Almost all of us will have been told that we shouldn’t just remain static, but always be moving, changing, learning and growing. This is good advice, but it can create daunting challenges for us. Let’s look at the instructions given in the simple teaching, each of which creates questions. We are told we should always be
- To where should we move,
- and from where?
- Doesn’t this require that we have an understanding of where we are relative to everything else?
- What should we be changing?
- How should we change it?
- What does “change” mean?
- What should we be learning?
- Don’t different kinds of learning require different skills?
- Where do we go to learn these things?
- From whom do we learn them?
- Doesn’t growth eventually end when people reach a stasis?
- Growing in what direction?
- Growing in what ways?
- How does growth relate to change?
- Does growth happen through “learning”, “moving”, “changing” or some combination of these things?
Suddenly, the simple advice becomes very difficult to put into practice, almost as difficult as advice to “show someone you love him”.
It requires a whole lot of thinking through on how to do it. Showing one’s father he is loved is very different to showing one’s sister she is loved, showing one’s husband he is loved is also going to be different to showing one’s child she is loved, and each individual person will have highly idiomatic ways of receiving and understanding love. The devil is in the details, and these expectations can be very difficult to meet.
One way we like to think about Freemasonry is that it’s a fraternity that invests a lot of resources in men to help us meet high expectations. A way in which we do this is by helping each other do all of these things together, through what you could call mutual aid, in line with tradition and a curriculum.
When we say mutual aid, we mean that all brothers meet each other equally and help each other equally. We all participate in each other’s lives by giving what we can from our experiences, knowledge and wisdom, and receiving what is given to us.
When we say tradition, we mean that there are ways of doing things that we have been cultivating for a long time, with the goal being to facilitate the mutual aid to and from each other.
When we say a curriculum, we mean that there are things that we think that you should learn, that we will all help each other learn and do so while cultivating the ways and practices that help us do, as we learn these things in these ways.
Suddenly, the questions of moving, changing, learning and growing don’t seem so daunting, because we’ve put some definition on them.
And how do we do this? Where do we get started? What should we be learning? This series of posts is going to help answer that question by thinking about it through the framework of building a library. In this case, we will understand a library to be more than just a collection of books, but a collection of sources of knowledge and culture, things to engage with your mind and soul and to see what you can learn from them. A good library is more than just books. It will have photographs, paintings, music, sculpture and all sorts of other wonderful things. Through the process of building and cultivating a library, we can learn how to help build our own idiomatic approaches to learning.