thought grips you with fear–then you should self-diagnose your problem this pithy quote from Robert Louis Stevenson: “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”

How We Learn

  • 10% of what we READ
  • 20% of what we HEAR
  • 30% of what we SEE
  • 50% of what we SEE and HEAR
  • 70% of what is DISCUSSED with OTHERS
  • 95% of what we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE

When you consider how we learn, it makes sense to teach peace, joy and happiness doesn’t it? If you want to experience heaven, perhaps you should stop teaching hell to everyone who crosses your path! As many great spiritual teachers have said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

How does one discipline themselves to a path of peace?

The word “discipline” has a variety of meanings today: field of study, self-control, punishment. The first two are closest to its original meaning. The word derives from the Latin discere, to learn, akin to docere, to teach. The latter gives rise to such words as “docent” and “docile.” According to Webster’s, the primary meaning of docile is “easily taught” and only secondarily did docile come to mean “tractable,” that is “easily managed.” If we remain faithful to its original intent, the goal of discipline would be openness and teachability, not tractability. If you want to know peace–be open to receiving it–then teach others how to do the same thing.

People who do not not experience peace live in chaos. Society has the tendency to place many of those people in prison. Ironically, one place where you find the most open minds is in the jails and prisons.

A culture of teaching peace can also begin in unconventional places. In prisons and juvenile detention facilities in the United States, a curriculum called Solutions to Violence is impacting the incarcerated youths and adults in a positive way. Death Row inmates have begun teaching the class, and graduates proudly display their diploma stating that they have read the likes of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Merton and King. A culture of teaching peace is beginning to take hold in the places reserved for the most violent criminals. Students of peace in any environment can learn the principles of conflict resolution and internalize the messages in Thich Nhat Hanh’s vast literature. –source

In other words, “Freedom is understood best when taught to those willing to learn.”

discere libertas, docere liberi
to learn freedom, teach freedom!

The above Latin phrase implies that “free children” remain free because they are taught to discern what liberty is. Conversely, by teaching freedom the instructor of liberty becomes as free as a child. Why? Because in so doing you become a living example. That is to say, when you are living in liberty, you are simultaneously experiencing the very freedom that you hope to model for others to see. When you open yourself up to encourage others, it is your own heart that is refreshed and blessed.

In this way, when you practice what you preach, you find a greater measure of peace and joy. Remember  it was Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these.” Are we people like these? Do we celebrate liberty in all we do? Jesus wasn’t talking about a belief in heaven when we die (that so many miscible people cling to), rather he was pointing to a very practical example of joy–of heaven on earth.

Start looking at children again, let them be your teacher. Go to the seashore and again start collecting seashells. When a child is collecting seashells, he acts as if he has found a mine of diamonds. So thrilled he is! See a child making sand castles and how absorbed he is, utterly lost, as if there is nothing more important than making sand castles. See a child running after a butterfly…be a child again. Start running after butterflies again. Make sand castles, collect seashells. ~Osho

If my father taught me anything, it was to never, never be bored. Life is so amazing. There is so much to do, see, touch, and taste! Each moment there are surprises. Life is never the same; it is constantly changing, and it takes such unpredictable turns. How can you remain unaffected by the very wonder of it? The only way to remain unaffected is to cling to your past, to your experience, to your knowledge, to your memories, to beliefs, to your mind. In such a state a person cannot see that which is; they are not open, they do not “unspy” and so they go on missing the present. Miss the present and you live in boredom. Live in the now and you will be surprised that there is no boredom at all–it vanishes like vapor from an e-cigarette.

“The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.”
–Erick Hoffer

In Freedom: The Courage to Be Yourself, the author outlines three stages of freedom. The first is “freedom from,” which is a freedom that comes from breaking out of what he calls the “psychological slavery” imposed by outside forces such as parents, society, or religion. The next stage is “freedom for,” a positive freedom that comes from embracing and creating something—a fulfilling relationship, for example, or an artistic or humanitarian vision.

The freedom from something is not true freedom. Freedom from, at the most, can take away your handcuffs. It is not necessarily beneficial — and the whole of history is a proof of it. The freedom to do anything you want is not freedom either, because wanting, desiring to do something, arises out of the mind — and mind is your bondage.

Freedom from is ordinary, mundane. Man has always tried to be free from things. It is not creative. It is the negative aspect of freedom. Freedom for is creativity. You have a certain vision that you would like to materialize and you want freedom for it. Freedom from is always from the past, and freedom for is always for the future. Freedom for is a spiritual dimension because you are moving into the unknown and perhaps, one day, into the unknowable. It will give you wings.

Lastly there is “just freedom,” the highest and ultimate freedom. This last freedom is more than being for or against something; it is the freedom of simply being oneself and responding truthfully to each moment. This last freedom is want Siddhārtha Gautama was teaching–and by teaching it he become the Buddha.

To reach peaceteach peace.”- Pope John Paul II

What is it you are living, learning, and teaching?


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