Educating the Mind, Educating the Heart.
Would you think that too much knowledge could ever be a problem?
As a first response, many of you may not agree, but think a little longer and deeper, and you may want to reconsider your initial response.
In today’s world, several aspirants run after knowledge, and plenty have an unquenchable thirst for learning more and more. Some collect certificates, degrees and titles like trophies adding to their curricula often in an attempt to make an impression and gain an edge over the rest in an increasingly competitive world.
Take a look at our educational system: right from the early school years, children are taught to study subjects and acquire certain skills primarily with the objective of obtaining better grades, the underlying motive being that of getting admission into a good college with the eventual aim of procuring a decent job with a worthy remuneration. ‘No harm in that’, you would say, but I’d like to invite you to look a little further: What is truly the main purpose of our lives? Is it limited to growing up, earning a decent living, and passing on? Are we perhaps forgetting something very basic in our pursuit of knowledge? Is the accumulation of degrees, titles and endless checklists of books read, places visited, material wealth and fame acquired, the true mark of a knowledgeable person and is knowledge power?
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” said the great philosopher Aristotle and rightly so. After all, what use will all the knowledge of the world be if it is not used to improve the lives of those around us along with our own lives? If knowledge is applied only to benefit a selected few, at the cost of harming others, disturbing nature’s equilibrium, causing destruction and catastrophes, is it not a double edged sword that eventually cuts the hand of the one who owns it? If the answer to any of these questions is in the affirmative, then we need to rethink our education systems. We need to perhaps go back to the ancient systems which inculcated practices for the spiritual development of each student.
New educational systems claiming to encourage holistic development still end up preparing students for the eventual rat-race of making a living and being “successful” in life, which is more often than not defined by material prosperity. The innate individual creativity that every child possesses slowly gets conditioned by the norms of society and often succumbs to appraisals based on others’ opinions of good or bad. Many a good lecture on the true sense of “living” are pushed into the background as we try and conform to these ideas of what a “successful” life is. Every system of education needs to prioritize and give the same importance to developing good human beings rather than “knowledgeable” ones and the term “successful” needs to be redefined to intend a balance between material and spiritual development. Otherwise it will most likely create a society that has numerous highly “qualified” experts as per a compartmentalized system of information, but few who are truly equipped to balance this knowledge mindfully with compassion for others and an understanding of the larger good with the courage and will to do what is right.
Even on the spiritual path, the risks of knowing too much are no less. Master Choa Kok Sui explains that as one progresses in spiritual practices and one gains knowledge of esoteric teachings, one tends to develop (false) pride which in turn can make a spiritual practitioner look down upon others or simply become less tolerant of those who do not have the same level of understanding, and at times it can make a person fanatical. Therein lies the downfall. Master Choa Kok Sui further cautions that pride is the most dangerous of all vices as it causes disconnection of the disciple from the Guru. In the absence of the guidance of the right Guru, developing further on the spiritual path becomes that much more difficult and slow if not altogether impossible.
Time and again, it is seen that some practitioners with years of experience become susceptible to bouts of impatience at the lapses of those under their guidance or worse, lose their temper if others question their opinions or have a different view, overlooking the fact that every learner requires patient nurturing and regular practice. The best of teachers and Gurus encourage healthy questioning rather than expecting disciples to blindly following their dictates.
Another aspect to consider is that disciples with years of spiritual practices have a tremendous amount of energy in their auras and with all that energy, even a small unkind word penetrates and damages way more than it would coming from a person with a relatively smaller energy body. With due respect to seniority and experience in terms of years, it would be appropriate to remember that senior disciples should not forget that they need to lead by example. Errors are a part of being human and part of evolving- everyone makes mistakes, irrespective of their experience, age and knowledge. Moreover, mere years of being in a spiritual school cannot replace regular and constant practice nor decide the level of development attained by a soul.
An additional fact that Master Choa Kok Sui and most other Spiritual Gurus point out is that as one proceeds on the spiritual path and gains more knowledge, one needs to be even more careful and watchful of one’s words and actions. The same lapses have different consequences depending on the level of development and progress of a spiritual practitioner; a disciple with years of practice will bear more karmic repercussions as compared to a beginner. The reason for this is easily understandable; it is quite akin to a student in school where the very same errors that are considered irrelevant during the kindergarten years are considered blunders by the time the student reaches high school. All these reasons necessitate that as one proceeds on the spiritual path, one pays keen attention to the virtues else, progress will be difficult and in some extreme cases, even reversed.
The tendency to start lecturing or criticizing, sometimes forgetting to put into practice the very basics we so eloquently preach is something that each one of us needs to guard against and this is even more true for those of us on the spiritual path. Regular and diligent inner reflection on the virtues, awareness of our thoughts, speech and actions is an easy way to avoid this tendency and can be done by following these simple steps:
– Spend a few minutes each day reviewing your thoughts, actions and reactions during the course of the day- start with the good things, pat yourself on the back for everything that you did right. This will help develop good self-esteem which is important to avoid the development of false pride.
– In case you come across something that in your opinion was incorrect or inappropriate, mentally erase that thought and replace it with what you believe would have been the correct pattern or reaction. Do this several times. Imagine yourself doing the right thing if ever the same situation arises again. This helps in reinforcing the correct pattern; repeated correct thoughts will eventually manifest into correct actions.
– Practice inner forgiveness. Forgive people who have caused you pain and let go. Bless them with what is best for them.
– Remember to forgive yourself as well. It’s very important to avoid feeling guilty – simply move on, make a note and resolve not to repeat the same behaviour again.
– End your practice with expressing gratitude for all that is good in your life, bless that which needs to be changed and make a resolve to be better than you are with each passing day.
Practicing meditation along with the practice of the virtues further ensures that the knowledge gained during the spiritual journey is not restricted to the mind but also used to develop the heart. One such meditation is the Meditation on Twin Hearts proposed by Master Choa Kok Sui. The secret to the power of this meditation lies in the fact that it activates the Heart center before activating the Crown center and then aligns these two centers to allow a smooth flow of divine energy into the energy body of the practitioner. A balanced Crown and Heart chakra helps the practitioner be more aware, make the right choices with mindfulness, as these are then driven by both knowledge, understanding and compassion for everyone involved.
It is said, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ So it is, also with great knowledge. Knowledge is true power only if it is utilized for the benefit of others.
Master Choa Kok Sui in his discourses always emphasized the importance of character building. Over the years, he proved himself a true Guru and lived up to his words by constantly practicing what he preached. He assured his disciples that two years of regular practice of inner reflection and firm resolution would bring about a change for the better in their lives.
I recall a quote by Lao Tsu: “Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.” Let us strive then, to benefit from the treasure of knowledge by making a sincere effort to regularly practice that which we have so graciously been given by the Gurus. Let us use this knowledge to spread love, light and power in the true sense!