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Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Learning

Children’s Activity is Similar to What We do When We Seek Truth

What does it mean to say we must be like little children? Children jump and play around and are curious. When you see a child being curious, what do you see? What are they doing? They’re learning, looking. It’s a little like a person seeking truth, isn’t it? Children do it in a lively way, quite fully. They’re spontaneous, joyful. They’re dealing with the truth since truth is what’spresented to them all the time. We’re getting close now to the exact relationship to the truth. As you see, the children’s activity is similar to what we do when we seek truth. But there is something different in their relationship to truth that brings out joy. Why? They’re not interested in the pleasure/pain principle; they’re not part of the first two groups. They are in the now. They are in the present. There is heart; there is joy; there is spontaneity, lightness. So we’re seeing the solution here. The solution is openness, nonattachment. When children play with something, they’re not attached to it. They play with it, and then they throw it away

Finding What is Good for Our Lives

So we return to our original topic: what is knowledge and what is its importance to us? How does that apply to us here? Here we are learning to gain and appreciate the knowledge we need to find what is good for our lives. So we investigate our desires, fears, and feelings in terms of where they come from, what they mean, what we take ourselves to be in experiencing each one, leading to finally knowing who we are. The more we gain knowledge of who we are, the more our desires for what we think is good for us will change and reflect reality, become objective. And the more our belief about what is good corresponds to what we actually are, the better chance there is to be fulfilled, to live in harmony and peace. So whenever we have an issue, a conflict, any problem or difficulty, it is good to ask ourselves, “What am I assuming that I know?” “Is there something that I think I know that I really don’t know?” If you are acting in a
certain way and you see it leading to negative results, you need to find out what assumptions and beliefs you are acting on. Remember the premise we established that we always do what we think is best—what is the good in the moment—and that the beliefs on which we base our choices are often unconscious. When you see the belief behind your actions, check it out. Is it true? Is your knowledge correct?

Inner Work is a Process of Remembering What We Have Forgotten and Learning What We Still Don’t Know

What we usually consider adulthood is not real adulthood; it is a case of arrested development. It is not easy to mature on our own. Our difficulty with maturation stems basically from two kinds of ignorance: what we have forgotten and what we don’t yet know. Inner work is a process of remembering what we have forgotten and learning what we still don’t know. We can’t do one without the other. If we only remember what we have forgotten, it won’t be enough. If we simply learn what we don’t know, it’s not enough. There has to be an interaction between the two. Remembering what we have forgotten largely means working with the personality, the ego structure of the soul. Knowing what we don’t know involves learning about essence, being, reality, and truth. Some teachings view knowing as a type of remembering, which in some way it is. For the purposes of this discussion, though, it is useful to distinguish knowing from
remembering. In doing our work it is important that we do not develop some kind of religion or belief system. We want to be free from all conceptual boxes. Ultimately, the point is not to become a Buddhist, a Christian, or a Jew but to be a true human being, to realize the truth, whatever the truth is. When we start on the path, we do not know what we will realize. Our work emphasizes love of the truth, wherever that may lead. I do not say we are trying to find enlightenment, or God, or a true self. These terms are sometimes useful to illustrate certain points, but the love of the truth is what fuels the work. If there is God, you will find out; if there is enlightenment, you will find out; if there is a true self, you will find out.

Learning and Understanding Take Time

It is important to see that learning and understanding take time—they don’t come in one gulp. That’s one part of it. The other part is seeing the actual forces of transformation. First, you experience the ego state, the structure itself. The particular sector of the personality, in this case, is the part of you that has a relationship with father, that object relation in which part of you wants father, longs for him; and it includes the anger about all of that. Then you realize after a while that that structure covers up an emptiness, or a hole. And when you get into the emptiness and the hole and accept it, there arises naturally, on its own, a certain essential presence. Now, when you feel that essential presence—here it’s strength and energy—does that feel more like you or like the part that you started with?

Brilliancy, pg. 148

Learning to Be Wise

So, being seen, being known, being recognized and discerned, invites True Nature to further reveal what it is. It reveals its treasures, its fullness, its perfection. That knowingness liberates, because it helps us to see what we are, what we’re doing, and how things work. That’s what is meant by becoming wise. We are more consistently able to recognize when we are rejecting or interfering with our experience and are more able to stop doing that. We become more and more capable of letting ourselves be who we are and what we are—our True Nature. So in our practice we are learning to be wise. We’re learning wisdom through directly understanding our experience.

Learning Whatever is Needed to Maintain Dignity and Self-Respect

Having self-respect, self-consideration, and self-love means doing and learning whatever is needed to maintain that integrity and self-respect. It means that if something needs to be learned, you go ahead and learn it; if something needs to be done, you go ahead and do it; and if something needs to be said, you go ahead and say it. To have self-respect and integrity means not complaining about how things are. It means acting towards others with respect and consideration regardless of what you feel. Having self-respect means that even if you are dying, you are still considerate and respectful towards yourself and other people, because who you are is much more important than whether you are going to die. It is much more important than whether you’ are losing your business or losing your boyfriend or girlfriend. Human dignity is much more precious than any of these things. This is why we sometimes practice the non-expression of automatic emotions. When you do this, you not only pay attention to yourself by sensing yourself continually, but you also pay attention so that you do not express any automatic emotion that you feel. Keep it to yourself, feel it, understand it, and use it as a fuel for your presence and your understanding. You might not be able to do this all the time and it is important not to attack yourself when you cannot do it perfectly; the point is to put forth as much conscious effort and dedication as possible.

The Human Potential for Learning is Unparalleled by Any Other Life Form

The soul is not only malleable, giving her an infinite range and freedom of experience, but also impressionable, making her vulnerable to conditioning. Her experience can condition her, can create indelible grooves in her field that may last a lifetime. This property of impressionability is clearly a mixed blessing. It gives us the possibility of infinite freedom and flexibility, of the openness necessary to unfold and actualize the infinite potential of our spirit. Also, the capacity to retain impressions gives us the potential for learning. The human potential for learning is unparalleled by any other life form. This potential is the basis for all learning. Actualizing this potential in the form of our great capacity for learning requires the capacity to retain impressions, and this capacity also allows our learning to become growth and development,
whose source is both unfoldment of the great inner potential of the soul and interaction with the world.

To Love the Truth is an Attitude Toward Finding Out, Toward Investigation

But what you love is that you want your eyes to be open and to see. You want to know if something like that is happening, instead of pretending otherwise. You don’t love closing your eyes; you love to know what the truth is. Loving the truth does not refer to loving the object of investigation; and, in fact, loving the object would not be loving the truth, but loving something in particular. To love the truth doesn’t mean that you love what is negative, or even what is positive, for that matter. For most of us, it would be impossible to love the negative. To love the truth is an attitude toward finding out, toward investigation. The heart is involved in the process of learning. The heart loves the learning process. So some of the things you learn are difficult and some of them are enjoyable. But to love the truth means that you don’t care whether what you are going to see is painful or pleasurable, for these are not the truth you love. What you love is the actual process of education, the actual process of inquiry and discovery.

We’re Not Just Learning Inquiry, We’re learning Personal Inquiry

This points to the reason why our own inquiry encounters many personal resistances: It is when we want to explore ourselves in an intimate and meaningful way that we are confronted with the whole range of personal resistances—fear, pain, grief, resentment, hatred, hopelessness, deficiency, as well as long-held beliefs, attitudes, and positions—that stand in the way of contacting and realizing who we truly are. These are the barriers that we believe are integral to who we are, and therefore they keep us stuck in familiar and limited experiences of self. But they are integral only to our personality, our historical self. To be truly personal is to be open and available to contacting our immediate experience as it is now and not according to past beliefs. To work through any one of these resistances affects us more personally than reading a thousand books on genetic engineering or fishing, because it will affect our ability to contact our life. We investigate our hearts, our minds, and our souls in the journey of inquiry in order to understand ourselves and the reality we live in. So we’re not just learning inquiry, we are learning personal inquiry, even though some of the principles also apply to inquiry in general. For inquiry to invite the Diamond Guidance in the way we have been discussing, that inquiry has to be into our own personal experience.

Willing Obedience to the Teaching

The correct relationship to the teaching is not a matter of blind obedience, although it was called “obedience to the teaching” in the old times. Ultimately, it is a willing obedience to the teaching and to your essence. It is obedience with an understanding of why a relationship of obedience is the one that works best. That understanding happens by understanding your unconscious. Learning to have the correct relationship to the teaching means learning how to be receptive, learning how to be a clear and unimpeded channel for the teaching. This clears the channel for your connection to your essence. The unconscious is what stands in the way.

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