Education - Help or Stumbling Block?

Ahimsananda's picture

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When I was a Christian Monk, it took me some time to "find" the simplicity of the Christ's teachings. There were so many concepts to learn, so much "stuff" to fill the mind. It took what appeared to be a very "long time" to get it all down, and organized.

Then, realizing that the "Church" was not really following Christ's message or teaching, I began to read and study Hinduism and some Buddhist literature and teaching. More "mind stuff".

Learning is fun. An education is an asset in many endeavors. But it can be a stumbling block to realizing. Many here, as well as many "gurus" are vastly educated. Masters in Religion, Doctorates in Philosophy, Doctorates in Eastern Studies, and all the rest of it. But are they aware?

Many here, and on other Spiritual websites post long, scholarly blogs using all the words and concepts they have learned through long, hard study. This is commendable, and done for many reasons, commendable or otherwise. It is not for me to judge. However, learning can be like any other "attainment", or "acquisition"; a source of pride. Nisargaddata comments that we learn our identity from others. Our parents, friends, and everyone we have contact with add to our "image" of ourselves. Our minds believe the projections these "others" tell us we are. So it is with education. As children, as well as in adulthood, we discover many things for ourselves. But if you look closely, you find that in order to "fit in", many of us trade our "own" discoveries, our "own" intuition, for the common, accepted view.

I, and others are constantly being told that our ideas, or methods do not "fit" with the "realized", as if we should care. Ramana Maharshi had his realization, Nisargaddata had his, and you and I have our own. They do not need to fit.
Realization will not fit your concept of it. If you can fit your realization into your concept, your "realization" is in the mind only.

We all seem to agree that "Awareness", "Enlightenment", "The Absolute", are not available to the mind. Yet we study, to fill the mind with concepts. Many, like me, spend time learning concepts of one religion or belief, and later spend more time learning about another philosophy, religion, or belief system. Then we compare, combine and organize the whole into new concepts. This, of course, is all done in the mind, which can not possibly use it for "Enlightenment". Many on these spiritual websites love to play "oneupsmanship". "My mind's full of more concepts than yours" kind of thing. Or we call out someone's ego, or criticize their concepts as not as "good" as ours. This is done because the mind does not want "Enlightenment". "Enlightenment" means silence to the mind. "Enlightenment" ends the "control" of the mind. If we have filled our minds with a large education, this is an "investment" we have made. This is something to protect. So even if we know that "Enlightenment" is not available to the mind, we still pursue it with the mind, and judge others, even "Gurus", with the mind. This is why so many are "skeptical" of every Guru, every teacher that they can "outsmart", or challenge with their superior education. The wisest teachers in spirituality are the ones who are mostly silent. Ramana was one such. He talked only out of compassion. And this is key. Gurus are often questioned as to why they teach. And of course, the answer is compassion. Just as those who search for "Awareness" or "Enlightenment" are driven by an unexplainable compulsion, the Guru is compelled to teach. I am not talking here of those who see "Enlightenment" as an "achievement" to add to "their" education, or the guru who seeks an ego boost, a following or riches. I am talking about those who realize that "Enlightenment" brings nothing, and teaching is often thankless work, but who are compelled to search and to help.

I find it terribly funny that those who many see as "Enlightened", like Ramana, Nisargadatta, Jesus Christ, were only "educated" in a very cursory manner. Yet many think that they need to have a large education to understand these simple men. Education can be a source of pride beyond almost anything else. Western gurus and teachers are almost all very well educated. Many, like Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, and many others are very "full of themselves". This does not a guru make. Many of the seekers who attend "satsangs" are very educated people who are hoping to "top off" their education with "Enlightenment". They seek confirmation from their guru that they "have made it". "Enlightenment" is simple. Christ tells us to "become as little children".

I am not saying that education is bad. As I said, learning is fun, and can be used to help others, but it makes neither "seeker" or "Guru". The thing that defines a real Guru or teacher is his compassion, and the living of his teaching, not his educational level. If you seek "Awareness", "Enlightenment" or whatever, then be as the Guru; live a compassionate life. Earnestness, Love and selflessly helping others will lead you to what you seek, without the seeking, and without caring wither you find "Enlightenment" or not. Living compassion is "Enlightenment" Be That.