“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”.
“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop”.
“Concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself”.
-Thomas Merton (One of my personal heroes)
Too much of what is called education in the modern world is little more than job training. If you are a truly educated person, whether it is formal education or self-taught, you should have an open mind. This means that you can have your own opinions or views on a subject but you aren’t threatened by an opposing view. One of the problems in the world today is that people are so polarized that many cannot entertain any other point of view except their own. We are extremely dualistic in our thinking. Every idea is seen as either right or wrong. People seem completely unable to consider that two ideas can be right and two ideas can both be wrong.
We also live in a world that is constantly pushing us to go faster and do more. A song by one of my favorite rock bands, Jethro Tull, has a lyric that goes, “The race is won by running slowly”. This doesn’t mean that you can never run fast or that sometimes running fast isn’t needed. I think it means that life is a marathon, not a sprint. In the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, it is the Tortoise that wins the race. I have sometimes been called a “Steady Eddie” and it wasn’t always meant to be a compliment. Many think that “Steady Eddies” coast when what most of us really do is utilize “Cruise Control”. You can get a speeding ticket on “Cruise Control”. Whatever your personal speed, just don’t stop.
Many of us also do things that have no value. Some activities begin with value but lose their sense of purpose over time. We should regularly think about our activities and whether or not they have outlived their purpose or usefulness. I like something called “The Eightfold Path of Enlightenment”. It challenges us to think about how we act as well as what we do. I can’t go into all of them now but I will list them. Next week I will try to explain each of them in a little more depth.
The Noble Eightfold Path
1. Right View (Are we looking at life as we should?)
2. Right Aspiration (Are we doing things for the right reason?)
3. Right Speech (Are we speaking as we should?)
4. Right Action (Are we doing the right things?)
5. Right Livelihood (Are we in the right career?)
6. Right Effort (Are we giving things the effort they deserve?)
7. Right Mindfulness (Are we being present to life as we should?)
8. Right Concentration (Are we paying attention as we should?)