On learning

Musa AS travels with his pupil across sand and sea. He proclaims with confidence in God’s command: “I will not rest until I reach the meeting point of the two seas or I travel for ages.” He knows God’s command must be fulfilled, and so with or without his pupil he is convinced he will reach the destination he was appointed.

They trekked and scanned, until finally they unwittingly walked straight past their destination. Only when they lost their fish, a sign (an omen?), had they realised their appointed location had passed. And so they backtracked… As we, when we pursue a knowledge by virtue of thinking, we must be prepared to backtrack, having missed the mark. A friend or companion can make the search easier by keeping us patient and identifying clues, but we must have faith in ourselves and our mission to continue even if our companion cannot.

Learning from a mentor, however, is different. The “why” becomes a question of any discussion. A mistake is identified, and patience is commanded with skill. The teacher knows what the student needs and how much time it will take to plant the seed.

The mentor is not only a teacher, but also an example. We must put ourselves in the shoes of our mentor and never cease to be ourselves. Know that dishonesty is the greatest obstacle to knowledge. Know that knowledge is a fruit, the trees of which grow slowly and elegantly. Know that using knowledge is it’s fruit, and the seeds can be eaten just as well. Know that someone greater in knowledge is not necessarily greater in stature. Know that after all knowledge will come a phase in life when all is forgotten. Know that the sieve of knowledge is laziness and the only way to keep our knowledge is to keep learning…

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