Eternal Student

Is there a point where we can rest on our laurels and feel that we know it all? Obviously not, because there’s far more to learn than any one person can know. Is there a point when we know enough that we can consider ourselves an authority and not study further? Then it gets interesting.

Of course the most obvious risk if you stop studying is that what you know becomes out of date. Other younger, sharper, hungrier creatures will outlearn you and pass you by. You’ll become irrelevant. The applications for this in any aspect of work are pretty obvious, but it’s easy to think that in spiritual matters, the person who has it figured out doesn’t need to keep on sitting in the student seats.

The person who knows it all, who is wise and enlightened and really spiritual, doesn’t need to keep studying. Or so it may seem. There’s a point of achievement imaginable that says now you are the authority, the guru, others should learn from you now. For me, that’s a bit of a warning sign. I don’t think any of us humans ever get to be so clever and wise that we have nothing more to learn. I do think there’s something distinctly off when people aren’t excited enough to want to learn.

To learn is to admit that you didn’t already know. Or that you weren’t the best you could be. It requires a healthy ego, able to aspire, rather than fragile and unable to admit there’s more to do. To my mind, being human means there’s always more scope. There’s something very healthy about taking off the authority, the teaching role, the status, and rocking up somewhere as a student. It’s releasing. It allows us all to be imperfect works in progress. Also, learning new stuff is great fun.

I read other authors to learn from them. I’m going to some writing workshops this summer because I know I’ll learn things by doing that. I’m doing a free online course in eco-linguistics. I like picking up new craft skills when I can. I like the challenge of learning a new job.

I also really like what happens when, within a community, people pass the ‘teacher’ hat round and take it in turns to hold temporary authority. I like it when everyone is able to sit down and listen to someone else’s teaching. I like how it reduces feelings of hierarchy, superiority and power over, and increases feelings of mutual respect and recognition.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Eternal Student

  • garycohenblog

    There is a well known Zen quote which is something along the lines of its wise to maintain a beginners mind.
    This really stuck with me and I often revisit books that I have read when I notice I am in need of support or some refreshment. I am about to submit my review of the Bardic grade and the final gwers encourages revisiting the previous studies.

    • Nimue Brown

      Revisiting is definitely good, things appear in different lights over time, I’m noticing. I’m also inclined to think of the Tao Te Ching some of which could be abbreviated to ‘the sage does not get smug and complacent’ 🙂

  • contemplativeinquiry

    I’m an enthusiast for lifelong learning and in an active phase right now. I think it supports a certain kind of mental flexibility in any arena and (for want of a better word) a spiritual youth and vitality when experiential and in the creative and/or spiritual domains.

  • Linda Davis

    Funnily enough I saw this meme this morning & copied it into my journal
    ‘The Path isn’t a straight line; it’s a Spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see the deeper & deeper truths.’
    Learning and re-learning is fundamental to me and my Druidry.

  • myhonestblog2

    Life teaches the ones that want to be taught. I also think that keeping a student mentality is key if you want to enrich your knowledge…

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