To Learn Requires Humility

To learn requires also a sense of humility. We must admit that there are people out there who know our field much more deeply than we do. Their superiority is not a function of natural talent or privilege, but rather of time and experience. Their authority in the field is not based on politics or trickery. It is very real.

But if we are not comfortable with this fact, if we feel in general mistrustful of any kind of authority, we will succumb to the belief that we can just as easily learn something on our own, that being self-taught is more authentic. We might justify this attitude as a sign of our independence, but in fact it stems from basic insecurity.

Life is short; you have only so much time and so much energy to expend. You can learn what you need through books, your own practice, and occasional advice from others, but the process is hit-and-miss. The information in books is not tailored to your circumstances and individuality; it tends to be somewhat abstract. You can learn from your experiences, but it can often take years to fully understand the meaning of what has happened.

We feel, perhaps unconsciously, that learning from Masters and submitting to their authority is somehow an indictment of our own natural ability. Even if we have teachers in our lives, we tend not to pay full attention to their advice, often preferring to do things our own way. In fact, we come to believe that being critical of Masters or teachers is somehow a sign or our intelligence, and that being a submissive pupil is a sign of weakness.

Summing-up: All that should concern you in the first stages is acquiring practical knowledge in the most efficient manner possible. For this purpose, you will need mentors whose autority you recognize and to whom you submit. Your admission of need does not say anything essential about you, but only about your temporary condition of weakness, which your mentor will help you overcome.

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