teach from experience

Teach From Experience, Not Beliefs

Teach From Experience

“If a man clothed in beggarly garments should see himself in a vision rich, and on waking from sleep should see himself again poor and naked, so those who utter a spiritual discourse seem to speak suitable enough, but if they have not the thing they discourse about verified in their mind by tasting and power and personal experience, they stand in a vain show. Or like a woman decked out in silks and arrayed in pearls, who offers herself in a place of ill fame, the heart of these men is a resort of unclean spirits, while they set themselves up to discourse of righteousness, when they have never had a glimpse of the realities.

“A fish cannot live out of the water; no one can walk without feet, or see light without eyes, or speak without a tongue, or hear without ears. So without the Lord Jesus, and the working of divine power, no one can know the mysteries and wisdom of God, or be rich and a Christian. The wise, the warriors, the brave men, the philosophers of God, are those who are led and shepherded in the inner man by the divine power.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian

Beggar Dressed as a Rich Man

What St. Macarius is saying in the first sentence is that if a poor man who has always been dressed as such, is suddenly dressed as a wealthy man, it doesn’t mean he becomes a wealthy man. While it is nice to say “clothes make the man,” the limited truth behind that old saying will not literally make it true. By the same token, if I find a stethoscope and carry it around with me, it does not make me a medical doctor.

Plato tells a story about Socrates in which a young student is bragging that he had sat with and talked to some of the great philosophers of Greece, therefore, he must now be a great philosopher as well. Socrates replied that he had sat with a group of wealthy men, but it didn’t make him wealthy. Continue reading “Teach From Experience, Not Beliefs”

study every day

Study Every Day, Every Thing, Every Way

“You study every day; often when you least think you are studying. You study as you walk the street in repose, and look into peoples’s faces, and are interested and amused by them. You are then learning more and more of the different varieties of human nature. Men and women then are books to you. You open and read them. You learn to recognize in an instant, by the look on people’s faces, how they feel and what are their dispositions. Involuntarily, you are classifying men and women, and putting them down in your mind according to their characters. One specimen so recognized serves as the type for one thousand, for a race. You set down this man as no gentleman, from the manner in which he looks at a lady. You see in this overdressed women the low pride of mere money. You are studying human nature.

“Knowledge of human nature has a commercial value in dollars and cents. When you are accomplished in it, you may tell in five seconds whether you can trust a person or not. Trust in people is the corner stone of all business success. Even thieves must trust to confederates in order successfully to complete a burglary.” ~Prentice Mulford

Study Every Day

While our formal education may end at some point, we nonetheless continue to learn. As Mr. Mulford says, we study every day, often without being aware of it. He delves primarily into the study of human nature or the human psyche, but only on the material level. Mulford is not a spiritual teacher, so he doesn’t mention that side of it, though that is even more important than studying the physical level.

Study People

The most common way that we study every day is by studying people, as Mulford notes. We probably don’t even realize we are doing it, but we are. We look at their faces, at their walk, at how they dress, etc. Opinions are formed of total strangers based on these observations. We also form opinions of ourselves when we do this.

I remember when I was a child that my parents warned me and my siblings to stay away from Puerto Ricans because they all carried switchblades and were all prone to violence. This is not true, of course, but the only Puerto Rican’s they had ever seen were the ones they saw on the news, so based on those limited observations, they formed an opinion of all those people.

In school, especially High School, we notice that the cool jock guy is wearing Boop brand jeans and they look great on him. We don’t know, or even care, that the cool guy’s father works for Boop jeans and gets them at a discount. If the cool guy is wearing them, we have to get Boop jeans so we can be cool also. With the girls, the same would apply for a skirt style, or a shoe style. We don’t think of this as learning or studying, but it is. Unfortunately, it is largely a study of opinions, not facts.

Study Things

People are not the only things we study every day, we study animals, plants, buildings, just about everything in our environment. Yet often we are unaware of things except on a subconscious level.

I recall some years ago when a street near where I lived was closed for a few weeks while a bridge on it was being repaired. From the area where I walked my dog, I could see this road and the sign on it that said (Road closed ahead, turn around). While I watched, five cars came down that road and only one of them turned around. The other four drove on only to reach the blocked road at the bridge and have to turn around and drive back half a mile to the nearest intersection.

But we do study things and learn from them. Unfortunately, we often learn the wrong things from the wrong sources. Instead of learning how to be more civilized by studying more advanced people, we look at wild animals and start behaving like them. That might be acceptable if we were looking at deer and rabbits, but that is rarely the case. People look at bears and tigers and think they should behave as these wild animals do. The truth is, unless you work as a zoo or animal preserve, you only see a small part of their behavior and make choices based on that. On top of it, most don’t understand that the animals are getting their behavior from us. We set the patterns that they follow.

Spiritual Study

The most important way to study every day is through spiritual study, but only a small fraction of us are doing that. Our spirits and souls are immortal, and therefore more important than our mortal bodies. Yet people who spend much time caring for their bodies do little for the spirit. We need to look at spiritual people and see how they behave. We need to learn from spiritual beings as well. It is just as important to study angels and beings of light every day as it is to study the world around us. The reason most of us don’t do that is that we have not awakened our spiritual faculties that are dormant when we come into the material world. This is not our fault. Few of us are ever told that these faculties are dormant and must be awakened. Even fewer believe that when they are told. But if they were to study every day those who do awaken their spirit and soul and grow in spiritual awareness and consciousness, they would see how important it is for all of humanity. Mulford says knowledge has a monetary value, and that is often true, but spiritual knowledge has a spiritual value that is worth far more than money. So study the world every day, study people every day, and study the spiritual every day.

great things

Great Things from Prophets, Angels, and God

“Whereas many and great things have been delivered unto us by the law and the prophets, and by others that have followed their steps, for the which things Israel ought to be commended for learning and wisdom; and whereof not only the readers must needs become skillful themselves, but also they that desire to learn be able to profit them which are without, both by speaking and writing: my grandfather Jesus, when he had much given himself to the reading of the law, and the prophets, and other books of our fathers, and had gotten therein good judgment, was drawn on also himself to write something pertaining to learning and wisdom; to the intent that those which are desirous to learn, and are addicted to these things, might profit much more in living according to the law. Wherefore let me entreat you to read it with favor and attention, and to pardon us, wherein we may seem to come short of some words, which we have labored to interpret. For the same things uttered in Hebrew, and translated into another tongue, have not the same force in them: and not only these things, but the law itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language. … All wisdom cometh from the Lord, and is with him for ever.  Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?  Who can find out the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the deep, and wisdom?  Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting. The word of God most high is the fountain of wisdom.” ~Ecclesiasticus

Great Things Delivered

Many great things have been delivered to us by the law and the prophets, as well as angels and God Himself. Many ordinary men and women have done so as well when inspired from above. Unfortunately, we don’t always recognize the greatness of the things God has given to us, directly or indirectly, and turn instead to the material goods that we get from Satan and his minions instead. We are like the person who stops to pick up a few pennies at his feet not knowing that there was a bag of gold up ahead. Because he stopped to gather pennies, his chance to get the gold was lost.

We do have to function in the material world, but we do not need to get caught up in the frenzy of material consumption. We need to learn that the permanent is always more valuable than the temporary. Everything in the physical realm is temporary. Everything that is spirit is permanent. Therefore, the spiritual gifts brought to us by the prophets, angels, and others, are worth more than material wealth. Continue reading “Great Things from Prophets, Angels, and God”

art of study

Art of Study is Not Just Memorizing

“There is an art of study. We were told in youth to study. We were never told how to study, or, in other words, how to get ideas. Committing to memory words, sentences, and rules, is not getting ideas. … If you commit to memory a great many words and sentences, you are simply over training a part or function of your mind. …

“Words are not ideas. They are only the signs or means by which, through the sense of sight or sound, a printed word or spoken word may represent an idea to the mind. …

“The more that is committed to memory, the greater the burden placed on the department of memory. … The memory is useful only to hold what is grasped by the spirit. No amount of book-learning can teach a man to sail a boat well. He must educate himself. When he learns through practice and many failures that the rudder must be kept in a certain position to counteract the force of the wind, his memory at last holds what such practice has taught him. … Did you learn to dance by first committing to memory the rules for the guidance of your steps? No, you received the idea from someone else who could dance. You absorbed that idea or thought.

“Every person, to learn quickly, must learn to throw himself in a certain mood of mind. That is the mood of serenity and repose.” ~Prentice Mulford

Memorizing is not Studying

If you are learning to be a carpenter, memorizing the names of the tools used by a carpenter may be helpful. Yet even after you have memorized all those names, you still don’t know how to be a carpenter. A parrot could have done the same, yet there is no chance that it will become a carpenter. There are times when memorizing is useful, and it is often a good first step to learning a new skill, but practice and experience are necessary for almost every skill except winning a spelling bee. And even with a spelling bee, memorizing the spelling of many words doesn’t mean you will be able to handle the pressure of being on stage or competing with other spellers.

Words are not Ideas

Many people would take offense at this claim by Mulford, but with few exceptions, he is correct. I think the only time a word could be said to be an idea is when something new is discovered or invented and they are trying to give it a name. Even then, once the thing has a name, the name is not the thing, not the idea, but a way of communicating the idea. That communication only works, however, if everyone agrees on what the word means. There are a lot of communication failures because different people have different ideas of what a word means. A simple example is that greed, which used to be a negative thing to almost all people, has somehow become a positive attribute to many.

The function of words is to form an image in the mind. It is that image which is the idea, not the word that represents it. Continue reading “Art of Study is Not Just Memorizing”