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Learning - Becoming a better individual every day

Education is a process of acquiring knowledge and skills to become employable and make a living, is the prevalent thought. Higher education provides access to specialised knowledge that throws open the doors for better employment. The education system of today is designed to help an individual make a living and not essentially prepare an individual to effectively face life. What an individual requires to effectively face life, is not just the tactical knowledge of transacting with the world to make a living, but a generic understanding of the universal order - the delicate balance and connections that bind all the animate and inanimate objects in the universe, understanding of human behaviour in the context of an individual and the society, ability to contemplate on the importance as well as the limitations of one's thoughts and actions in a broader context of time. These are far more intricate, much more in depth and breadth, in comparison with specific and tactical knowledge required to make a living. Wisdom, an outcome of such broad knowledge, and on which sharp and precise tactical knowledge can be put to use appropriately, should thus form the basis for an individual's transaction with the world. After formal learning, one looks to make a living through employment or enterprise. Acquiring wealth to care for the family, which is essential, assumes importance. Gradually, focus shifts towards acquiring material for comforts of life. A large part of efforts also goes towards acquiring and experiencing pleasures by spending the acquired wealth. Learning tends to take a backseat to the extent that it ceases. Acquiring any new knowledge generally gets restricted to only those specialised knowledge that increases acquisition of more wealth. Learning undoubtedly needs to be a lifelong journey. Attitude and capability to distill wisdom from specific knowledge or situations is to be nurtured continuously. This includes understanding oneself in depth and also in context of the universal order, perceiving the intangible and subtle aspects of human interaction, nurturing and strengthening attitudes that make one better from inside through conscious practices and acquiring some specialised knowledge. Burning desire to learn relentlessly and becoming a better individual every day distinguishes people with respect to the joy and meaning derived from life. Joy derived from learning far outweighs the joy derived through materialistic pleasure, is a thought that is enshrined in our culture. Such a relentless learner is likely to be a better example to children. Children seeing the parent derive meaning and joy in learning are likely to place value on learning. If parents, through their conduct, provide a message to their children that learning is associated with activities in a school, the chances of their children acquiring a very narrow view of their education is very high. Indulgence in experiencing materialistic pleasures also has a similar undesirable consequence. The culture of Bharata has always placed extremely high value on learning and knowledge. One of the key advice given to students on completing education, as in Taittiriya Upanishad, is स्वाध्यायान्‌ मा प्रमदः - never be slack/idle in your studies/learning, thus reinforcing the need to be a consistent learner throughout one’s life. साधना - Learning, which makes one a better individual every day, needs to be fervently pursued.

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