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On the Way to Insights

Very much of learning is what you can recall, and parts are also what you can do. Insight is what you grasp of what you have learnt. One may say it is the top of the learning chain, from low-levelled or rote learning, massing without understanding things - and upwards to clear realizations that really work well.

So learning and insight may meet. Learning is had by a stepwise ascent, as shown by Benjamin Bloom et al. [Taxonomy of learning].

Conclusions derived from a learning process are often like bits of insights with material beneath them. Conclusions that build on fit learning may further be represented as symbols of various sorts. That is about as high as stepwise learning goes.

And insights or inspirations "out of the blue" tend to be tricky. They might be true to facts (provable), about true (quite correct), a bit true and so on towards big bluffs. It can be awfully hard to tell which is which before testing them a lot. That is to say, there are many insights in need of being substantiated with care, as they probably need good evidence.

To repeat, higher forms of learning meet insights. Good evidence is what reduces the need for faith and perhaps reduces swindles "in the air", so to speak.

You get an idea, ponder it, and then it will be up to you how to act on it. The steps of verifying many insights may be hard work, and the pay may be lousy for most part.

Verification steps

A monk who had kept the precepts all his life was out walking one dark night, accidentally stepped on something that squished. He imagined it was a frog, a mother frog laden with eggs. Mortified at the thought of having killed a pregnant frog, the monk went to sleep that night and dreamed that hundreds of frogs came to him demanding his life. He was terrified.

When morning came, the monk went to look for the frog he had squashed, and found that it had been an overripe eggplant.

(From Cleary 1993, 25)

The practice is to ponder and puzzle till one or more higher states are had thereby. Garma Chang explains a side to "rousing the doubt-sensation" in The Practice of Zen. (1970, 75-79) Also see [The value of skilled doubting]

Condense well and stop in time

There are big libraries around. Are you willing to sacrifice a life to learn what is in them, and their updated versions, year by year? Better try something that may help you live - sanely and well.

Long ago a king thought it would be very good to let his people be well instructed, and himself too. Then, when he was forty, he admitted: "I won't have time to read all the books that exist, not before I'm dead. So, make summarised editions."

When the summaries finally had been made, the king was over sixty years old. Therefore he said, "It is not possible for me to read all those summaries. Please, make still briefer versions."

Scholars laboured for ten more years, and finally returned with only an elephant-load of summary-books. But the old king's eyesight had impaired then. Therefore he asked for a still more condensed version and that summaries be read aloud to him in the meantime.

After five more years the scolars returned to the castle with a single volume, only moments before the king's death.

"Alas, I think I am going to die without knowing enough . . ." he gasped.

The senior scholar leaned over to him and said, "Let me explain lots of biographies in short: Man is born, lives and has ups and downs and suffers more or less perhaps, and in the end dies."

Einstein Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler. - Albert Einstein

On the way to good living

If we consider that by helping ourselves well we share in helping the world, we too, much might fall into place.

Then, if we need to orient ourselves it could help to select works or sayings of top quality or authority, and still better: find out how to profit regularly by living in a small or big way, day after day. That could be what yoga-meditation ultimately is for.

Many sufferings may be lessened by careful living, safety first, filtering out what is harmful, starting the sooner the better. [The Gentle Middle Way]

Making good use of one's time at hand is essential. At least try to find out of it. To devote it to calm, deepening meditation, using a fit, helpful way, is much of what Gautama Buddha advocates. Manage your life satisfactory so as to live on, develop your mind and heart, - in Iowa there is an accredited university devoted to it, ◦Maharishi University of Management, MUM. It is individual management that is best and most worth working for, that kind of management, as in "manage your life well, and if not well, then well enough. If not well enough, to save what good you can may also be a good thing, and if not saving anything, there is little gain in getting free time, ultimately."

Managing one's fare is in part what Buddhism is about. Maharishi's corollaries to basic ◦Transcendental Meditation - are too.

Stratagems on other levels can be great and good too

On another level there are self-help tips for getting practically skilled by stratagems to get get more spare time, in part through simplifying life, in part through organising better. Some tips might be good for you if the tips are relevant in your conditions. Much depends on that. Hand tips in the UK may not work in the USA where the conditions may be different. Two books to consider in such a light can be Outwitting Housework: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Your Housework to a Minimum and Thrifty Living, both by Barty Phillips.

As for managing one's business hours, to secure time for much uninterrupted work for hours on end "in the flow" can be great good (Csikszentmihalyi 2008). And of course, the less you say, the less there is to regret having said, and the more you are free to do - Also: the less you know, the less others can profit from your knowledge. It is related to the potentially much-saving proverb, "It is a fool who cannot hide his wisdom."

There is a need to bulwark oneself, one's home and family, one's garden and career life. In come circumstances firm doors and garden walls are fit. In other settings not. It is a quite complex issue. But as for an academic career, if you render and cite others of renown, you may get away with it, and if not all of it, then at least parts of if. And if not even that, something is very wrong.

Being bulwarked is not all it takes. If big guys blame it all on innocent you and trample on you too, it may be even worse. The "university student" learns to take care by references, footnootes and ways of wording that are hard to understand, really difficult and maybe boring too.

You need to calculate a lot, well and in time.


Learning and insights hand in hand, Literature  

Chang, Garma Chang Chen-chi. The Practice of Zen. Perennial ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Cleary, Thomas, tr. Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present. Berkeley CA: North Atlantic Books, 1994.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 2008. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. 1st ed. New York: New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Evans-Wentz, W. Y. ed. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University, 1967. ⍽▢⍽ A third edition from 2000 contains a new foreword.

Masunaga, Reiho. A Primer of Soto Zen: A Translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1971.

Phillips, Barty. Outwitting Housework: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Your Housework to a Minimum London: Michael O'Mara Books.

Phillips, Barty. 2010. Thrifty Living. Teach Yourself 2nd ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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