“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.
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.
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.
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.